Traditionally the table-top roleplaying group consists of a games master and a set of players this can work very effectively as the sole GM has control of a consistent world and can tailor it to his players and their characters which as time goes on he gets to know well. The negatives are that with regular gaming sessions (however lucky you have them) fatigue can set in the same set of players start to bore the GM with certain automatic responses and the GM capacity can become eroded. From personal experience after a monster length successful campaign it can be very difficult to get players to engage with a new setting, rules etc;
Many games follow the pattern of episodic TV or traditional questing party books in having a set group adventuring together but if we look at other sources like superhero comics , more recent fantasy novels (in particular I’m think of the Shadow of the Apt series), TV shows (HBO/AMC/Showtime stuff) and our suspicious cousins in the world on multi-user online RPGs characters flit in out and out of different groups, settings and storylines much more chaotically and I’d contend realistically.
Equally in the world of TV and comics very few bodies employ just one writer, (or director for TV) which suggests to me there is no need for the one GM-one Group model.
There is an alternative. I know, I’ve tried it a few times and modern technology in the form of skype can help.
There are a great many roleplayers & GMs out there, many with other commitments (like myself) can’t make regular gaming sessions like they’d like too. But…
- There is nothing to say a game has to have the same player-characters in it week after week, scenario after scenario.
- There is nothing to say a game has to have the same GM week after week, scenario after scenario.
At University I GM’d and participated in a pulp SF game. In that initial game 3 out of the 4 roleplayers interested wanted to run it so we arranged to all make up a few characters and one of use would run a scenario then the GM would change some or all of the characters would change and we’d experience another planet or sector and other elements of the world. By the time that campaign came to an end there had been I think 7 GMs involved and including a multi-party all nighter ‘special’ game maybe 30 people had played c120 characters in that world. Some characters were even swapped between players!
Well it could be said that says more about how you can spend your time doing an arts course at University, but…the game stayed fresh for 5 years, you never knew what to expect and the depth and breadth of characters was extraordinary.
Other examples include a dimension-hopping game with one GM as the main GM but others guesting when they had ideas for scenarios that he approved a broad synopsis of. I also in 6th form ran a cyberpunk game where characters were offered 2 jobs one was GM’d by me the other by another GM. The only issue there was because of our style and attitude to description time unfolded much slower in his game than mine.
Skype means you are no longer limited to players of GMs in your neighbourhood for games having ran http://alfiesantics.wordpress.com/ on skype and have heard other groups using the voice-over internet system for free conference calls successfully for games. So to run a co-operative game what do you need…
- To be clear that all GMs are consistent on their interpretation of the rules
- To be clear what bits of the world the GMs can play with (either divvy it up but territory or establish certain ground rules like ‘no successful detonation of weapons of mass destruction,’ ‘no killing Sherlock Holmes’ or whatever is essential to your world.)
- Agree Tone (pulpy, gritty and lethal whatever.)
- Some central record of what’s going on – be that blogs, facebook group, forum, podcast stream whatever so when people duck out they can catch up.
- And speaking as a world building control freak..you probably have to push back and restrain the world building control freak each GM to stop them wanted to define every little detail restricting the freedom of the other GMs.
Examples of worlds were this may work would be:
- Three musketeers France with the character
bouncing around Paris
- Four colour Supers
- Call of Ctuhlhu – rather than a set of investigators various lone fighters of the cosmic bumping into each other (is also very much the premise of Delta Green.)
- Though I’d love to hear other people’s ideas.
If you would be interested in playing or Gming in something like this then please get in touch at dissectingworlds AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk or twitter AT clarkythecruel