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Is "GM Agency" A Thing?

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Thomas Shey

Legend
The Icons seem pretty setting specific. Is that the kind of thing you meant?

I was thinking more of the One Unique Thing, which, while it doesn't have to be, can pretty much make your character a central figure in the campaign even if they (and the campaign) don't know it yet. But the Icon relationship points also put your thumb on the scale, too.
 

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BookTenTiger

He / Him
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.
We had such a good time coming up with a Dresdeny San Francisco for our game. My favorite thing we came up with was a tech company run by emotion-eating vampires called Lustr. They used their app to basically farm victims of their hunger.

Edit: I'm remembering more now. There was also a magical prison for the supernatural underneath Alcatraz. For some reason it was run by a gorgon named Gordon Morgan. He was Gordon Morgan, the Gorgon Warden.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
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.
It certainly seemed like an ideal 40 years ago, even if it wasn't very workable in practice. (An extreme that I mulled over at the time was giving each player a document of "things you know" so they could avoid using 'player knowledge' when making decisions for their characters...)
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
It certainly seemed like an ideal 40 years ago, even if it wasn't very workable in practice. (An extreme that I mulled over at the time was giving each player a document of "things you know" so they could avoid using 'player knowledge' when making decisions for their characters...)
I still see it as an ideal. One which, practically, is unlikely to be fully realized in an actual game. Doesn't mean it needs to be abandoned to go the other way though, unless that's what you want.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
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.

Yep. Technically, Fate 3.0 was never itself published as a game, It is the engine underlying Spirit of the Century and The Dresden Files .

As I understand the history, they took what they did with The Dresden Files, neatened it up even more, and released that as Fate Core (which, if we go with numbering, is Fate 4.0).

Fate Accelerated came after Fate Core, but is different enough to not fit into numbering Fate editions.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Yep. Technically, Fate 3.0 was never itself published as a game, It is the engine underlying Spirit of the Century and The Dresden Files .

As I understand the history, they took what they did with The Dresden Files, neatened it up even more, and released that as Fate Core (which, if we go with numbering, is Fate 4.0).

Fate Accelerated came after Fate Core, but is different enough to not fit into numbering Fate editions.
I can't tell if Fate Condensed counts as a new version or a streamlined Core.
 


Thomas Shey

Legend
It certainly seemed like an ideal 40 years ago, even if it wasn't very workable in practice. (An extreme that I mulled over at the time was giving each player a document of "things you know" so they could avoid using 'player knowledge' when making decisions for their characters...)

Eh. Even back then it was controversial. I remember some extensive discussion of hard-keying (writing everything down in advance) versus flex-keying (adjusting things along the way) and soft-keying (making it up as you go) in something like 1976. There were plenty of people who questioned whether hard-keying everything was even a virtue to try.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Eh. Even back then it was controversial. I remember some extensive discussion of hard-keying (writing everything down in advance) versus flex-keying (adjusting things along the way) and soft-keying (making it up as you go) in something like 1976. There were plenty of people who questioned whether hard-keying everything was even a virtue to try.
Just because there have always been different ways to play doesn't mean one should be valued in general over the others. In a particular game or even a particular system, sure.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Given the different roles of player and GM in most games, I don't think that agency means the same thing. We evaluate player agency in how their decisions and choices affect the game world... that their decisions matter and can change the state of the game for better or worse.

Essentially, it's an evaluation of their potential impact as a participant of the game.

What does that mean for the GM? Why would we expect their impact to be limited? Even in games that have more rules that bind the GM's actions, there's no doubt that what the GM does can impact play significantly.

The question would be more about why. Why are they trying to influence the game? Toward what goal? In response to what?

Players have goals in play, and agency is about how they try to achieve those goals, and their chances to do so.

What are a GM's goals in play? If they have any, I'd expect they'd be more separate of the fiction within the game world. They'd be more about "providing challenge" or "rewarding good play" or the like. Those seem very different from player goals.
 

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