Rochester Sci-Fi / Roleplay Geek Meetup Group Message Board › SUGGESTION: GM Teams


A former member
Post #: 31
So regardless of what is played, if the #'s make it all possible, having multiple GMs running 1 game together is good because it:

1) gives more variation to the portrayal of NPCs through varying styles
2) makes encounters more challenging, as 2 heads are better than 1
3) lets the party decide to split up without forcing anyone to wait
4) provides for a sub in case primary GM can't make it or wants an easier night
5) enables them to learn things from each other, helping improve their referee skills
6) allows NPCs to be able to have actual conversations with one another
7) speeds the game up by having 1 GM to look up rules, get minis out, etc.
8) creates an 'apprenticeship' program for newbie GMs
9) balances larger gaming groups; 2 DMs & 5 players compared to 1 DM & 6 players
10) prevents a 'Just Me Vs All of Them' reaction which can happen after awhile

Just my 2 coppers.
Andrew L.
Avoca, NY
Post #: 13
while i agree in principle, i'd say that that only REALLY works when the GM teams already know each other fairly well. if a group has been together for awhile it could very well work, but most with the meetup gang, only a few of us have played together much.
Bill D.
Rochester, NY
Post #: 35
Sort of agreeing with the above post and adding to it with examples of where it worked very well and where it would not work.

Worked very well in a group of 10 - 12 players (depending on the night) where the characters were very well defined and the plot was not. Ran a vampire game where I asked the players for their "motivations" both attainable (I want this NPC framed or dead by the end of the story) and unattainable ( I want to bring about world peace) and did the same for my NPCs. The PCs and NPCs naturally formed alliances and rivalries amongst themselves and with each other. Used 3-4 college dorm rooms as locations and people bopped from location top location. Biggest problem was keeping track of "time zones" in each room. A room with a lot of intrigue and combat might be a couple hours ahead of one where the characters are chilling out waiting for a GM to arrive and make things happen.

Doesn't work so well in mystery based story lines. I ran a game where the antagonist was never introduced till the last story when he (it actually - was an AI in a cyberpunk game) was taken out by the PCs. The game followed the plotline of Babylon 5 very closely in many ways - there was a "good" AI that was programmed to cultivate curiosity in humans and a "Bad" AI that was programmed to maximize profit. Tis could be seen as similar to the Vorlons and Shadows in B5 respectively. The actions of each AI needed to be very exact to make the story make sense at the end - there were many "Ah-hah!" moments in the game as it went along. If those moments are crucial to making the story make sense, 2 GMS would need to work very closely to make sure that the plot worked at the end.

A former member
Post #: 1
Hmm, i would say that the biggest trouble with this is that the DMs have to both know where things are going. And would have to be in Sync with how to get there.
There are also many situations where two GMs wouldn't really be two GMs, more like 1 GM and 1 assistant. Which could get really boring for the assistant.... though this could be a good way for enemies in combat to act according to their personalities (controlled by assistant DM) while the other DM controlled the flow of the battle as a whole and ruled on issues that came up.... or perhaps the lead GM could control the "Boss", and thus he can order his underlings around, but doesn't actually have perfect control over them.

In the end, you would either need an assistant/boss relationship. Or perhaps to steal from Film, a Director/Producer relationship. One technical and one creative person.
A former member
Post #: 32
Wow. Out of all the suggestions I had, this one was the least controversial. Huh.

@Andrew Lisbin: Running a game with someone else definitely takes co-ordination, but there's no reason it couldn't work from the 'get go' if the GMs just communicate with each other. And while it can take time to develop a good team, there has to be a starting point. Contrast the effort involved in building an effective GM Team against the 10ish benefits of having another person there behind the screen. Or rather, isn't it worth a little adjusting in the beginning if it makes the game that much better overall? Compare that to the alternative- take all the 10 GM Team benefits & to apply them to a solo GM, reverse them. I'm not saying I haven't seen great single GMs, but I have seen single GMs become even greater when part of a Team.

@Bill Delaney: I can't picture how an RPG game of 10-12 players would work, as my max size was 7. Even that was pretty crazy- and it was when I was a player, not the referee. The 10-12 player game description sounds psedo-LARPish; lot of people + multiple rooms + it being VtS. Its hard for me to fathom how any game with a dozen players could be effectively run on a recurring basis without extra GMs. And chairs.
Regarding mystery-based story lines, with pre-planning, the GMs could make sure they were 'on the same page.' Such as, "Here's the mystery, a list of the clues they need to solve the mystery, which NPC's they might talk to, & some things to have those NPCs say/not say, etc.." And if a plot is truly intricate, it can just as easily be messed up by 1 GM as it can by 2.

@Dan Herman: Agreed with the 2 guys needing to be 'in sync.' I think that can be easily accomplished by having them both read the module ahead of time, decide who is going to run which encounter, what the job breakdown is.
If the lead GM is going to play the BBEG, the Assistant GM should play the BBEG'S 2nd in command/minions.
Oh- and Welcome to the Board/Group.
user 7738990
Group Organizer
Rochester, NY
Post #: 35

I think it is helpful for large LARP groups (having one GM stay with the main player group while another prepares npc encounters etc), and I guess I can see how it could work if you're co-writing, or *(shudders)* using a published module, but for anyone who writes their own table-top stuff it seems it would create more problems than solutions to have more than one GM.
Every plot, place and persona comes from your own head and so it's much simpler for you to convey them to the players than it would be for anyone else, without losing a lot of the atmosphere, vision or themes that you might hope to convey by having it filtered through someone else. Adding another GM actually would add more work, as you'd have to explain everything to them ahead of time, and even then I don't see how you could prepare them for every eventuality.

Personally I like a player party to be able to have a lot of choice in directions taken, which can lead to many sub-plots/ adventures/ encounters being skipped, and can necessitate a little ad-lib from time to time if they decide to do something or go somewhere entirely unforeseen. This isn't a huge problem if you've created the campaign and you have the stuff in your head even if you don't have it down on paper yet. But I think having more than one GM would mean having to have a very tight, rigid plot with very limited player choices for the GM's to keep things coherent. Sure, a second GM could start making up their own stuff if players wandered off the predicted paths but a lot of it would be likely to conflict with the original story. The GM creates the world. If there's more than one GM, unless their vision of that world is identical, they're likely going to create more than one world, and things are going to start getting very messy.

As for NPC's being able to converse with each other, I'm sure there's plenty of GM's who can manage to do that perfectly adequately by themselves. Sure, it may seem a little odd to be talking to yourself at the end of the table, but no more odd than pretending to be a wizard or whatever.

Gaming group size: personally I favor a player group size of 3 to 5 to try and preserve atmosphere, flow, and to allow all the players a decent amount of contribution. If there's too many players for one group, it makes more sense to have two games than one giant one with an extra GM. (I have been in the position of running unwieldy giant-sized groups, it can get pretty crazy!)

If there's ever a 'me vs them' atmosphere, then you must be doing something terribly wrong!
A former member
Post #: 33
Jumping Jubilex, do I really have to come to the defense of using published modules! At the risk of thread-jacking myself, what in the 9 Hells is wrong with running adventures that are professionally written, edited, & play tested?! And that have actual art, layouts, & non-graph paper maps?!

I'll agree that having another GM try to run something out of your imagination would be more con than pro. But really, many gamers flee right away from 100% homebrew campaigns, as they can just be pure otyugh dung.

If your homebrew stuff is the notable exception, then you should go get it out for sale online @ RPGNow or enter the Paizo RPG Superstar contest. Put up or shut up ya drow bastard.

David J.
user 10753130
Rochester, NY
Post #: 5
Well, I can assure you (as a player in Dan's game) that his 100% homebrew campaign is not pure otyugh dung.

Your tone in the last post is incredibly haughty and confrontational-sounding. (I'd say that even if I wasn't a player in Dan's campaign. "Put up or shut up"? Kinda....rude.) You might not have intended that, but it's how you're coming across.

Dan doesn't need to enter the Pathfinder contest to be a solid DM with a detailed, non-dung homebrew setting (albeit a few of his choices for names are...unfortunate). It helps that his players strive to make the setting, plot and role-playing experience come alive for everyone at the table.

I agree that published modules can be excellent, but there are many that are...well, pure otyugh dung (to borrow a phrase). Depends entirely on the DM and his group, how flexible the DM can be while using the module, and whether the module has been tailored by the DM for the PCs.'re both right. tongue
user 7738990
Group Organizer
Rochester, NY
Post #: 40
"Put up or shut up ya drow bastard."

- Haha, thanks to that, my wife has been calling me "ya drow bastard" for the past couple of days ;)

Like David said, it helps to have good players, and I consider myself very lucky to have great groups (one formed totally by people from this meetup forum).

Re publishing, it's likely I'll still keep focused on novel-writing rather than trying to put my rpg adventure notes into a publishable format. Hell, I find them confusing enough myself half the time, especially if it's something I decide to re-use in D&D and it ends up with added notes for edition conversion and level conversion, plus additional notes to write it into another plot or to make it more suitable for the different characters.

Also for me, writing for games is a relaxing break from writing prose, allowing me to use ideas, tell a story and have fun without all the usual pressures. (Pressures that would swarm right back in if I was writing games for the purpose of publishing them).

Saying that, I haven't ruled it out, and I do also have a couple of game systems I wrote that I'd like to playtest again at some point. (If anyone would like to help playtest a surreal horror game sometime, let me know :)

user 9012695
Pittsford, NY
Post #: 27
wow, take a chill guys...
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