lørdag den 12. december 2015

First session with multiple gamemasters

Ok, so I'm totally ditching the whole "I'm going to write about christmas calendars" articles. Sorry to anyone who was looking forward to reading about them, or getting reviewed. Today, I'd like to write about what we've spent the day doing. Today was the first session where we gathered the group of roleplayers who are going to play a game of D&D 5e with multiple gamemasters.

Setting it up
This project all started with a player looking for a group. Several people responded to his post and we gathered a group just as he wanted. Then we started talking about who should be the gamemaster, and we decided to make this game a new experience by having multiple gamemasters. Instead of running a game where there's only one gamemaster, we would take turns being the gamemaster. After a few games (2-4 sessions), we would switch roles and someone else in the group would become the gamemaster for the next adventure. We decided to meet today to get to know each other, and to set up the frame for our new project.

To begin with, we were 7 people. The initial plan was to meet a month ago, but due to personal scheduling, we moved the event to today. Still, half of the group cancelled. One person completely left the group, a second one has exams, and the third one ended up with a family crisis. So we ended up being 4 gamemasters who met to discuss the frame for our project and to get to know each other before embarking on this new experience.

What did we decide?
We spent 7 hours today getting to know each other, talking about the game we are going to create, and create the first characters.

First we got the awkward stuff out of the way. My wife and I have a 7 month old daughter, meaning that travelling and playing long hours is very difficult. In order to ensure her well being, we made it clear that we had some requirements and that everyone needed to be okay that we wouldn't be 100% invested in the game at all times. This group is made up of 29-37 year olds, so the fact that family came first was not an issue. Furthermore, accepting that we would play mainly at our place also helps matters since our daughter feels much more comfortable in a familiar environment, especially when there are strangers present, and anyone who isn't mom or dad are strangers to her at the moment.

Then we got the basics out of the way. We all agreed to start this group where we would take turns being the gamemaster and that we would use the Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition rules. We set up the frame for many details, such as how to handle loot and XP, good and evil, transitioning from one gamemaster to another, how to handle internal and external conflicts, etc. The answer to all of it was quite simple. We would take a mature talk about it if it ever became an issue. This may seem like a dangerous plan, but accepting how other gamemasters work and not being bound by what they create makes it a lot easier to handle. We all seemed to have the same thoughts on how to handle loot (roleplay it, don't overdo, and don't abuse the fact that you're a GM now and a player later). We decided to play without XP and simply play with levels, levelling up at the same time so that the game is more based on story than rules. We also decided that we would accept how the other gamemaster did things. Mutual respect will bring us through our little project.

We decided that we are going to be playing at least once per month and that we would start with 1st level good aligned characters. To ensure proper transition between gamemasters and adventures we decided to create an adventurers' guild. This guild would be the main constant throughout all the games. It would enable us to easily switch out characters, so the current gamemaster didn't have to use his character as an NPC. It would allow players to change characters between adventures if they wanted to play something different. It would give a reason for why good and evil aligned characters worked together. It would give a reason for the very varied adventures we would be running. The guild would have more than one base of operations, or "chapter". Using this concept enables gamemasters to simply say that the party travels from one chapter to another between sessions, giving the new gamemaster the possibility to set his/her adventure in a completely different setting.

The party
We created four characters.

The first gamemaster created a half-orc rogue. This character will probably not come into play to begin with, since the gamemaster already has plans to use this character to more easily transition the whole group from one gamemaster to another. This half-orc rogue is an "occultist" (get it? an orc-cultist or occult-cultist) who discovered that the religious group he was part of were fire elemental fanatics. He left them to join the adventurers' guild but still has knowledge about this fire cult. This character is a bit dumb, and the player uses a specific voice as a gimmick. It'll be interesting to see how much he'll use it. He might even already have a catch-phrase, and as I understood it, he was going to use both heavy weapons and finesse weapons, depending on the situation.

Another character that was created was an aasimar ranger. The character was created as a bloodhound who has ties to the criminal underworld. You gotta understand your enemies in order to be able to hunt them down, right? His character is the hunter of the group, the bloodhound with a crossbow who sometimes switches over to melee weapons. He knows how to find what or whomever we're looking for. I'm certain the player has a lot more ideas and nuances to the character than I'm describing here, but this is the impression that I got from the character creation process.

The woman in our group created a half-elven druid. She wanted to play something else than a rogue, which is what she usually plays. She was thinking about playing a paladin or maybe a bard, but in the end settled on playing a shapeshifting druid. She started out by writing down lots of background and personality information down, including stuff about her character's parents. I didn't read any of it, so I can't tell you much about it, but the character creation process was definitely thorough. She is playing a half-elf that grew up in a human society, which impacted my own character.

I also decided to play something I haven't played before. I often play dwarf or human, usually focusing on a warrior or spellcasting class. I've even played a healer (speciality cleric) before, but I don't recall having played a rogue class. I started thinking about it and looked into creating an air genasi arcane trickster specialized in deception and illusions. This was a bit too advanced so I looked into a much simpler version, playing a human rogue, a thief or a swashbuckler. This could have worked, but our half-orc was thinking about creating a rogue (he decided to be a half-orc specifically because he ended up choosing the rogue class). I therefore told him to play a rogue (he might multiclass into a fighter later on) and that I would play the other rogue class, the bard. I then drew inspiration from my air genasi and created a half-elven bard specialized in diplomacy, deception, and illusion. I decided that my gimmick would be music. I'm not certain if I'm going to be playing the flute at the various sessions (which might piss off some players, especially my wife), or if I should just play a DJ kind of character and control the music that we listen to during sessions. Finally, I decided that my half-elf has grown up in an elven society, specifically because the other player is playing a half-elf who grew up in a human society. I started out giving my half-elf an elven name, but I think I'll change that to a human name to illustrate that he grew up in an elven society and was therefore perceived more like a human.

Next session
Our plan is now to meet again in about two weeks for our first session. The other two players still has a chance to create their own characters beforehand and join us. At the end of winter we should be switching to the second gamemaster, but the really interesting part of this project will be in spring or beginning of summer when we'll be switching over to the third gamemaster. This is a major project that I will definitely be writing more about in the future.

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