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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default How does co-gming work?

    A friend asked me recently what are my thoughts on co-gming. I have never seen it in action nor heard of anyone playing in groups with simultaneous gms. Supposedly, while co-gming, a gm takes over while in combat and the other handles the rest? Doesn't that slow the game down?

    My gut feeling is that having 2 people know the direction the story is heading is impossible, especially considering how off the rails some stories get. Additionally, it must stymie improvisation from the gm if they have to plan every single combat encounter. I improvise a lot when I gm so forcing a second gm to rule over the fights that I spring on him doesn't sound much fun.

    What are your experiences with co-gming? Have you found it fun and worthwhile? And most importantly, how does it work?
    Last edited by D-naras; 2019-09-17 at 01:55 AM. Reason: spelling/grammar

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    The concept is utterly alien to me.

    That is when "co-gming" is meant anything beyond "player(s) helping out with rules-stuff".

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Zhorn's Avatar

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    There's a few different ways that it could be tackled; but having both in complete know of the direction of the story can be a bit hard (not impossible, just difficult).

    There are a couple of co-DM groups in the tabletop club I'm part of, and how they run it is compartmentalising the DM process. One is in charge of scene setting and rulings, the other runs NPCs and opponents in both roleplay and combat.
    It allows combats to be run more openly antagonistic, with the person in charge of maintaining rules being fair and impartial. The enemy DM will have their objectives and goal for what each enemy is after, and mostly operate their actions the same way a player would, with the exception of having communications with the other DM before and after the game on what the intentions of the session will be, and how the decisions during the game change the direction.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    False God's Avatar

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    Being one and having one, the other DM is what I call "middle management". They help keep out-of-game discussion down, they help track initiative, help out with rules. They're particularly handy at larger tables and public AL games to let the DM keep things moving while someone else helps players out with questions and stuff.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    The closest thing I've had to a co-DMing experience was when we had a guest player take over a major villain's lieutenant. He played fierce and hard as a monster and really got into it, which let me run the rest of the battle smoothly. Would definitely recommend, but that was a special case.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Ken Murikumo's Avatar

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    I've never experienced it, but as you have said, what i have heard that is fairly common for co-GMing is that one GM will run combat exclusively, while the other takes care of the story, roleplaying, and everything else.

    I read a post about how a GM's wife wanted to run a game but had little idea how to actually do it. So they did the co-GM thing as mentioned. She created the story, NPCs, and took care of the normal light-duty checks that happen out of combat; while he ran the game during combat. She would tell him about bosses and stuff that she wanted the party to fight, and he would create said encounter. From what i read, it worked really well.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    I have done 2 types myself. Most common is what i call assistant gm. A 2nd gm you have to handle something. Be it that super important npc you need to run, to doing some monster maintenance. Since i have run some game forever, its often me being asked "can you help me make this game work, i have an idea but not sure how to do it."

    The other is more rare, i had a friend who gmed a lot like me, so we created worlds, markec off common and reserved areas plot wise, and swapped gm roles from time to time.
    Ran a good number of settings over 10 years. Rolemaster, talslanta, shadowrun and gurps space.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Elves's Avatar

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    I could see two GMs each running some of the NPCs in a large combat, or one GM handling the mechanical side of building NPCs, magic items and possibly even dungeons while the other tells them what to build.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Friv's Avatar

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    Haven't done it tabletop, but every LARP I've run has involved 2-3 GMs, each one handling different aspects of the game, hopping in as NPCs, and then hopping out to organize events. Usually, it involves meeting up between sessions and making sure that everyone knows everything that happened.

    It takes a bit more improv chops, because your co-GM can definitely declare a thing true that you weren't expecting, and I know of at least one major event where the whole party almost died because a co-GM accidentally had bad guys enter a room through what was supposed to be the safe escape route the PCs could find, but as long as people are on the same page it works.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    I've seen it a couple of times in Wraith, the Oblivion games. One GM was the GM, setting the scene and doing the rules stuff and the adversaries and stuff like that. The other one played the player's Shadows, a thing in Wraith where you have a Dark Side that can do things for you… at a price (they also communicate with each other, so one GM can play them all easily). He can come stand behind a player and whisper things in his ear, offering additional dice (and of course, never mention the price at all).

    And as Friv said, in LARPs it's common to have more than one GM, as it's often too large to keep running with only one GM (I've been in LARPs with 20 something players and double that in figurants, who do the NPCs and such and that's a smaller event, large ones can easily have 100+ players).
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
     
    Mark Hall's Avatar

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    Most common, IME, is the "assistant GM"... a player who knows the game and can help out with rules stuff and citations. The GM is still in charge, but the assistant GM looks up rules citations, monsters, and offers opinions on rulings. In games with lots of subsystems (q.v. Shadowrun), they may also be the one up to speed on those subsystems, so help run those parts of the game.

    There's also troupe-style play, where different GMs specialize in certain kinds of stories. The standard is Ars Magica, where Bob may like telling fae stories, so when Bob is GMing, Sarah, Brian, Dave, and B.A. either brush off their faerie-oriented characters, or play the "grogs" (the minor henchmen and hirelings of the group). If Brian is running a game about magi* politics, then Sarah's highly political maga might come out, while B.A. plays his magus who has reason to come, and everyone else plays grogs or companions. Each session will be one GM, but they're all working with the same pool of characters, and everyone draws from a common pool of grogs to play when their characters aren't interested in that variety of story.

    I've never really seen the "Dave is DM when it's time to fight, otherwise its B.A." style that gets mentioned.

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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    Ars Magica has an approach to this.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    *What is the plural genitive of "magus/a"?
    Masculine or neuter would be "magōrum", feminine would be "magārum".

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Most common, IME, is the "assistant GM"... a player who knows the game and can help out with rules stuff and citations. The GM is still in charge, but the assistant GM looks up rules citations, monsters, and offers opinions on rulings. In games with lots of subsystems (q.v. Shadowrun), they may also be the one up to speed on those subsystems, so help run those parts of the game.
    That's what we jokingly call the GM's secretary on our table. I've never been in a game that had enough people that an assistant GM was needed, though a long time GM of mine had always had problem remembering rules so we all helped him out at times.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    Quote Originally Posted by D-naras View Post
    That's what we jokingly call the GM's secretary on our table. I've never been in a game that had enough people that an assistant GM was needed, though a long time GM of mine had always had problem remembering rules so we all helped him out at times.
    Our table jokingly calls it the "legal officer".
    Last edited by NNescio; 2019-09-18 at 06:32 AM.
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    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
     
    Mark Hall's Avatar

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    Oh, that reminds me. We've had a special purpose assistant GM position, called the "init-bitch", whose job it was to remind the GM and the players whose turn it was to go. It was actually very helpful... the GM could concentrate on their tactics, and the init bitch kept the game from bogging down.
    The Cranky Gamer
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  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Recherché's Avatar

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    I've done it before. In my case, I wasn't very good with the system/mechanics but my group really wanted to try out this new system. My co-GM knew the new system inside and out but wasn't confident on storytelling. So I handled the story and plot line while she handled most things that that involved crunch. It worked out reasonably well for us. Only problem was sometimes I wanted to be a lot more narrative free form and she wanted to actually apply the rules.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Orc in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    Myself and another person ran a two-gm game. We had a the players as members of a mercenary company that could review their contracts before every session. We would each create a couple of contracts and the players would choose what they wanted to take on. So one person was responsible for the sessions content on a given week. The other was often tapped to play one of the NPC's that would help guide (or hinder) the players in their task. I think this worked fairly well but the campaign didn't persist long enough to see how it handled long term.
    Last edited by Calen; 2019-09-18 at 06:07 PM. Reason: grammar
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  19. - Top - End - #19
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Luccan's Avatar

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    I've never experienced it, nor seen it described. I understand it was actually recommended by the rules back when you could reasonably expect upwards of 10 players (not DMs, PCs) in a single group. Based on what has been said here and what I can recall from those rules, the 2nd DM was largely there to help with rules, being someone who could track initiative, look things up, and so on. I'd never given it much consideration, but it actually sounds awful. For most people at least. I assume there are better systems that divide the creative/actual-play and rule aspects more fairly, but I don't know how you would do that.
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    False God's Avatar

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    I also want to note I used the "Co-DM" position to deal with rules lawyers.

    It justifies their feelings that they know the rules better than you, but still leaves you in the position to disregard the rules, while allowing them to take the burden of enforcing the rules off your hands. It puts them in the position of power they crave but ironically shackles them down more than if they weren't, since they'll often now seek to maintain their position and keep in your good graces.

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  21. - Top - End - #21
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    Ars Magica has an approach to this.
    To expand on this, a game I ran was going to have some of the players also "run" significant opponents to the player's covenant. (The game didn't run long enough to really test the concept)
    So, one ran the plots by a local noble in competing for mundane resources and one ran a local fairy court and it's plots and interference in the covenant's affairs.
    The "Co-GMs" had a more -or-less free hand to run adventures based around their area.

    I've also been in games where a "guest GM" who may or may not be a regular player has run a "monster of the week" adventure which more of less stands alone, including a shadowrun where 2 GMs took turns running adventures.
    These worked because the 2ndry GM never ran adventures with plot depth, leaving the plot arc for the main GM.
    Last edited by Duff; 2019-09-18 at 11:17 PM.
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  22. - Top - End - #22
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: How does co-gming work?

    I was part of a co-dm group back in college. We prepped sessions together, which let us divide up monster building but still knew generally where the game was going. And then whoever was available ran the actual game, which was nice when school could get in the way. If there were several DM's one could be polishing encounters while the other talked with the party, or we had several people to play several NPC's. Worked fine because we worked well together.

    Our last session had the good and evil parties fighting, and we had let them communicate without us beforehand. So wr did not know that Good had paid off most of Evil to throw the fight. That was a fun surprise.
    Last edited by Glimbur; 2019-09-22 at 02:13 PM.

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