This is part of a Gnome Stew double header. Click here to check out Walt’s article “Methods of Collaborative Game Mastering” for a look at collaborative GMing from a more experienced perspective.

The Game Master for one of the games that I’m currently playing in has decided he wants to step down. The group wants to see the game go on, but the GM is done. No one wants to take over full time, as we all like playing our characters and don’t want an inadvertent GMPC. We threw about some ideas and finally landed on the idea of taking turns and collaboratively GMing the game. None of us have ever done this before,  but we’re working on the details of how we’ll handle the switch offs and keep the story in tact. Here’s what we’re thinking about how to do it.

Taking Turns
Each player will GM, for2 to 3 sessions at least. This should prevent burnout and having people just running one-shots without much plot development.

An Over-arching Plot
While we all have character goals to focus on, we all want there to be some overarching plot to the story. Otherwise, it might feel like doing a whole bunch of one-shots without any real purpose. While this can be fun, we’ve all been itching for a good long-term game.

Last GM picks next story arc, but the players all agree on it
The last person to have done the work of GMing gets to set up the initial theme of the next GM’s story. This one might be a little tricky. That’s why we’re instituting an “all players agree on it” rule. If the last GM says they want to have their PC raid the lair of their arch nemesis that is one thing, but it could easily fall into GMPC territory, or constantly rotating character focus. That’s not a bad thing at all, but could go a bit awry in the implementation.

Set amount of experience each game, no matter who GMs
No matter who is GMing or what happens, each game each player (GM Included) gets a set amount of experience. While this will remove some of the merit based experience awards, it will help keep people on the same level, even if they haven’t gotten to play.

Structure of the group allows for characters to leave and come back
We aren’t sure if we’re going to have players keep their characters while GMing, or put them out to pasture, ala Mark in the gamers. Some characters (the combat or techy ones) might be necessary to overcome certain challenges. What do you think is the best way? We want to leave the structure of the in-game group such that it is possible for characters to leave at will.

When a person is GMing, they are The one and only GM
And finally, for the sake of this discussion, the person GMing is the one and only GM at the time. Even if a previous GM introduced an element and thinks it is being used incorrectly, its not their game and not in their control. Issues can be brought up, but shouldn’t be brought up during play or at the table.

So, this is how we’re going to approach our first attempt at collaborative GMing. To those who have had experience with collaborative GMing, what advice do you have?