What are the pros and cons of having a player party leader, or leaders? Is it more fit for some situations than others?
- makes large party play much faster
- decision making easier and faster
- combat cohesiveness
- GM not player interpersonal problem solver, leader is
- 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
- 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!)
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.