The first is one of my favorite techniques in short form games, the goal/plot trade-up. This works pretty well in campaign games, too, and can get players who are looking for a plot in tangent X to get back on track with main plot ABC.
The goal trade-up works like this; give the player a fairly easy to accomplish completion of a major goal. If the player is looking for a lost father, they find and reconcile with the father in one trip. If they need to find the origin of a mystery sword, they find a scholar that recognizes it quickly. The pc can find the guy who sold them out and kill them in one mission.
But then, they immediately get a bigger central-plot goal that they need to work with. Dad's reunion leads to discovering you were adopted and secretly the son of a god. Time to figure out how to visit your REAL dad. The sword is a reasonable minor relic, but it has a nemesis that wants to destroy it and everyone who has every wielded it. You have to figure out how to stop this nemesis. The guy who sold you out was trying to save you from a curse that immediately hits you and is full of big badness. You have to deal with this curse.
Get the goal done, and welcome to your bigger, cooler tale. The bonus of this is that the player feels accomplished because they did a thing; start, middle, ending. Further, they are committed to the next stage of the story, which you may have more creative input over.
A successful trade-up feels great and creates extra buy-in to the whole story. One danger is that some players get attached to the original conflict. Was that really all there was to my lost father, the mystery sword, or the guy who sold me out? Some players will fixate on that and fight the fact they achieved a goal.
In any and all cases, a game involves listening to each other and some give and take, but I love the trade-up because it always feels like I have been given something.
This entry was originally posted at https://cristovau.dreamwidth.org/1023591.html