Saturday, December 28, 2019

Who decides what to do? And how?

How does your gaming group make decisions about what to do in a sandbox setting?

How does your group set goals and decide on a course of action?

My Felltower group generally makes its decisions in an ad hoc way, with people interested in voicing an opinion doing so and eventually coming to a consensus. A significant number of the group don't have any particular opinion and will go anyway. In other words, people offer up ideas and if enough other people are enthusiastic or ambivalent about it, it happens. If people are mostly ambivalent or negative about it, it doesn't.

In Gamma Terra a small group of us - and I am one of them - have some definite ideas about what to do. So the group has been going about the decisions made by this small and decisive subset. It's similar but it's more like "this is what we'll do barring persuasive objections" and less like the above "how about we do this, unless someone else has another idea?"

We've toyed - in both games - with the idea of assigning a leader who gets to just decide what the next session's delve/adventure will be. But it generally has not stuck.

The whole Caller/Leader thing was something that D&D seemed to embrace back when I first started to play it. We didn't do that, but we read Examples of Play that had Callers or Leaders. In the beer-and-pretzels games we play now, having one person make a quick and irrevocable decision sometimes seems very attractice. We can just get on with it, instead of debating what to do.


  1. I don’t know whether Callers was ever an actual thing or if they just talked about it being a thing.

    1. It would seem odd if they never existed but make it into the DMG, Moldvay D&D, etc. just as an idea people should try.

    2. It's only that I've never heard a first-person account of a game with a caller.

    3. When we have more than 3-4 players in a dungeon crawling game, we designate one of the players as the "caller" - albeit their responsibility isn't relaying the party's actions to the referee per se, but rather making sure no decision eats too much real time. Essentially, if the party members cannot agree on something, and the designated caller feels impatient, they can decide the next course of action by themself.

    4. We could really benefit from that.

    5. From talking to the former TSR employees and people who gamed in the 70s, Callers were indeed a thing. The thing to remember is that in certain groups there would be over a dozen, sometimes a score, players. In these games the GM cannot reasonably and quickly handle everything thrown out by a large group of voices each with their own opinions and plans. The Caller had to wrangle the group and feed a single course of action to the GM. With four or five or six players and GM can allow each player to take his own course of action, possibly splitting up or at least splitting focus, but with 15 people that's a recipe for gaming collapse!

  2. In this context there are two kinds of players: one is a self-directed affirmative player who wants to go do stuff. All you need to get that guy going is a premise and the occasional rumor.

    Then there is the guy who is there to consume content and say “that’s cool” and hang out and roll dice and he’s happy to be a tourist.

    But both players are really good to have. If you have too many self-directeds or none at all, the game will go sideways.

  3. Oh! You proved me wrong! LOL thank you :)


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