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Round-robin storytelling has been around for a while, and something I have always been interested in experimenting in AD&D with a variation of GM'ing where players take turns becoming the GM in the same campaign and storyline.

Without proper planning, this could be very chaotic and not very satisfying, however.

What are some methods for switching up who is the GM in the same game? I know this is an odd approach, but something myself and friends would like to try. Are there any resources for this out there? Have you tried this already? Important items I want to consider:

  • What happens to a player's PC when the player becomes GM?
  • Which PC does the last GM get when a new GM steps up?
  • How to encourage working together and building off of past GM efforts?
  • How to discourage sabotaging each GM's efforts and GM decisions that will mostly benefit the PC that GM will later regain control of?
  • Anything else you think is important to consider here.
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Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/22584/… –  mxyzplk Mar 8 '13 at 13:04

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

We have been doing jam sessions for a while now, and this is how we handled it:

1) PCs or players currently GMing effectively become NPCs. They travel with the group and stay in the background (maybe find some other things to do) until the player takes over again.

2) Every player has his personal character, so every GM will always eventually return to play his own PC again.

3) Building bigger stories can be more difficult than shorter segments and one shots. I recently opened a question concerning this here.

4) Why should people do that? This never was an issue. It just worked out, the same way PCs don't generally work against each other as the players want to have fun as a group.

Two points that might be interesting:

We mostly distributed EXP equally. Our rationale: the GMs PC took part as an NPC (up to a degree) and thus receives the same amount as any other PC. This is also to avoid GMing becoming less liked by players who would rather advance their PC.

We recently started RPG jamming using pre-written quest jam cards: each little card contains:

  • the action the PCs are expected to do
  • the location
  • the weather/environment
  • an important encounter
  • the reward for doing said action.

At the beginning of a jam session each player-GM would draw one or two cards, containing a quest each. Whoever thought he had a good idea to work with would start with his quest and develop a story. Other GMs would take over with their card/quest either once the first GM is done or as a temporary interlude during some other GMs segment.

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We used to do that a lot in a group we had. They weren't any rules at all, simply one came with an idea for an adventure and took control of the game, when other's adventure was finished.

For more ideas, take a look to Ars Magica's troupe roleplay, or this comment.

Now, answering your questions:

1- It depends on the situation. I usually prefer to retire temporally the current GM's character with some excuse (I'll check how my wife and kids are doing). Sometimes that isn't possible (for instance, if the last adventure left the characters lost in the jungle). So you'd have to treat your character as a NPC companion. Just try to be fair.

2- The one that has a cool idea for the next adventure(*).

3- Just talk it. You're supposed to share the same objective, so that should be enough incentive. You could also make an informal evaluation at the end of each adventure to see how is it going as a global campaign.

4- Same as above. If a player is as immature as to persist in such behaviour (after several talks), just let him out of the game, or do not allow him to GM again. If there are several players doing this, you should abort the idea, and go with one GM. Without trust this can't be done.

5- As said before, trust is everything. If a player can't be fair it doesn't make sense that he is a GM. Talk a lot about it. Make sure everyone is on the same page, and aiming for fun, not just up-levelling and maximizing their characters.

(*) Technically not round-robin, I know.

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1- IMO, it's always worth temporarily retiring the GMs character if at all possible (maybe incapacited by illness). It's very difficult not to subconsciously favour your character; even more difficult not to be thought to do so. –  TimLymington Mar 9 '13 at 18:54

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