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I'm working with some fellow GMs to prepare a campaign in which we each host separate groups of players, but in the same shared world. This means that the actions of my players might actually influence some other GM's players in the course of the campaign.

How can I reconcile differences in desired plot direction? My proposed solution was having perhaps a "Master GM" or a "Meta GM" to approve large-scale plot points that might disrupt other player's stories, but that proved to be too much extra communication.

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The most common method I've seen is to give each GM a distinct and non-overlapping field in which to run adventures. These need not be physical spaces; In one campaign, one of the GMs was running a plot in which a cabal of necromancers was trying to seize control of the kingdom through magical threats and political manouvreing; At the same time, the other GM was running an orcish invasion. They both destroyed cities and such; The other could always adapt by having important NPCs and McGuffins flee to other places "just in time." –  GMJoe Jul 17 '13 at 5:09

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

As Rob already said multiple gamemasters are very common with LARPS. Let me first explain how this is done in a particular vampire LARP I have been a player in and then how to modify this for tabletop. There are probably many other ways to do this but this is the one solution that comes to my mind.

The vampire LARP is having several player group of approximatelly 25 players (in LARP this is easily doable), each with several GM's. Each payer group plays is located in a particular city and the players play all the characters of that city. In principal on each session the GMs of that city are in full control and each city has its own stories going on.

However players from one city can and do occasionally visit the other cities and tell of what happens there. Also some important NPCs can appear in more than one city and also several of the bigger plots can effect several or even all cities. For this to happen the GM's of course have to stay in contact with oneanother.

Now how to do this in a tabletop. First of all make sure that all the characters know each other and have a reason to work together. If you do not have this then you will never be able to take full benefit of the fact that the game is running parallel with another group. A good way would be to make them all member of the same cult, crime organization, guild, or something similar. Ensure that this organization is active in multiple cities (or other locations.)

Then make each group of players the branch of this organization in a particular city and allocate to each group a GM. Within this city the GM is allowed to do set up wathever stories and NPC that he likes. Outside of this city he can within reason improvise.

Of course the GM's should take care that they inform one another what is roughly happening in their city and should take care that not one group is getting more powefull then any other group, otherwise it would ruin balance.

If you then meet the othe GM's once every two or three months you can also discuss things like NPC moving to other cities or make a bigger organization that opposes the PC's and has agents in several of the cities.

I hope this gives you some idea how this can work.

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Working with others

In the LARP games most adventures I've played were small self contained affairs. Larger adventures or plots spanned over several days had to have anything OK'd by anyone whose "area" was involved - this works for large event systems like The Gathering and Isles of Darkness (LARP systems with thousands of players) the latter of which I was a GM in for far too many years.

For these games each faction/city/clan/etc in the system has several GM's and they are free to invent and create plot for their area as long as it doesn't impact the wider world (no gigantic floods) or another faction - as soon as they start doing that they need the approval of other GMs whose areas are involved. These systems DO have a concept however of GM hierachy and a master storyteller and these people can invent plot for all areas if they want.

For example in the IOD world system local areas have assistant GMs who can run stories if OK'd by the local GMs, if they want something that runs regionally then they need the OK of the regional GM and so on up to the master storyteller. Personally I'd advise against this hierarchy system unless one GM is running games a lot more than others and the other GMs are just running now and then.

Note this becomes horribly bureaucratic in the larger systems, but for small tabletop systems this can be done much more easily and doesn't really need the hierachy system; the GM's simply have to adhere to these rules:

  • Each GM is in charge of a nominal area or group of players and has places that are under their control.
  • Affecting larger areas and groups needs approval from the other GMS - note this can always be done well in advance.
  • Never step on anyone's toes without asking.
  • Everything that has been previously stated is canon.
  • You cannot interact even indirectly with one of your own other characters - they don't even exist as far as they are concerned *
  • Wheatons Law

So if one GM runs an event where Baron Von Nasty has destroyed the city of Splat, the city of Splat remains destroyed, and all the consequences thereof. More importantly the information about why, how and what the Baron plans and what that they've discovered also remains canon.

In practice this has means that each time a GM swaps over they take up the "plot" with their group the world evolves all over and different stories and more culture emerges.

It is very helpful to have a common stomping ground or city where players can go, this needs to be a place where all the GMs can have their own NPCs and common NPCs that can be controlled (and maintained consistently) certain leeways should be drawn up as a loose agreement about what can be done to said city and any development of certain NPCs for that city or large destruction should be agreed.

E.g. In our major city of "Homesville" the great leader Bob is controlled by GM 1, but his seneschal is controlled by GM 2. Either GM can interact and use these NPCs but changing their personas, or major life events needs the other GMs approval (unless they've said they don't care)

In the end it's a bit of a "division of the spoils" of the world at hand and a "gentlemans agreement" (so to speak) not to muck around with other peoples stuff.

This is a fairly dynamic style of GMing and as such long-scale elaborate plots tend to emerge from NPC's goals (something I prefer anyway) rather than set-in-stone events.

* This is principally a LARP rule to stop players power-levelling between other characters, it can be an important consideration.

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The asker is requesting details about non-rotating multi-GMing. –  called2voyage Jul 17 '13 at 12:31
    
My post title was edited to say "simultaneous" instead of "non-rotating", which may have caused the misdirection, but still gets the idea across. However, most of the suggestions made here apply just as well whether you rotate or not. That's why I've accepted this answer. There are probably other methods besides this one, so please keep answering if you have additional solutions. –  Machination Jul 18 '13 at 1:07
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If you leave a question unaccepted it will encourage more answers than otherwise. It's a good idea to leave it open for a few days at least. –  Rob Jul 18 '13 at 6:20
    
Good to know, thanks Rob! –  Machination Jul 18 '13 at 14:25

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