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After have played only a few session (actually 5 sessions of 2-4 hours) I've noticed something that I found quite strange.
In our group we are 4 players: I (Newbie), A (Experienced), B (Newbie like me), C (Beginner).

This is an optional description of them that you don't have to read if you don't want:

  • I'm always quite quiet, trying to understand the scenario and the behavior of both NPCs and the other PCs (AKA: learning). Also, I always take care of the team; I mean, I always try to do the most wise and least dangerous or self-destructive actions (like asking forgiveness to someone that C tried to persuade with a low roll) - when they give me a chance.
  • A is 100% of the time roleplaying, he is really into his character and plays him as the character would do. Even when he speaks, he speaks as if his character would do; his way of play is inspiring. Like a good paladin, he helps weak NPCs, fulfills his promises, and fights evil creatures until death (actually, he uses his body as a shield for us). Also, basically he is the only reason why we are doing the DM's campaign (his character offered himself to protect a lady while we are moving his to another safer location).
  • B is really indecisive (maybe a bit like me, but I don't start speaking randomly when I don't know what to do). Sometimes he has some interesting ideas using his druid's spells, but it's difficult for him to explain those ideas. He is the most charismatic person in the group, but he almost never talks (and when he does, he has really bad rolls). Also, I am not sure if this is his natural behaviour or if he was depressed by his bad rolls, but in the last session his PC got drunk, cast a destructive spell randomly "because of his drunkenness", and killed C... He is always roleplaying in the worst situations...
  • C is interesting. For a large part of the time, he is whispering (secret chat) with the DM (I know that because sometimes they forget to use the whisper command). He takes strange but also interesting actions (like trying to take a raven and discovering that actually they were 3 druids, trying to steal a horse, getting shot with an arrow, being killed by B, and all of us being kicked and banished from the tavern... all in the same hour, when our actual mission was to get some information about a certain person).

The problem or curious thing I note is that A is always moving or leading the group with his perfect roleplaying. 80% of the time, we are following him. While he is talking with an NPC, we are just looking around the place, and when he wants to do something (e.g. kill some harpies or defend a lady), we follow his command, willingly (like me) or unwillingly (like B).

But when A isn't present (2 of the 5 sessions), the sessions get slower. The DM explains the situation and... we don't answer; we aren't sure what to do. Our only reason to protect the lady is that A convinced us; he has the plan, not us (also, in the same day he wasn't present we reached our destination, so we weren't sure what to do next). Because no one was doing anything and the silence was getting longer, I felt the responsibility/obligation of keeping the session moving in order to not get stuck. I tried to do my best, but it was difficult; I'm not used to talking so much and trying to give orders to people that aren't willing to obey me or that have different opinions.

Luckily, the first time I took the lead, I managed to move the party to a shop, and the DM used the rest of the session's time to sell items. But the second time, I barely moved them to a tavern and I got exhausted. They started doing stupid and unproductive things (well, B had an interesting idea: talk to the drunk people in order to gather information; sadly, he also got drunk) while I was trying to get some information. At the same time, NPCs weren't willing to give me that information, and they started watching us (with a focus on me) in an uncomfortable way.

Is it normal that there is always one PC designated to lead the whole party (talk with NPCs, gather information, give orders, etc.)?

Also, in the case that "the leader" isn't present:
How can I (as player) encourage the others PCs to keep moving in the campaign, and not get stuck or do unproductive actions?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You have two separate questions. How can I (as player) encourage the others PCs to keep moving in the campaing and not get stucked or do unproductive actions? isn't the same question as "is there always a leader for a party?" \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 3 '18 at 21:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast you are right. Do you think I can remove that part of the question (How can I (as player) encourage....) without affecting existing answers? \$\endgroup\$ – Ender Look Apr 4 '18 at 0:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ No need to hurry with an answer to that, I was a bit late to the party . It just seemed to me that you have two questions, and most of the answers were for the first one. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 4 '18 at 3:32
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No, not always.

It sounds like in your group, A has taken the lead, as the most experienced player, but that has good points and bad points. The good is that the group does things and progresses, and makes fewer mistakes; but the bad is that the less experienced players can be overshadowed or ignored, and don't get to make mistakes and learn from them. I have played in games where I have been the most experienced player by far, and I generally try not to lead/move the party, so that everyone playing gets to control their own characters and fully participate in decisions.

Sometimes there is a specific circumstance, where the action is focused on one character, e.g. the party has agreed to help one party member rescue some of his relatives, and so that party member leads the effort. But that's a role-playing role, in-character, and not how the party works in general due to player factors.

Most groups I play in do not have a designated leader, but some people like that style. The players get to decide what works best in their game.

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There is not always a 'Caller'

'Caller' is the term I have seen used to refer to the player with the responsibility of declaring the final decisions of the group to the GM. 5th edition D&D does not require a speaker, nor does the DMG particularly encourage having one.

Having a 'Caller' can be normal, but it does not seem to be usual at present

There are definitely cultural subgroups where having a caller is the way the game is played, always. Many older players of D&D will find this format more usual, I suspect-- I have seen it much more frequently in AD&D and OD&D (BECMI or B/X) groups. The OSRIC rulebook, a rpg system designed to be a sort of updated, freely available homage to early D&D gaming, specifically addresses the existence of 'callers', which again reinforces the idea to me that this is a tradition from older rpging culture groups, while the Moldvay Basic manual addresses the same, as yet more evidence.

In any case, it is a fine, and in many cases culturally normal, way to play, which trades GM involvement with each of the players for greatly increased ease of play for large groups. Nonetheless, most groups, in my experience, do not play this way, and I've not seen any play this way at Adventurer's League events.

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When I play, I'm usually the A type thanks in part to my military background. I also end up playing a cleric or to a lesser extent my paladin. When I DM however, I understand the mix of experienced and inexperienced, younger and older, bolder and sneakier, etc.. With that in mind, I try to develop adventures that are well rounded, give everyone the opportunity to do their part and "draw" the younger and more inexperienced into the story so they can not only learn the game, but to "experience" the game. The bottom line is I don't think their ever is a "designated" leader, but a character with a background such as noble or soldier might very well assume more of a command role in the game. However maybe the adventure is geared for stealth or speed, whereas the rogue or ranger might step up as the leader. As a DM, I am also there to enjoy the game and if it gets bogged down by the players inability to make decisions or keep the game going, then that is all I have to do is improvise and drop some sort of encounter onto their laps to move it along. Hope that helps

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Is it normal that there is always one PC designated to lead the whole party (talk with NPC, gather information, give orders, etc)?

Normal is whatever you make of it, in real life people often look to those with more confidence to lead. However if you're supposed to be a party of equally (differently) skilled individuals then this would be less expected. There is nothing wrong with one player taking on a leading role for driving things forward or being the final call but you should avoid making this the theme as then you become side characters in the one players game which can take away from the fun. Remember your character has their own reasons for adventuring, their own thoughts and feelings, and their own desires.

How can I (as player) encourage the others PCs to keep moving in the campaing and not get stucked or do unproductive actions?

Depending on how well your characters know each other in game, you can use information about them to suggest actions. For example: if you, as a player, know another character has a decent score in something like Medicine, History, Arcana, etc. and it makes sense your character knows that the other character has knowledge in these areas it is perfectly valid for you to prompt them. Knowing their background would also play into it.

You might also want to speak to your DM regarding setting up situations where another player gets a chance to shine. In a campaign I did previously I would present various situations that played to different class strengths as well as their backgrounds. If I found one player seemed to be getting all the action I would throw in something the others would be called upon for.

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