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3 Ways Your Players Can Help You Out Next SessionBy 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 CallerEspecially 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-CreatorThis 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 KeepingSeveral 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 FamiliarDepending 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.