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As I am slowly making my way through the back-postings of James Maliszewski's blog (Grognardia), you should probably expect a larger portion of gaming related posts. As if my blog weren't already 85% about gaming anyway.

Well, in one of his posts he talks about the loss of of the tradition of rotating referees:

...I think there's definitely been a slow morphing of the concept of the 'referee.' He's now viewed not just as a neutral arbiter cum occasional opponent. Rather he's now a 'storyteller' or 'narrator.' He's the guy who creates the 'story' of the campaign and keeps it moving in accordance with his grand plot. Given that, it's much less easy to accommodate a second or third referee, because they'll almost certainly spoil the story, or at least derail it, and that's not viewed as a good thing. In campaigns without explicit stories, a rotating referee just adds more details and events from which a story might later be woven, but there's no danger that he will 'ruin' the campaign by introducing things that get in the way of some grand plan.

So as I've probably talked about countless times before, I've got a fair amount of rotating referee experience. It all started with a game that we played back in '99. Everyone was willing to do some GMing, but nobody wanted to be the GM, so we came up with our 'Round Robin GM' game. Yeah, it had some odd inconsistencies, but I think it was universally held as darn good fun by everyone involved. We had some structure of rules around the trade-off and whatnot, but I think the real reason it worked so well is that none of us came to the GMing position with an agenda. More often we were just trying to fill the time until we could shrug the duty off on the next poor sap. I think this lead to a really nicely organically generated world, with some very interesting NPCs in it.

The thing that really hit me when I read this though was the game I co-GMed with my friend Dan a few years later. I think we fed off each other at the table very well, but we did but heads a bit in the planning. Nothing really antagonistic -- we were both mature enough about it to always talk intelligently, but I think we did have some root disagreement about how to run the game, a disagreement neither of us could really put our finger on at the time.

I wish I had the chance to run more games like that with Dan. I'd love to try some other stuff with two GMs. Perhaps occasionally let one GM completely take the reigns while the other plays one of the group's henchmen. Maybe create some adversarial NPCs controlled by each GM whose plans are not disclosed to each other. Or perhaps create a world were who GMs is based on where the group is geographically.

Anyway, this is really making me miss my gaming group of 10 years ago. We should have a reunion or something.
June 15th, 2009 - 01:07 pm | Comments (3) | PERMALINK

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