Monday, 20 July 2009

Avoid trouble: Cycle the party leader

One of the things we do in our game sessions is cycle the party leader. If the party leader changes during a game session, it's reducing the likelihood of bad leadership screwing things up, not to mention how it reduces players sending each other off to take stupid risks instead of thinking them through themselves (because they won't stay as party leader for long). It also helps limit the effect disruptive players can have on the group as a whole.

At the start of every session, I have all the players dice to become leader. This involves all of them rolling a d20 with the player with the highest roll becoming the leader. This is similar to what happens when we find treasure that more than one player wants that cannot be divided between them, in that circumstance, the players who want the item dice for it. A tied top result leads to a reroll for the players who are tied as they dice against just each other.

Party leader gets final say on any decision that needs to be made, but because of the nature of the cycling, the players tend to ask for input from others. The last thing they want is to cause trouble for the other players as it won't be long until they are subject to another's leadership - perhaps even the player in question.

So when does the leader get cycled? Simple. After every combat, cycle the party leader by moving either clockwise, or anticlockwise, away from the current party leader. We always rotate anticlockwise in our game sessions, but so long as you pick one direction and stick to it, it will not matter which way you go.

As an aside, we also use a house rule that means the monsters will always go for the party leader in battle (if they can) which leads to interesting tactical situations. The party scramble to protect their leader (whoever it is). Particularly dangerous for the party mage (although now he's fourth level and has mirror image he has some room to breathe now) but on the plus side it encourages team work and helps the group gel as a whole.


Noumenon said...

Your post seems to assume there will be a "party leader" in the first place -- which your second house rule would seem to dictate there shouldn't be. Why not just scrap both rules?

The Recursion King said...

The party leader role is a valuable one - it keeps play moving by stopping decision dead locks caused by disagreement amongst the players. There are many more decisions to be made in an adventure than just who gets what treasure.

jamused said...

That seems very weird and "game-y" to me. It seems to assume that the characters are just tokens the players push around. We roleplay that stuff, with players who don't want to take the leader role creating characters that wouldn't want it, while the rest of the players have the characters decide amongst themselves as the situation warrants.

The Recursion King said...

We are talking about playing a game, after all, perhaps something that gets lost in all the high level theorising that goes around the RPG blogs?

We've played this way for something like six months now and no one has ever complained. You could think of it as rotating the 'caller' if you preferred.

jamused said...

I don't think it's a particularly theoretical concern. In our games it would seem very strange if the nobleman who was bankrolling the expedition suddenly yielded party leadership to the greedy self-serving rogue, and then him to the thick-as-a-brick hired muscle. And if it's not party leadership in the sense that the characters are aware of (just the "caller") then it seems even stranger that the monsters can sense it and act on it.

The Recursion King said...

All of which are fair points. If you don't like a house rule, you don't have to use it, I promise not to turn up at your next session and force it upon you ;-)