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[Project Senate] Need help on going GMless

Started by JMendes, March 02, 2006, 10:17:52 PM

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Ahey, all, :)

In a recent playtest, one of the players suggested I turn Project Senate into a GMless design.

I'd like to ask you if you have any pointers on building a successful gamist design that does not use a GM.

I should go ahead and point out that the decision to include a GM in Project Senate was not a default one. I thought about the kind of play I was trying to promote, and it seemed to me that having a neutral party building and delivering a challenge framework was a better way to do it.

As it turns out, however, one of the problems with the current design is that players aren't involved enough in what's going on at the table to care about each other's problems.

I have a number of avenues open to me to deal with this problem. The easiest one at this point is simply to promote party play and have the GM present challenges for everyone, rather than player by player. However, going GMless is a concept that intrigues me and I find myself wanting to explore it further.

So, ideas and comments on this are welcome and appreciated.

João Mendes
Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon Gamer



Cutthroat is a gamist design without a GM.  The way I did it was to make it explicitly clear who was playing the adversity for whom.  Rules of engagement, so to speak, must be very clear in every situation.  Likewise, terms of success and ultimate victory should be explicit and clear.  I will admit, that Cutthroat is a very mechanical game.  Maybe someday I'll develop more finesse with my games, but for now, the best advice I can give is to set very specific and simple procedures for play, adversity, and success.  For me, at least, that has met great success.




Hey, Troy, :)

Thanks for the suggestion. I've just read through Cutthroat and I'm intrigued by some of the possibilities. It's way more of a player-vs-player competitive game than Project Senate was meant to be, but still, there are some concepts there which I find interesting, namely the Rat.

It might be interesting to consider the possibility of allowing one player to take on a slightly different role while still allowing him to engage in the normal play activity available to everyone else. Could be a good compromise between Gm play and GMless play.

João Mendes
Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon Gamer


Hi J

I am new to The Forge but I have been a big fan of the FATE rpg since it came out.  I don't know if you are familiar with the game but the idea's on customised challenge ladders in the main rules and using Aspects to model all kinds of different organisations in the "Constructing Organisations in Fate" document would suit GM less play on several different scales quite well I think.  Something similar with resource tracks or modifiers for differing spheres of influence might work.

Just some musings, I hope they may be of use.



Jason Morningstar

Hi João,

There's a strong gamist vibe to (GM-less) The Shab-al-Hiri Roach that all comes from competing for resources, which you can gamble, take away from other players, and win yourself.  There is an explicit win condition and the game has a clearly defined end.  I think if these features are in place, you can't help but have some Stepping On Up.  In the Roach it is all a polite fiction, since there's a deterministic element completely out of the player's control, but in play people tend to fight fiercely anyway.  I think that is worth noting. 

I also think granting people privilege is cool - look at Polaris for an example of rotating authority around the table. 


Quick question:  What sort of rewards can you give players for challenging another player?

The GM does it without a reward, because we're trained that that GM is supposed to be a selfless servant of the game (which is BS, but that's a topic for another day) but the players aren't going to do it without being bribed.
Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum


Hey, :)

Quote from: TonyLB on March 03, 2006, 02:57:28 PMthe players aren't going to do it without being bribed.
Well, if it's in the rules that they have to, I think they will. ;) But yes, your point is well taken. Right now, all I can offer is "I don't know". Your key question is well worth keeping in mind, as it will probably be one of the main decision factors on whether this thing goes GMless or not.

Jason, (the first one), your pointer towards constructing organisations in FATE was helpful. Just in reading through it in thirty seconds or so, I got a bunch of ideas up and bubbling in my head. Coolness. Thanks for the tip. :)

Jason, (the second one), I'm not at all familiar with the Roach, though I understand it's generating a fair amount of grapevine vibe. :) However, Project Senate is specifically aiming at not having an endgame and win conditions, so that really doesn't anything for me. I was also going for minimizing PC-vs-PC conflict.

Your second point about privilege and rotating authority is more in line with what I was envisioning, however. Again, I'm also not familiar with Polaris, but from what I understand of it, it wasn't so much designed with Gamism in mind. (Ben, if you're reading this, correct me if I'm wrong.)

Which begs the question: how do you envision privilege and rotating authority in non-competitive gamism?

João Mendes
Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon Gamer