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RPT Newsletter #1,197 | 3 Ways Your Players Can Help You Out Next Session

Are you a Delegator-Aligator?

  • I never delegate. It is my world and I am god.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • One of my players is allowed to play the minions / villains during combat.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Delegating is not possible with my group.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    7

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin & Master of the Archive
Staff member
Platinum WoA
Wizard of Story
Wizard of Combat
Borderland Explorer
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3 Ways Your Players Can Help You Out Next Session

By JohnnFour | Published March 28, 2022

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1,197


Delegation comes naturally to some.
For others, we don't think of it, worry we might bother or offend folks, or just want to control too much.
We do not have to take on the entire burden ourselves.
Getting players to help us out makes the game experience better for all.
Because some players want to help.
And reducing workload and cognitive load helps you become more present at the table, which translates to smarter decisions, better descriptions, and easier access to your creativity.
Getting players to help you out helps everyone have more fun at every game!
Here's an updated list of ways you can enlist players to assist your GMing.

Designate a Party Leader or Caller​

Especially in large groups, having a player volunteer for or be assigned the peacekeeper, er, decision-maker role smoothens gameplay.
Session spotlights switch between GM, player, and group.
When in group spotlight mode, we need players to decide and tell us what the party wants. And when multiple people need to weigh in, getting consensus takes time and energy.
A person responsible for getting consensus and telling you what the party does next means you aren't spending that time and energy.
This designated job also comes in handy when the party splits.
The others can plan while you GM one group. The caller can be ready to debrief you when the spotlight shifts.


Co-Creator​

This goes against my grain as an old school GM, but I'm slowly letting go. :)
Ask players to build stuff for you.
For example, teach your players the 3 Line NPC Technique.
Then ask them to build recurring NPCs who survive contact with the party, NPCs from character backgrounds, and NPCs whom the characters want to meet.
The format keeps things fast and simple, and you still control stat blocks and deeper plot secrets as desired.
Last campaign a couple of players created the magic items they wanted for their PCs at higher levels. I considered these awesome first drafts and took them from there to the finish line.
I then gave the items to the bad guys. :)

Players can also create Lego locations for you.
If you have doodlers, ask them to draw you some clever combat maps.
Ask players to detail out places from PC backstories, home base spots like the local tavern, and upcoming areas with furnishings, features of interest, brief histories, and even plot hooks.


Record Keeping​

Several options fall into this category of players taking notes and handling certain details for you.
  • Sage — Log sessions to help everyone with details
  • Timekeeper — Track time's passing whether it's years, days, rounds
  • Effects — Note active conditions, spell durations, trap and hazard effects to help gameplay go smoother
  • Treasure — Log what the party finds, and most helpful for you: log what characters took what special items
  • Shopping — Shorten town trips with a unified goods and services request list

Combat Familiar​

Depending on your comfort level, you can automate and delegate significant pieces of combat.
We want Player Fog of War to keep the game mysterious and exciting. It helps prevent metagaming too.
However, for mooks and recurring foes, that effect wears off fast.
So why not share the defensive and offensive stats of foes when you're no longer earning that fog of war thrill?
Then you can have a player help assess conditions, modifiers, and player attack + damage rolls for you. Kind of like a triage roll.

Rules Lawyers are perfect for this role. They can also triage numerous player combat actions in the background, such as moves, skill usage, and special abilities.
For example, for online games, once I'm confident the group's familiar with the rules and the VTT, I only want players to summarize their actions for me.
Who are they attacking? Where are they moving? What are they trying to do?
I'll referee any tricky stuff.
Otherwise, they can target, roll dice, move their token, etc. as I shift my thinking to the next player.
Other combat familiar tasks:
  • Track initiative
  • Track foe health and damage
  • Countdown timers
  • Rule lookups
  • Turn timers if used
  • Rolling foe saves and defensive checks

What Will You Delegate?​

We don't have to do it all. We can and should ask for help.
Players can assist with content creation, recording keeping, and combat.
They can also help with the most important task of all:
Getting the GM another beer. :)
Cheers!
 
Last edited:

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin & Master of the Archive
Staff member
Platinum WoA
Wizard of Story
Wizard of Combat
Borderland Explorer
This reminds me a lot of RPT #022 | Seven Tricks To Save Time.
You mentioned these roles before in at least one other newsletter, I seem to recall.
Nice summary here.

I usually try to develop in-game a party leader, if applicable. Then, when the party seems to take longer than expected to decide for what to do, I will call him/her out "as a party leader" and request a decision. This works out well. Sometimes, I will call out the one with the most experience in this topic to decide though. In my recent groups, there is hardly a time when they spend too long on decision-making though.

I love it when my players co-create! This tells me that they are invested in this world. I stress that they actually may take the liberty to do so. Sometimes even spontaneously during PC-PC conversations, when they suddenly mention a faction, monster, item, person, I as a GM have never heard of. But it is great inspiration and my players enrich the game with it!
Thus, I regularly ask them for descriptions of places and NPCs from their past (possibly used in future sessions), to define their relationship with them or define the mood of that place for me. I don't ask them for stats though. I need as detailed information as possible to enact these NPCs in a way that the player expects.

For record-keeping, I ask the players for session summaries (if they want to) and that they keep track of items, I do not keep track of. I usually have a very good overview of magical items and healing potions, etc., but I do not keep track of food and amunition and encumbrance for the players.

Several other issues above are recorded automatically in Foundry, especially combat-wise - which is a great help for me(!), others are not necessary during our sessions.

And if I have a rule question (that is indeed necessary to be used correctly and not just accomodated with a quick modifier), I just ask one of the two players that are very familiar with the rule book to quickly look it up (easily accessible via Foundry), while I play a short scene with the other players. It works out every time.
 

Gedece

Active member
Platinum WoA
Gold WoA
Wizard of Story
I'm usually the one player logging some information for recaps, or mid adventure session ends. So I have no issue at all in delegating logging to any player when I GM.

I don't think rules delegation is necessary for the storytelling games I usually GM, as they are not rule heavy.

I do ask questions to the players, if they roll specially good, I'll ask them "how does that look?", another good one is "Please describe how you manage to resist that hit". I don't require full descriptions. If they come, they are welcomed. If it's a hint of how they did it, I expand it so it seems fuller. This is something that requires buy in from the players, so your mileage may vary. My advice is to start small and build up.

For example to star small, say to the wizard "the magic in the zone seems a little wild, so what colour did your fireball have?"
 

sheaeugene

New member
Silver WoA
I DM'd an adventure in a labyrinth. This was the kind of labryinth which, local legends claim, no one has ever made it out of alive. As I was planning, I thought to my DM self "Hey... wouldn't it be fun to have an NPC - that one individual who actually did make it out alive - to guide the party through the maze!" Then... I thought... what if one of the players was this individual???

I set things up offline with a player I knew would love the idea. At the beginning, his normal character was suddenly called away on "urgent family business". Various clues from the hook led the party to this famed individual who survived the labyrinth. The party thought they were meeting an NPC to get information... when they asked their first question... the player suddenly spoke up and answered in character. It was a fun surprise for everyone.

I gave the player a full map of the labyrinth and some details about what might be discovered. The party directed a lot of the questions to the player rather than to the DM. It was a surprising success.
 

JonGraHar

Member
Gold WoA
Wizard of Story
Wizard of Combat
This reminds me a lot of RPT #022 | Seven Tricks To Save Time.
You mentioned these roles before in at least one other newsletter, I seem to recall.
Nice summary here.

I usually try to develop in-game a party leader, if applicable. Then, when the party seems to take longer than expected to decide for what to do, I will call him/her out "as a party leader" and request a decision. This works out well. Sometimes, I will call out the one with the most experience in this topic to decide though. In my recent groups, there is hardly a time when they spend too long on decision-making though.

I love it when my players co-create! This tells me that they are invested in this world. I stress that they actually may take the liberty to do so. Sometimes even spontaneously during PC-PC conversations, when they suddenly mention a faction, monster, item, person, I as a GM have never heard of. But it is great inspiration and my players enrich the game with it!
Thus, I regularly ask them for descriptions of places and NPCs from their past (possibly used in future sessions), to define their relationship with them or define the mood of that place for me. I don't ask them for stats though. I need as detailed information as possible to enact these NPCs in a way that the player expects.

For record-keeping, I ask the players for session summaries (if they want to) and that they keep track of items, I do not keep track of. I usually have a very good overview of magical items and healing potions, etc., but I do not keep track of food and amunition and encumbrance for the players.

Several other issues above are recorded automatically in Foundry, especially combat-wise - which is a great help for me(!), others are not necessary during our sessions.

And if I have a rule question (that is indeed necessary to be used correctly and not just accomodated with a quick modifier), I just ask one of the two players that are very familiar with the rule book to quickly look it up (easily accessible via Foundry), while I play a short scene with the other players. It works out every time.
I didn't think that I had a party leader until I read this comment. If the deliberation proceeds further than usual, I do call out one particular player who happens to have the most leadership of the player group. I ask them "how does your character lead in this moment?"


i'm going to use the party leader trick more often to shorten those painfully long deliberations!
 

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin & Master of the Archive
Staff member
Platinum WoA
Wizard of Story
Wizard of Combat
Borderland Explorer
Recently, I posted a thread called How to Write Session Summaries. Maybe this is helpful for some people looking for ways to motivate their players to help their GMs out with prepping, or to motivate yourself to whip up a nice text to flash your players.
... wait for it... I'm just posting a follow-up with yet another example and how this links with the 5 Room Dungeon (5RD) approach.
 
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