I'm not even convinced that's a disagreement. Without some way of quantifying how much you "fob off a lot more authority" I couldn't really say whether your methodology is different than mine or not. I've allowed players to create whole new deities and establish a cult of assassins operating secretly under the auspices of a neutral good deity.[MENTION=4937]Celebrim[/MENTION], I largely agree with what you've said, with a slight amendment that, as a DM, I tend to fob off a lot more authority at the table onto the players.
What's important is that they did so under my blessings. That's the core of what I'm outlining. Ultimately authority over a setting lies with the DM, no matter how often that "fob off" that authority.
So the only thing that would be an actual disagreement with me is the claim that players have and by rights ought to have some sort of unlimited fiat authority. If you think that, then we have a disagreement. If you don't think that, then we are just discussing subtle differences in approach to what is fundamentally the same point of view.
So, if this is actual disagreement with me, then the first thing I'll want to know is how the system works. If players have "their own fiat control powers", what do those powers look like? How are they actually used in play? How are disputes between participants resolved? How is spot-light balance maintained between the players? How do you support the aesthetic of challenge if a player actually has fiat power over the narrative?While I understand the notion that letting players have limited fiat control might be off putting to some, I find that since each player has their own fiat control powers, it becomes more a sense that everyone at the table is contributing towards authoring the game, rather than the DM being so central to the larger campaign.
It's all great to say, "Sure, I give my players fiat authority." But, if that authority is operating under the veto power of the GM, then it's not authority at all nor is it particularly unique or different than the normal way to play. And if the authority is not operating under the veto power of the GM, and it's true fiat authority then you are going to run into all the problems that plague games of make-believe or attempts to write stories one page at a time with a rotating cast of authors, plus all the additional problems that come from removing the supports from what are aesthetics of play that experienced players are going to expect to be supported. So in short, I'm not going to believe it until you actual explaining it, and in the mean time will assume that subtle differences aside, your table plays pretty much like mine and every other table I've seen.
No, but again, that's never been the stake. The stake is whether the player has the authority to force all the other participants, including a GM, to accept that this random NPC is in fact "Francis, my friend". The GM has that authority, and in most games exercises it all the time. When however I try to imagine a game where everyone has that authority, I find my imagination fails me. The closest I can imagine is the sort of make-believe play my daughters engaged in as 1st or 2nd graders.And, just because Bob adds in "Frances is my friend" to use an example, doesn't mean that the scene suddenly becomes a non-issue for the rest of the group.
I don't have enough information to answer that question, but I can certainly imagine cases where it really matters to play that the guard is "Frances, Bob's Friend", and the GM or some other participant cares. The problem with your question is that the answer is "No", if and only if no one has any stake in this encounter at all, and introducing "Francis, Bob's Friend" is everyone agrees the most interesting thing to do with the scene. But just as the case when you are passing around a notebook adding a story to it a page at a time, it does at some point really matter that the story is departing from where it was going, and participants can get frustrated by the different directions each participant wants for a scene or the plot. Sooner or later, you are going to have a situation where more than one participant has an idea for what the scene should be and they are, while all perhaps valid, contradicting.As far as everyone else is concerned, does it really matter if "Frances is Bob's friend" comes from Bob or the DM? Either way, the rest of the group now has more information in the scene to work with.
Yes, but that's not anything novel or particular to 5e or D&D. It's completely tangential to the real issue which is narrative authority, and not whether lengthy backstories that provide contacts and settings are useful and fun in play or anything else of the sort. The thing that is unusual about the "Francis the friend" example IS NOT and never was that the idea came from the player. The thing that is unusual about it is that it was asserted as a solution to a challenge (get through the gate) without any blessing by the DM required to accept the statement as true.And, since 5e does allow for this sort of thing by leveraging backgrounds, nemesises (nemesi?) and the like, I find it encourages players to become more grounded in the campaign and thus, more immersed.
No one in the thread really cares whether a player has a suggestion that this be Francis his friend, especially if the circumstances make sense, and pretty much everyone agrees that in some circumstances that they as a GM might go with it. If you let players add elements like this by going with a suggestion or idea you hadn't previously thought of, congratulations, you are running a bog standard normal RPG and you have absolutely no grounds for thinking you are doing something particularly special or grand. I can find examples of this sort of play in rule books from highly traditional RPGs going back more than 20 years from before Nar or Indy gaming was even a thing. I have no way of quantifying how often or to what degree you allow the PC to introduce ideas into your game to compare it to what I know anyone else has one. I've played under a GM that latter told me that he invented an entire nation and an ongoing civil war entirely to support a player's offhand comment one night that he'd like his PC to be a king some day. This was like in 1991. I hate to break it to you, but you are probably not that special or different.
The real issue is narrative authority and agency. Waving a wand of blessing over a player's idea is not untraditional. What would really be unusual is if you were forced against your wishes as GM for this PC to be Francis, Bob's friend. If you have narrated, "This is Grog, the orc henchmen of the wicked mayor.", and the PC is able to overrules you and say, "Not fun. This is Francis my friend.", then that is something that I'd want you to explain to me because I don't understand it.