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Monday, March 31, 2014

Ever use a "Caller" in Your Games?

I remember reading about "callers" in my early days of roleplaying. I only experienced it once. As a senior in High School, my group got invited to another group's game session. They were college students and then some. In other words, they were old.

When we got there I counted 16 people sitting at this really large table - 2 DMs and 14 player. I don't believe I ever rolled a die that night, but I do remember there were 2 "callers", one for each side of the table, more or less. Anything you wanted to do had to be announce via the caller.

I couldn't tell you what the adventure was about, as there was just a sensory overload going on, but I understood the need for a caller with 14 PCs.

I've never run a group larger than 10 (maybe as much as 12 in college - not 100% sure) but I dont recall my groups even having leaders let alone callers. Organized chaos for the win.

So, did you ever, or do you now, us a "caller" in your groups?

16 comments:

  1. I recently ran an OD&D event at a local cob and in my attempts to stay as true to the rules, I used a caller when the group was traversing the dungeon (when the players came upon a "place of interest" I went around the table and let the players call out their own actions though). I have to admit that it really kept things organized and helped the group act like a team instead of 12 individuals.

    Of course the unforgiving nature of OD&D could of also helped force the players to stick to each other like glue, as well...

    Now that I've experienced running a game with a caller I've applied the practice to all my games, at least when navigating a dungeon.

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  2. No. I always felt that callers took away from the inactiveness and fun of the game.

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  3. I think callers prevdnt "i didnt mean that i waa thinking out loud' syndrom.

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  4. Sometimes one of the players summarizes the planned actions of the pcs after longer discussions among the players. But usally each of them speaks for their own pcs.

    We ran a large two-nights-long Double-DM Star Wars (WEG) session once. The DMs had to get together once in a while and synchronize...

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  5. I played and ran Star Wars (WEG d6) with as many as 15 people, and ran a GURPS game with 12-15 around the table (that one fluctuated from about 6 to huge on any given session). Never used a caller.

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  6. I like a caller for dungeon crawls. Sure, we can do things normally. But when things get chaotic or if I get bored I ask the caller what's going on. I like a little more horizontal pressure instead of triggering a player-vs-DM vibe.

    The caller is expected to consult, draw out opinions where appropriate, and then tell me what the group is doing. It is not like the book example where one person plays all the characters most of the time.

    Having a leader cuts down on the endless committee action that can get rolling at the table. And I only have one person to nag.

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    1. That makes a lot of sense. I've never used or thought about using a caller, but this discussion has me turning the idea over in my head a bit.

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  7. We used one during some of the more hectic campaigns. It made things easier when we had to worry about way too much.

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  8. As a GM I've never used a caller. We rarely had more than 6 or 7 players, so it never seemed to be necessary. However, at summer camp as a wee lad I do recall a D&D game with upwards of a dozen players which did use a caller. Players were supposed to filter their character's actions through the caller, but as I recall it didn't seem to reduce the chaos very much. Of course, we were all kids, so that was probably a factor as well.

    -Ed

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  9. I always use a caller/leader when running any RPG. It really helps move things along, in my experience.

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  10. I sat in on one session with a caller at a minicon in the early eightees. The table had ten to fifteen players, as I recall. I thought it odd at the time. And I haven't seen a caller since.

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  11. The first time I played AD&D the DM insisted on a caller. The Caller proceeded to tell the DM what our characters were doing. We only got to roll dice. After about 30 minutes we revolted and all insisted on making our own decisions. I think the DM and the Caller missed the purpose of having a caller. I have hated the concept ever since.

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  12. A caller makes a lot more sense when the DM insists that anything and everything you say is in character. Jim Ward is notorious for this.
    The caller becomes the player actually deputed to speak to the DM on behalf of the players.

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    1. That's what I've always thought the caller was supposed to do: the players tell the caller what their characters are doing, and the caller relates it to the GM, so that the GM isn't bombarded by a dozen players all at once. I'd never play in a game where someone else controlled my character and all I got to do was roll dice.

      -Ed

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  13. I have played quite a few games including one with around 12 players, 1 DM, never used caller

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  14. As useful as callers can be, they have always felt like an un-fun piece of gaming.

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