Monday, June 15, 2015

So You're Playing The Boss....

The term "party leader" isn't a new one when it comes to table top RPGs. Most groups, at least in character, have a PC who the rest more or less follow. Even if one isn't officially picked out by the group, the simple nature of human social dynamics means that someone is usually in charge. In other games, like military games or games where the players make up the crew of a ship, in character rank can determine who is in charge and who is supposed to follow orders. As a PC following orders you mostly get to do what you want. You should follow orders - probably - but if you don't? Meh, right? However, being the person in charge can be tricky. So today I thought we'd talk about that.

Remember The Other Players Still Matter
Regardless of how you feel about the other characters in the game, don't forget that the other players still deserve to have fun. Being the PC in charge doesn't mean you get to lord it over the other PCs. Sure, maybe your character is a bad leader. Maybe they make bad decisions. Maybe they don't like elves, and thus act negatively towards that race. Those are fine IC things to happen. Out of character wise though, everyone should be friends that have gathered to have a good time. Don't let your PC being in charge get in the way of that. Tim and Adrian have just as much right to have fun and a say in what is cool and not cool to happen in game regardless of whether their characters are lieutenants, sergeants, or new recruits in whatever army the game is about.

Help People Find Things To Do
As the party leader you are in a great position to help get people involved in the game and get things done. When you get into town, or anywhere where the group could split up to tackle objectives, it can be helpful to assign jobs to people. Play to the groups strengths, and play to individual strengths. This may mean a bit less screen time for you specifically, but it helps get everyone into the game and working together.

Also, this is especially effective if you have new players to the group or people who are otherwise shy. Giving them something small to be responsible for not only gives them a goal and a direction - solving the "what do I do? I have too much freedom!" issue - but also gives them a means of interacting with the GM and getting into the game.

Good Leaders Lead, Great Leaders Delegate
This is kind of an extension on what I said above, but remember to delegate certain jobs and responsibilities. Odds are your character won't be the best at every aspect the group needs to cover, and if you try to be competent at all of it you're never going to be as strong in any area as the other characters in the area they choose to focus. So delegate tasks and responsibilities. Your job is to lead, not to do everything, so give people tasks they can do and prompt people to take care of things they can do. This can be as easy as having the Bard roll diplomacy to make a good impression with the king, or as complicated as trusting the rogue to acquire information from rival groups while you make a distraction from the front.

Almost A Mini-GM
In my experience, I've had the most success as the boss - and the most fun when not the boss - when the PC in charge shared duties and responsibilities to keep everyone involved. It also helps the GM out with making sure people are being involved in the game and having fun.

Remember, You Can Ask For Advice
Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help. No one at the table expects you to be a great leader or strategist. If you were, you probably wouldn't be their friend IRL but some sort of chess master or military officer (unless you are a military officer, in which case thank you for your service to your home country :)) Even if you have experience being in charge it is easy to miss things. Ask for advice. Make sure people are ok with what is happening on an OOC level. Get the other players involved in what is going on. Ask the GM to help out or point areas you could improve.

Work with your group, not against your group, and everyone will have a much better time.

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