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 The Location-in-Motion FAQ

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PostSubject: The Location-in-Motion FAQ    Thu May 16, 2013 2:23 pm

(Repost)

Recently, a style of DMing known as Location-in-Motion has become somewhat well-known on these boards, thanks to iserith and his efforts. Smile I'm no expert, but I think I have the idea down, feel free to criticize and suggest additions/deletions. Smile Based on suggestions, I've attached links to some of the questions. Those are threads relating to that subject on the general DM boards.

What is LIM? LIM is a style of DMing in which there is no predetermined plot. Rather, the heroes are dropped into a location with various dangers and factions, and everyone (including the DM) plays to find out what happens next!

How is LIM different than "sandboxing"? LIM differs from sandboxing in one major way. In sandboxing, the PCs are dropped into an environment, and start up trouble/ solve potential problems, etc. However, in LIM there are barbarians at the gate, so to speak ( or even inside them! :O). The PCs have enemies around, the setting is in't merely sitting there like block of gelatin waiting for a prod (Hence the "in motion"). community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

Why makes LIM any better then another style, such as railroading? Short answer: Nothing. Playstyles are determined by group preference. Railroading can be a perfectly fun style, it allows epic and dramatic encounters to take place, with grand plots arcing over the whole campaign. However, many prefer a more fluid game, with unplanned events.

How can I run an LIM game?
It may be a good idea to run a test game, to see what style your group prefers. One important rule is DON'T PRE-PLAN THE PLOT. It may seem easy to avoid, but the urge to throw in a cool plot direction surfaces from time to time. It's probably a good idea to start off in a dungeon of some sort, and from there just go where your layers lead you, rather than a more complicated location like a city. A central part of LIM is the idea of dangers, the "bad guys" of the area. First off you might want to divide the area into wards, like sectors, and give a few keywords to describe each ward. It's very helpful to have a sheet of notes ready with details of the environment. Here's an excellent template to use.

Location-In-Motion Adventure Front _______________________________
Dangers
Danger: Name (Type)
Impulse: This is what the danger may try to do in any given situation. For example, an evil army's impulse might be to conquer. It dosen't have to dictate specific action, but is more of a guideline for unexpected situations.
Impending Doom: This is what might happen in the case of a total victory for the danger. The aforementioned evil army's Impending Doom might be conquest of the city of Habinathe, sacrificing enemy priests in the name of Bane and converting the population into a slave workforce.
Grim Portents: These are little events you can toss out there in case the players are ignoring the danger. They show the party that the danger is still there, and ready to kick some PC butt if they don't do something. For example, an advance guard outpost of the city might fall to the evil army of Bane.
DM Actions: These are relatively simple actions that the danger might take, potentially in reaction to another stimulis. For example, the evil army could grow in numbers by conquest. They should be more general, and less of a sign of approaching doom, then the Grim Portents.
Same thing again for any other dangers.

Description and Cast: Give yourself a basic summary of what is going on, as well as descriptive keywords for some major players. i e. General Tarrion (Hobgoblin Leader of the Holy Army of Bane) Cunning, Manipulative, Determined

Map key:
It's advisable to make a rough sketch of the location and its wards, as well as setting up some special locations like a small dungeon delve, and maybe a BBEG lair or some other set piece.
Monsters/NPCs Straight from iserith: "Stat blocks that are fairly generic for each danger plus a few random monsters to pull out." I haven't been using quotes for the others but this is the best (and simplest) description I could think of. community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758... community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758... community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758... [/sblock] That's it for now, although I have no doubt there will be additions to this. Mad props, so to speak, to iserith and others who have brought LIM to these boards. Smile This template is straight from him, and all of the ideas as well.
Here's where it all began, Dungeon World Smile www.dungeon-world.com/ book.dwgazetteer.com/

Here's a very helpful blog on LIM as well, middleageddm.wordpress.com/

Related Topics



Alternate goals in combat vastly improve encounter balance, run time, and overall fun. Check out svendj's guide on the subject! Smile community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

Failure =!= Death of a PC(s). This is very important to remember. Think of any TV show, and then think about a failure of the characters at some point. In most cases a character didn't have to kick the metaphorical bucket for the group to fail in their goals. Here's an excellent post on the subject

http://community.wizards.com/location-in-motion/go/thread/view/140631/29423485/Interesting_Failures


Last edited by Admin on Thu May 16, 2013 3:02 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Update)
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PostSubject: Re: The Location-in-Motion FAQ    Tue May 21, 2013 11:17 am

This sounds like what I've been doing in my games for the better part of a decade now, though I've never heard it called LIM before (It's worked exceptionally well in my ongoing Mage the Ascension campaign). As I recall I first snagged onto the idea of DMing in this way after reading a Worldcrafting article from the 3e-era Dragon Magazine (this same series also adapted the Birthright domain rules into a DM story management tool).

The gist of the article in question was that the best stories in D&D come not from pre-planned railroads (because railroads rob the player characters of agency in the story; a key trait of protagonists; and make none of their choices really matter to the outcome), but after the fact as you look back on the events that the players and various NPC's chose to take in reaction to each other.

One specific example I recall from those articles that sounds exactly like LIM involved a campaign plot hook where a magical meteor had landed in some remote region and that rather than a railroad adventure to get them to it, instead the GM should establish a hook and then think about the motivations and capabilities of all the NPC's involved in with the hook.

If the players take the hook then they'd have to deal with various others going after the meteor and would be rewarded with the meteor's magical metal if they succeeded. If they didn't take the hook though that was okay because you know the motivations and abilities of the others going after the meteor so you have some idea of how the hook would resolve without them getting involved.

In the example case above it was decided that if the PC's didn't get involved a villain who was also interested in the meteor would get to it unopposed and then uses it to arm his forces with magical weapons and armor. Thus, the reaction to the players' action of not taking that hook is that down the line there's a new hook (with associated NPCs and motivations) where a neighboring kingdom is looking to hire heroes to fight the forces of that villain who are now armed with potent magical weapons and armor. In other words, ongoing action and reaction.

Suffice it to say, that I absolutely love this model of GMing, even if I'm not found of the LIM moniker (I much prefer the term "dynamic sandbox" which I've also heard applied to this DM style).

ETA: One of the things I have found makes this style of play especially compelling is to give the major factions more complex and justifiable motivations that are neither 100% good nor 100% evil (and if you do have something 100% evil make it more an unreasoning plot device that is a concern to all the other factions and will require working with at least one of the factions in some fashion to truly overcome). This gives the PC's much more room to maneuver as there is no "one right answer" to which faction you're going to help and which you're going to oppose. Thus, finding the answer that's right for them is actually a result of their own choices and compromises and becomes a good story to be re-told for years around the gaming table.
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PostSubject: Re: The Location-in-Motion FAQ    Tue May 21, 2013 3:19 pm

You're absolutely right, especially that last bit. cheers
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