View Full Version : Co-GM/DM-ing

10-15-2007, 01:44 PM
I don't know that I've ever done this, but has anyone ever Co-GM/DM'd. For example; A game world exists. There are a set of players in that world, but every so often, the GM/DM position is traded between two or more persons. Thus allowing everyone to be a player.

I'm just wondering how this worked out. I've never done it, though I have taken over worlds that haven't been used in a while just to mix the gaming up a bit, but they were never reused and continuity wasn't jacked up due to another GM stepping in.

Please, share your experiences with this idea, if you have any.

10-15-2007, 06:15 PM
I was in a group where the DM occasionally tag-teamed with one of the players and let him run an adventure. It was infrequent and the adventures were always on the side, with no major story elements revealed or effected. The two collaborated closely for these one-offs and the adventures were always planned ahead of time and DM-approved in advance.

However, personally, as a DM, I have never relinquished the DM-chair for one of my campaigns to anyone else. My feeling is that if someone in my group wants to run a game, I'm more than willing to play, but they need to have their own story to tell.

10-15-2007, 06:42 PM
Like Farcaster, I have never let anyone into my DM chair. I am the author of my world, and no two bit hack is going to mess it up for everyone.

I have seen it done in a game I joined many years ago. It didn't work well. The two DM's completely pandered to the others character. It soon became such a farce, I walked with the other players to start a new group.

In a play by post game I played in a few years ago, The DM chair was like a revolving door. Four players became the DM one after another. When the original DM decided he had time again, no players wanted to continue with the mess.

10-15-2007, 10:01 PM
I've often wanted to run a collaborative game. As a co-author of a couple stories, I have had a lot of fun contributing to the making of worlds. I think that many games worlds would be big enough for more than one GM.

Then there is Universalis, where every player's a GM. Fun stuff.

Digital Arcanist
10-16-2007, 01:20 AM
I can understand creating a large game world and sharing different parts of it but I would not multiple DM's running quests and interacting with the same NPC's. Different people have different ideas and it would mess up storylines other DM's had planned.

Grinnen Baeritt
10-16-2007, 02:12 AM
Been in a few where two DM's ran the same scenario simultaniously with the same group.... works well with situations where the group has split.

The 2nd Dm acts out the NPC's and acts as an assistant.

Our group often rotates DM's within the same game but generally only with the published scenarios. We also use the same setting and let the DM write the sceanrio for the other players, their character "Drops out" for that scenario.

10-16-2007, 07:53 AM
A few friends of mine and I set up a multi-DM game. We decided the best way to set up the game was that each of us would build our own world, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc, the details were left to us. The different worlds were connected via a city that touched each of the three dimensions.

We would each create a character, just like the other players who would become an NPC whenever we were running the game and would guide the characters in our 'world'. Great concept and it worked very well while we ran the campaign.

Biggest problems were, finding a system that worked for multiple genres, most of the universal game systems weren't out then, and making sure we balanced the encounters for the rest of the group, so that when the fantasy based characters were in the sci-fi realm, they could cope, and the same the other way around.

I think the best way to do co-dming is to make sure first, you can work with each other, not letting egos get in the way, and second, make sure you do a good job of defining whatever campaign setting you're going to use!

10-16-2007, 10:36 AM
Now that I sit here and think about it, I do remember back in high school something going on.

In one instance, I was running a D&D game for a few players. While there was another DM running another set of adventures in his own world. However, we shared the players. One player, Bob, had the same character in both games, but Bob didn't really play much in mine. One day Bob and I were pseudo gaming and I gave his character some stuff that the other DM allowed to carry over into his game.

This is something I would have never do now for it really could screw up my game world design. (IE: teleportation isn't allowed in my D&D world - some other DM could allow it - heck no).

Now, years later, we had started playing Marvel Super Heroes RPG and I had this elaborate world (that still runs today) and Bob happened to be playing a character in another GM's game where he had gained mega power. And for some reason, I allowed Bob to bring that character into my world (I must have been on crack).

When Bob's character showed up, he created an LMD (life model decoy) - a human female and gave her mega power.

The female became an instant NPC; She kicked Bob's character out of the reality and became a villain that all my players hated. They still, to this day, blame Bob for her existence (rightly so) and hold a grudge.

10-16-2007, 05:36 PM
That is always a good way to ruin a game! Let Bob (Clay) into a game with a super character some other DM gave him. That's why the RPGA went to extreme measures to ensure that doesn't happen.

10-17-2007, 07:04 AM
There's nothing wrong with letting characters move from one campaign to another, you just gotta be sure to look the character over prior to them being used in the game. If there's something I won't allow in my game, I tell the player straight up, nope, ain't gonna happen.

The player pitches a fit? Well, they can do 1 of 3 things, play the character as it fits in my world, play a new character or not play at all. All of the current players in our group, including myself, know that we're all here to have fun and if one of them is spoiling the fun of the others, the rest of us are not going to put up with it.

That's not to say that our group is perfect, but all of us, the current members, take an effort to make it a good gaming experience for the others.

A case in point, one of our recent players had something they wanted to do for a few hours during the time we normally play, and while we didn't want to interfere with this particular pursuit, we had to have them make the choice of either play when we do, or leave the group. There were no hard feelings for this player or the rest of the group, but the player ended up leaving the group as they wanted to be involved with this other past time more then they wanted to play in the group.

Inquisitor Tremayne
10-19-2007, 10:46 AM
As a GM I always have too many secrets, sub-plots, special events, plotting villains, and all-around surprises for my players to ever be able to let even ONE of the players in on them.

It is difficult to separate player knowledge from character knowledge after all.

It would just be too problematic in my games I think.

10-27-2007, 11:24 PM
I've never co-DM-ed but I did referee a game of D&D3.0. Basically a fairly inexperienced player had a really great story plot but lacked the knowledge to run the game himself. At first I handled the technical stuff while he told his story. We collaborated to plan encounters for consistency but for the most he just outlined our characters story(with us filling in the details). A first I played the wise sage who spent most of his time "off stage" so as not to let player knowledge get in the way too much but still make me a viable character. Slowly I phased out of the role as his adviser as he picked up the rules, and became a more active character. I really think it helped him become a great GM because he has always been more story focused than rules focussed. Even if he has a few too many Mary Sue NPC's.

11-05-2007, 05:20 PM
I have done the CO-DMing thing and it worked well, and the other DM's were just as challenging to the players as the other. I made it a rule in my games that there was NO favortism to other players, and has worked well allowing me to enjoy the gaming.

The Wandering Bard
11-07-2007, 12:57 PM
I have played in a game that has a DM and an ADM (Assistant DM) it works very well. The Players are responsible for their things, the DM runs the Game and the ADM plays as a character, but checks rules, keeps notes, Continues the story with the DM out of town or sick. They can also collaborate ideas and such. It is difficult to keep Player knowledge from character knowledge but if you can do it, it works great.

Digital Arcanist
11-12-2007, 07:52 PM
I'm with the Inquisitor. I have too many secrets and twists in my personal creations to let another take over. I would be happy to co-pilot in another's campaign though. I'm a little obsessive-compulsive and having someone in my shoes would drive me nuts.

11-22-2007, 08:22 PM
I ran a co-DM'd world, it worked well. I came up with the world and separated out the different races into different parts of a mega continent. I then gave one DM responsibility for the elves and the other guy had the dwarves whilst I took humans and goblinoids (gnomes and haflings were endangered due to a magical apocoplyse that turned their land into a giant magical desert).

We were looking for the regalia of good, one piece was in each of the lands so I just let the other DMs come up with the plot with the only caveat being that it had to include a piece of the regalia.

The problem we ran up against was that the third DM (elves) ran out of steam and the campaign stalled. Still I think that it was a success, just need DMs that are willing to see it through to the end.

Digital Arcanist
11-22-2007, 08:26 PM
That is a good way of Co-DM'ing. As long as everyone agrees on the rules ahead of time there is no reason why that wouldn't work.

11-23-2007, 09:32 PM
Assistant DM's who share duties on an active game are awesome. Especially for larger games.

Multiple DM's using the same setting and sharing characters? I've never seen it work well. Each DM has a different set of 'things allowed and prohibited' and preferred balance/power levels.

What I've always seen happen is that characters leave one DM's story, spend time in another's, and when they come back they have items/power that blow the DM's work to splinters.

That customization is the best thing about RPG's, and the worst when it comes to sharing. :)

11-26-2007, 02:24 PM
Heard a story about this just the other night.

Genre: Star Wars

GM#1 got bored and wanted to be a player. Thus handing the game off to GM#2

GM#2 gave the players millions in credits. Thus pissing off GM#1. Still not wanting to run the game, GM#1 handed the game off to GM#3 on one condition, that all the credits were counterfeit.

GM#3 complied.

11-26-2007, 02:50 PM
Although I've never done co-gm'ing myself, I've seen it done to great effect by a pair of guys that I like to call the John Entity. The things they came up with were just amazing. The sum in that case was clearly more than it's parts.

11-27-2007, 12:13 PM
Years ago my group ran a Superworld game with multiple GMs. Each GM had a region of influence and it worked well.

Currently, we just started another multiple GM Supers campaign using d20 Deeds Not Words. It is set during World War II. We agreed upon general rules that will be used and not used before the campaign began, and agreed to vote on any issue that comes up with majority deciding said issue. Each GM has a region/theater of the world as their playpen, although this is merely a guideline and not carved in stone.

We agreed to start the campaign in the fall of 1936 and move forward from there. No GM can advance the timeline by leaps and bounds, usually only several months after the previous adventure. Currently, we are in Sept. of 1938 and on the eve of world war.

We agreed that each adventure had to be completed in one session so that it could be kept modular. While a GM is running an adventure, his PC is on some kind of supporting role to the mission and not with the main group of PCs. The GM's PC gets the benefits from the session (i.e. experience, bonus enhancement points, etc.) so that his PC isn't left in the dust.

Thus far it has worked extremely well. We have a closed forum for write-ups and mission briefings, which helps greatly since we play via skype and not in person.

11-27-2007, 12:18 PM
Many, many moons ago my group played RQ3 extensively. We had extremely large groups most of the time (up to 15 players), and had to use two co-GMs just to keep things in order. The main GM had a co-GM for the actual campaign world and storyline, and then a co-GM just to run through the mechanics of combat. It was necessary since we played a gritty-and-grim style and had many combat encounters which were deadly and precise. It worked well since everyone was onboard and understood their relationship the campaign and main GM.

12-22-2007, 01:27 PM
I had one player in my former regular game, try to "co-dm" then transistion to fully DM, and he would be taking over my game at that point (he would be using some of my original plot lines, but he would be planning the games) We never made it to the "co-dm" part because of a difference of opinion.

At first, I said that I didn't plan the game to go very far, as one of the players was in the process of moving, and I started working 10 hour shifts (it's great when you're in the wardrobe department right before a casino opens, no really it is..), so I didn't have much time to plan DnD games too far in advance.

So anyway, this player offered to take over, which was ok, as long as he use the same "themes" (such as the players allegence to the Dwarf Queen, several evil NPCs that they killed off via evil Queen's Raise Dead spell,etc).

Then he wanted to use my campaign as a segway to his space adventure. So I said, it's going to stay DnD, and if you want to do an entirely different campaign that involves space do that one seperate of the DnD one.

He had created a Spartan class; and I told him I'd use that since I would like to play, since I didn't have the time to DM, and use a half-elf, and maybe multiclass into something (I was thinking maybe a level or 2 in fighter or something). He complained about the character being half-elven (he told me to just do elf or nothing, as half-elves aren't "kosher" in his game; he never brought up any race restrictions before hand); and also complained that I was also thinking of multiclassing. He told me that "It would make much more trouble for you later on in the game." When I asked how does multiclass hurt me, he didn't really answer my question.

I have seen, on another forum (can't remember where) where each week there is another DM for this one Play-by-post campaign. Gotta be confusing.

12-24-2007, 02:09 AM
...back in NY, have developed two long term (decades of material) homebrew worlds, and ALL of us have written material for/DM'd...

When we ALL (10 - 12 of us) get together, I'm usually the co-DM, as I am nicknamed Book, keeper of lore (I, for some reason, retain extensive knowledge of the rules); so I run the combats and other rules heavy scenarios.

The main DM keeps the story arc running and provides personality for the NPC's and such.

As far as 'trade' secrets, some of us have been writing the worlds for 18 years, as far as player knowledge there isn't much we don't know; but for specific encounters, we either refer to our cannon (think how the Star Wars expanded universe has a file that outlines what actually is within the parameters of happening), or have the DM who is most knowledgeable guest star as NPC X or co-DM the relevant sessions. What can I say we avoid metagame knowledge, because it isn't fun... although in my home parties, knowledge history is taken by almost everyone so we can tap some of our player knowledge.

12-25-2007, 11:53 PM
I've done it three times.

Three times it's sucked worse than... nothing I can describe. It was horrible.

There won't be a fourth time.

12-27-2007, 06:17 PM
I was a player in a game of VtM, and after the original ST was finished up with his storyline a second ST took the reigns with her own storyline. After hers the Original ST took the reigns again for another plot arc and finally a third ST took over for the end. As I never STed I kept my same character throughout the games, whereas the other players characters would become NPCs during their stint as ST.

My old group and I had also had plans to run World's Largest Dungeon and alternating DMing responsibilities for the different sections of the dungeon. But we didn't get around to it before I moved.