Captain Willard: "Hey soldier. Do you know who's in command here?"
The Roach: "Yeah." (turns and moves off)
- Apocalypse Now
Leading a group of PCs is sometimes likened to herding cats. That's not really an accurate description, though. It's cute but doesn't get to the core of it. Leading a group of PCs is leading a group of equals who you need to get at least tacit cooperation from, and who all have veto power over the group. You need to build a consensus to get anything done. Or at least, build a consensus of the most concerned and able to deal with a problem.
Even that assumes there is a leader.
In my experience general there isn't. There are a couple players who you need to get on board to get things done, but otherwise, people talk until something like a plan emerges.
I wonder, though, how it would work if you elected or appointed a leader in the group.
I see a few ways to do this.
Have a leader for a particular session. That player's character, and/or that player, gets to push an agenda, break ties, etc. Or simply is in charge and gets to decide what the group does that session. It's your turn, you decide if it's time to raid the castle, or deal with that nagging issue with the thieves guild, or go right instead of left.
Maybe you break up leadership by task. You could:
- appoint a combat commander. Like a pirate crew, have a single unifying leader for all combats. Makes sense if the character gives in-game benefits to the group in combat by commanding . . . may as well wrap it together with that player's decisions, too.
- appoint a negotiator. This person handles all negotiation decisions.
- appoint a treasure and equipment leader. This person hands all treasure tracking and group resource tracking.
These could easily be rotated, too. This would potentially work even with an in-game nomimal leader ("If anyone asks, Sir Stikinthamud is our commander, but today Inquisitor Burnsemall is our leader"), too. I'm just thinking as I write, here. I notice we tend to rotate overall decision making in our Gamma Terra game pretty smoothly, and did so in the Southern Reaches, as well - we'd find someone decisive for the session and then just let that person dictate most decisions. It seems like handing out an actual "leader" position, no matter how strong or weak the leader is, and rotating it around, could smooth out a lot of "What are we doing this session?" issues. It's up to you. Ask advice and opinions, but today, it's your turn.
Anyone do anything this?