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yilduz
2010-04-13, 05:42 PM
I have a group of D&Ders, but no DM. Nobody really wants to be a DM, so we've kind of been looking, searching, and waiting for one to come along for, well hell, about a year now.

Anyone, one of the guys in the group thought of something - what if we take turns? We figured we could work together to create a world, get some sort of very basic plot down, and then let each DM go from there. How we'd work it is one player would be DM of week 1, the next player would be DM for week 2, and so on, keeping the cycle going infinitely. We figured it could be interesting watching as the next DM in line picks up from where the previous one left off and seeing which direction it goes. It would also be fair because everyone would take turns DMing rather than one person doing the duty every session. Then, who knows, maybe someone will really enjoy DMing and will take over full time.

Anyway, the only real problem we've come up with that we can't seem to find a reasonable solution for is what happens to the DM's player for the session he is DM? If the DM is also a PC, it could be unfair and difficult to run. We also wondered about one person not having a consistent character and taking over the left-overs every week - but that really leads to two problems. Most people like to have their own character and won't want to do this, and the person acting as DM that week may not want someone else playing his character; not to mention the fact that his character could still have an unfair advantage. The only fair thing we could come up with was having the DM's character sit out that week, but it doesn't make much sense that each character kind of cycles out of the adventure. Also, what is fair to everyone else really isn't fair to that one character, if he's sitting out he misses exp, items, awesome RP possibilities, etc...

You guys are all pretty smart when it comes to D&D-anything, so what kind of ideas do you have to make this more fair?

Vitruviansquid
2010-04-13, 05:52 PM
One solution would be to make your game episodic, so that each session is its own beginning, middle, and end.

Kaun
2010-04-13, 06:16 PM
Yeah similar to what Squid said, build your sessions to have small independent plot lines.

Rather then swaping DM's every session i would run it as every 2-3 sessions as it is often hard to get much done in such a small period.

Centralize your game; ie set it around one city or region or... ship... what ever but have a base location that your players always return to befor a DM switch takes place.

DM's characters should not be played as DMPC's in my mind but the DM's PC while not being played should recieve exp equal to the average of what is recieved by the other players.

No world shattering events; there needs to be a gentalmens rule that no major events can happen to the world with out every ones concent. For example the Death of a king or major lord, Demonic invasion, exploding sun or what ever.

Yorrin
2010-04-13, 06:31 PM
Or you could just have the DMPC not roleplay during the game.

The group I DM is really small (usually 2-3 players plus me), so I almost always run a DMPC, but have him basically just tail the party and then contribute to combat. Perhaps occasionally provide a skill roll if the party requests it.

You could easily do the same thing with your players- have whoever is DMing just refrain from roleplaying and only really participate in combat.

Ravens_Wing
2010-04-13, 06:35 PM
I have actually done this with my group as a way to help prevent DM burnout. So here's some pointers that we found that worked well.

1. Pre-select what material will be allowed and what material is banded. This will help prevent players from introducing items/characters that can be world breaking. for example my group chose not to include psionics mostly because most of us donít know crap about them....

2. Develop a mechanism that would allow for easy transitions between on DM to another. be it having a central location that the party returns to between adventures or something more creative..

3. Have each Dm be in charge for at least 2 sessions. 4-6+ would be better in terms of story. If you change DM each week it will be much more difficult to have a coherent story.

4. Donít force players to DM. I understand that you are trying this as you donít have a DM but if you force someone to Dm who really doesnít have the ability or desire to it can only end badly.

So hopefully this helps and who knows a few of you may start to enjoy being the Dm. Thatís what happened with me. I started to Dm out of a need for one and now I get the urge to run a game if I havenít in a while.

But in either case Good Luck :smallsmile:

Kaun
2010-04-13, 06:38 PM
Or you could just have the DMPC not roleplay during the game.

The group I DM is really small (usually 2-3 players plus me), so I almost always run a DMPC, but have him basically just tail the party and then contribute to combat. Perhaps occasionally provide a skill roll if the party requests it.

You could easily do the same thing with your players- have whoever is DMing just refrain from roleplaying and only really participate in combat.

Problem with that is you put your self on the edge of a very slipery slope.

All it takes is one of your players/DMs getting the idea to slide in a bit of choice loot specificaly for his character and it can go downhill bloody quickly from there.

Yorrin
2010-04-13, 06:39 PM
Problem with that is you put your self on the edge of a very slipery slope.

All it takes is one of your players/DMs getting the idea to slide in a bit of choice loot specificaly for his character and it can go downhill bloody quickly from there.

We all give choice loot to everyone... we prefer high-powered games >_>

pinwiz
2010-04-13, 06:43 PM
Why not let the DM's character be played by the collective group? so the spare character is controlled by a cooperative of the players who are not DMing.

batsofchaos
2010-04-13, 06:48 PM
I've played in games like this. I'd suggest either going with the background DMPC (your character is there and participates in combat, but is just rather quiet and out of the picture) or set up a mechanic that allows a random character not being there once in a while to make sense. I've got some experience with both, but not perfectly. I've DMed a group with a permanent background DMPC (A quiet cleric who was basically a magically animated medicine chest) to help fill out a small group, and had a round-robin DM group that had a makes-sense mechanic to have a character absent every week. In our instance we were all gladiators of assorted types and when it was a character's off-turn it was assumed that they had a fight coming up/were currently fighting/were recupperating from a fight that was outside of the current plotline. Doing it that way had the benefit of a built in excuse for why they earned money/XP at roughly the same rate as everyone else. Prize money.

Of the two, we had a lot of fun with the sit-out version, but so long as all players are mature there shouldn't be any issue in characters being relegated to the background when it's their turn to DM.

SilverStar
2010-04-13, 07:12 PM
This is how we've ran out epic level campaign for awhile now, and it works.

We have the basic premise down, and the general plotline. We also have an agreement not to give out overpowered stuff to our own characters, because that's cheesy and would result in a mass smackdown.

Silly Wizard
2010-04-13, 07:24 PM
I DM for a 4e group, and I play a DMPC. My only roleplaying is a response to a player character asking for assistance; I play a Warforged Artificer, pretty much an indentured servant to another player.

However, I'm gonna be playing in a game during summer where I'll be switching DM position with one other guy after each adventure (2-4 sessions). Best to not do every week, just so your adventures aren't too disjointed.

Swordgleam
2010-04-13, 07:45 PM
I think the easiest solution for a game like that is to set it up in an episodic way with an ever-changing party. First thing that comes to mind is the characters are all members of a mercenary group that takes on different quests for pay. Whoever is DMing is just back at the base camp polishing armor or drinking during that quest.

That way, you can also have ongoing plots in the background, but not miss them if you go a couple of sessions without taking any action on them. Yeah, you sometimes do quests for the Duke of Whatever and one of his border lords is acting mighty suspicious, but these kobolds aren't gonna slay themselves and gold now is better than gold tomorrow.

I also vote Dawn of Worlds as a great group world creation method. Takes a couple hours, is fun, yields awesome settings: http://www.clanwebsite.org/games/rpg/Dawn_of_Worlds_game_1_0Final.pdf

Oracle_Hunter
2010-04-13, 07:50 PM
Modification of the "Episodic Adventure" Idea
Set yourselves in an Adventurer's Guild - a place where people can hire highly-trained (if eccentric) mercenaries for sensitive tasks.

Each Player makes one-or-more PCs and, when it's his turn to DM either:
(1) Make the adventure such that the DM's PC would be uninterested/inappropriate for the task OR
(2) Have that PC(s) be out on a separate assignment.

I plan to use this format for a Shadowrun Campaign sometime in the future - but it may work for you as well.

yilduz
2010-04-13, 07:51 PM
A lot of the ideas here make a lot of sense. Thank you everyone for all of your help. I think this could definitely be doable.

valadil
2010-04-13, 09:33 PM
I did this. It was one of my favorite 3.5 campaigns.

We did 2-4 sessions per GM. 1 wasn't enough time to tell a story. When GMs switched, everyone leveled. The GM's PC usually didn't participate, but it was up to each GM to figure out how to write them out. Writing out your own character was actually pretty fun.

Before the game started we all voted on whether or not certain builds and classes would be allowed. I don't think we went through all the material exhaustively. Instead people submitted their characters and everyone else decided if it was kosher.

Loot was generally done by the book. I would have preferred to give out WBL GP and letting people shop between sessions. The other GMs liked making custom items though, so we did that instead.

The setting was vague and indistinct. Anyone could make up anything.

Finally, we set up a wiki. This was where we posted our notes after running. Most NPCs and leftover plots ended up here. We had the option of "owning" a particular part of the game if we intended to go back there. The wiki was essential. I wouldn't do this type of game without one.

On the first cycle through, most of the plots were self contained. Everyone was used to tying off all their loose ends. The second time through through saw a lot more plot openings left for the next GM. This was definitely more interesting to write for.

Darius Rae
2010-04-13, 09:58 PM
For this summer, my group is planning on using a pre-written campaign. The campaign is broken down by chapters and so each one of us will DM a chapter before rotating. This has the benefit of a continual story line.

Ignatius
2010-04-14, 01:41 AM
Maybe the DM is 'trapped' in a really small jar or something (compeltely unbreakable and immune to damage) - and at midnight every night (or two, or three, however fast your campaign moves) whoever is holding/carrying the jar swaps places with the person that was in the jar.

This way, your campaign could be about tracking down the BBEG that setup this mischieviously wicked trap on this jar and dispelling it...

Melayl
2010-04-14, 01:55 AM
Or you could just have the DMPC not roleplay during the game.

The group I DM is really small (usually 2-3 players plus me), so I almost always run a DMPC, but have him basically just tail the party and then contribute to combat. Perhaps occasionally provide a skill roll if the party requests it.

You could easily do the same thing with your players- have whoever is DMing just refrain from roleplaying and only really participate in combat.

This, most definitely.

Tyrmatt
2010-04-14, 03:26 AM
Sounds ideal for a pre-made modules to me. Draw straws to see who goes first, then pick appropriate powered modules for each of you to run. The DM stops when the module ends.

Fallbot
2010-04-14, 06:18 AM
This could work pretty well, but just make sure it stays episodic. If someone gets too ambitious and tries for a major overarching story you could run into problems.

We have one main GM, but he swaps with one of the players every few months to avoid burnout, and it's always slightly frustrating to be forced from the main plot to go do something unrelated ("Hey adventurers, how would you like to help me investigate this mysterious ancient city?" "Well actually we're kind of busy. We have a friend to rescue, and there are assassins after us..." "There'll be lots of treasure!" :smallsigh:)

Sounds like it wont be an issue for you if no one wants to do any extended GMing, but it's something to bear in mind.

valadil
2010-04-14, 08:34 AM
This could work pretty well, but just make sure it stays episodic. If someone gets too ambitious and tries for a major overarching story you could run into problems.


My group managed a big story, but it was easily divided up into different sections. We went with a pretty standard D&D trope - the world is in danger and you need to collect these 5 McGuffins to save it. Each of the GMs hid one of the objects and let the other players collect them. This worked out very nicely. It was also fun to have each GM contribute a hint here or there about what the 5 objects did. I actually think the creative input of 5 different GMs ended up telling a story that was much more interesting than what we usually got out of 1 GM at a time.

Tyndmyr
2010-04-14, 09:59 AM
Problem with that is you put your self on the edge of a very slipery slope.

All it takes is one of your players/DMs getting the idea to slide in a bit of choice loot specificaly for his character and it can go downhill bloody quickly from there.

I actually play a long running campaign like this. We have a few rules, here's what they've evolved to.

When DMing, you get standard xp.

When DMing, your character is not with the party. It's up to you to make up a reason. This has actually turned out to be quite easy.

Your character has no claim to any loot that drops while you're DMing. In fact...they're not there, so they probably don't even know about it.

We go round robin, though the cycle gets messed up every once in a while for various reasons. Noobs don't DM.

batsofchaos
2010-04-14, 10:15 AM
This could work pretty well, but just make sure it stays episodic. If someone gets too ambitious and tries for a major overarching story you could run into problems.

We have one main GM, but he swaps with one of the players every few months to avoid burnout, and it's always slightly frustrating to be forced from the main plot to go do something unrelated ("Hey adventurers, how would you like to help me investigate this mysterious ancient city?" "Well actually we're kind of busy. We have a friend to rescue, and there are assassins after us..." "There'll be lots of treasure!" :smallsigh:)

An ambitious DM who wants to run an over-arching story in a round-robin style game could do so if he took care with the planning and made is so that the plot in his story had 'waiting gaps' where the party is waiting for the other shoe to drop before continuing. If BBEG you've been hinting at is planning on visiting the king, the party won't have anything to do about him until he visits the king. Naturally, he won't visit the king until it's your turn again, keeping the plot of the other's game's from veering yours off-course.

Grommen
2010-04-14, 03:21 PM
We have done this quite often in our campaigns. If someone is reading a good adventure or has a good idea we swap out DM's for a wile. Give the primary DM a brake to work on his stuff, and gives all the players someone new to pick on for a few weeks. It seems to work out just fine if you ask me.

Not so sure about this hole having to leave your PC behind when you DM. I feel that a good group should be able to handle a DMPC (as you call them) for a few weeks, and that a good DM (when it's their turn) will not greedily hand out too much stuff to his toon, or wreck the plot by favoring his PC.

Then again we have almost always had small groups, and the DM has had to have NPCs to fill the gaps, or DMPC's. We have never really had an issue with it.