GM Tips #5 – Keeping Players Off “The Railroad”

Tantara Train Station

As GMs and DMs, we put in lots of hours creating fun campaigns, adventures and story arcs. Fun locations, jaw dropping challenges and Titan like clashes fill our mind’s eye….until our players take a detour we didn’t plan for or expect. They took a hard left when we planned for straight.

So what does a GM/DM do? Railroad them back onto the path we had planned, right? They aren’t going to go somewhere we aren’t ready. And there-in lies the wrong choice. Railroading a party is forcing them onto a path we want them to take. Be dinged freedom of choice. And the fun for the party becomes fleeting at best.

Instead of railroading, we as GMs/DMs should consider:

1. Allowing the party to turn left. Adapt to the moment. Improvise. And then over time, gently guide them back to the goal.

2. Plan ahead for this. It will, ALWAYS occur at some point of a campaign. So plan for the possibilities. Have NPCs and story lines ready to insert for these occasions.

3. ┬áDon’t panic or get angry. Remember, the players write the story. It’s our role to provide the framework and background locations and people. Let them have some creative license in where they take a story.