Idea for Player Participation "vs." Storytelling Suspense

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As far as I can tell, the two main perspectives on this board are

1) If you don't talk to your players about what could happen in the game, they might get bored doing something "for the plot" that they're not interested in.

2) If you do talk to your players about what could happen in the game, they might get bored knowing what's going to happen ahead of time with no tension.

Couldn't the players and DMs come up with a lot of ideas ahead of time so that the players don't know exactly which one is being used at any given time?

Founder - but not owner - of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
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If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

As far as I can tell, the two main perspectives on this board are

1) If you don't talk to your players about what could happen in the game, they might get bored doing something "for the plot" that they're not interested in.

2) If you do talk to your players about what could happen in the game, they might get bored knowing what's going to happen ahead of time with no tension.

Couldn't the players and DMs come up with a lot of ideas ahead of time so that the players don't know exactly which one is being used at any given time?




I think it more accurately described as this:

1) If you don't have a player buy-in and don't tie them into the game, they will be disconnected from "the plot" and be bored.  Because it doesn't interest them.

2) If you talk to your players and keep open lines of communication a lot of the tomfoolery that people try to pull on one another, and the massive amount of prep work that goes into it, can be reduced to a simple "so, what do you guys want to do" and then building off that.


I don't really think anyone here is opting for you to share everything with the players.  Just enough so that they are invested and you are all working on a story that everyone cares about.  My PCs know that we will get to things that they want to do (Who was that black-robed figure and why can't we kill him?  The town we started in is becoming a major hub, we should hire some tutors and artisans to turn it into a real city at some point...).  But the nitty-gritty details of how to tell that story, that is your job.  Just because the players have input on the outline doesn't mean things can't surprise them.  You just want to be on their side for the journey and be seeing it with them.
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As far as I can tell, the two main perspectives on this board are



I'm not sure I'd elevate either perspective to that level. They're just two in a sea of perspectives, none of which are objectively wrong provided they're delivering a good gaming experience to that individual group.

1) If you don't talk to your players about what could happen in the game, they might get bored doing something "for the plot" that they're not interested in.



To me, this is self-evident and not debatable. People engage on things they're interested in. If you're presenting content (regardless of whether there is a plot or not) that the players aren't interested in, then chances are good they'll be bored. How do you know what they're interested in? You ask, rather than assume.

2) If you do talk to your players about what could happen in the game, they might get bored knowing what's going to happen ahead of time with no tension.



Most if not all of the detractors that say things like this have not the faintest idea what they're talking about. They're also, based on what I see, fixated on surprising the players some of the time rather than the characters all of the time, with the active help of the players. I put forth that a game like ours where there is high player collaboration has more interesting surprises - and with greater frequency - than a game with less collaboration. Even great surprises for the DM. An idea is offered and through "Yes, and..." it is refined and fleshed out such that everyone is engaged in it (because they helped create it), but it's often in a form that is different than when it started which is often surprising. As well, when you have 5 or 6 people all collaborating and putting ideas into motion, those ideas have a tendency to come around full circle in surprising ways, creating connections and driving action in a fashion that no primary motivator could have easily devised by himself.

Couldn't the players and DMs come up with a lot of ideas ahead of time so that the players don't know exactly which one is being used at any given time?



Sure. It sounds like you might be suggesting, more or less, throwing a bunch of ideas into a pile and then the DM picking the ones he likes. I prefer to use them all, right there, at the moment they're offered so that nobody's ideas are wasted, discouraged, or shut down.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

 Most if not all of the detractors that say things like this have not the faintest idea what they're talking about. They're also, based on what I see, fixated on surprising the players some of the time rather than the characters all of the time, with the active help of the players. I put forth that a game like ours where there is high player collaboration has more interesting surprises - and with greater frequency - than a game with less collaboration. Even great surprises for the DM. An idea is offered and through "Yes, and..." it is refined and fleshed out such that everyone is engaged in it (because they helped create it), but it's often in a form that is different than when it started which is often surprising. As well, when you have 5 or 6 people all collaborating and putting ideas into motion, those ideas have a tendency to come around full circle in surprising ways, creating connections and driving action in a fashion that no primary motivator could have easily devised by himself.

 Exactly, that's the perspective I prefer too.

 Sure. It sounds like you might be suggesting, more or less, throwing a bunch of ideas into a pile and then the DM picking the ones he likes. I prefer to use them all, right there, at the moment they're offered so that nobody's ideas are wasted, discouraged, or shut down.

 And that's exactly how a discussion about resolving a specific scene should be handled; I was mostly talking about possible quests, locations, and NPC's, etc... for some unspecified points in the future. Sorry about that.

Founder - but not owner - of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
Show
If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

I am one of the detractors to iserith's style of game. I've had first hand experience where the players knew what was coming, and they were just utterly bored by it.

As far as I'm concerned, it's not the DM's place to be the one surprised all the time. Most DM's will be naturally surprised just by seeing the in-game decisions made by the players. Out of game/world decisions/reactions have absolutely zero reason to be in the player's hands. NPC reasoning, logic, and world background, history, etc. are the DM's domain.

And honestly, I've never seen or met a player that has enjoyed the concept touted by iserith.

I feel that that in this case, the concept of having your players involved reeks of laziness on part of the DM, and even more importantly, a massive statement that the person in question does not enjoy being a DM and are instead trying desperately to be a player. In which case, they should go find a group that allows them to do this.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
I've had first hand experience where the players knew what was coming, and they were just utterly bored by it.



A failure to deliver compelling content or to assess your player's level of interest in the approach prior to applying it is not a failure of the style. Also, I call into question your ability to actually do it in the manner we prescribe since your posts generally indicate a complete lack of understanding with regard to all aspects of the approach.

As far as I'm concerned, it's not the DM's place to be the one surprised all the time. Most DM's will be naturally surprised just by seeing the in-game decisions made by the players.



Nobody's saying otherwise.

Out of game/world decisions/reactions have absolutely zero reason to be in the player's hands. NPC reasoning, logic, and world background, history, etc. are the DM's domain.



There is absolutely zero reason for those things to be solely in the DM's domain either, outside of tradition. Tradition can take a hike as far as I'm concerned, especially since the traditional model has well-known and predictable pitfalls.

I feel that that in this case, the concept of having your players involved reeks of laziness on part of the DM, and even more importantly, a massive statement that the person in question does not enjoy being a DM and are instead trying desperately to be a player. In which case, they should go find a group that allows them to do this.

 

DMs are players.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith



DMs are players.




DMs are referrees, game designers, judiciators, story tellers, world builders, actors, writers, and more. But they are not players.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/

DMs are referrees, game designers, judiciators, story tellers, world builders, actors, writers, and more. But they are not players.



Seems to me if you're playing a game, you're a player. The DM is just a player with some different responsibilities.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith


DMs are referrees, game designers, judiciators, story tellers, world builders, actors, writers, and more. But they are not players.



Seems to me if you're playing a game, you're a player. The DM is just a player with some different responsibilities.





The DM is not the one playing the game. Therefore, not a player.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
The DM is not the one playing the game. Therefore, not a player.



I disagree. Everyone at the table is playing a game when they're sitting down to play D&D together. That we colloquially refer to them separately doesn't mean they aren't all playing a game.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

The DM is not the one playing the game. Therefore, not a player.



I disagree. Everyone at the table is playing a game when they're sitting down to play D&D together. That we colloquially refer to them separately doesn't mean they aren't all playing a game.



And I disagree. The DM is not sitting down to play a game. He is sitting down to judiciate a game. Completely different.

If you change the DM's role, then he is no longer a DM and you should not call him as such. What you do iserith, is not DMing. And you really shouldn't be on this board giving the kind of advice you give. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
And I disagree. The DM is not sitting down to play a game. He is sitting down to judiciate a game. Completely different.



Adjudication is simply a responsibility that the DM has as he plays the game.

If you change the DM's role, then he is no longer a DM and you should not call him as such. What you do iserith, is not DMing. And you really shouldn't be on this board giving the kind of advice you give.



I certainly don't need the title of DM, if that's what you're saying. It can go, most certainly.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

There is merits to both methods of gaming, and I suspect many games are a combination of both methods to varying degrees.  Executed in their extremes both methods are going to have their detractors.
A referee can't be a player.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

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A referee can't be a player.



True a referee can't be a player.  I can't really think of an instance where a person who is an umpire, referee or judge could be called a player, but rpgs aren't competiotions.  There is elements to dming that make a dm a referee but dms are certainly role playing while they are refereeing.  No a dm isn't playing a player character but he has a more integral role than any sports referee.

I find myself falling down on the side of "The DM is also a player with a different set of responsibilities".

Yes those responsibilities are varied a good bit more than what happens in many other games, but it is still someone who is playing.

I mean, think of the banker in monopoly (which is similar, but to a lesser extent).  Whoever is playing banker has a different set of duties aside from being a player.  They overlap in certain areas and the banker still has goals and still has a piece on the board.  Granted the key difference is the win condition for the banker is the same as the rest of the players and the win condition for the DM is different than the players, but the concept of one player having an elevated role isn't completely alien.

All that being said I really don't like DMPCs.  Also my players, in multiple games, play with a style similar to Iserith's style.  And when I play, rare though that is, I prefer to have my DM go that route. 
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Hmm... interesting change of topic. Is the DM a player or not?

I'd have to say: both.

If the DM's job was STRICTLY rules resolution, I would've said no the DM isn't a player, much like a typical arbiter. However, there's this one question that persists in my mind:

Who participates in the story?

The obvious answer would be, "the players of course!" But then I'd have to ask, "If that's the case, then wouldn't you agree that the DM is also a player?"

Here's why: when the DM RP's as an NPC, and when he controls the creatures that aren't PCs, isn't he participating in the story as one of the characters in the story or world? When he describes in detail the predetermined or impromptu descriptions of the area(s) that the PCs see, isn't that the DM participating in the storytelling experience, by setting the mood and helping to visualize the scenarios?

So yes and no, he is and isn't a player.
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Hmm... interesting change of topic. Is the DM a player or not? I'd have to say: both. If the DM's job was STRICTLY rules resolution, I would've said no the DM isn't a player, much like a typical arbiter. However, there's this one question that persists in my mind: Who participates in the story? The obvious answer would be, "the players of course!" But then I'd have to ask, "If that's the case, then wouldn't you agree that the DM is also a player?" Here's why: when the DM RP's as an NPC, and when he controls the creatures that aren't PCs, isn't he participating in the story as one of the characters in the story or world? When he describes in detail the predetermined or impromptu descriptions of the area(s) that the PCs see, isn't that the DM participating in the storytelling experience, by setting the mood and helping to visualize the scenarios? So yes and no, he is and isn't a player.



Simple disqualification: Is the DM participating alongside the players with the same goals, desires and within the same rules framework?

No. No. And no.

Hence, the DM is not a player.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Hmm... interesting change of topic. Is the DM a player or not? I'd have to say: both. If the DM's job was STRICTLY rules resolution, I would've said no the DM isn't a player, much like a typical arbiter. However, there's this one question that persists in my mind: Who participates in the story? The obvious answer would be, "the players of course!" But then I'd have to ask, "If that's the case, then wouldn't you agree that the DM is also a player?" Here's why: when the DM RP's as an NPC, and when he controls the creatures that aren't PCs, isn't he participating in the story as one of the characters in the story or world? When he describes in detail the predetermined or impromptu descriptions of the area(s) that the PCs see, isn't that the DM participating in the storytelling experience, by setting the mood and helping to visualize the scenarios? So yes and no, he is and isn't a player.



Simple disqualification: Is the DM participating alongside the players with the same goals, desires and within the same rules framework?

No. No. And no.

Hence, the DM is not a player.



I'd actually answer all three of those with a yes...  Same rules?  No, but same framework.  Should DM goals and player goals for the story be the same?  Yes, or very similar.

About the only one I can think of that might not default to a yes is the desires part.  In which case I have to ask what the players desire.  Do they want to have an interesting story and have fun playing together?  Yep. 
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I'd actually answer all three of those with a yes...



That's fine. You're allowed to be wrong.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

There's a link in my signature called "Collaborative Roleplay." Check it out. It explains how to play without needing a single person to be the DM.

I'm sure some people really need to hold onto that title and the illusionary power that comes with it. I get that, I guess. But I don't, and since we started sharing those responsibilities and whatnot, our games are far better for it, with increased engagement and involvement in every respect. We're all just players with some same and some different responsibilities.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Hmm... interesting change of topic. Is the DM a player or not? I'd have to say: both. If the DM's job was STRICTLY rules resolution, I would've said no the DM isn't a player, much like a typical arbiter. However, there's this one question that persists in my mind: Who participates in the story? The obvious answer would be, "the players of course!" But then I'd have to ask, "If that's the case, then wouldn't you agree that the DM is also a player?" Here's why: when the DM RP's as an NPC, and when he controls the creatures that aren't PCs, isn't he participating in the story as one of the characters in the story or world? When he describes in detail the predetermined or impromptu descriptions of the area(s) that the PCs see, isn't that the DM participating in the storytelling experience, by setting the mood and helping to visualize the scenarios? So yes and no, he is and isn't a player.



I disagree. The DM is telling the story. He is not participating in it. For him to participate in it, means he needs to make decisions to advance the story as the players would. Instead, what the DM does is advance the story based on other people's decisions so that they make more decisions. At no point, does he actually participate. He is a conduit that relays the information of the world and the game to the players so that they may play freely in what has been created.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
There's a link in my signature called "Collaborative Roleplay." Check it out. It explains how to play without needing a single person to be the DM.

I'm sure some people really need to hold onto that title and the illusionary power that comes with it. I get that, I guess. But I don't, and since we started sharing those responsibilities and whatnot, our games are far better for it, with increased engagement and involvement in every respect. We're all just players with some same and some different responsibilities.



That is down right insulting and more baiting on your part. Please, stop with the condescending tone and attitude.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
It's not baiting or insulting; it's a statement of fact. There really are some people attracted to the position of DM because it affords them (they think) some measure of power and control over others. I'm sure we've all seen it before at one point or another in our gaming lives. Said people could probably never imagine a scenario in which they weren't in total control of their game (or whatever aspect of the game they considered "theirs") or that a game could be GMless. Plenty of games have done it. Why not D&D? Why not break down this barrier to DMing?

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

It's not baiting or insulting; it's a statement of fact. There really are some people attracted to the position of DM because it affords them (they think) some measure of power and control over others. I'm sure we've all seen it before at one point or another in our gaming lives. Said people could probably never imagine a scenario in which they weren't in total control of their game (or whatever aspect of the game they considered "theirs") or that a game could be GMless. Plenty of games have done it. Why not D&D? Why not break down this barrier to DMing?



Because it's not a barrier.

All you're doing is changing the game at it's core. Turning it into something completely different. In fact, your style completely renders D&D from being a game, and turns it into nothing more than shared story telling with almost no rules at all. Which is boring as Hell.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Because it's not a barrier.



Sure it is. Why do you think there are less DMs than players? Because you only need one per group so no need? Or because of the work and effort heaped upon him by the traditional model? That work and effort can be spread across a group for the same or better result and less onus placed upon a single person.

Now, you may like that additional work, effort, and onus. I like it myself and don't mind creating a lot of content. But let's not suppose our viewpoints are in the majority when it comes to people deciding if they want to put in the effort and then just deciding it'd be better to remain a player. Get rid of this barrier to entry. More DMs means more people playing the game which is good for the hobby.

All you're doing is changing the game at it's core. Turning it into something completely different. In fact, your style completely renders D&D from being a game, and turns it into nothing more than shared story telling with almost no rules at all. Which is boring as Hell.



The core of D&D is to produce a shared storytelling experience. We use every rule in the books, too. I wouldn't find what you suggest we're doing very engaging either, which is why we don't do what you say we do.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Because it's not a barrier.



Sure it is. Why do you think there are less DMs than players? Because you only need one per group so no need? Or because of the work and effort heaped upon him by the traditional model? That work and effort can be spread across a group for the same or better result and less onus placed upon a single person.

Now, you may like that additional work, effort, and onus. I like it myself and don't mind creating a lot of content. But let's not suppose our viewpoints are in the majority when it comes to people deciding if they want to put in the effort and then just deciding it'd be better to remain a player. Get rid of this barrier to entry. More DMs means more people playing the game which is good for the hobby.

All you're doing is changing the game at it's core. Turning it into something completely different. In fact, your style completely renders D&D from being a game, and turns it into nothing more than shared story telling with almost no rules at all. Which is boring as Hell.



The core of D&D is to produce a shared storytelling experience. We use every rule in the books, too. I wouldn't find what you suggest we're doing very engaging either, which is why we don't do what you say we do.



DM to player ratio is hardly a concern of mine. Instead, I'd focus on the lack of players on a local scale (I'm ruling out Internet here, because it's not the usual method of playing). Besides, as you said, you only need a single DM to every 2+ players.

Also, I'm not seeing the DM to Player ratio problem. I'm currently in a group where 3 of 5 of us are experienced DMs.

If anything, I'd say that the main reason there is a lack of DMs (if you must have an answer), is that not everyone has a story to tell. But everyone loves participating in a story. In which case, it makes perfect sense for that kind of person to just be a player. Which is most definitely what you should be, since you obviously do not like being a DM and from what I can tell, view it as a horrible burden.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
DM to player ratio is hardly a concern of mine.



That's a shame. It's an indicator of the health of your hobby.

If anything, I'd say that the main reason there is a lack of DMs (if you must have an answer), is that not everyone has a story to tell. But everyone loves participating in a story. In which case, it makes perfect sense for that kind of person to just be a player. Which is most definitely what you should be, since you obviously do not like being a DM and from what I can tell, view it as a horrible burden.



Plenty of people believe that the DM isn't the one who's supposed to be telling the story, even people who disagree with me that the game could do without DMs in a formal role.

I like being both a DM and a player and I do both in every game (without DMPCs). And as I mentioned in the very post you quoted, I don't view it as a burden at all. That doesn't mean I can't empathize with all those potential DMs out there who do.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

DM to player ratio is hardly a concern of mine.



That's a shame. It's an indicator of the health of your hobby.

If anything, I'd say that the main reason there is a lack of DMs (if you must have an answer), is that not everyone has a story to tell. But everyone loves participating in a story. In which case, it makes perfect sense for that kind of person to just be a player. Which is most definitely what you should be, since you obviously do not like being a DM and from what I can tell, view it as a horrible burden.



Plenty of people believe that the DM isn't the one who's supposed to be telling the story, even people who disagree with me that the game could do without DMs in a formal role.

I like being both a DM and a player and I do both in every game (without DMPCs). And as I mentioned in the very post you quoted, I don't view it as a burden at all. That doesn't mean I can't empathize with all those potential DMs out there who do.



If we're going to talk about the health of the hobby, that's a completely different topic for another thread. Which includes everything from the way the game is perceived, to marketing, to WotC support, changes, and more. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
If we're going to talk about the health of the hobby, that's a completely different topic for another thread. Which includes everything from the way the game is perceived, to marketing, to WotC support, changes, and more. 



You're sidestepping. You can talk about that one aspect, if you choose to, and it does relate in some ways to the original topic.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Hmm... interesting change of topic. Is the DM a player or not? I'd have to say: both. If the DM's job was STRICTLY rules resolution, I would've said no the DM isn't a player, much like a typical arbiter. However, there's this one question that persists in my mind: Who participates in the story? The obvious answer would be, "the players of course!" But then I'd have to ask, "If that's the case, then wouldn't you agree that the DM is also a player?" Here's why: when the DM RP's as an NPC, and when he controls the creatures that aren't PCs, isn't he participating in the story as one of the characters in the story or world? When he describes in detail the predetermined or impromptu descriptions of the area(s) that the PCs see, isn't that the DM participating in the storytelling experience, by setting the mood and helping to visualize the scenarios? So yes and no, he is and isn't a player.



I disagree. The DM is telling the story. He is not participating in it. For him to participate in it, means he needs to make decisions to advance the story as the players would. Instead, what the DM does is advance the story based on other people's decisions so that they make more decisions. At no point, does he actually participate. He is a conduit that relays the information of the world and the game to the players so that they may play freely in what has been created.


When world events continue to take place regardless or in reaction to the input of other players to the story, isn't that the DM making decisions to advance the story?

Doesn't the very fact that there is no "pause" when the players trudge off to do a side quest entail that the DM is, in fact, providing his own input to the story that is being developed in his world?

Is the DM participating alongside the players with the same goals, desires and within the same rules framework?

Is the DM using the same rules system as the players?  If yes, that means they're using the same framework.  The DM just has the ability to modify the framework, but otherwise operates under the same framework.

Is the DM participating alongside the players with the same goals and desires?  Assuming that the goal of the game is to promote a sense of camaraderie and achievement through the act of participating in adventures set within a fantasy world, I'd say yes the DM is participating with the same goals and desires... but because camaraderie and achievement is easier to achieve through shared experiences in the face of adversity however, someone has to instigate that adversity and challenge, and so the DM is seated behind the DM screen.  If the desire of the players is to have "fun", I would find it absurd that a DM running any TRPG wouldn't find the experience "fun".  The main difference is: what sort of "fun" are we talking about?  Is it the fun of building a world that others can explore, or is it the fun of exploring a world that someone else had built, using a character that you yourself have created?

So while I normally agree with you YagamiFire, I'd have to say that yes the DM is also a player within the same system, but with different privileges, responsibilities and functions.

- - - - -
Think of a Point of Sales system (electronic cash register).  You have two sides to the same system:


  • Front end.  This is where all the buyers' transactions are actually made, so you have cashiers and their seniors handling everything normally seen in a grocery.

  • Back end.  This is where all the administrative functions come in, so encoders, office staff, accounting, etc. take care of whatever has to be taken care of at the warehouse section of the grocery.


As a cashier in the front end, you see money going in, you see goods going out, and everything else is not really your concern.  Meanwhile, the owner at the back end need not even know how to operate the front end of the system, because they're far more concerned about how much money the store is earning, how much inventory of each product is remaining, when to order the next items, how big the salary of each worker is minus tardiness and theft and other variables, and taxes, among other things.  You and the owner share the same goals (earn money), but you do it in very different ways (you work for the owner, owner is buying and selling stuff), even though you're both working within the same framework (the grocery).

Translating this analogy to a TRPG, players are only concerned with character creation and how characters can interact with the world.  Their characters are the "front end" of the system, and offer players a window into the entire game world.  Meanwhile, the DM handles the "back end" of the system, so everything from NPCs, to monsters and dungeons, to cities and markets, to world events, all happen inside the same game system and game world.  And just like in the aforementioned Point of Sales system, the DM also has administrative rights, allowing him to make tweaks to the system that are clearly not possible for players to do, at least not without a lot of rallying and discussions with the DM.  Players and DMs share the same goals (have fun) but do it in different ways (players get involved in the world through their characters, DM gets involved in the world through the NPCs), even though all of you are working within the same framework (the rules system).

So again the short of it is: yes the DM is still a player, just with a different set of responsibilities and abilities.
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Why do you think there are less DMs than players?



LMFAO

Gee maybe because DMing requires more effort, social skills, organization and work than playing? And humans are a notoriously lazy species.

This question is like asking why there are more people that eat than people that are chefs.

Some people are so lazy towards DMing and what it entails that they even try to shift a bunch of the responsibility onto the players! True story!

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Why do you think there are less DMs than players?



LMFAO

Gee maybe because DMing requires more effort, social skills, organization and work than playing? And humans are a notoriously lazy species.

This question is like asking why there are more people that eat than people that are chefs.

Some people are so lazy towards DMing and what it entails that they even try to shift a bunch of the responsibility onto the players! True story!



Yagami, you should be careful man. I almost fell out of my seat from laughing so hard.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Back to the original question...because the argument in its current form is boring me.

As far as I can tell, the two main perspectives on this board are

1) If you don't talk to your players about what could happen in the game, they might get bored doing something "for the plot" that they're not interested in.

2) If you do talk to your players about what could happen in the game, they might get bored knowing what's going to happen ahead of time with no tension.

Couldn't the players and DMs come up with a lot of ideas ahead of time so that the players don't know exactly which one is being used at any given time?



I don't believe that asking and discussing with your players what they want out of the game means they know what is going to happen ahead of time.  For example, if the group blatantly states outright that they want to find ancient dungeons overflowing with treasure then I am going to come prepared the following week with ancient dungeons overflowing with treasure.  They will have no clue what treasure, or where in the dungeon it is, or what dangers and lore lie within.  Only that they are partaking in the activity that they wanted, i.e. a dungeon crawl.
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
I don't believe that asking and discussing with your players what they want out of the game means they know what is going to happen ahead of time.  For example, if the group blatantly states outright that they want to find ancient dungeons overflowing with treasure then I am going to come prepared the following week with ancient dungeons overflowing with treasure.  They will have no clue what treasure, or where in the dungeon it is, or what dangers and lore lie within.  Only that they are partaking in the activity that they wanted, i.e. a dungeon crawl.



Good approach. I do the same.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

After reading the article linked in Iserith's signature (Collaborative Roleplay) I admittedly don't understand the problem with the approach, as expressed by Lunar and Yagami.  I've played in games before where the responsibilities were divided, shared, and rotated.  Mostly because we had an overabundance of DM's.  Most of our players were actually DM's for other groups so it just sort of naturally worked out that way for us.  It wasn't exactly how the article he linked to describes it-but fairly close.

I do however recognize why it doesn't work with all groups-having DM'd for players who were almost begging to be lead around by the nose and dropped into the nearest dungeon crawl.  Some people don't have the time to prepare content, or lack the skills or confidence to improvisationally engage a group-I don't think I agree with Iserith on this point, its not all skill (I won't argue semantics on this), it takes a good deal of confidence and creative talent.

I would pose a question to Lunar, why is it that you feel your prep is better than your improv?  I'm interested in what your response would be.
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
After reading the article linked in Iserith's signature (Collaborative Roleplay) I admittedly don't understand the problem with the approach, as expressed by Lunar and Yagami.  I've played in games before where the responsibilities were divided, shared, and rotated.  Mostly because we had an overabundance of DM's.  Most of our players were actually DM's for other groups so it just sort of naturally worked out that way for us.  It wasn't exactly how the article he linked to describes it-but fairly close.



Right, I suspect to most, this is not some foreign concept. Reduce the workload on one person by sharing it amongst the group. It removes some of the barriers to DMing. I'd call that a good thing. Engaging the players in more aspects of the game than just "play your dude" means even more engaged players in most cases. There really is no downside in my view. To be fair, I can't read all of the arguments you referenced. Though I can imagine there are some DMs who believe strongly in the separation of roles for reasons they think are valid and that anything else is an anathema. They're entitled to their opinions, certainly.

I do however recognize why it doesn't work with all groups-having DM'd for players who were almost begging to be lead around by the nose and dropped into the nearest dungeon crawl.  Some people don't have the time to prepare content, or lack the skills or confidence to improvisationally engage a group-I don't think I agree with Iserith on this point, its not all skill (I won't argue semantics on this), it takes a good deal of confidence and creative talent.



I think that like anything, you gain confidence in the doing and improving. I'll agree it may not be something every DM wants to pursue as a goal. Some people simply aren't comfortable with it and prefer to use a different style. They're not wrong by doing so as long as their group is having a good time. I won't (as others say of frequently of their own style) say it's simply better inherently.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Now, my game, which is my first DMing experience, has barely gotten out of the starting gate so I have no idea how well the style I am attempting will work. What has seemed to me to be a good concept, and what I plan to work with unless it becomes apparent that no one is enjoying themselves, is talking to my players out of character and just shooting around different ideas about what has been fun in games we have played and in this one once we actually do things or what could be fun. I put in more prep than I really need to, I do it more out of enjoyment than necessity, and this gives me a lot of world to work with so it has been pretty easy to add in a lot of the ideas I hear. As Detoxifier mentioned I just don't clue them in on it. If an idea sounds fun and I can fit it into the mechanics of the world we are playing in then I toss it in there. I don't tell the players the wheres or the hows of it all, but if it is a good idea, well, why not include it? 

I tend to favor the line of thinking that the DM is the boss. I don't really feel as though I'm on a power trip with it, I don't even feel like I'm the best for the job. I just enjoy writing and thought it would be fun to put some players into an altered version of a story I had written to see how different the outcome would be. To me, that is what a DM is. The players craft the story of their characters, the DM crafts the story of the world the characters are in. Since the DM is in charge of the world though, they also make the judgement calls on what is acceptable and what isn't. Someone has to and sometimes the group as a whole isn't going to agree. Sometimes they don't even need to be part of the decision, in my opinion.

Before anyone jumps me about that last bit, what I mean by that is players wanting to go out of their way to break the game for no other reason than to see if they can or other such non-sense. As far as I'm concerned, at that point the only way to respond is a solid thump with the DM stick. I've broken the game a bit myself, most often for comedic value, and if it is something to this effect then I'm all for it. Halfling Rogue doesn't want to compete in a death match for the noble's amusement so he hides under his cot and when they try to drag him into the arena he just screams I DON'T WANNA and rolls to escape every time they try to pull him out until the roll fails is hilarious. Character that actually has the backstory of being a gladiator getting into the arena and then just running from every fight, making giant laps and all out avoiding combat just cause... DM says you tripped over a rock on that last lap, buddy.

Back on track, so I'm all for everyone getting in on the overall creative process, I just think it is a DMs job to figure out the how, when, and where of the fun stuff everyone comes up with.

Also, because the DM is involved just as much as the players, more in some ways and less in others, but they are not involved in the same way does not mean they are not a player. I think football/soccer is a great example for that arguement. DM is the goalie. No one says the goalie isn't a player because he is the only one that can use his hands.
After reading the article linked in Iserith's signature (Collaborative Roleplay) I admittedly don't understand the problem with the approach, as expressed by Lunar and Yagami.  I've played in games before where the responsibilities were divided, shared, and rotated.  Mostly because we had an overabundance of DM's.  Most of our players were actually DM's for other groups so it just sort of naturally worked out that way for us.  It wasn't exactly how the article he linked to describes it-but fairly close.

I do however recognize why it doesn't work with all groups-having DM'd for players who were almost begging to be lead around by the nose and dropped into the nearest dungeon crawl.  Some people don't have the time to prepare content, or lack the skills or confidence to improvisationally engage a group-I don't think I agree with Iserith on this point, its not all skill (I won't argue semantics on this), it takes a good deal of confidence and creative talent.

I would pose a question to Lunar, why is it that you feel your prep is better than your improv?  I'm interested in what your response would be.



Mostly because I don't DM for strangers most of the time. I tailor the game to best match the players I know on a day to day basis. Understanding now that iserith is DMing with a very large number of players, the majority of which he doesn't know very well (more than likely), his style makes more sense for him. That said, I can't see any of his games being on the same level as a fully prepped adventure tailored to match players an average DM knows very well. No offense intended iserith.

The ability to prep a game without asking your players all the time the details of the world or the results of a combat scenario *cough*death/nodeath*cough*, keeps things moving much more fluidly. I also do not like the concept of improving everything, because it likely means opening the books a lot to look up monster stats, unless you know them all by heart. Which I doubt anyone does with exception to the most hardcore of hardcore rules lawyering sons a guns. And if you're not going to use proper stats, you're likely going to have to modify the numbers all the time on the fly to increase or decrease difficulty appropriately. Which is also annoying as Hell and can seriously screw up XP rewards. Now, maybe iserith doesn't even use numbers (which I and my own group would abhor), but most groups do and I don't know many people who would recommend such a thing.

And then if we're using iserith's style, there's the long drawn out discussions between actual moments of roleplaying to explain and tie things together before proceeding. That to me, is just a giant buzzkill. Not to mention, any arguments that arise risk breaking the session altogether when players are not willing to accept the ideas of others.

If we're using standard DMing improv, this is less of a factor. But overall, I have always found fluidity and game balance to be giant factors that shine well and better in prepped material than pure improv. Other than that, there's also my opinion that planned material feels way more fleshed out and detailed than a giant spit-wad of ideas flung together by a lone person or group in the middle of a game. And I'm going to still advocate the surprise and exploration factor for players.

I understand the argument of having more minds = better material, but the lack of surprise for players is too large a negative in my eyes. Not to mention, since DMs have access to the Internet, this forum, and more than likely other DMs, there's little to no reason to lump your duties on the players. You can bounce ideas around with other DMs to create that better material and tweak it to interest the players you should know well.

Improv is an important tool of any good DM to touch up his work. But it makes for a poor primary composition.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
I understand the argument of having more minds = better material, but the lack of surprise for players is too large a negative in my eyes.

Actually, there would be even more surprises because there would be even more people involved in surprising everybody. If one person is in complete control of the story, s/he won't be surprised (and might as well just write a novel if they think that their story is so perfect). If everybody is involved, then each player has X-1 people surprising them instead of just 1, and there's nobody at the table who doesn't have X-1 people surprising them.

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Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
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If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire