I’ve been saving this pretty one for a while now, but it needs to be discussed.
What’s railroading? That’s when the GM has clearly planned out what’s going to happen and then pushes the players to follow that plan. Personally, I hate it. It makes me the audience to GMs story. And you know what? That story isn’t really as engaging as the GMs think.
I know most fiction works like this, so its understandably tempting to make one character the main character in the campaign. However, it doesn’t work like that in practice. Your audience consists of a handful people in the form of your players. Each of them has a character and each of them feels particularly close to that character. So, for them, your chosen protagonist is just a nuisance that keeps their character from taking the spotlight. Nice job alienating most of your audience.
I used to play with a GM who used play a lot of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Mostly Murder Ballads. I might not like it as much as I like some other albums by them or as much as certain other people I know, but I like it. And there lies the problem.
Okay, this is a big one. Nothing like the previous two, but gladly this isn’t big in the sense that I would need a book’s worth of words for this.
What it boils down to is this: If you are willing, you can put a lot of the responsibility on the players and let them control much of the environment. So, of course, the question is, what happens when your players, who are gamers by definition and as such understand that this can give them an advantage, abuse the system? Well, first, lets recount all the instances this has happened since I’ve adopted this trusting style of GMing.
When your mother dies, what do you do? You have a funeral, you mourn, you’ll visit her grave. What do you do when a player character dies in an RPG? You hand them a new character sheet and leave them to fill it out.
Roleplaying communities in internet are a beautiful thing. Back in the day when we played Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay I was really active on Strike-to-Stun. I quickly learned that if I had a problem or wanted to change ideas an international community of likeminded players was a great place to start. Now we haven’t played WFRP in ages but I still visit the communities because I want to keep up with the people there.
There are a lot of rpg communities all around the web. There are dedicated forums, publisher’s forums, Facebook and (my personal favorite) Google+ for example. Combine them and you have almost unlimited resources of information and ideas. Ask help and you will get it.
You know the situation. Your characters are facing a bunch of goblins you threw in there just to have a combat encounter, because you feel like you should have one here. And what happens? One of those apparently harmless goblins crits and would deal deadly amount of damage to one of the characters. So, what do you do? Well, okay, maybe you didn’t roll the maximum, maybe he just rolled poorly on damage instead…