So my friends and I would start a new campaign; but with everyone wanting to play, we would change DM's per quest.
(we would be playing a merc company, so the fact there's no real red line isn't really a problem)
does anyone have experience with that sort of thing (with perhaps advice for possible problems) ?
what we did when we had 6 players, 1 of which played dm each week, is that we would rotate round robin who would be dm, the dm's character would be present, but only able to provide support to the party from the background and didn't engage in combat but still gained xp equal to the average amount gained by the 5 other players. Who ever's turn it would be that session spent time putting together a small adventure that could be played out in one game session, and also left 2 to 3 adventure hooks in the adventure so that the next dm had some ideas of what to build on, and essentially, the plot was player driven. It was fun, we took our characters from 1st to 17th before the group broke up due to some of the players moving away.
The only real drawback I have experienced is when one DM wants to over-do the rewards. A solution to this is to share treasure parcel duties openly.
A friend and I ran two separate campaigns both set in Eberron at the same time. Mine was more swashbuckling and daring-do. His was more politics and intrigue. We worked toward tying both our stories together so that it would dovetail nicely and give the players the ability to appreciate some serious depth and "behind the scenes" understanding of what was going on in the larger story. So whereas one of my adventures would be about kicking hobgoblin ass in Darguun, his would be about a different set of PCs making contacts in Rhukaan Draal so that they could get close to the Lhesh Haruuc on behalf of the Trust.
My group has roughly 12 players that can come out at any one night; this is enough for 2 tables (in the same campaign) Players will switch tables from time to time
So we often take turns changing the DM and it is a situation that can work out great.
just make sure you have 1 core DM that controls the story to make sure the game does not get out of hand.
Another neat thing to do, is have a DM on deck. This person will be the next DM, and get them to make a small dungeon or adventure. 6-8 encounters and challenges and have the story not affect the main story going on.
Then when its time that DM runs his set, get another player to be the DM on deck.
Having played a long campaign lasting several years with rotating DMs I think it can work very well.
What we did was:
- no strict rotating, but more of 'I'll take the next round as a DM'-approach. But strict rotating would probably work as well, as long as being the DM is not felt like an unwanted obligation. It is supposed to fun!
- one DM per full adventure/quest/scenario
- unwritten rule of not 'hijacking' NPCs introduced by other DMs, especially recurring BBEGs etc. Same with specific plotlines - a DM could take offset in a plotline developed by another DM for his own plots, but he shouldn't take over such a plot - the 'owning' DM should be allowed to develop it (unless of course they agree on such a 'takeover')
- we started out with a small campaign map, with only a few details of the area where the PCs started their adventures, and the campaign world then slowly evolved, with the various DMs adding villages, towns, keeps, dungeons, rivers, mountains etc. - all kinds of places of interest. I highly recommend such an approach instead of starting play in a fully fledged world. It resulted in a quite unique campaign world that everyone had participated in creating.
So, go ahead!
well, on our monday game we rotate GMs and systems. currently we're running 4th ed and before we were running WW's Exalted. next up is a quasi-homebrew a buddy of mine's been itching to have a go at and i'm either going to run GURPS or Changeling once that's done... this way we get to try different systems and each person gets a chance at his hand at GMing.
this is interesting as we get to see how different people run different rulesets. some of them are familar sets (like 4th ed) while others are nearly wholly alien with only casual nods to previous experiences (i've play WoD's Mage but never Exalted).
it also lets us experiment with minimal investment. we can try stuff out simply for **** and giggles and if we get a character that doesn't work quite right, it's not like we're locked into the game with no exit. it's different, fun and quite honestly the highlight of my week's gaming.
our wednesday PF game is becoming more of the same every week (enter "dungeon" > find plot coupon > RP a bit > repeat) with the usual suspects doing the usual things (wizards debuff/cause chaos among ranks, golem shenanigans ensue, rogue finishes stuff off) and no challenge... it's nearly done and i'm quite honestly a bit happy. it's been fun playing with the group(i've been playing with them for what... 4-5 years now?), but the system they like leaves a lot to be desired and i'm getting annoyed and aggraved by it.
the monday game with the new group is my breath of fresh air.
now, i wouldn't want to rotate GMs for one ongoing campaign, mainly for continuity issues since each GM might have a different idea on how it should go in the long term... something about too many chefs spoiling the brew and whatnot. maybe for a monster/dungeon-of-the-week scenario with no real/ongoing plot (past the generic "the littlest (group of murderous) hobos wanders into town, some kid's in physical or psychological danger, saves town, morals are learned by all, leaves into sunset, repeat next week"), but the "no real/ongoing plot" doesn't interest me much.
while this previous statement might sound odd considering we swap systems and GMs every month or so, we generally work in plot arcs and leave it open for continuation should we like the system enough to pick it up again.
My troupe tried this and failed several times, but eventually we hit on a great twist: Don't just rotate the DM. Rotate EVERYTHING. No character belonged to a single player; there were five of us, and we made a party of four, together. That way the story and the characters belonged to everyone, and it ended up being one of the coolest stories we ever told. The DM rotated regularly, and we drew lots to see who would be piloting what PC that session. I don't know if it would work as well in 4e, but it worked great back in the 2/3e days.
That's what my group generally does is rotate DM duties.
It's fun, but the drawbacks in my experience are similar to those described by Iserith: creative conflict due to different DMs having a slightly different mood, tone, vision, and style. Plots got dropped easily, NPCs sometimes acted out-of-character depending on what DM you asked, and so on.
As long as the DMs can shrug off the differences in style and not get too wrapped up in creative control over the world, it's not a disastrous drawback.
With only three members, our group was a bit too small to just leave the DMPC back at the camp, but fortunately the DMPC usually took a back seat support role to everyone else so the DM could focus on NPCs and other DM duties, so we never really had a problem with a DMPC turning into a nightmare.
All of us seemed to delight in leaving mysteries at the end of each adventure for the other DMs to expand on... for example, the discovery of a magic mirror with an unknown function in one DM's dungeon is left for another DM to elaborate on the history and magical abilities, or mysterious notes might be found in the belongings of a slain monster ("hey, about that note - what did it mean?" "beats me, I just made it up on the spot... do whatever you like with it.") This was one of my favorite parts of being a rotating DM for some reason.
We've done it where each DM hosts an adventure, and provides lead-in for others' follow-on adventures so that at the conclusion the next DM can step in and take up the reigns with minimum culture-shock.
We also come to specific rulings together for controversial issues like houserules and ambiguous rules stuff that need resolution.
As for the campaign world, we'd generally stick to our own areas and political groups/factions, and not mess with each others' NPCs unless we had permission.
My group does this now and it's generally my preferred style of DMing. The trick is to get on the same page about things like experience, treasure system, rules interpretations and the like.
My group rotates every 2-3 levels. Each DM has full control of the story during their tenure, but the game does not belong to them, it belongs to the group as a whole.
My group rotates DMs, but we each have our own separate campaigns. One is Dark Sun, one's the Scales of War world, and one is my home brew. It works well because we each have slightly different attitudes about DMing -- for example, one of us does XP by the book while the other two just hand out levels at the end of each adventure.
My group uses this format, as well. We have one DM who is technically 'in charge' of the game (this is currently me, though the last campaign, which finished about 6 months ago in mid paragon, was one of the other players) and provides the campaign story and basic outline, and is responsible for having something to run if nobody else does... but each other player can jump in and run a side-trek (sometimes a couple of sessions long) and the DM either plays the guest DM's character, or has a DM pc that is sort of 'handwaved' into the background when they are running.
We sort of use the "Yes, and..." of improv theatre for our sessions and things that a guest DM does with the campaign; our group has been playing together for a long time, and nobody has tried to shoehorn anything crazy into the game, and it's fun to try to work whatever wierd blurb the guest may have thrown at you into your game.
It works well, but the reason we decided on this method was because we only get to play once a month, so it wouldn't be fair for one person to only ever run, and never get to play.
We also do the "level at the end of a session" option, instead of actually handing out XP. That lets us move the group along through the levels to experience the classes indepth, and then swap to something else that interests you for the next campaign.
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