In my previous post I talked about one of the easiest pit falls for a gm to fall into, railroading.  Now I’m going to take a look at the other options and explain while railroading is such a common phenomenon.  The most traditional way of escaping the railroad was never hard to grasp or understand, but instead just took a lot more effort.  Instead of creating a plot, in which a series of events are supposed to happen, and the various dm controlled character (called non-playable characters or npcs) are just part of the the story, you can create a world.  Creating a world means that you create a set of characters and a set of places and things.  The characters all have their own goals and ideas, and the places are filled with these characters, along with a number of items and important information and such.  If you create such a world then you can allow the players to do anything.  Instead of having an idea of what is going to happen ahead of time, you simply have all of the various characters react to the players and each other in the way that you designed them to react.  You can’t break the story, because the story is emergent, it comes into being as the players make their actions.  The difficulty of course is in the preparation.  It is much easier to make a character that only needs to reach one way because they are only going to be met in one circumstance than it is to create a character that has actual goals and motivations and a will of their own.  In order for this method to work, the dm needs some combination of two things: Preparation of characters and setting, and the ability to improv and decide how certain characters would react.  If you can’t get into the heads of all of the characters, then this method becomes very difficult and if you can’t be creative with what the characters do when they have to react to something creative that the players do then again, you aren’t going to have a good time, but if you either have a lot of preparation or a lot of improv skill then this method is amazing for creating a living breathing world. 

Next time I’ll talk about another way to break the railroad.


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