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What are the pros and cons of having a player party leader, or leaders? Is it more fit for some situations than others?

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Since this has no one correct answer: CW? – BBischof Sep 25 '10 at 23:16
@BBischof should every non-rules/non-history question be CW? – C. Ross Sep 25 '10 at 23:34
@C. Ross Honestly IDK?! :) I have a difficult time with the SO rules, and sometimes completely misinterpret. I suggested it primarily based on experience with other questions. I would go out on a limb here and say that you know this community better, so your call is probably much better. :P – BBischof Sep 26 '10 at 0:01
Do you mean a voted on/chosen by party leader? or the person who is most vocal and the de facto leader? – yhw42 Sep 26 '10 at 3:33
@yhw42 I mean a designated party leader, by whatever means they're selected. I don't necessarily mean that guy at the table everyone listens to, unless he's called the party leader. – C. Ross Sep 26 '10 at 11:44
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The Good:

  • makes large party play much faster
  • decision making easier and faster
  • combat cohesiveness
  • GM not player interpersonal problem solver, leader is

The Bad:

  • potentially abused to minimize certain players' involvement
  • indirect routing of intended action from player to GM
  • often not based upon the fictional relationships between characters (and thus a verisimilitude issue)
  • often IS the player interpersonal problem
  • potential to leap to decisions without waiting for party input
  • enhances perceptions of Player Vs GM play mode (even when untrue)
  • Bad party leader sometimes replaced by PvP action, which can lead to bad feelings
  • increases in-party political maneuvering vs each other

The So-So:

  • In military games, it's appropriate to have a PC in charge of the party
  • In space opera or nautical games, he who owns the ship tends to be the PC in charge
  • alters the story dynamic if party leader also caller.
  • alters interpersonal dynamics of other players by having another party member in charge

The Big "But..."

  • party leader player need not be playing character in charge
  • caller need not actually be party leader
  • even when a PC is in charge, players need not have a designated party leader outside the fictional construct (and I in fact recommend not to have one!)
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This is a good list, but I would like to emphasize one advantage, giving the party a bump when necessary. This falls under your category "makes large party play much faster", but even when the party is not large, sometimes they will deliberate endlessly over sometimes even trivial decisions. I find that a party leader(official or unofficial) will often eventually get fed up, and get things moving. – BBischof Sep 26 '10 at 4:29
As oft as not, I've seen that tick-off the rest of the party. – aramis Sep 26 '10 at 4:48
Heh, that is also a good point! – BBischof Sep 26 '10 at 5:00
I've seen it be necessary, though it helps if the player is calm as opposed to "fed up". I also find having a designated party leader helps because the players expect to occasionally be overruled. – C. Ross Sep 26 '10 at 11:47
My experiences are the PLAYERS should NEVER have an appointed leader. THe Characters can, but not the players. I've never seen it lead to a better game experience for most players. I have not had overall positive experiences, either, with callers. The beneficial use they have is in styles of play I reject and will not recommend. – aramis Sep 27 '10 at 19:12

I'll toss some ideas out there to get the ball rolling...


  • Makes total sense for a game in a military setting for one player to be the leader.
  • Can help a game move along if everyone is having Analysis Paralysis that day.
  • Can assist the GM in adjudicating large combats.


  • Less freedom/decision making for the other players.
  • Very easy to abuse. An overbearing jerk of a player is bad enough. It'd be even worse if he were the party leader.
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