Getting framed has nothing to do with a player's background. It's the start of the game at hand.
Plus, I know plenty of players willing to let the DM interject a little into their characters. In my d20 modern game, I wrote my character in a manner that would actually help the DM and give him opportunities to play with it and add his own details to various aspects. And as far as I'm concerned, I do NOT want to know what those details will be until they come into play in the game.
Getting framed has nothing to do with background, but getting framed believable and successfully does.
Very true. Also players being "willing to let the DM interject a little into their characters" is precisely the issue. If they're willing, then not only can a frame job work, but the players can help make it better. If they're unwilling, it's asking for trouble.
I guess a DM can approach it obliquely, and ask the players if they'd be willing for their characters to begin play in a bad spot. Most players probably have some kind of bad spot they'd find interesting, and they might really trust the DM, and so they might go along with it. But framing is a special kind of trouble, one that can completely neutralize certain character concepts. My advice continues to be: openly discuss this with the players and get their help making it cool for your setting.
[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy
Assumptions: Setting matters to the players. For instance players not gonna just kill every city investigator or guard coming after them, then deciding to go further and pillage bank then simply flee town. They will try avoid capture via running, subterfuge while trying to solve problem and catch the real killers.
Effectiven Frame job: Frame job is easiest and best to formulate when thinking from two audience perspective:
1. What circumstances and facts need to be present for everyone around the pc to believe pc's are responsible for the murder and not someone else.
2. What circumstances and facts need to be present for pc's themselves to believe everyone else will definitely blame them for the murder, noone else and they are "fukked"; No chance of talking their way out without incarceration, obvious guilty trial, leaving only option of evading law while capturing the real culprits and then proving their innocence.
So then the question is what circumstance need to be present for above two to exist in your "hook", specifically designed for your Players (not PC) with predictable outcome. Should be not hard to figure out when viewed this way.
My generic suggestion with predictable player decisions if you can't think of anything:
1. Easy one: Players can learn there is a Serious Warrant issued for their immediate capture, arrest and hanging for Murder. A npc friend with pc's can further drive the point that their pictures are being posted everywhere and walking up to the a-hole magistrate and trying to convince him this is all a mistake without clear proof they didn't commit this murder is suicide.
Predictable player decision: evading law and everyone else while trying to determine who the heck got murdered, why they are getting blamed for it... Leading them to the murder site and working their investigation outward.
2. Bit more unpredictable one: Players find or stumble into the murder scene with the corpse. As they are there checking it out, law enforcement arrive surrounding the building, then shouting out players names, like a total frame job, that they know pcs are in there and to surrender for murder of the deceased.
Predictable player decision: Surrendering or walking out and/or trying to convince the law it wasnt them..which leads to...capture or player decides to fight them and escape when capture is imminant. Or players escape without direct confrontation from building via sewer or whatever, starting off the evasion, and figuring out who, how & why they are framed for murder, and formulate what they must do to prove their innocense.
Over all...sounds like very fun cat & mouse, investigative mystery adventure!
quarky player decision: Be prepared and try to predict quarky player decisions...such as "heck with this shitzu. lets just flee this town now. Move onto next...or lets take over this town...or lets just kill everyone including magistrates...or etc. Completely avoiding everything you got prepared for the cat & mouse, murder myster investigation adventure.
You know your players. If any of these quarky decisions are high probability, you will have to add additional hooks that matter to the player so they decide to stay, evade & solve, then ditching town or going on a killing spree.
Unexpected decisions: Players decide to get captured and thrown in jail, planning on "we'll convince them by talking we didn't do this"...plan. Prepare for that particular sub module...once captured, strippped thrown in jail, players will realizing bad situation just got worse and now must engineer an escape before kangaroo court convicts And hangs them. players may want to go trial..then must prepare that too. Either way an escape is most likely only option at end so, be prepared prepared, prepared for all possibility.
I'd be interested to know how this works out, I've been wanting to try something similiar to this with my PC's and I'd like some ideas.
Basically the idea is the PC's go to a town that has been having some trouble with creature's kill off some livestock, sheeps and stuff. The first night they get attacked by a pack of wolves, after killing one the rest flee and the dead wolve turns back into one of the townspeople. Some townspeople comeoutside to see what the commotion is and find the PC's (relative strangers) standing over a corpse of one of their own with weapons that are covered in blood.
The players have to figure out the identity of the other werewolves, and prove that they exist to clear thier name. I was thinking of putting a timelimit on it, they have to figure it out by the full moon which is in 3 ingame days because that's the only way to force a wolve to tranform
I'm stuck on a few points: -I'm not sure what the townspeople would do to the PC's, if this is a world where it's possible for werewolves to exist, would they let the PC's free range of the town in order to investigate because my gut says no =/ -I don't know how to keep my PC's from just fleeing the town, would they have a bounty on their head for murder for the rest of the campaign?
So basically I'm asking how are you dealing with someone else finding out about the murder that your PC's commited, what are the immediate consequences and how would you attempt to avoid them just fleeing?
I'm stuck on a few points: -I'm not sure what the townspeople would do to the PC's, if this is a world where it's possible for werewolves to exist, would they let the PC's free range of the town in order to investigate because my gut says no =/ -I don't know how to keep my PC's from just fleeing the town, would they have a bounty on their head for murder for the rest of the campaign? So basically I'm asking how are you dealing with someone else finding out about the murder that your PC's commited, what are the immediate consequences and how would you attempt to avoid them just fleeing?
Sequence you are hoping for: Players arrive town. Finds simple livestock kill problem. Decides to investigate, attacked by wolves. Kill one wolf, rest flees. Dead wolf turns into person. At that moment towns folks come by with torches, sees pc's over body, believes pc committed murder. Pc decides to prove innocence by chasing down pack, bringing proof of werewolf existence.
Player decisions to check out problem, then how they deal with townsfolk when they see pc over body, if they will investigate or simply bag out, if or how they gonna prove their innocence. These cross roads of player decisions, you have to create set of cirumstances so players will make predictable decision that you are looking for.
Anchoring players: Unlike OP situation where the setting anchors the players..I mean its london world setting where players live, where would players go. Your situation Fanis is transient through a town that has no personal meaning to players. You have to then anchor your players to it. My recommendation and easiest to anchor with predictable outcome is to use one of your players background story, and place a distant and/or immediate family member of that pc rooted at the town. That member can be the person pc's meet at the Inn first night there, family reunion occurs, & that family can introduce the livestock problem. Which will make that problem meaningful to player, making a predictable decision to investigate, which leads to your pack of wolf encounter. Remember one player's conviction to do something is all it usually takes for entire party to go along. Unless you have a-hole players who don't give a shitzu. Then pick the loudest, forcefullest personality at table and anchor that player.
Now when the result of encounter unfolds, townsfolks lead by family member excited pc's are trying to solve their problem walks into that moment pc's standing around dead body (make that person VIP of town), townfolks start to blame pc, except the family member. Predictably Pc's will try convince the folks right there and then he was a werewolf...ofcourse folks wont believe. At that point the town guards with them can demand the pc to go with them for questioning, creating another player decision: go with them or resist. At this point you can use your pc's family me,ber npc to intervene and ask players to cooperate, that folks know one of the pc is related to them (whole 1st nite family reunion at inn) and any trouble they cause may cause trouble to him and his family (Wife, kids & farm). Predictable desicion. The pc will convince rest of party to cooperate for the moment.
At the barracks where pc's are temp incarcerated facing a uncertain outcome, the npc family member gets them released, tells them town don't believe but he does and that they got 3 days to bring back proof, during which time he made a deal with law that he will remain incarcerated in their place. If they fail to return he will face their consequence...for murder.
there is your anchor and circumstances that will provide predictable player decisions and your module goes according to your plan, with a sense of urgency attached to it. Also introduces to party you are willing to incorporate player background (or help create one if none exist) to your adventures.
there can be so much other twists and turns you can introduce, such as pc family member also a infected lycantrope...or half the town, but such twists will make your head hurt and require several adventures and it seems you are wanting a one time module so probably keep it simple.
You know your players and style. Be prepared for quarky decisions at any decision making point, and unexpected bad decisions. They may make the correct predictable decisions at the cross roads or they may make quarky or bad decisions...both of which should be predicted and prepared, if want a smooth adventure for the players.
It can become easy when you focus on player behavior. Get to "know your players", what makes them tick in game, how they make decisions, whats important and not. Then creating the environment designed for the players which provides you with the best prediction of how your players will respond to that environment with their decisions, and also preparing for the unexpected & the quarky... you can pretty much get everything you want in smoothly to any adventure. It all starts with get to "know your players", get in their decision cycle, then predictions comes easy, then preparation clearer.
I haven't really set up much of a backstory for most of their characters, I usually allow them to flesh them out theirselves. I'll have to talk to my PC's and see if anyone would be interested in having some kind of close family member. Maybe they meet them a few times as the game progresses and eventually we'll get to this module.
Alternatively my PC's have just saved a group of townspeople from a necromancer's dungeon and are in the process of escorting them to a nearby village. I could have one of the townspeople stick out and attempt to befriend the PC's have her assist them when they get to the village and help them deal with whatever issues the village has. Then before the PC's leave town she'll say her good bye's telling them she's going to live with her aunt in village X (werewolftown) a few sessions later the PC's can get a letter from her asking for help and she'll provide more information when they arrive.
The rest of your ideas are golden I hadn't thought about putting 1 person in the village that the PC's would feel responcible for and would feel bad leaving.
Remember the goal is anchoring designed to the player not to you. What may anchor you in may not anchor your player in. Common mistake dm can make is setting up a anchor that he thinks should be important & effective because it is important to the dm. Then players respond to weakly, dont get anchored in, tracks away from your design and dm wonders why and may find himself telling the player this is important so act accordingly. Thats due to poor anchor, wrongly designed. For instance that gf relationship you may consider using as an anchor, you have to be certain that npc requests, and well being is primely important to one of your players, not just to you thinking it should be. Then you can predict with certainty how that player/s will respond to the npc you will use as a "carrot" on the stick To hook your players into next adventure you are designing.
Most common and easiet anchor dm's use are promise or expectation of gold or treasure for a service or the plot. Then the "reward" becomes the anchor. Placing a "ruin" or "dungeon", and players deciding to explore instead of ignore, thats the anchor, expectation of treasure and action. To me such anchor is boring, especially repeated over and over and don't require much insight or challenge by the dm.
Story or plot you may want to introduce is your fun as dm, but unless the players get hooked into it heart, mind and soul, you may get dissapointed when players track opposite instead of what you hope. That requires a good effective anchor designed to the player/s, then...they will decide on their own to charge right in the direction..and you got it all prepared.
Also anchoring don't require entire group being anchored in. Thats hard to do. Different things for different folks. All it takes is one, and you will find that player will convince the rest the importance. And ultimately thats what you want, player convincing players, discussing and choosing the direction, instead of you telling the group. Anchor 1 player really good, he will anchor in the rest.
Think, focus on your player response when designing the "hook" the anchor, and not your own response to it. Very important, but simple mistake dms can make, when designing the hook.