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Author Topic: One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs  (Read 3581 times)

RPGPundit

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« on: April 24, 2011, 02:19:31 AM »
Has anyone ever done that? Run the same campaign but with different GMs taking turns? Has it ever been anything more than sub-par at best?

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2011, 02:42:16 AM »
I have done multiple GMs for the same campaign and scenario. For instance, by running a single urban game with GMs in charge of different areas of the city, and players basically changing game tables when they go to this or that part of town. Twice. Once with Cyberpunk 2020, and another time with the entire WoD, with the tables/GMs being running different locations and associated groups of supernatural inhabitants (werewolf pack, camarilla, sabbat, mages). The CB 2020 game might have had 20-30 players, and the WoD game probably had around 50 players. Both games worked admirably well.

Another multiple GM thing I've done, and this is in the long run, is basically running the same campaign world with GMs running their own areas in it. We've done this with the World of Darkness, many GMs we knew were basically picking one "by Night" City for themselves and running it for different players, but we would catch up regularly if we weren't playing at this or that other GM's games and basically assumed that all the events of one City carried over in all the cities of the same World of Darkness. So it was really our WoD with its own recent history and who's who and all that. I was running Paris by Night. There was LA by Night, Venice by Night, Cardiff by Night, Amsterdam by Night, Athens, Rome, Marseilles, Florence ... and I'm pretty sure I'm missing a few. It worked very well over ten years of simultaneous gaming.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2011, 12:23:07 PM by Benoist »

Benoist

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2011, 02:46:00 AM »
I've done the rotating GMs too now that I think about it. During my Arcana Evolved campaign, my wife took over GMing duties for a few sessions in the campaign. A new PC was introduced for me and the group basically got trapped in the plane of I'ix for some time. It lasted maybe three or four sessions, and it was pretty cool. When the PCs came back to the material plane, my character basically became a group ally/henchman whom the players were rolling for and so on, and it worked pretty well. It wasn't lame at all.

hgjs

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2011, 03:27:31 AM »
Yeah.  In college I played in a long-running campaign (it was started the year before I enrolled, and was still going when I graduated and moved away) with two alternating co-GMs.  It worked great: there was no such thing as an "off night," since the GM who wasn't really feeling it could let the other one pick up the slack.

The game was Ars Magica, whose encouragement of large casts (with each player portraying multiple characters) aided by making it easier to have multiple parallel plot lines occurring simultaneously, so the two GMs didn't have to worry as much about stepping on each other's toes.
 

Bedrockbrendan

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2011, 07:21:45 AM »
Haven't done the multiple GM thing; but have two friends who did it and were very satisfied with the experience (I believe they divided responsibilities: one handled NPCs, the other handled encounters and the environment).

Once I did have a friend of mine run the main villain in my campaign from a distance. I assigned him resources and his basic motivation. He let me know his plans for each session and how he intended to achieve it (i.e. I will set up a trap for the PCs in the dwarven mine). That worked nicely, but it was just a one time thing (The PCs were also aware that he was running the bad guy even though he wasn't present at the table).

The Butcher

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2011, 08:29:57 AM »
Our recent Star Wars (d20) campaign had two GMs. It was a fairly normal campaign, possibly because they worked very closely together, prepared extensively, and when in doubt conferred immediately.

But I can see how that could go wrong.

The Good Assyrian

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2011, 09:48:55 AM »
Quote from: Benoist;453324
I have done multiple GMs for the same campaign and scenario, however. For instance, by running a single urban game with GMs in charge of different areas of the city, and players basically changing game tables when they go to this or that part of town.


Great idea!  I am fond of Lankhmar-esque urban sword & sorcery so that would be a very cool model to try with my group.  We have a fairly large pool of people who like to GM.  

I would imagine that each part of the city would take on its own flavor without having the issues of people stepping on each others' toes as much.  How did you handle "city-wide" plots and NPCs?  Also, did you ever have cases where the action shifted to another part of the city mid-session?  If so, how was that handled?

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jhkim

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2011, 10:58:00 AM »
I've done it in a number of games.  In Ars Magica, I've done the suggested troupe style which worked pretty well.  Since there's also a rotating cast, we could change every session or two and still had good continuity.  

I did a strictly episodic diceless game using Theatrix where we played a set of immortals, and each episode had a different GM and was at a different time and place in history.  It worked well in that different times and places were supposed to have different feels, and we'd each set adventures in times and places we liked.  However, it was hard to sustain long-term.  

For two years, I co-GMed a campaign of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.  For that, we tried to make sure that the two GMs kept in similar style with each other.  Our device for this was:  (1) We would GM in sets of 3 single-session episodes, then switch.  (2) Before each set, the GM leaving would give a set of 3-5 "elevator pitches" for episodes - like a 1 or 2 sentence idea of what the episode would be about.  (3) The incoming GM would then prep his adventures based on the other GM's pitches, but with plenty of room for surprises and so forth.  The idea was that the style would be more consistent since we were exchanging ideas.  

I've also done switching GMs for a short-term Spirit of the Century campaign.  Each person GMed a long-ish multi-session adventure.  That worked OK, but continuity was limited.  

I do think it works best if (a) you have reasons for there to be different feel for different episodes, and/or (b) you take concrete steps to keep in-sync with other GMs.

pspahn

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2011, 11:18:05 AM »
Quote from: RPGPundit;453321
Has anyone ever done that? Run the same campaign but with different GMs taking turns? Has it ever been anything more than sub-par at best?

RPGPundit


I've done it three times and had a lot of fun. To me it comd des down to the game. It has tone something episodic and there can't be a lot of conventional travel involved. We ran Dreamwalker, Vampire tM, and Vice Squad: Miami Nights. The first worked as a sort of genre hopping Sliders type game while the last two worked because they were centered around cities where the power structure was well defined. I suppose a mrgadungeon would work well for the same reason but id hesitate to try something like Star Wars which is more epic.

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Benoist

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2011, 12:22:14 PM »
Quote from: The Good Assyrian;453340
Great idea!  I am fond of Lankhmar-esque urban sword & sorcery so that would be a very cool model to try with my group.  We have a fairly large pool of people who like to GM.  

I would imagine that each part of the city would take on its own flavor without having the issues of people stepping on each others' toes as much.  How did you handle "city-wide" plots and NPCs?  Also, did you ever have cases where the action shifted to another part of the city mid-session?  If so, how was that handled?

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TGA

I'm glad you like the idea! :)

It worked great in practice, but what you need in fact is a great organization and a willingness to fix as you go. You need: (1) cooperation between GMs, not hesitate to double check stuff and knowing how to do so very fast without needless chatter and (2) at least one GM with no dedicated area whatsoever, who basically passes along notes between GMs, checks on what's going on and gives brief of major events, these types of things. (3) To have a good notion of pacing. Time can become an issue as some groups are acting later in game world terms than others and so on. You can basically handwave in some situations, play differing situations at the same table at different time frames with an eye towards a break to bring back the clocks to zero, so to speak, gain back time on off camera stuff like players moving from one area to the next. Takes some getting used to, but it works in practice.

You can tailor the experience to fine tune it to the way you guys like to play, and you'll find a way to make it work. It's VERY exciting to play, because of the number of players involved and the sensation that everything's going "live" around your character, if you see what I mean.

I'm not sure about the action shifting mid-session. What I remember however is that in both cases, CB2020 and WoD, players started to basically die either at the hands of each other or with fights with NPCs and the like. The most dramatic example of that was at the WoD game where the Werewolves basically went to war at the end of the game on the Vampires, with some players actually dressed in Scottish tartans playing (real-life) pipes and the whole thing, and the thing devolving into a MASSIVE combat where nearly every single PC died. Out of the 50 or so starting players, I think only 2 or 3 characters made it to the end alive!

joewolz

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2011, 01:47:38 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit;453321
Has anyone ever done that? Run the same campaign but with different GMs taking turns? Has it ever been anything more than sub-par at best?

RPGPundit


I did this with 7th Sea about ten years ago.  There were four of us in the group and after every "episode" (2-4 sessions) we would switch GMing.  I had a blast in that game, since we ran it like a swashbuckling A-Team.
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Lord Darkview

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2011, 02:18:32 PM »
I've never been part of such a game.  Usually GM-swapping in games I participated in or observed was either due to or resulted in conflicts, and so most games had one GM all the way through, or they crashed and burned.

This may say more for my old RP circles than for the efficacy of the style, though.  That is unfortunate.
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Ian Warner

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2011, 02:44:48 PM »
I did it with a Scion "Scooby Gang" set up. Each of us had a PC and we'd take it in turns to come up with an adventure and run it. Usually we had our own PC take a backseat during this Adventure but I kind of made the mistake of writing an adventure about Vampires in Highgate Cemetry WHEN I WAS THE SON OF A SUN GOD!

Fail!

That particular session was saved though by one of the best comedy NPCs I have ever created.

The Ghost of Karl Marx.

This guy was so fanatical about his theories that he refused to believe he existed. The PCs spent most of the session trying to convince him to accept that yes there is an afterlife, yes there are clearly deities because we are their children and yes Communism won't triumph because it relies to much on humans being good people.
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greylond

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2011, 02:58:18 PM »
I love this about Pundit

Quote from: RPGPundit;453321
Has anyone ever done that? Run the same campaign but with different GMs taking turns? Has it ever been anything more than sub-par at best?

RPGPundit


I love how if he's never done a certain type/style of RPG and asks for information about it and at the same time puts it down... ;)

Yes, I've heard of many people over the years playing a mult-GM game AND I've done it myself.

In fact, right now, every Wed evening I play in a HMb/AHM game that has rotating GMs. It doesn't rotate on a regular schedule, just whomever has a good adventure prepped and ready. Right now we are about to playtest a Tournament Adventure that is going to be played at one of the Major Cons this summer. It helps us that everyone involved right now has GM'ed HackMaster, but I don't think that is a requirement to this concept working.

Pundit, dude, chill out. You're such a pessimist. Just because you haven't tried it, doesn't mean that it is automatically "crap" or "sub-par at best." There are many ways to have fun playing games.

Pete Nash

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One Game, Multiple (rotating) GMs
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2011, 03:24:28 PM »
Tried it once for about a year, with most of the players each taking turns GMing, with a 1-2 session limit for each mini-scenario.

Initially it worked very well, but as time progressed and each GM began to diversify away from the core premise (an island of adventure upon which a colony was being founded) - whether from PC levelling or wanting to make their part of the island more unique, and the entire campaign eventually foundered and collapsed.

In hindsight it was fun, but doomed due to stylistic differences between the various GMs.
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