How Collaboration Happens

How Collaboration Happens

In a typical RPG a Game Master takes on four distinct roles when running the game. Together these responsibilities make up the job of the game aster in a role-playing game. These four responsibilities are now distributed among the players.

The chairperson is responsible for the order and focus of the gaming group. The chairperson asks players what their character is doing, and makes sure that everyone gets equal chance to contribute. This is the same role as a chairperson would play in any meeting; directing the social aspect of the group. Even in the closest group of friends a player may still need to step in gently every now and then to keep the game on track.

In this game, the chairperson keeps the group focused by applying and reminding players of the tenants. He is the keeper of the social contract, that the group has agreed upon the game, its direction, style, and who is assigned what role. For example, he might remind others that another player has a right to make decisions for his characters as long as they don’t break the social contract, such as, sabotaging another story with their own.

A referee might also be called an arbiter. Their job is to mediate and have the final word on disagreements. When players cannot agree as to the course of the game or as to the outcome of some event, the referee makes the final decision and moves the game on. This role can be closely related to a chairperson, although the referee is responsible for directing the social aspect of the game.

In this game, the referee makes the decision on the outcomes that do not directly correlate with the Game Engine (see below), usually through narrative. For example, a choice or event outside of a character’s control that could convey advantage or disadvantage needs to be determined (i.e. because it was raining earlier, the ledge is slippery or the glass shatters when it is hit by a blunt object).

The rulings of the Referee are final but only effect the scene of the story. If players don’t like the rulings of a particular referee they should consider nominating someone else for the job.

Game Engine
Rule systems work by producing results that need to be interpreted by a player in terms of the game. The rule system may require values to be constructed from the game setting, such as modifiers to dice rolls or statistics for particular objects. The results of applying the rules are also abstract, a player is required to turn a numerical result into game terms: a +4 hit roll might be interpreted as a bad cut to the arm. This player is the game engine or Engineer, they have responsibility for interpreting the rules into the game.

One player is designate the Engineer and is responsible for apply the rules as needed, such as, knowing how many squares you can effect with a power or interpreting the rules such as, to duck and cover your face would be ruled as a full defense action. In this game, players describe their success and failures. If they cannot (or will not), the Engineer describes them. For example, “Connan rushes up and swings his mighty axe like a hammer at the skeletal warrior (rolls a 1) but he trips over his comrade on the ground and looses his footing. His axe digs deep into the rock beside. Connan is flushed with embarrassment”.)

The director or storyteller is responsible for guiding the story. There are different areas of the story that need guiding, and the responsibility for these components can also be separated to some extent. The director is the most complex responsibility and is traditionally strongly associated with a single game master,

In play, directing responsibility should be shared between all players but guided by the player or players who planned the relevant sections in the game or the Alpha. For example, if each player planned a city, then wherever the characters are based in such city decides on who the guide is. The guide does not have absolute say, they provide information and guidance so everyone can make decisions. The Alpha has the strongest say in direction of the game while the other players take on the roles of Betas.

In the collaborative game, these roles have been assigned to the players with one player taking in charge of the role; Engineer, Chair Person, Alpha Director, and Referee.

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How Collaboration Happens

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