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D&D General DM Authority

Well, no videos. Not a lot of people record themselves playing DnD in the first place. But found some links. Two involve an app people specifically designed to help with the situation, and one is a person's blog post about running the game with no DM, because no one wanted to be a DM.



5 easy steps is an interesting read. Not sure why they wouldn't just post a video. Theorizing about something in an after-the-fact write up is often very different than what happens in the moment. But I commend them for trying. It seems like a good experiment for them and their table. Although, I would like to point out two things about their table:
1. They still say someone needs to be in charge, it's just that the person in charge rotates. That still is very much like a DM. Then he goes on to say that the other players cannot argue with the person's decisions when they are in charge. That is old school DMing, and also leads to...
2. Their table really sounds like an improv group with some dice: always go with the flow (say yes to everything), make sure everyone has a turn, don't take things personally, etc.
 

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Campbell

Legend
Basically. As I said, there's a different semantic loading to one over the other; among other things, the "DM is leader" procedure can theoretically still be in play while being indistinguishable from a group that more formally makes rules decisions group decisions, just because the DM always does it that way anyway when there's any issue.

(Again, just so as to make sure no one conflates the positions together, I'm not talking here about campaign element participation).

I also think there is a fundamental difference here between interpretation and being able to decide which rules are in play. I have been in a number of groups where the GM is expected to treat the rules of the game the way a judge would treat the legal code. They have the social capital to interpret the rules, but changes still require agreement from the table either as part of the pitch for the game or negotiated during the course of a game.
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
I also think there is a fundamental difference here between interpretation and being able to decide which rules are in play. I have been in a number of groups where the GM is expected to treat the rules of the game the way a judge would treat the legal code. They have the social capital to interpret the rules, but changes still require agreement from the table either as part of the pitch for the game or negotiated during the course of a game.

Of course the problem can be that the difference is sometimes--subtle.
 

Basically. As I said, there's a different semantic loading to one over the other; among other things, the "DM is leader" procedure can theoretically still be in play while being indistinguishable from a group that more formally makes rules decisions group decisions, just because the DM always does it that way anyway when there's any issue.

(Again, just so as to make sure no one conflates the positions together, I'm not talking here about campaign element participation).
Sorry Thomas, I am just trying to clarify. Are we only talking about a DM being an arbitrator of a rule in a given situation. Such as:
Player 1: I shoot the goblin with my crossbow.
DM: Ok, give me a roll.
Player 2: Don't forget the hobgoblin next to his is granted an attack of opportunity.
DM: Oh yeah, player 1, are you sure you want to fire?

Such as a table can clarify rules to the DM, whether it is in their favor or not.
 

Thomas Shey

Adventurer
Sorry Thomas, I am just trying to clarify. Are we only talking about a DM being an arbitrator of a rule in a given situation. Such as:
Player 1: I shoot the goblin with my crossbow.
DM: Ok, give me a roll.
Player 2: Don't forget the hobgoblin next to his is granted an attack of opportunity.
DM: Oh yeah, player 1, are you sure you want to fire?

Such as a table can clarify rules to the DM, whether it is in their favor or not.

Not only that but "Hey, that seems like a dumb rule; it does X, Y and Z, which doesn't seem desirable in general"; "I don't really see that problem, but what does everyone else think?"

Even with a GM who functions as arbiter, there's nothing stopping that sort of structure. So did that "change" a rule? (Not talking about the obvious actual rules change that is being discussed above).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Why? They are all playing at the same table. If they all agreed to the rule the first time, why would it be a problem to use the same rule a second time?
You're assuming they all agreed. I'm not.

One of the privileges of DMing is that you get to set the rules; and if you don't like the way another DM has done somehting you can change it.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'm trying to wrap my mind around the idea of DM-less D&D (which would in fact be DM-full D&D, as everyone would in effect be part-DM, part-player) and running into some snags:

Who designs the setting on both a macro (kingdoms, cities, etc.) and micro (dungeon layout) scale? Or, if the dungeon is being generated randomly (for which there's systems all over the place) without a larger setting behind it, who does the random rolling for such?

Who runs the opposition? Even in a random dungeon you're sometimes going to random up some opponents, who plays those? (and if it's one of the players, isn't that person immediately in a conflict of interest in regards to running both sides of the combat?)

Who keeps the secrets? In a randomly-generated dungeon the dice will occasionally come up "trap", which becomes rather pointless if everyone knows about it. Ditto secret doors, teleporters, and other such delights. And any sort of mystery-based plot or story goes out the window if everyone already knows the secret behind the mystery.

If playing online e.g. on roll20, can DM privileges (such as to assign tokens, hide/reveal the map, etc.) be assigned to more than one participant in a game?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'm trying to wrap my mind around the idea of DM-less D&D (which would in fact be DM-full D&D, as everyone would in effect be part-DM, part-player) and running into some snags:

Who designs the setting on both a macro (kingdoms, cities, etc.) and micro (dungeon layout) scale? Or, if the dungeon is being generated randomly (for which there's systems all over the place) without a larger setting behind it, who does the random rolling for such?

Who runs the opposition? Even in a random dungeon you're sometimes going to random up some opponents, who plays those? (and if it's one of the players, isn't that person immediately in a conflict of interest in regards to running both sides of the combat?)

Who keeps the secrets? In a randomly-generated dungeon the dice will occasionally come up "trap", which becomes rather pointless if everyone knows about it. Ditto secret doors, teleporters, and other such delights. And any sort of mystery-based plot or story goes out the window if everyone already knows the secret behind the mystery.

If playing online e.g. on roll20, can DM privileges (such as to assign tokens, hide/reveal the map, etc.) be assigned to more than one participant in a game?

At a cursory glance at the links, it's basically dungeon crawls and variations of the same. Different people switch off playing the monsters, although it's not really clear. Maybe I'm just not grokking the concept though.

I mean I play solitaire sometimes, but I wouldn't say I'm playing cards.
 

You're assuming they all agreed. I'm not.

One of the privileges of DMing is that you get to set the rules; and if you don't like the way another DM has done somehting you can change it.

Okay, 4 out of 5 of them agreed.

Next game... 4 out of 5 of them would still agree.

The only change would come from that one person, who would then be trying to use their temporary position of power to force people they know don't want that ruling to accept that ruling... which seems like a bad move.
 

I'm trying to wrap my mind around the idea of DM-less D&D (which would in fact be DM-full D&D, as everyone would in effect be part-DM, part-player) and running into some snags:

Who designs the setting on both a macro (kingdoms, cities, etc.) and micro (dungeon layout) scale? Or, if the dungeon is being generated randomly (for which there's systems all over the place) without a larger setting behind it, who does the random rolling for such?

Assuming random rolling, whichever player wants to roll, maybe they even alternate.

Maybe they do something like The Quiet Year and collaboratively build the dungeon locations and kingdoms, then roll randomly for the contents from various tables.

Who runs the opposition? Even in a random dungeon you're sometimes going to random up some opponents, who plays those? (and if it's one of the players, isn't that person immediately in a conflict of interest in regards to running both sides of the combat?)

I've seen DMs allow players to run monsters all the time. If you are dealing with veteran players who don't want to cheat, there really isn't a problem with this. Maybe have multiple groups run by different people, so no one is on an "off-turn" for two long, since they could have two different turns.

Who keeps the secrets? In a randomly-generated dungeon the dice will occasionally come up "trap", which becomes rather pointless if everyone knows about it. Ditto secret doors, teleporters, and other such delights. And any sort of mystery-based plot or story goes out the window if everyone already knows the secret behind the mystery.

Depends on the players. Maybe they have a deck of cards with various traps, or a different table. Maybe they have no problem knowing something out of game but can play as though they do not know it in-game. Many players claim to be able to make that separation, this would be just one more example.

And while, generally, I'd say you could not run a mystery this way, you could run a mystery module written for playing this way. It wouldn't be easy, and it would be very easy to mess up, but theoretically possible I suppose.

If playing online e.g. on roll20, can DM privileges (such as to assign tokens, hide/reveal the map, etc.) be assigned to more than one participant in a game?

Yes they can
 

Not only that but "Hey, that seems like a dumb rule; it does X, Y and Z, which doesn't seem desirable in general"; "I don't really see that problem, but what does everyone else think?"

Even with a GM who functions as arbiter, there's nothing stopping that sort of structure. So did that "change" a rule? (Not talking about the obvious actual rules change that is being discussed above).
Thanks for the clarification.
 

Assuming random rolling, whichever player wants to roll, maybe they even alternate.

Maybe they do something like The Quiet Year and collaboratively build the dungeon locations and kingdoms, then roll randomly for the contents from various tables.



I've seen DMs allow players to run monsters all the time. If you are dealing with veteran players who don't want to cheat, there really isn't a problem with this. Maybe have multiple groups run by different people, so no one is on an "off-turn" for two long, since they could have two different turns.



Depends on the players. Maybe they have a deck of cards with various traps, or a different table. Maybe they have no problem knowing something out of game but can play as though they do not know it in-game. Many players claim to be able to make that separation, this would be just one more example.

And while, generally, I'd say you could not run a mystery this way, you could run a mystery module written for playing this way. It wouldn't be easy, and it would be very easy to mess up, but theoretically possible I suppose.



Yes they can
All of this is interesting. But it is the antithesis of D&D's structure.

It just makes me wonder, why choose D&D for this? It makes no sense to me. There are so many other games out there that can do this more fluidly - including the D&D board games. There are so many decisions during even the simplest of dungeon crawls that needs an arbiter. Why choose a game that needs decisions to be made every five minutes as the medium for their game? It makes no sense to me.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
All of this is interesting. But it is the antithesis of D&D's structure.

It just makes me wonder, why choose D&D for this? It makes no sense to me. There are so many other games out there that can do this more fluidly - including the D&D board games. There are so many decisions during even the simplest of dungeon crawls that needs an arbiter. Why choose a game that needs decisions to be made every five minutes as the medium for their game? It makes no sense to me.
Sounds like it's working well enough for them or I'm sure they would have chosen a different game. Do you think they are idiots for not, lying to us about how they play or can you contemplate that maybe they actually have chosen a game that works well for them?
 

Sounds like it's working well enough for them or I'm sure they would have chosen a different game. Do you think they are idiots for not, lying to us about how they play or can you contemplate that maybe they actually have chosen a game that works well for them?
I assume you are talking about the 5e DM-less table?

I said no such thing about them being idiots. In fact, I haven't used that word since I was probably 15 or 16 and learned not to use it. It's insulting. My words to describe them were it sounded like an improv class more than a D&D game. That is a far cry from calling someone an idiot.

I also never said they were lying. I do (and always revert to this line of thinking) question write ups that happen after the fact as opposed to video. I have watched over and over people expound their D&D philosophies, and then when I play with them or watch a video of their play, it is just a normal D&D game. No seismic shifts. So, referring back to the DM-less table, I would really appreciate them filming it for a session so we can see how it works. Who knows, they might be on to something? Or the writer might be misjudging the entire premise of DM-less D&D and the video would show that they do indeed actually have someone who steps up for 80% of the decision making. (They do state that a single person has to be the decision maker and the other players are not allowed to question that person's decisions.)

I can contemplate this working for them. I can not comprehend how it works? That was why I asked the question.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I assume you are talking about the 5e DM-less table?
I was talking more about D&D in general, as the question of whether it could function - or function well - without a DM is almost edition-agnostic.
I said no such thing about them being idiots. In fact, I haven't used that word since I was probably 15 or 16 and learned not to use it.
Heh - I use that word all the time.

Frequently, it's when referring to myself... :)
 

I was talking more about D&D in general, as the question of whether it could function - or function well - without a DM is almost edition-agnostic.

Heh - I use that word all the time.

Frequently, it's when referring to myself... :)
Oh, ok. And I suppose I use that word for myself as well. ;)

And I can't figure out how it would function? I mean, I can assume that it does because of the write up. But how? That is what I don't get.
 

All of this is interesting. But it is the antithesis of D&D's structure.

It just makes me wonder, why choose D&D for this? It makes no sense to me. There are so many other games out there that can do this more fluidly - including the D&D board games. There are so many decisions during even the simplest of dungeon crawls that needs an arbiter. Why choose a game that needs decisions to be made every five minutes as the medium for their game? It makes no sense to me.

You know, when talking to Oofta previously, it was that these sorts of major decisions were made very rarely.

Now I am being asked why we would do this when decisions need to be made every five minutes.

Maybe they like DnD man. Maybe it is because DnD has so many random tables that it makes it far easier to just roll and allow things to play out randomly. Maybe they don't have the rule books for whatever game would be absolutely perfect for them, but they do have the DnD books.

Who knows, I just know that it is possible to play the game this way. It is possible to have none of these issues people bring up when defending absolute need for a DM with Final Authority.

I mean, heck man, we are at the point where you guys are defending the DMs position by saying "but the rules say", in a game and culture where "the rules are guidelines" and "There is no one true way" are the most commonly used refrains for any problem.

It is a tradition, and it has pros and cons, and the other ways have pros and cons, but you can play the game either way.
 

And I can't figure out how it would function? I mean, I can assume that it does because of the write up. But how? That is what I don't get.

I mean, I can't help explain that to you man. If all the different ways we've explained it over the past week haven't been enough, I don't know what else we could say to make it make sense to you.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
Publisher
I'm trying to wrap my mind around the idea of DM-less D&D (which would in fact be DM-full D&D, as everyone would in effect be part-DM, part-player) and running into some snags:

Who designs the setting on both a macro (kingdoms, cities, etc.) and micro (dungeon layout) scale? Or, if the dungeon is being generated randomly (for which there's systems all over the place) without a larger setting behind it, who does the random rolling for such?

Who runs the opposition? Even in a random dungeon you're sometimes going to random up some opponents, who plays those? (and if it's one of the players, isn't that person immediately in a conflict of interest in regards to running both sides of the combat?)

Who keeps the secrets? In a randomly-generated dungeon the dice will occasionally come up "trap", which becomes rather pointless if everyone knows about it. Ditto secret doors, teleporters, and other such delights. And any sort of mystery-based plot or story goes out the window if everyone already knows the secret behind the mystery.

If playing online e.g. on roll20, can DM privileges (such as to assign tokens, hide/reveal the map, etc.) be assigned to more than one participant in a game?
In short, you're approaching it from a weird angle. You seem to have an assumption that players want to "beat" the game -- like their goal is to make their characters succeed. Which (I guess) is fine, but isn't applicable to this sort of game.


So, point by point:
  1. Who designs the setting on both a macro (kingdoms, cities, etc.) and micro (dungeon layout) scale? Everyone. One player decides to name a character Roderic of Moonfall. Puff! Now there's something called "Moonfall", be it a noble house, a land, a gang or whatever else. They may decide to elaborate a bit more or just leave this thing hanging to be developed later.
  2. Who runs the opposition? Whoever feels like it, maybe because their "primary" character isn't present in the scene, or incapacitated, or whatever. Isn't that person immediately in a conflict of interest in regards to running both sides of the combat? Well, yes, the same way a writer is in a conflict of interest in regards of writing both the protagonist and the antagonist. They can run enemies dumb, but that's both boring and, well, dumb. If Roderic of Moonfall just slices through the Blackwatch mercenaries like hot knife through butter over and over — that's boring and doesn't lead to cool and exciting shit. But if Erriana the One-Eyed, an elite enforcer of the Blackwatch shows up, kicks his ass and takes his heirloom magic sword sword — then it's a cool set up for character development (like, "are you nothing more than your magic sword?") and also it leads to much more compelling narrative. Even if it was just an odd adventuring quest for 50gp and a healing potion, now this is personal. Puff! You have a boiling conflict and a powerful opposing force for the characters.
  3. Who keeps the secrets? No one. You maybe know where precisely every trap in the room is, but characters don't. Depending on the nature of the scene, it may be cool to just have the characters to skillfully traverse through a booby-trapped room, or it may be cool to make them run from a giant boulder. Also, it's possible that no one at the table actually knows who is behind the mystery. In Atomic Robo, for example, players take turns narrating what evidence their characters found and then the group reverse engineers the big picture.
As for does R20 allows for multiple people to reveal fog of war and whatnot — I don't know, honestly, I don't use fog of war nor r20
 

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