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Simon May
As I've recently begun running my second campaign in SR4, I'm starting to see many different possibilities in the way a game is run.

My first campaign was heavily plotted. It had events occurring around the PCs that happened with or without them, and while the PCs had the option to affect events, they could also go off and do their own thing, letting things come to a head without them. Even had the characters attempted to avoid the plot I laid out (which they didn't), they likely would've found themselves in the middle for one reason or another. This made for a very directed game in my mind.

Going into my second campaign, I feel headed much more for an open ended street level gang campaign that will rely more on the players and their characters' desires to make their own stories than on my plotting.

I've heard several of my friends say they enjoy the sandbox style game and others prefer the defined plot. My question to you all is which style game do you prefer and why?
I voted moderately plotted because it seemed the best. I tend to have antagonists and I know their goals and resources, they'll continue working on those goals which I will attempt to make intersect with PC actions on a semi-random basis until the PCs decide of their own free will to investigate this weird pay data they found (for example).

But, I never plan the step-to-step game. Hell, sometimes I don't plan at all and just sit down at the table and improv the entire run. It doesn't work for more technical games (like extractions and the like) but if it's going to a primarily social day, then I don't waste my time trying to plan for what they're going to do because they'll just do something else.

For example, I spent Sept. through Dec. with my players on a job that required them to go to Hong Kong. They were there for the events of Emergence and the aftermath in Hong Kong, but that was entirely peripheral to their mission: go to the Po Lin monestary and pick up some incense to be delivered to a Rabbi back in Seattle. 'Course, while they did that, they met up with three NPC who dropped a one-word hint about stuff that I've gotten them involved in this semester. At the time I dropped those hints, I'll admit that I had no idea how I was going to make it all work. Now though, I have a basic idea of where we're going based on the decisions of the PCs. Had they made different decisions, then something else would have happened and I would have abandoned the ideas that I was playing with.

Hrm .... Maybe I should have voted Sandbox.
Kyoto Kid
...chose Moderately Plotted.

I used to be in the Heavily plotted camp & still like to have a lot of background detail however this only works for some groups of players, in particular ones that have been together for a while where the characters have significantly been developed over time.

With the transition to 4th ed. I still have a set background to the world, against which events are more fluid. I usually scroipt out the initial meet and outline some of the more common information that could come up during legwork. After that, I have specific locations, and NPCs written up but not necessarily "bolted into place" in a given "scene". I also watch what the characters do and if I see an interesting hook I'll have a bit of fun with it.

A good example, In the first segment of March Mayhem, The team's Decker (OK OK I like the old term better) decided to release a Flyspy to follow the mark's car beyond a security perimeter at Fed Boeing field. Simple eh? Well, the character happened to be a Troll, who owned, and basically lived in, an old delivery truck (kind of like one of the big UPS ones). So to release the drone, he rolls down the window and basically chucks it out. I rolled for the driver of the oncoming car in the other lane (who only saw a troll's arm come out a window and appear to throw something) and he panicked, slamming on the brakes which in turn resulted in a chain reaction crash. Meanwhile the PC, worried about the Grid Link cams spotting him decided to turn on his area jammer that had a 1 Km to an airport. Suddenly, for a short while the run took on an interesting turn. Eventually he got of Marginal way and headed west towards the sound. Pretty harmless in the end yet for a few moments the player was on the hot seat and remained fairly paranoid for a while afterwards. The rest of the players meanwhile were cracking up over the misadventures of their comrade.

While it didn't have a direct effect on the run itself, it was an enjoyable scene for all created by the PC's action.

...oh and I' would have made the last selection "I Like Lime Jello" grinbig.gif
It trolls!
I took moderately plotted. I tend to make up a campaign arc, usually in the form of certain NPCs pursuing certain goals and the runners are thrown into it. Often the initial runs are seemingly unconnected. The runners act and I try to have NPCs react accordingly and together we shape the actual plot.
This results in my campaigns usually starting with a few NPC dossiers, a diagram of relations between those NPCs and a very vague list of how it would work out without the runners meddling in it. I then hand the characters the first call from Mr. J and off it goes...
Apart from that I only force characters to form a somewhat consistent team for my setting (i.e. no 5 stone cold snipers for a game that consists of lots of legwork) and might ask them to take a certain connection in the form of a common fixer, if they start out as "classic" shadowrunners i.e. the whole thing actually start's with "You get a phone call...".
I said none of the above, because I take an approach somewhere in between sandbox and moderately plotted. I make sure that all of the PCs have some connection to each other, as well as whatever the situation at hand is. There's usually a timeline of events occurring as a backdrop - the events in Emergence, for example. Beyond that, I create conflict by spamming the players with bangs until something sticks, use that to spin the campaign in an interesting direction, then repeat.
Ditto... I try to make a game world that will happily go on without the players. So there are set plot points but they're almost all open for players to swoop in and make a mess of it. Metaplots usually happen at a level far beyond my players interest so they run more or less uninterrupted, unless the players want to get interested in which case I suppose I'll have to reconcile the two worlds.

The trick is to manipulate the players into getting involved in the plot so that they think it was all their idea. Sometimes it works better than others, but if you pull it off right, it can yield fantastic results.
Daddy's Little Ninja
From what I saw of the group, and this is something I only joined a couple of years ago, they were playing since the 80's. Usually the GM has broad themes but if there is something a player wants they will set it up.
missionary style . . we like to see the faces of the guys/GM's we fuck over ^^
I chose Moderately Plotted. I tend to write out most of what's "going on" in the world, and that's where I start the PCs, but PC action can definitely alter things. I do tend to keep trying to give the PCs/players hooks into the meta-plot of the campaign, and I keep the meta-plot going even if the PCs don't always directly hook into it. It makes the world feel more real.
Wesley Street
I think I'm the only one who has chosen heavily plotted so far. I know my players and their characters and I know how they'll react. I also have enough tricks in my book that I can push them back to the original plot if they stray too far. I use Choose-Your-Own adventure style flow charts that tell me if player A does B then they need to go down track C.

Yeah, I like to plot. biggrin.gif
I have had to go with none of the above.
I run my game on serveral levels at once. The runs are typical heavily scripted independant runs but then the runs they get are dependant on their actions. With necessity runs, hooding, favour for friends and personal interest runs breaking up the standard cash runs. In addition to that I have a open ended personal story ark metaplot for each character, heavily dependant on the players wishs IC. The runs and the personal plot also merge and diverge dependant on the PC's actions. I try to run a realistic Sixth World from which the players can move around their characters as they see fit and action leads to reaction accordingly, mixed in with concrete plot episodes and ongoing improvising.
Moderate plot, which of course, is the hardest to GM. Light plot, where there is actually a set plot at least to begin with, but it's open to the PCs breaking everything (which is what the PCs will inevitably do) and there's really no pre-determined plot past a certain point also works.
Missionary Position.

I have a very rough idea on the overarching plot, but as the players act/react, that changes. I then just focus on the smaller pieces, the missions...I come to the table with an idea of the mission, with supporting maps or major NPCs and grunts, and let the players do to it what they want. I give them simple objectives and let them work to figure them out...I try not to force any of my ideas, solutions or planning on they end up telling me just as much story as I try to provide them.
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