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Playing With / Off the Rails

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Basic Trope: The players of a tabletop game derail the Game Master's story.

  • Straight: Bob's very silly questions prevent Carol, the Game Master, from revealing the Big Bad's plot before Alice kills the Big Bad.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed: Alice and Bob generally follow Carol's plot, but get past a Beef Gate earlier in the game than Carol intended, breaking the intended sequence of events. They also tend to force their way past Carol's stock puzzles.
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  • Justified: Bob wants to teach Carol a lesson about Rail Roading.
  • Inverted:
    • Carol, The Game Master unleashes a very silly Card-Carrying Villain, much to the surprise of the players.
    • Alice is a Loonie trying her hand at being a GM. Unfortunately for her, Bob and the other players are "Stop Having Fun" Guys and want to play the game by the book and follow the story.
    • Carol sets up a very open-ended campaign by surprise. The players search for rails that don't exist searching for extended plots instead of taking greater initiative.
  • Subverted:
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  • Double Subverted: Unfortunately, she forgot Bob had an item that allowed him to immediately break the backup plan, too.
  • Parodied:
    • Any action at all that Bob makes seems to derail Carol's plot.
    • Alice and Bob work together to derail the plot into constructing rails and building a train, so they can literally go off the rails.
    • Alice is interrupted so much that the plot goes off her set of rails and onto Bob's. The most Alice can manage throughout the campaign is a couple words of narration (before being cut off of course) and calling for checks.
  • Zig Zagged: The players switch between following the rails and going off the beaten path.
  • Averted:
    • There are no attempts at derailing the plot from the players.
    • The plot is loose enough that the players would have to intentionally be seeking the break up the plot.
  • Enforced: Carol's storyline is stuck because she failed to think it through all the way or accidentally left it unwinnable under the circumstances, and the players literally have no other way to proceed.
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  • Lampshaded: "Is this the week to follow the tracks or go off them?"
  • Invoked: "Are we messing with the Game Master's plan again?" "No. I learn not to plan ahead any more than ten minutes."
  • Exploited:
    • Carol, while annoyed, uses the sudden swerve to practice her storytelling skills
    • Carol knows Bob will ignore everything she says especially the things she expects him to and starts giving good advice. The next thing Bob knows is his character doesn't like rocks or electricity. Now everyone blames Bob for taking the Idiot Ball (that Carol gave him in first place).
  • Defied: In anticipation of the other players' attempts to derail the plot, Carol thinks of many ways to keep her story going (or alternative story paths) by being Crazy-Prepared.
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: ???
  • Deconstructed:
    • After having her intricate plotlines derailed too much, Carol gives up and runs module after module.
    • ...Or she decides to just ban Bob after her patience runs out, something that ends up creating lot of tension among the remaining members of the group in a chain of events that lead to the eventual dissolution of it.
  • Reconstructed: After having her intricate plotlines derailed too much, Carol decides to run a more flexible campaign that gives bonuses for ingenuity.
  • Played For Laughs: Alice and Bob create hilarity and silliness by their derailings such as turning a duel between noblemen into a Cooking Duel.
  • Played For Drama: Alice and Bob end up throwing the kingdom into chaos and creating a long and bloody war of succession.

Alice and Bob want to you to read "Off the Rails," much to Carol's dismay.

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