log in or register to remove this ad

 

Do your PCs have a designated leader?

Wednesday Boy

The Nerd WhoFell to Earth
Do your PCs have a designated leader? I don't mean leader in the 4E sense, I mean does the group declare a certain character to be the leader of the party ala Hannibal Smith, Cyclops, or Tanis Half-Elven? In my group characters emerge as leaders of the group because their players are more outspoken or engaged in directing the campaign. But even then those characters don't "outrank" the other characters. I love in stories when the ensemble cast has particular niches or roles that they fill, so the idea of nominating a leader works for me. But we've never done it. I think a campaign could be especially interesting if the character of one of our less outspoken or engaged players in our group was nominated to be the leader. (Provided they weren't entirely adverse to the idea.)

If you have tried this, do you think it worked well? Do you have any tips for making it work better? Have you pushed anyone into the leadership role that wouldn't vie for it on their own? How did that work out?

(Thanks for the insight!)
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Cephor

Villager
I'm about to try something like this out, encouraging each player to taje a designated role in the group. Sometimes that role is more IC focused and others are more OoC focused, like keeping a particular type of page on our Obsidian Portal updated. It'll add ownership to each person participating and helps me focus on running the game itself.
 

edemaitre

Explorer
Back when I ran and played earlier editions of D&D, each party had a "caller" who was designated to both speak for the adventuring party to Non-Player Characters and to call out tactics during combat.

More recently, party functions depend on each Player Character's temperament, and yes, the ability of individual gamers. Species/race, occupational class, and combat expertise were less important. Sometimes the Bard would take the lead in court situations, the Cleric when visiting various temples or (un)holy sites, and the Wizard at academic institutions. Martial types naturally called the shots on the battlefield, but when scouting a dungeon or wilderness, a lot would depend on who'd be on point and who understood the opposition.

Interestingly, I've had parties led by scraggly prophets, kvetching mages, and flashy swashbucklers just as often as by high-minded Paladins or methodical Rangers. A lot depends on the dynamics of the personalities at the table and how well-developed each character is. I'd prefer that rules expertise or talkativeness be just a few of several contributing factors to party leadership.

In seafaring and spacegoing campaigns, the ship's captain (not necessarily the helmsman, pilot, or owner) is in charge, but following privateer codes, each captain must consult his crew before any major decisions. As with ships, I encourage each party to come up with a name for itself and to develop its own set of overall goals in a sandbox-style setting. Ideally, each party will develop its own collective personality just as each character might surprise both players and G.M.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
In some campaigns yes, in others, no.

I run a Classic Deadlands game. There's no designated leader character there. There just seems to be no need for one, so they don't have one.

The Star Wars game I play in is a different matter. This group does have a leader (I play him) - but he wasn't "nominated". There was no vote taken, among the characters or among the players and instead it arose organically - basically, I was the guy who created plans and put them forward as possible courses of action, and it developed from there.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Running a Zeitgeist 4E campaign right now and the default assumption of the adventure path is that your players form a unit of the RHC (kind of like a cross between the FBI and the Avengers). So this assumes a unit leader and when we generated the group, I suggested that one of the more level-headed players (who is possibly the least outspoken) took the role. It's worked perfectly. The group often defer to him, giving his thoughtful opinions more airtime than they might otherwise have received. What helps is that he is also a tactical warlord, dishing out commands in combat (and the rest of the party often compete to receive his bonus attacks).

But I can see how it might work very badly and create tension if the wrong player was chosen.
 

In some campaigns yes, in others, no.

I run a Classic Deadlands game. There's no designated leader character there. There just seems to be no need for one, so they don't have one.

The Star Wars game I play in is a different matter. This group does have a leader (I play him) - but he wasn't "nominated". There was no vote taken, among the characters or among the players and instead it arose organically - basically, I was the guy who created plans and put them forward as possible courses of action, and it developed from there.

This has been more or less my experience, as well. In some campaigns, a leader will naturally emerge, as decisions get deferred to certain people, sometimes by way of their skill set or strength of personality.

I have had a couple of campaigns where a leader was deliberately determined.

In one game, the characters were a king and his advisory staff. The character roles were determined out of game. This worked out very well for our group, but I could see how, in some groups, it might not work out as well. As situations arose, each of the advisory characters would put forward a possible course of action or perspective, and then the king's player would make a decision, and we would all abide by it. We got to engage in some good-natured intraparty conflict, but at the same time, present a unified front to the in-game world.

In another, a Spelljammer campaign that I ran, the party started out as the crew of a spelljamming vessel, and very quickly inherited ownership of that vessel. At my suggestion, the characters decided who among them would be the captain of the vessel (as well as designating a few other positions; such as a purser/quartermaster to keep track of funds and supplies, a navigator to plot the ship's course, and so on). In many cases, the characters still argued about what course to take at any given time (and in one memorable instance, the navigator subverted all discussion and took the ship where he wanted to go, the rest of the party be damned) but generally acted in a fairly unified manner.

And finally, I played in a campaign that was based in a military organization, so there ostensibly was a rank structure to follow. However, the characters came from different military organizations within the same nation's military (i.e. we had Intelligence guys, Army guys, and Air Force guys as a part of the same task force) sometimes receiving separate and competing sets of orders. The end result was mass chaos, which was great fun for our group, but may not work for some.
 

Wednesday Boy

The Nerd WhoFell to Earth
In one game, the characters were a king and his advisory staff. The character roles were determined out of game.

I wish we had put similar thought into our current game. One of our players is the long lost heir to the throne who wants to depose the evil queen and take his throne back. But he's one of our more reserved and casual players who rarely takes the spotlight. So while he character seems like the ideal choice for our leader, the character rarely takes the lead. I think it would have served the narrative better if we put him in more of a leadership role because it makes more sense and he's quite capable of leading (even if it isn't his natural inclination).
 

BriarMonkey

First Post
I can't think of a single one of my groups where a leader was elected/appointed. As has been mentioned already, that position tends to get filled organically through play. What generally tends to happen is that the "leader" is really just the voice of the group in certain scenarios - with other players taking the lead in differing scenarios (for instance in heavy combat vs. in dealings with nobility vs. dealing with the wizards guild).
 

Jhaelen

First Post
In my group characters emerge as leaders of the group because their players are more outspoken or engaged in directing the campaign. But even then those characters don't "outrank" the other characters.
That's how it usually works in my games and campaigns, too.
I had one campaign where every pc was a member of the realm's guard and it was the only campaign where every pc also had a rank that theoretically made one of them the leader. In actuality the leader by rank used to ask everyone's opinion and then decide what either the majority of the de-facto leader suggested.
 

Hand of Evil

Adventurer
Epic
Charisma has to count for something. That is the leader in my games, characters will naturally defer to them and their plans. If it is a bad one, time for a roll off!

Now, as I use "adventure guilds" a leader can be elected by the party but that is a contract amongst the group.

Charisma (Cha)
Charisma measures a character’s force of personality, persuasiveness, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness. This ability represents actual strength of personality, not merely how one is perceived by others in a social setting. Charisma is most important for paladins, sorcerers, and bards. It is also important for clerics, since it affects their ability to turn undead. Every creature has a Charisma score.

You apply your character’s Charisma modifier to:

Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Gather Information, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Perform, and Use Magic Device checks. These are the skills that have Charisma as their key ability.
Checks that represent attempts to influence others.
Turning checks for clerics and paladins attempting to turn zombies, vampires, and other undead.
Sorcerers and bards get bonus spells based on their Charisma scores. The minimum Charisma score needed to cast a sorcerer or bard spell is 10 + the spell’s level.

Any creature capable of telling the difference between itself and things that are not itself has at least 1 point of Charisma. Anything with no Charisma score is an object, not a creature. Anything without a Charisma score also has no Wisdom score.
 

Oryan77

Adventurer
I tend to be one of the more outspoken & take charge players in the group. I have mostly DMed in my gaming career, but even before I was a DM, I was always looked at as the party leader among my friends. I eventually got tired of being forced into that role and I purposefully made PCs that should not be the party leader. But even then, when I make it a point not to play the leader role, I find myself repeating to the guys that should be the leaders, "Ok, so what's the plan? Ok, what are we doing? Ok, where to next?" because they are not taking charge.

My current group has pretty much been all lone wolves to the point where our group is dysfunctional and reckless. So I figured I would go ahead and play a character that is supposed to be the leader type in order to establish some teamwork. Unfortunately, I guess my outspoken and take charge personality annoys one of the players; although he makes no effort at all to be a team player himself.

Now I'm worried about trying to be the party leader because I don't want to further annoy this guy. Yet, this group is in serious need of a party leader and he certainly hasn't stepped up to the plate. Two of the players have already had multiple PCs die....before we even reached level 2.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Charisma has to count for something. That is the leader in my games, characters will naturally defer to them and their plans. If it is a bad one, time for a roll off!

This is an interesting point here. The game I mentioned where I'm playing the leader, it is Star Wars Saga Edition. We're all playing Force users, and the Use the Force skill is Charisma based. Everyone in the party's got a pretty good Charisma. Except for me, the effective leader. I'm playing a character with 11 Charisma (no bonus to skill checks). No social skills trained, either.

How do I pull it off? Simple, really, when you think about it. The party is mostly made of characters built to Use the Force, and fight. So, high Charisma, High Strength, high Dex, high Con. What do you think they left out? Intelligence and Wisdom. Those, I have in spades.

You know how, in D&D, you can take Weapon Finesse and thereby kind of replace Strength with Dex? Same idea, but without a feat. There are two ways to convince someone else to do what you want - one is to be charming and persuasive. The other is to have better information, and be right. I end up the party leader not because I can cajole others into doing what I want, but because I'm the one who has the plans in which we attain our goals and not die!
 

haakon1

Adventurer
Like Umbran said, it depends on the party. I'm involved with 3 campaigns.

1) Email 3.5e campaign I DM. They elected a leader (the Rogue). There was a disagreement with the leader's approach, so one of the PC's (the cleric) left the party (the player stayed and wanted a new character; this was a good in-character reason for the switch). The results of the new election (the fighter) have remained stable, and the former leader PC (who came in second in that election) acts as a second-in-command on the rare occasions when they split the party.


2) 4e campaign where I'm a player. There's no official leader. But generally, my paladin takes the lead in NPC interactions (and has high Cha) whereas the cleric tends to take the lead in combat and in advising on leveling up choices. Both of us are DM's . . . the cleric's player is a 4e DM, so he knows the rules much better than the rest of us.


3) 3.5e live campaign where I'm the DM. No official leader. Unofficially, the Rogue tends to make the decisions, with the Cleric having the 2nd most influence.
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
We tried having a designated leader of the PCs a while back, and it was a really bad idea. Everyone just resented him, and not a lot of leadership took place. In general, we try to keep characters independent and make group decisions democratically if absolutely necessary.

I do, however, think that this depends largely on the personalities of the players.
 

Phototoxin

First Post
My PCs seem to run a more 'first amongst equals' style although the swordmage defender seems to be the 'defacto' leader. (seeing as how he's at the front a lot of the time!)
 

Nagol

Unimportant
My current campaign (modern-day X-File style invesitgation) is experimenting with 'designated team lead' based upon the assumed nature of the mission and environment. It's working reasonably well so far.
 

Razjah

Explorer
I've done campaigns with a true leader, ones without, and ones with something in between. I think if the circumstances are right, the leader can be a really valuable tool for the group. Many games can get bogged down in planning and debate among players and characters. Having a leader make the final decision can keep the game moving forward. Other times it is necessary to the genre. A war campaign has ranks, pirates have captains, sometimes a tactical game needs a combat leader to decide when to press an attack and when to fall back.

I have never had an issue with this, as long as the players are aware that a character is leading and have some say in that. For example, I ran a skypirates game and the players voted for one character to be captain, she then picked her first mate and others assumed other positions in the crew. The characters acted as her cabinet so that they had some input into where the ship went.

Leaders can also be used to help characters feel like the characters they are supposed to be. Having another player suggest a line of dialogue and then running it through the leader works very well. It is the same when the players of a low intelligence character can solve a puzzle, just tell the intelligent character's player so it feels like the intelligent character truly can solve all the difficult puzzles.
 

Wangalade

Explorer
in the past i have played in games with an appointed leader. they were usually chosen because of their high charisma score. in the past few years though we don't usually have a leader, and every one does what they want, sometimes splitting the party and sometimes not. sometimes a player takes charge and tries to be the leader, but it doesn't always work out depending on the personalities of the characters.
 

tuxgeo

Adventurer
We're currently playtesting 5E-Next using play-by-post (and it's going slowly, as PbP does). We haven't designated a leader, but our Dwarf Cleric of Moradin (with Knight background) usually sets a lot of our agenda. The others in the group are a barbarian, a rogue (my PC), and a wizard, so we don't automatically all obey the cleric; but we do act in a sort of coordinated fashion a large bit of the time. (My rogue has fairly average INT and CHA, so he's not set up to be a leader.)

The alignment of our wizard is NG; my rogue's CN; and the alignments of the other two aren't listed, but the cleric of Moradin acts LG, and the barbarian acts fairly chaotic, so we do have some alignment differences. Despite that, we manage to work together anyway.
 

Jon_Dahl

First Post
Well, yes... Some of our players have very strong personality. It's very interesting actually and someone might be able do an interesting psychological study about our group. It gets very interesting when two leader types are playing together. Synergy is certainly needed.

It would be interesting to break the mold, but I find it very difficult.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top