Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rediscovered Book - Role-Playing Mastery by Gary Gygax - Multiple GMs / Same Session

I have no idea when I first picked this book up, but judging from the shape of the spine I strongly suspect I never read it. I certainly have no recollection of any of it's contents.

So, I randomly opened it to pages 86 and 87, where Gary talks about "group size" and using GM assistants or even co-GMing. Interesting stuff.

The he says the appropriate ratio is 3 to 4 players per GM / assistant.

Was this really the case back in the early days of OD&D? I remember stories of a dozen players or more being run by one GM.

Heck, last night I safely juggled 7 in my DCC campaign and figure 8 is my safe max. Most groups I've been a part of have had 5 or 6 players plus the GM.

Was running games with multiple GM's actually feasible back in the day? I haven't heard of any games being run in that manner these days.

Damn, I suspect there are a lot of blog topic seeds inside this small book...


  1. I have this book as well, I find that as I return to every couple of years things "click" with me that I had previously found silly or even unrealistic in my experience at that point.

  2. Wow...I've never even heard of this!

    1. you can find it used on amazon for less than 7 bucks i think

  3. One of the best games I ever played was at Gen-Con a few years ago. There were two DMs and they seamlessly switched back and forth throughout the evening. As one set the scene and interacted with the party, the other would set up the map and occasionally interject with additional information, handle a player question, or adopt the role of an NPC at the drop of a hat.

    I have always wanted to run such a game since.

  4. Couple of years I was in a Con game, where there were two tables and both tables had their own players and judges. One of the tables was playing old version of the characters, and the other young versions.

    When a character encountered some situation that revealed something disturbing from his/her past old and young players swapped places and had no idea what was going on, so old ones tought that the character had dementia and young ones that the character was tripping.

  5. I think the dozens or more - or up to 50 from Men and Magic - refers to the number of player's with characters in a campaign. They may not all be adventuring together, or even in the same areas. There also seems to be a lot of mention of opposed player groups running kingdoms that fought each other.

    A holdover from the Napoleonic campaigns of the Twin Cities I'm sure.

  6. I've played one-offs and CON games with 2 or more DMs but never a regular campaign. The best multi player game was in a game shop tournament they have a. Whole town setup in miniature and 10 or so parties of adventurers playying simulateously. They. Hadd a DM for each area, 2 head DMs juggling everything and 2 or. 3 assitants. It rocked but again, it was a one-shot with a lot of organization and not a regular campaign.

  7. The maximum number of players I ever had sitting at my table during a regular campaign session was 11, but that was frankly too many. Some people probably got left out. I prefer 5-6 players; it's enough to get the job done, but everyone can still communicate effectively.

    I'm a firm believer that too many cooks spoil the broth, so I personally wouldn't want to be involved in a situation with multiple DMs (except perhaps at a con).

  8. That book was dryer than toast.. And I think size is all dependent on the DM but I do like smaller groups.. larger groups tend to lose individual voices..

  9. Since we're sharing my first campaign started with 11 people and ended with 18. It was a challenge but apparently it went well as they still come up to me to talk about it.

    More importantly though, I have been hunting for that book for years. Is it any good?

  10. I have a copy... well, I just recently gave it to a friend. It has a different cover though. A humorous read to say the least. Gary Gygax can be funny when he's meaning to be authoritive. It's all in the way he presents each pearl of wisdom. By his own admission Gygax had little time for rules lawyers: "They'd write in and ask the publisher of the game what to do," he says. "Whatever they were told, they did. And I said, that's silly — just make it up." Ironically, although he played this way, Gygax was concerned about detail in his own books, codifying and documenting rules with an obsessive mind. The quirky nature of his writing style is probably half the appeal of the dusty old D&D tomes on my shelf. Advanced? Surely... tongue firmly in cheek!

    My quote came from this interview: http://www.wired.com/gaming/virtualworlds/news/2008/03/ff_gygax?currentPage=all


Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition