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Evil Nosferatu
11-03-2010, 02:13 PM
Successful round robin gaming

Is it possible? Iíve done it before a loooong time ago during a time in my gaming career where I and a few friends sat around a table with a rule-less (as close as you can get) system we created ourselves telling stories together and whatnot. The problem is that itís hard to go back to that style of imagination just as itís difficult to become a child again.

So my question for you is this: Have you successfully managed a round robin style of play with your groups in gaming systems that exist today? Can you explain any details of rules that you set for all your player/GMs that made things streamlined and prevented it from becoming something else entirely by the time the game comes back around to you? (A Dexterís lab episode comes to mind).

Regale us with tales of your experiences if you please! I would love to hear them.

Thanks!

Malruhn
11-04-2010, 08:32 PM
I've done it three times - all with negative results reported by all hands. We all liked each others' styles of DMing - but they were all slightly different from each others'. It's like sleeping with different people every night... sure, it's fun, but you can never really get into a groove like you can with one person.

And by the time you make the circuit, it's not the way you left it when you were last in charge of the whips and chains.

And the DMing is different, too! ;-)

Evil Nosferatu
11-05-2010, 12:07 PM
So if you could do it all over again, are there any kinds of ground rules that you would create for your DMs so that things wouldn't get QUITE so out of hand? A good DM can salvage things if there isn't a random volcano in the streets afterward.....

jdbailey
11-06-2010, 01:05 PM
I think it's very doable, but I think some groundwork needs to be spelled out before everyone starts. First off, I'd suggest playing to certain (short) plot points instead of just running it session by session. I think people naturally get attached to the ideas they have already laid out. So limit yourself to something short and sweet, and allow yourself to finish GMing it before handing over the torch. Then let the others do the same. Try to make it fit into only a session or two, anyway. I think everyone involved will be more willing to let others meddle with their part of the story in this way. For example, let's say you had this really cool scene in your head, and you want the party to be confronted by this one particular obstacle. Great! Now write backward to where your group is now, and there's your adventure outline. Get through it, then pass the torch. That way, even if the others change the overall direction of the story (and they will), you completed your story arc and so you'll hopefully enjoy the new directions instead of being frustrated with them.

Planning everything out in your head beforehand and expecting all the other players-turned-GMs to follow the same path will only lead to a poor gaming experience, I would think. Good luck! I think it can be a lot of fun.

Evil Nosferatu
11-07-2010, 09:19 AM
So based on the discussions thus far and my own thoughts on the matter here are a couple examples of ground rules that I would likely present to the DMs who would participate in a round robin style....

What do you think? What would you add? What would you change?

Rules for being a round robin DM:
1. It’s highly encouraged to do a round robin style of DM. It’s not necessary or forced, but everyone likes to play sometimes.
2. Complete story arcs. Don’t allow other DMs to move into your storyline turf without express permission. This will prevent folks from feeling their work is being altered out of spite or for whatever reason. When someone thinks they can do something better than another person that tends to make the original individual believe they’re not as good also…
3. Discuss rules with the players that you wish to institute which would give the game an entirely different feeling and style. Coming into a game not knowing you’re expected as a player to do things differently is disorienting and disappointing, plus through discussion your idea might become more fleshed out and feasible.
4. Do not expect other DMs to do things like you do. Don’t critique them, especially at the table, and expect them to take it well. Only offer feedback if the other DM asks.
5. These rules are always subject to addition and change.

jdbailey
11-07-2010, 12:27 PM
I wouldn't impose rule changes from GM to GM. That might be too jarring. It might be easier playing if you hammer out the rules before you get started. Also, if you want true round robin style, I'd limit how many sessions (or some other measure of how long) story arcs can last. Our group doesn't really follow #4, because it kind of limits players challenging something. Sometimes GMs make mistakes, and if someone else can point it out, at least it can get resolved. Also, in the case of round robin, let's say one GM changes a particular NPC's job on the basis that they "thought it would work better that way" after it was already decided by a previous GM. Example: Say there's a double agent (gasp, that never happens!) and you say it's this traveling merchant of magical items. Your next GM decides they think it'd be better to make the double agent the kid of one of the PCs. Hehe. I would think that would need to be addressed, but that's me.

But I'd say you're on the right track! My suggestions are just how I'd do it and are by no means the printed rules.