Well, what I'd do (and I am the f__king lazy GM too lazy to even write in the "right" language
) :1) Have the Players give one-off NPC/location description.
> "You wanna know what he looks like? YOU tell me what he looks like."
> You ain't gonna use them again, and if they try to go back to find them, they'd either have no changes nor completely disappeared with no trace. Or that there's nothing else that's useful.
>Limit them to 2 short lines. You most likely ain't gonna use that again, and if you are you'd probably wanna fill in the blanks yourself.
> They can give clues, or they can do nothing. Bit-character NPCs should never be a bother to the GM as a rule.2) Let them do whatever they want... Just don't give them any results that are good or bad.
> They wanna go to that place you've never plotted out? Why not.
> Have them describe it.
> Let them go there.
> One line: "Yes, you've been there, and after (this period of time) you can't find anything useful. Next!"
> Or, maybe they can find something, if it fits your plan.3) PCs want to do something beyond current scenario... Let them.
> In the middle of a murder investigation, a PC wants to court an NPC that does not have anything to do with the game anymore.
> Says, "Yes, you guys have dinner and a dance and whatever. And you two might meet again after everything's done
> If he wants more detail, learn a trick from Hollywood and "fade to black".
> After everything's done the games already ended anyhow. Whatever happens inside the player's head isn't gonna be any of your problem.
> That takes 30-sceonds and no effort on your part.
> In the middle of a siege scenario, one PC suddenly wants a vacation on the other side of the continent.
> Say "Sure, but your character will be out of this game then, and I don't have time to introduce a new one now, so you will be out of the game as well.
> If he says yes, he doesn't want to play anyhow, so no lost there.
> That takes 30-seconds and no effort on your part.4) PCs want to go left instead of your planned right... Let them.
> The description of your planned right, and the left they're going... Are going to be exactly the same.
> Remember, they'll never know what's going on backstage unless you tell them.
> PCs have the feeling
of doing what they want, and you still get to do what you want.
> That takes 0 seconds, and no extra effort from what you planned.5) PCs didn't find the clues you want them to? Turn the clues they have into what you wanted.
> It might change the identity of the BBEG... But seriously, what do you have against that particular NPC
that he must
be the one to fall?
> In many cases its just the change of a name anyhow and nothing else (See #4.)
> If the PCs don't have ANY clues, try to turn whatever they have into clues. (Again, see #4.)
> If they missed ALL the important clues, then you're running the wrong game for the wrong group anyhow.
> Depending on the severity, it might take some rewrites; If there's gonna be too many rewrites though, a general all-out melee against whoever the bad guy is right now
at least gives an ending.
> Plotholes are for when people have time to think about them, which usually happen after
the game's over; Another way to see plotholes are as lead-ins to further scenarios too if you think about it.6) If the PCs wanna kill themselves... Why stop them?
> "Dead End" is an end.
> Players might be scared of their characters dying, and it is indeed something they spent effort and care and time to build upon.
> But then if that's so, it will also be the Player's responsibility to not f__king send them down pathways of obvious destructions.
> If a CR2 PC wants to fight a CR20 encounter, warn them.
> If someone wants to try to go down a corridor that's likely to kill them 9 times out of 10, tell them that.
> If they still wanna do that, don't come back afterward and blame the GM for it.
> If they wanna kill the king whose giving them the goal in scene 1, tell them that they're gonna be thrown in jail without any further rolls if they do.
> Remember that: Even if the Players already call it, even if they already roll it, if the GM don't admit it it hasn't happen yet.
This ain't chess, let them take backsies every now and then if its necessary. (Backsies for GMs though... That's a complicated matter...)
> You've already warned them.
If they wanna be the invincible main protagonist who always get out of trouble, then go read a webnovel and put their own names in them.
> "Suitable actions should have equally suitable repercussions"
[/color], for both the Players and the GMs. Otherwise its just somebody else's wet dream, and those are waaaaay too icky when they ain't your own.
> And if you lose a Player that way, adjust for it.
> If you lost all your Players due to this one thing, again "wrong game wrong group".7) Don't care too much about the script.
> Some GMs think scenarios are scripts, and its their responsibility to be as close to it as possible.
> I'd say, "if that's so, then go write stories instead."
> You cannot control Other Human Beings
. The point of having players is to have someone whose ideas you cannot expect
> 1/2 of the fun of being a GM is to see the PCs go down your planned storyline; Another 1/2 the fun of being a GM is to see how funny your carefully planned scenario crash & burn. ie your Onore Decado!!!
> (While 1/2 the reason I've seen games dying midway are GMs complaining about "their players ain't following the script" which I gotta say is kinda dumb, considering the Players aren't suppose to know what the scripts have in them in the first place.)
> If you really want to control your Players, go take puppeteering classes instead.
> Once you can accept that things might not go as planned, there're two things to do:
a) If you're good at thinking on your feets, follow your players as they make their own story.
b) If you aren't, see above point #3-6.8) If the Players tried their best and still not getting what you're trying to do, go meta.
> Most PC/console rpgs have notes/hints about the next major goals & subquests.
> That's actually a great thing, especially if you've played the games from 20 years ago, that you'd completely forgot what you're supposed to do if you left it for a week.
> Again, Players are NOT supposed to know what you have in the script. "Stumbling blind" is usually the default mode in TRPG.
> They might be the best players in the world, and you might be the best GM in the world, but sometimes things happen and they might not even know what they're supposed to do.
> And stumbling blind for too long is just torture on both sides.
> Might as well just call timeout and say, "hey, so right now the goal is to deal with so & so" or "In this scene maybe we should try to get this & that."
> They can still come up with the solution, but at least they get
what they're supposed to be doing in the first place.
> If they still don't, see point #7a&7b
Tl:dr : "Just let your Players do whatever they want. Picking up the pieces tend to be easier than fixing a leaky boat, plus its way more fun that way.
(Confession: I like to run freeform wreckfests. Most people probably don't