OMG I haven't written anything this year, where on earth has the time gone.
Its not like I am doing nothing, but it has been a poor year work wise for RPGs and games.
I sought of lost interest (for now) on Samarkand and Fallen Cities, which are my biggest projects. This was partly due to other projects being fresher, and a lack of money to pursue the other items (sort of upto artwork and maps stage to a degree).
What I have been working on mostly, at least lately, has been my current RPGs that I am running, and future RPGs that those games will lead into. BY this I mean my Rippers game, which I am really enjoying, and the Weird Wars Rome game that that will lead into (the players will be portal-ed from the Rippers end game to the WWR start game). I have been developing a quite extensive story board for the WWR, reading up on Roman history etc, finding dates and names. The result will be a very interesting game from 73AD to 98AD, using many historical events and people.
Which leads to the question of rail-roading! Theoretically having a developed storyboard game linked to specific events is effectively rail-roading. The players will be forced to follow events, they will need to be a certain places at certain times because History requires it. For eg the Emperor Vespasian dies in 79AD, Vesuvius erupts a few months later, Titus is made the new Emperor only to die two years later historically. In my game these are pivotal events that start the game off, except Titus is assassinated at his coronation and his death is linked to the Vesuvian eruption. This is really the only major change to the historical time line. The story-board goes from there to 98AD when the players have to ensure that Trajan remains alive and is crowned Emperor. If they don't do this the time line breaks and things go badly.
So is this rail-roading due to the constraints of the story and time line, or is it just limited options for the players. And is the BIG PICTURE constraints really a rail-road, or simply the choice they made at the very beginning and they are following it through. In this game the players are told what is expected of them at the start (well some of it) and they chose to do it or not... of course if they don't the game simply ends because I haven't got a story line for anything else. And if they don't make the choice of being 'Heroes', and saving the world, then there is no point in the game.
So is it rail-roading if the GM takes on the role of authority telling them what to do? The players are not god, or Emperor, or in any position of power at the start of the game, other than being heroes. In a real Roman world they are either bums or soldiers, they have a position in the roman society and they follow the laws and obey the commands they are given. Does a Roman soldier have any ability to dis-obey his Tribune and get away with it. If your players are going to play legionnaires do they have any choice when the GM, acting as a superior officer, gives them an order...?
Role playing in a real world scenario requires a certain degree of acceptance of the constraints placed on them to conform to the norms of that world. In a fantasy world the players are anarchists and can go and do what they like, but in a real Rome they conform or they suffer.
I hope this is not rail-roading, it is simply good role playing.