Content of the article: "Unpopular Opinion: Railroading is okay."
This post is intended to inspire DMs to consider narrowing the “openness” of their world, not because I think D&D ought to be played this way, but because it’s working really well for our group.
I run an adventure for 3 PCs. We meet weekly for 2-hour sessions and have a strong commitment to the group and campaign. Nobody has missed a session since the beginning and we rarely postpone. I think it has a lot to do with the brevity of our meetings and the rich content exposed in each installment. But I have to say, it couldn’t be done if I did not designate a relatively narrow path for our story to progress.
So, I want to make a philosophical argument for “railroading” your players. The first point is that I have been railroading this story since the very beginning and we are having a lot of fun and it feels like we are playing real D&D with an open setting and randomness and dice-controlled outcomes and all that. This should be enough for most DMs to say, “sure, sounds like a successful campaign, then”.
The second point in the argument is that, philosophically speaking, the spectrum of “open world” to “railroading” is just that, a spectrum. When I say “railroading”, I do mean pretty far down the spectrum of removing player autonomy. E.g. there are very limited options for exploration, only one BBEG for them to pursue, only one sword in the stone so to speak. But, and this is important, it is only limiting the true options to a rather minor degree compared to what most DMs offer in the adventures. There are only so many options on a random encounter table. There are only so many roads leading out of Neverwinter. Narrowing those options down to one or two is not a big stretch from 10-20 options, and immensely less work to a busy DM.
Again, my group and I are having a blast and are able to meet very regularly thanks to short and action-packed sessions. This approach may not appeal to everyone, but I just want to provide this story to support those DMs who are looking for an approach to sweeten up the in-game experience for their players and themselves.
- PSA About Railroading and Linear Storytelling
- How co-DMing ruined a campaign for me, and taught me some valuable lessons.
- Sometimes Railroading is a Useful tool (Long)
© Post "Unpopular Opinion: Railroading is okay." for game Dungeons & Dragons Online.
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