Is "GM Agency" A Thing?

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Reynard

Legend
Why is THAT sort of thing not being included in advice? That's how we get around the "forever players" who just passively wait for the plot wagon to show up.
I think you are underestimating the number of players that would not be interested in that. Not because they have been "Trained" to be passive receptacles, but because entertainment in all aspects of life is mostly passive.

That said, I agree that a game in which the players -- and their PCs -- are heavily invested in how the world looks and operates can make for a wonderful gaming experience. I ran a 2E campaign that ended up stretching through 3E and into a super heroic future run via Mutants and Masterminds over the course of 20 real world years. The only reason it lasted that long, I believe, is that the players made that world as much or more than I did. But that is a rare case, in my experience.
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
When a Rifts GM isn't even adhering to the basics of Palladium (d20 for combat, d100 for non-combat)... was using 2d10 for the to-hit... and was dividing all PC skills by 5 to get them to 2d10 as well. Walked right off. Session 1.

At the very least, if you're going to go to that sort of radical change in the system you're avowedly running, people ought to know about it up front before they sign on.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
No, it also applies to less constrained situations. In a pure narrative situation, the only limit is what doesn't break the table's WSoD/Verisimilitude. The most constricted authority is when the game makes no room for a GM at all - such as the storygames Once Upon a Time, Hobbit Tales from the Green Dragon Inn or Aye, Dark Overlord! OUaT doesn't even meet my expectations of an RPG - as the characters are all shared.

My point was that even in a game where a GM is expected to stick to RAW barring player buy-in, there's still tons of GM agency; its just not in mechanics.

I realize there are games where more of the world-decision is off in players' hands--but as I've noted before, you have to go pretty far down that trail before they've got less agency than a player does in a typical trad game.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I'm not sure I've been in a game in the past 30 years where back story hasn't also been accepted between sessions. And players could regularly ask if they could find something in town or in the dungeon (particular shop, particular thing one might find in a dungeon) that the DM hadn't already thought of putting there.

I wouldn't be surprised that there are some tiny percentage of extreme hard-code GMs who insist everything has to be placed by them or generated off tables, but I doubt that was all that common even 40 years ago, let alone now.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Couple of things. First off, you're missing the point. The discussion is about whether or not the players not engaging in the game is the result of being discouraged from adding things to the game or not. I do strongly believe that trad games have discouraged players from engaging beyond simply reacting to what the DM is putting in front of them. There is very little DMing advice in making players also responsible for how the game works.

I'd just note you're overextending from D&D here, Hussar. There have been trad games that encouraged players, in practice, to add things to the setting for decades. Virtually any non-licensed superhero game for one. I don't disagree with your general point, but you're overstating it.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I wouldn't be surprised that there are some tiny percentage of extreme hard-code GMs who insist everything has to be placed by them or generated off tables, but I doubt that was all that common even 40 years ago, let alone now.

Thinking back to the early 80s, I couldn't remember any times in dungeons that we ever asked about it during play (granted I don't have many fine grained memories of way back then - I know we ended up with some F-14s, but I don't remember how). I do know there was a time in a town I asked if there was a place I could buy chickens and what the restaurants were. Ironically, I think it was that gourmet Cleric who had his soul eaten by Cthulhu. Needless to say as a player I learned at that moment what the Necronomicon was for.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
But that's my point. The DM is advised. At no point in the DMG (any DMG really) is the notion that maybe we could actually let the players take an active hand in campaign design. It's still 100% (or 99% anyway) from the DM.

It is rare, but games that have players taking active hand in campaign design do exist - The Dresden Files RPG, (Fate-based, for those who care) has an entire minigame for campaign design with the players, for example.
 
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Thomas Shey

Legend
I think I'd argue there's some fairly heavy campaign elements baked into 13th Age, though the elements tend to be very PC-centric.
 


Reynard

Legend
It is rare, but games that have players taking active hand in campaign design do exist - The Dresden Files RPG, (Fate-based, for those who care) has an entire minigame for campaign design with the players, for example.
Fate Core does that too. Of course, I am pretty sure Fate Core is the one they version they extracted from Dresden Files to make it more universal.
 

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