GreenTongue
 member, 1056 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Wed 8 Dec 2021
at 18:43
Players Running Games
From another topic:
"..sadly, the GM  tried to have us 'run the game"... you can't  do that...sooner or later  God Mod folks show up..."

This made me think of the PbtA type games that seem to depend on player interaction, feedback and agency.
How can those work with the random players that show up here?

Like was said, one "God Mode" or "Spotlight Grabber" and the game is in a bad way, fast.

Has anyone made it work? Care to share your secrets?
silentmouse
 member, 60 posts
Wed 8 Dec 2021
at 18:53
Players Running Games
I think that in these type of games, itís part of the GMs job to screen for such things. Itís one of my rules, and one Iím not afraid to call people out on. Likewise, I tend to limit the power levels of incoming characters so everyone is on roughly the same footing. And, I think it also helps to, under these circumstances, not be afraid to kick people who donít follow the no god-modding rule.

As for ďspotlight grabbersĒ thatís a bit more complicated. If everyone has the same chance to create part of the story, and itís stated somewhere prior to joining that the story is mostly player run, I think anyone that doesnít do that is at least partly to mostly to blame. Especially if they know whatís the type of game theyíre joining before they join.
NowhereMan
 member, 460 posts
Wed 8 Dec 2021
at 18:58
Players Running Games
There is a type of freeform game that I've always wanted to try to run on RPoL, but certain limitations with how the site works have prevented it.

In such a game, typically very large, from a tabletop point of view, with 30 players considered to be a relatively small game, the lunatics run the asylum, so to speak. The GMs - and yes, there's almost always more than one - are really just there to run the setting and a limited number of NPCs while the players make up a majority of the game's cast. The GMs set up "events", and are there to answer questions and (perhaps most importantly) moderate any issues that come up between players, but for the most part the actual game activity happens between the players, with little GM interference.

This kind of game is the default assumption in journal roleplaying, on sites like Dreamwidth and the venerable and much-maligned LiveJournal, and I've always been curious how the format would fare here. Without players having the ability to open new threads, and without a way to organize those threads, I don't imagine it would go too well, but the curiosity remains.

That said, yes, I have made it work elsewhere, and the main thing that has to be done to make it work is to vet your players (if possible) and to be very active in adjudicating any problems that come up. Spotlight hogs are less of a problem in such games, because it's fairly difficult to steal the spotlight in such a massive game, but godmodders can really spoil the fun, so you have to deal with them quickly. If you can earn the trust of your playerbase, where they know you'll handle any issues both quickly and fairly, things will go smoothly most of the time, and when you do hit turbulence, it can be dealt with decisively with the support of the players.
ranna
 member, 93 posts
Wed 8 Dec 2021
at 19:12
Players Running Games
Yup, currently running a fairly well-populated "player-run" freeform, though, I suppose it depends on what exactly one means with "player-run". I still GM it. Do all the background stuff, accept or fix RTJs, create threads, reply to any questions anyone has about the game... You could say I'm doing the administrative stuff, plus, running a character or two myself, though the majority of players don't even know which ones are mine, given that I play them under the exact same rules I set up for my players.

The setup which I found works well is:

- have a decent set of ingame rules
- no OP characters (all powers must be clearly defined)
- no unkillable characters
- no metagaming and character puppeteering
- for every advantage their character has, they have to put at least one disadvantage
- no time-travel. ever.
- stress that the game leans more on social stuff, rather than combat (this is a personal preference)
- set up one obvious GM NPC: this is basically creating one mysterious "watcher" character, likely very powerful, who has the ability to undo any potential disaster a player creates, or simply have them removed from the scene, while you're simultaneously removing the troublemaker from the game. Use this NPC only for this purpose
- read posts, encourage people to PM each other, make connections and develop plots among themselves, players need to run the rough outline of the desired plot by me first
- warn those about to cross a line in a polite way; usually, they don't do it to mess with the game, but genuinely not realizing they are headed that way
- stand firm by your setting and rules

This is the third game I've run this way, and the worst of problems I've ever had is an occasional player getting huffy because I would not allow them to submit DeathDragon The Undying, Destroyer of Worlds, or somesuch.

The rest I kicked for game disruption (usually for being mean and/or unreasonable OOC), or did not let them join, because they made things difficult in the character admittance process.

So, I can confirm that it can be done, but it takes a firm stance on how you want it run, and not let the players run amok. As long as they hold on to my rules, they can run any plot they like by me and in 99% of the cases, I approve and let them have their fun. I've had no complaints yet.
deadtotheworld22
 member, 176 posts
Wed 8 Dec 2021
at 19:22
Re: Players Running Games
silentmouse:
I think that in these type of games, itís part of the GMs job to screen for such things.


NowhereMan:
That said, yes, I have made it work elsewhere, and the main thing that has to be done to make it work is to vet your players (if possible) and to be very active in adjudicating any problems that come up.

[...]

If you can earn the trust of your playerbase, where they know you'll handle any issues both quickly and fairly, things will go smoothly most of the time, and when you do hit turbulence, it can be dealt with decisively with the support of the players.


Agree with both of the above - it can work, but as a GM, you need to vet and develop your players and their understanding of what you're looking for in order to make sure that the games effectively self-regulates, and you still need to keep an eye out to make sure a few individuals don't dominate proceedings.

More generally, I think it depends on how well you set up the game and the central conceit/focus. If you consistently play as a party vs an opposition (i.e. with limited P v P) then min-maxing or godmodding isn't such an issue because everyone's pulling in the same direction, and the min-maxer's fun from making the most powerful character doesn't necessarily impact upon a more narrative player with a thematic build.

Re. NowhereMan's suggestion, I certainly remember that about a decade ago, there were a lot more games which had those large player bases (either in freeform or within systems) where that kind of thing happened - basically they were sandboxes where players were given space to push things forward and self-regulate.

Unfortunately, they did tend to suffer both because it put an awful lot of pressure on the GMs and Mods to keep everything in order and do the adjudication that you mentioned, and also because it tended to be impossible to get 30 players who were interested in the particular setting, wrote and posted at a relevant level and frequency, and were all largely on the same page about the general direction that the game was going in.

As such, you tended to either underpopulate in the first place, or suffer a massive player drop-rate because the story would inevitably be driven by those who either min-maxed the most or posted most frequently, which tended to drive other players away because they had less of a bite of the apple. That then became a vicious with the players who remained becoming more influential and often making second characters to make up numbers, which in turn made iteven harder for later entrants to make a mark and break in.

Ultimately, this is why I tend to prefer running and playing in smaller games - as a GM, you can vet your players more while shaping the world around them, you're under less pressure to do too much adjudication, and you worry less about having to moderate things like posting rates.
engine
 member, 869 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Wed 8 Dec 2021
at 20:56
Re: Players Running Games
What I find is that players who would ruin a collaborative game would also be the sort to ruin (or try to ruin, which is nerve-wracking enough) a non-collaborative game. All games are better when all of the people playing want them to work in the same way.

Power gamers aren't the only concern, either. I'd say it's much more likely to wind up with players who are so worried about seeming like a problem player that they won't participate. Or they just want to be catered to, thanks to the GM's efforts.

It is quite possible to run collaborative games incorrectly, though. Some people think collaborative gaming means "no GM" or that no one is in control. I'm sure that's possible to do, but it's also good to have someone who is invested in the game in a way different from the players, and who helps guide the collaboration.
ladysharlyne
 subscriber, 3243 posts
 Member before Oct 2005
 THE GLASS IS HALF FULL
Wed 8 Dec 2021
at 22:51
Players Running Games
As those said above there are certain precautions to take.  I canít say how it works for any system games because I run Freeform games.  I do the admin myself and sometimes have CoGms to help.  In my games rules that must be read first and agreed for a new player I state absolutely NO POWERGAMING or the spotlight seekers that jump from thread to thread to wipe out the adversaries single handed.  My players know right from the beginning that is not tolerated nor any players showing rl bad attitudes in OOC situations.  I allow no ooc arguing.  Yes I run a tight ship but my players know that every, any powers, is kept on an even level. No character can be killed unless that characters player wants them to be killed or sometimes when a player leaves the game or disappears and doesnít answe pm or rmail I might kill off the characters or find someone to adopt the characters.

My games are action/reaction so the players create the storyline as we go along.  I play characters in all my games the same as any other player but my GM characters set the storyline in motion and players take it from there.  I donít know where it goes as my games are not scripted.  So I do know what setting will be but just like rl you donít know what others are thinking or how they will react hence my games are action/reaction ongoing.

What works for some GMs wonít work for others.  Just saying that as a GM most times you have to have control of the players/characters and set the rules about powergaming and other problems up front and if they enter your game and break the rule, first talk to them and if they donít edit their post and/or if they do it again then delete them from the game because you are protecting your good players who follow the rules.
facemaker329
 member, 7370 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Thu 9 Dec 2021
at 05:38
Players Running Games
I think the cited post referenced by the OP is presenting a different kind of scenario than what most who've responded here are talking about, in that it sounds very much like the GM set up the world and then just expected the players to run with it.  With the right group of players, who were expecting things to run that way, it could work...

But I don't play in games like that.  If I wanted to shape the story completely, I would be writing a novel, not posts in an online game.  I expect my GMs to have a plotline in mind...not on rails, by any means, because I have a penchant for creating scenarios where a GM's carefully laid plans for an encounter wind up going right out the window because I do something entirely reasonable but completely unexpected by the GM, so I like the plotline to be able to tolerate some detours.

But I join a game to help the GM tell a story.  They steer the plot, I just steer my character's actions and reactions to that plot.  And it doesn't matter if it's freeform, semi-freeform, or under some kind of published rules system...I'm adaptable in that regard.  But I'm kinda old-school, I guess, in that I still kind of adhere to the principle that 'GM' is 'Game MASTER' and not 'Game MANAGER'.

If I got into a game and suddenly the GM just kinda stood back and said, "Well, okay...what do you want to do from here?" it's entirely possible that my response would be, "Find another game with an actual plotline to follow."  It's not guaranteed...I have surprised GMs in the past who were expecting to spin my character into a lengthy campaign, by telling them that the character was more interested in staying in this particular village, setting up an inn and tavern, and establishing a safe crossroads on a trading route or something like that.  But it doesn't happen often.
GreenTongue
 member, 1057 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Thu 9 Dec 2021
at 12:13
Players Running Games
In reply to facemaker329 (msg # 8):

"Play to see what happens" is a tag line in the Powered by the Apocalypse type rules.

I was also meaning that type of game where the players provide input into the setting development. The players say what they think is "out there" and define a number of the NPCs including their relationships to the player.

Much less of a top down directed setting. It does require all the players to be on the same page and that can be a big risk.

Are these types for game rarely played here?  I do see a number of them in searching.

Maybe "Running" was not the best choice of words? "Developing" didn't seem correct, though it is not wrong. What about "Unfolding"?

In other words, more improve based on the characters and players than pre-mapped by a GM.

"How to herd cats?" maybe?
facemaker329
 member, 7371 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Thu 9 Dec 2021
at 17:29
Players Running Games
I would regard that as players actively contributing to the construction of the game...and I've been really lucky, I freely admit, in that the majority of GMs that I've played with through the years actively look for hooks from the players, regardless of the system or setting.  As a result, it feels forced or contrived to have the rules delineate that each player must provide X amount of material to be harvested for game content.

I know why they do it.  It even makes sense to me.  I'm just used to it happening organically, without the rules demanding it.
GreenTongue
 member, 1058 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Thu 9 Dec 2021
at 18:22
Players Running Games
In reply to facemaker329 (msg # 10):

It might be that the number of people that grew up being entertained and not having to entertain themselves, has shifted the market to the point that it now has to be explicitly included.

I like the idea. I've just not had many chances to do it.

Have run "Beyond the Wall" rules that included it. Felt forced as the players were new to the idea.

Really makes player turnover even messier. Also causes a lot of up front work that might not pan out.
GreenTongue
 member, 1059 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Mon 13 Dec 2021
at 11:50
Players Running Games
I guess I made it sound like a bad idea. I don't think that it is, because of the buy in that it gives. Just can be messy.
So, I was wondering how others made it work or if they felt the mess wasn't worth it.

Are players switching to PbtA style games or is it a different crowd that plays them?
Hunter
 member, 1701 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
 Lurker
Tue 14 Dec 2021
at 06:22
Players Running Games
While it feels like a good idea; there does need to be one person who keeps the game on track and moving.   Which is one of the GM's duties, anyways.
GreenTongue
 member, 1060 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Tue 14 Dec 2021
at 11:45
Players Running Games
In reply to Hunter (msg # 13):

There is a GM and they do all the background interactions but the players are expected to provide setting and NPC details on the fly.

I find it an interesting system and am wondering how it works on a slower paced medium such as this. Best I can tell from the ones I have found here, if you can get through the initial setup they run like any other. It's the initial setup that looks like a huge hurdle. Also finding players that are that interactive and then keeping them pointing in the same direction seems like a challenge.
donsr
 member, 2452 posts
Tue 14 Dec 2021
at 11:54
Players Running Games
just my last thoughts on this.

 The GM  can set the world up and such  and have the players 'build it'..but there is so much that can confuse and  deter some players ( this depends on some players RL personality)

  in some instances, i will send a PM  to a Player.." hey, this is your  area, i don't really have things  set up...I can do it in a few minutes, but do you want to add somehting from your backround"

 It works  most times, i have to tweak some, to make sure it fits the world..and we haven't had too much  go wrong....for  the Semi-freeform, or even  regular  RP games that have the  published books  ect, This gives  rise to  some players  saying  "..that's not  what the book says"... or 'when did this happen"

It does , indeed slow the game down, unless you had a player  set up..whatever it is..before they stepped into the game.

 i will end this  from my views, If the GM  can make it work, then its good..if the GM just starts  the game and sits bac?  You're just a lurker who started a game.

Everyone has styles, points  and goals for the games...and hopefully , they find the players  that will make it a Lively game.
Gaffer
 member, 1718 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Tue 14 Dec 2021
at 15:48
Players Running Games
Back in the 70s/80s I had an idea to let my home group do some cooperative world-building for our setting. My idea was to set up a city as a starting point or base for the party and give each player a 'wedge' radiating out from the city to develop on their own. Only one of the five other players did anything with their territory, so the idea was abandoned. Those were five longtime friends with five or so RPG years under their belts, well-read in the fantasy genre and fairly creative.
deadtotheworld22
 member, 179 posts
Tue 14 Dec 2021
at 16:59
Re: Players Running Games
Gaffer:
Back in the 70s/80s I had an idea to let my home group do some cooperative world-building for our setting. My idea was to set up a city as a starting point or base for the party and give each player a 'wedge' radiating out from the city to develop on their own. Only one of the five other players did anything with their territory, so the idea was abandoned. Those were five longtime friends with five or so RPG years under their belts, well-read in the fantasy genre and fairly creative.


I think Gaffer makes a very good point, in that to make a good game which gives the players the kind of space that PbtA, you need to have every player on the same page with the same willingness to do that level of design and do so at the same level as everyone else.

Otherwise, I suspect you run into two sides of the same coin - you either have spotlight hogs defining everything and dragging the other players along with them, or you have players who either can't or won't meet those requirements and make the other players do all the work.

If you get that right, then it can work really well, and the GM can take a back seat, but it's a really heavy ask even for an in person game where you know the players, let alone on a PbP site where it's a bit harder to judge a player's commitment at the RTJ stage.

Ultimately, that's where you'd probably want a more active GM, either to act as quality assurance/support for the weaker players to get them up to the standard that you'd hope for, or to ensure that level of quality by taking it out of the player's hands and doing it themselves.
facemaker329
 member, 7373 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Tue 14 Dec 2021
at 18:45
Re: Players Running Games
A couple of decades ago, a friend of mine home-brewed his own world and kit-bashed a system to run games.  He had a vague outline of the world, and offered players some extra points in building their characters if they detailed some of the areas...which seems like a good idea, on the surface...

But the results were really uneven.  You had some players that worked out details for entire regions and cultures, while other players picked a single city.  Some were really determined that everything made sense, and there was some kind of vaguely scientific reason for the climate, or the culture, or the location of cities, etc.  Others just kind of arbitrarily plugged in all the traditional genre elements, with no consideration of how they fit together or what circumstances would have created the situation...

Naturally, the people who did the more detailed work felt a little chapped that the same amount of points went to someone who did far less work and seemingly used a random encounter table to populate the space they'd been working on.  So, I'm a little biased when it comes to saying, "Let the players create the details."  If they're all equally committed, and of similar minds about stuff, that can work, sure...but without a little quality control, you can end up with a steaming pile of a mess, where one part of your game has the epic scale of Minas Tirith and the next city on the road has all the complexity and logic of Disney's "It's a Small World" ride.
GreenTongue
 member, 1061 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Tue 14 Dec 2021
at 18:52
Re: Players Running Games
In reply to deadtotheworld22 (msg # 17):

I don't believe it is about, "the GM can taking a back seat".
More that it is cooperative play verses directed play.

The GM still has to tie the defined things together and fill in with the non-defined things.
You just have a lot more player buy-in as they are "part owners".

But yeah, finding players willing to contribute without hogging or diverging sounds like a real challenge and yet I see games listed in the Search.

Do you think they may be players that know the GM in real life?
Where do these type of players come from? GMs taking a break?
deadtotheworld22
 member, 180 posts
Tue 14 Dec 2021
at 19:26
Re: Players Running Games
GreenTongue:
In reply to deadtotheworld22 (msg # 17):

I don't believe it is about, "the GM can taking a back seat".
More that it is cooperative play verses directed play.

The GM still has to tie the defined things together and fill in with the non-defined things.
You just have a lot more player buy-in as they are "part owners".


True, I was perhaps being a bit blase there, I meant that the GM generally gives players more autonomy to direct the actions of NPCs than you might otherwise see in directed play.

In terms of a player base I'd be looking for, you might have some luck with players who have GM'd themselves, but it's no guarantee (because I think we've all had at least 1-2 GMs who haven't been as good as they think they are!).

I think the key approach is being very clear from the start about your expectations, not being afraid to put limits and step in, and keeping lines of communication open with the players while making it clear that any criticism you make is constructive and diplomatic.

As facemaker says, you probably need that little bit of quality control, and you probably need to be seen to be doing that quality control even if it's minor, because it probably re-assures other players that you're keeping things in check and that they don't have to be constantly worrying about balance and quality themsevles.

That being said, it's a lot easier to do in person - communication by text lacks the nuances that verbal/non-verbal can do, and it's a lot easier to have a very informal 'just tone it down a bit' in person than it is over a PM.

So while I think such games will exist on the site and can absolutely work, I think there's always a temptation as a GM to spare yourself some potential aggrevation and conflict by picking a more directed play system which consolidates the power in their hands.
facemaker329
 member, 7374 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Wed 15 Dec 2021
at 03:16
Re: Players Running Games
GreenTongue:
Are players switching to PbtA style games or is it a different crowd that plays them?


I don't think there's a simple, unqualified answer to this.  Some players are...either because they really jive with that kind of system or because it's the newest toy in the box and they've gotta try it out.  Some (obviously, based on the conversation here) are not.  Some are incorporating elements of it into how they run other games (which has always been the case).  Some players are constantly searching for the 'perfect' system for them, some use whatever system as a general guideline and improvise heavily with whatever options they see fit, some are constantly borrowing elements of this setting and that rules set and stitching together their own unique Franken-game.  Some have been doing some kind of player-enhanced gaming for decades, and other, older games have had some twists to the idea (Amber, for instance, offered character bonuses for a variety of different activities players could do to enhance the game, whether it was doing portraits of the group or keeping a journal or mapping out specific locations to be used in the game or anything else the GM happened to feel might be useful...)  Some people are comfortable doing it in a looser, more organic style, others are happier with having it somehow codified and official.
GreenTongue
 member, 1063 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Thu 16 Dec 2021
at 20:21
Re: Players Running Games
Well, best I can tell from the Actual Plays, PbtA games are not basically Free-Form.
The GM asks specific questions to get player input on things that have not yet been established.

I was reading where a number of people said that their characters were all about the skills and loot and most really didn't care about the "background fluff".
Personally I blame computer games for encouraging that so much that tabletop games that focus on that thrive.

It was my opinion that the importance would change if the players were the ones filling in that "background fluff" themselves. That "ownership" of it would encourage engagement in the setting.

This message was last edited by the user at 22:25, Thu 16 Dec 2021.

donsr
 member, 2456 posts
Thu 16 Dec 2021
at 20:52
Re: Players Running Games
::chuckles::  my players  have to give a brief  backround..not a  story..but a back round...I have them do thier stats,  then i fill in points   for  'Spheres " based on thier back round.

So if you  give a  vanillia   backround, you get smaller  spheres. thus   smaller Mods.

 now? Players  build thier characters  as we get bonus  points  for Game goals  and sometimes  Character actions.

an example.. Had one player who was a fighter Pilot.. gave me  two lines of backround..he  got minumum sphere points.

another  Pilot joined the game  just after.. gave me..maybe?  4  Lines, but it had the academy down, where thier first posting was, and a little bit of what drives  them, that player got a few more sphere points because of that

 Min/Max...doesn't work there.because you never know what spheres  or  abilities  will be sued  for mods...

high stats will help , over time, but you have to work to get there.

some folks are geared more to arena, where  you ho from dungeon  to dungeon, Mission to Mission...stat heavy folks  thrive in that.... RP games are more like a  TV show or Movie, the charcters  have time between  things, to work on skills, interact and all that.
facemaker329
 member, 7375 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Fri 17 Dec 2021
at 03:56
Re: Players Running Games
GreenTongue:
Personally I blame computer games for encouraging that so much that tabletop games that focus on that thrive.


In fairness, that mindset was what drove me away from AD&D after high school.  I played around enough to discover that there were options for building a story, rather than just trying to accumulate experience points by killing monsters and acquiring loot...but at the time, that was the only way you gained exp in D&D...

So, the mindset predates computer games (or, at least, computer games that actually involve you roleplaying to any significant degree.  I'm not sure, but I think Pong predates D&D...*grin*)  But computer games have done precious little to encourage developing well-rounded characters.  Of course, knowing a lot of the people who focus on those kinds of games, the fact that they have simple objectives like collecting loot and killing bad guys is part of the appeal...
NowhereMan
 member, 462 posts
Fri 17 Dec 2021
at 04:15
Re: Players Running Games
In reply to GreenTongue (msg # 22):

Greentongue:
I was reading where a number of people said that their characters were all about the skills and loot and most really didn't care about the "background fluff"...

It was my opinion that the importance would change if the players were the ones filling in that "background fluff" themselves. That "ownership" of it would encourage engagement in the setting.


I doubt it. You're addressing a completely different playstyle. The people you're referring to don't care about the "fluff", regardless of where it's coming from, and trying to get them to make it themselves isn't likely to do much more than waste a session or two boring them out of their skulls. They're the tabletop equivalent of the PC gaming demographic who play first-person shooters. Those games may have intriguing, detailed settings, but the players are really there to shoot guns and kill the bad guys.

This is not a bad thing. There are RPGs that focus heavily (or even entirely) on their combat systems, and those games are made for that type of player. Trying to get them engaged in a roleplaying-heavy game or system is like taking a passionate DOOM player and telling them that what was really important was the story and sitting them down with What Remains of Edith Finch. That is, an endeavor that would make absolutely no one happy and end only in frustration.

Now, it's very possible that a specific person, or even a specific group, might just not see that there's options other than hack-and-slash dungeon-crawling, or that might just not be engaged with a particular setting. We all know at least one setting that we couldn't engage in to save our lives (mine's The Forgotten Realms). But I think we're talking about a pretty small minority when it comes to the people you're referring to.

For a real-life anecdote, I know a guy who is a published RPG author, even created one of the settings I particularly like. Dude pretty well hates roleplaying. He views tabletop RPGs as puzzles to be solved, whether through old-fashioned violence, literal puzzle-solving, clever exploration, or what-have-you, but if it's not involved in the solving of that puzzle, he couldn't really care less.