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There are some people who like to GM, and maybe even like it more than role playing themselves. If you have one of those rare specimen in your group consider yourself lucky. Others are not averse to GMing, but enjoy it more to play their own character. I'm sure at least some of you can relate: You have motivated players, great ideas for stories and plots, and a mind to jump into the adventure at the next possible moment. But no one in your group is motivated (or has enough time) to be the GM.

We struggled with this issue for a long time, and mostly it resulted in us not being able to play as often as we'd like or one guy essentially being press-ganged into GMing.

Eventually we came up with the concept of

RPG Jam Campaings:

  • Each player would take turns (more or less uniformly) to be the GM for a session.
  • Each player has a character. For the time the player is GM, his character essentially becomes an NPC that either travels with the group or finds something else to do until being a PC again.

Storylines:
We employed several different schemes.

  • Generally a GM is responsible for his or her story. The story can be interrupted, if convenient, by segments from other GMs, but as a base rule the other GMs would not interfere too much with an other GM's story.
  • Some big plots spanning many sessions are developed by multiple/all GMs.
  • At some point a GM can also introduce a short 'segment' into an ongoing story: if he has a good idea, and wants to take over for a while he can do that after asking the player who is currently GM.

I am aware that the described scheme breaks with quite a few of the long standing RPG elements. There are some difficulties to be tackled (e.g. concerning rewards for PCs) and of course this technique requires that every player is at least a decent GM and has the necessary experience, knowledge of the rules, etc. I might also add that we mostly empoly jam session in very open, sandbox-like games, that tend to be rather player-driven.


After the lengthy description here I'd now like to ask:

  • Have ever used any tactics involving multiple GMs in one campaign (or even session)? How did you handle storylines/arcs between segments of different GMs?
  • How have you dealt with (or would you deal with) the problem of a fair distribution of PC rewards (exp, loot)?

I'd love to hear your input.

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Ars Magica does this, amongst others. Amber even suggest getting ride of the GM at all for large sections of the game. –  Sardathrion Mar 1 '13 at 15:49
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This looks like two questions. I'd suggest splitting off the storylines/arcs transition question into its own question (you can link back to this question for the background so you don't have to copy-paste or write it out twice). One question, one post means that answerers can't cherry-pick what they want to answer, so you get better, more complete answers. –  SevenSidedDie Mar 1 '13 at 17:15
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Good question! I think it's OK to focus on two aspects that you'll doubtless encounter in doing this, it's more focused than just "how'd it go/tell me what to watch out for" like many questions ask. –  mxyzplk Mar 1 '13 at 19:56
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

How We Did It

When D&D 3e came out, our gaming group decided to go to a rotation model. I was one of our regular GMs and had bought the first fistful of 3e adventures that had come out, mostly from third parties - Death in Freeport, Sunless Citadel, NeMoren's Vault, Reign of Ninshalbur (sp?) etc. We all resolved that everyone should run one as part of the same campaign. Each person took one and we round-robined per adventure (not per session, that seems like it has a lot worse problems associated with it).

Results

It worked out very well. Some people had GMed before and some hadn't. Some were good at it and some weren't. But everyone was good at something. One guy pretty much sucked at everything but had great, realistic NPCs and dialogue, for example. We all learned good bits from everyone and helped each other with the bad bits. Even those who decided GMing wasn't for them afterwards had a lot more appreciation of the work required behind the screen.

Story Continuity

Story wise, GMs had some that were "their own" and others would riff on previous people's stories. Never needed more than a "hey you mind if I bring back X in this" to the originator; mostly we did it a good bit (there were a couple plots people thought were so cool they only wanted the originator to handle them). We chose a campaign paradigm (pirates, since we started in Freeport) that was very tolerant of the group going and doing whatever they wanted. All the adventures were easily adaptable too; since they were all meant to be generic they tended to have maps like "town way out in the middle of nowhere in the mountains" which changes well to "town way out in the middle of nowhere on an island." The result was sandboxy and not theme-park style but that was fine with us.

Reward Distribution

"Fair distribution of XP and loot" never came up, honestly. Our group was in it for the play not the numbers, and I'm not sure it ever occurred to anyone to even question how many XP or how much loot one person's adventure had over another. Since all the PCs were in it (we NPC'ed the GM's PC) it all came out roughly evenly across the PCs anyway, which is the only real concern I can think of.

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  1. Yes. It was awesome. We had each GM do 2-4 session stories, then we'd rotate.

  2. We said XP wasn't worth the trouble. After each GM's story, everybody levelled.

Loot was more of a hassle. My opinion was that we should just have an even amount of gold and let people shop between sessions, but that wasn't much fun for the GMs who liked making up unique items.

What we ended up doing was overly complicated, time consuming, and not at all satisfying. We counted up how much the loot would sell for. Everyone got an even share of that. Before receiving that share, players who had participated in the mission (meaning not the GM's PC) could spend credit from that share to buy those items. I should caveat that this group was particularly nitpicky about even shares of loot and this was the system they used for single GM games as well.

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