Series with multiple MCs (and Uncanny Echo)

Hello,
I have been thinking for a while about trying doing a series with rotating MCs (so there would someone that plays a PC in one session and as the MC in another one). There’s something about seeing both sides of the same that intrigues me.

I got Uncanny Echo recently and I wonder if the serialized one-shot structure could be a better fit to experiment with this format, as the stress seems to be on recurrent themes and settings, rather than on returning PCs. I have a friend who likes to MC as well (and also has a copy of the game, apparently), so I am wondering whether we could alternate MCing duties in the same game.

Any though about how to keep some semblance of narrative cohesion between session when also the MC changes?

Alternatively, does anyone have any experience with multiple GMs/MCs/DMs in the same campaign? Any tip?

Also, this is my first post on the Gauntlet: hi everyone, I’m very excited to be here!

4 Likes

What helps with a series of one-shots set in the same theme/world/ is that, you don’t need to worry about a dangling plot thread or mis-interpreted clue sending your next turn at the MC wheel off-course because the fellow MC took the game in a new direction.

@Frasersimons probably would have the best advice on keeping that narrative cohesion in Uncanny Echos, but I know when I’ve done a rotating MC position, one thing that helped was having everyone sit down and agree on the Tone, the Agenda, and all the big long-term bits before hand. Not deciding on an ending, but in general, that we are all going in the same direction at the start, and also just an open communication with whoever came before and who comes after on what was going on with our story, just so if there were questions they could be cleared up before starting the next session.

3 Likes

When I played Uncanny Echo some of the things I saw that might help were:

  1. Keeping the greater setting a little loose, it was “generic city in this climate”, we could add specific details as we needed in later sessions, and call back to specific details from past sessions, but we didn’t need to know exactly where city hall was relative to the hospital. This meant we could be flexible and find a place for everyone pretty easily even as the story evolved.
  2. For us, each session resolved the local character story beats, maybe not all of them, but having epilogues was really useful to give us at least a small sense of closure on that character. That way when we picked up next session we could make completely new characters OR pick up an old character and feel free to explore something new or continue with old threads. There was no need to play the same characters and continue threads… they were all complete in each session. Although we didn’t do it, we totally could have rotated GMs every session. The way we played would have made it really easy to do this.

Uncanny Echo, to me, seems really well suited for this. As we played individual character’s stories we learned and cared about these characters. BUT as we changed perspectives we learned so much more about the greater world. Each story felt wonderful and complete, but only a piece of a much bigger thing.

5 Likes

Agree with everything Yoshi said, don’t think I have more to add beyond that I tried to design each issue to be able to fit relatively within the same urban/ supernatural fiction genre so it wasn’t too weird jumping from issue to issue.

5 Likes

I did a couple of blog posts a while back about two different ways to do this in a trad (OSR) type game. This is not relevant to Uncanny Echo which has a very different structure. But it still might be relevant if you consider doing it with other games. Basically, the two ideas were either that you rotate on the basis that different MCs take “ownership” of certain parts, aspects, or characters of the world. So that if the story is about one of those things then the person whose thing that is takes over MCing that session. On the other model, it’s like the theater game where the narrative continues but now a different person is MCing. There’s no sharing of notes or anything, so things can go in radically different directions, because people may have very different ideas of what are going on with NPCs, setting, and so on. I’ve done a lot of the first style, and none of the second yet, although I would like to try.

5 Likes

Lovely stuff, thanks everyone for your suggestions.

1 Like

@Ben_L, I don’t know you, but I’ve done a fair bit of reading on your lovely blog. Thanks for sharing that post! Lots of great stuff there.

If you ever pull off the campaign format you’re describing, I’d love to hear about it.

I was part of a games club once which had one-shots with a single PC/character, and four GMs, who would rotate strictly on the hour. Like in your proposal, everything that had happened was “canon”, but beyond that they had to make up what was going on behind the scenes individually, which forced them to pay great attention to (and take notes on) everything that was happening. It was quite a bit of fun, although I’m not sure it’s a good long-term model.

I’ve also done the “each GM is responsible for certain adventures, content, or modules” model you describe in an OSR campaign (and multiple PCs per player was our solution to the lack of agency - sure, you can go to the Red Mountain anytime! If your character is busy doing something else, just roll up a new one and go ahead). That worked great for us.

2 Likes

Night Witches is specifically designed to rotate GMs between duty stations. It benefits from having a military hierarchy and linear progression that is largely spelled out as the regiment moves west, but it can work with any game if everyone is down for it. In my experience certain NPCs tend to assert themselves through certain players, and you may need to tap the collective brain trust for details a previous GM introduced. But it can be very fun, and spreads the load of an asymmetric play structure nicely. My home groups often play with rotating GMs.

3 Likes

On The Gauntlet a number of GMs did something called The Gaunt Marches - it was a shared world between four(?) GMs (@RichardRuane, @HorstWurst, @JimLikesGames, ???) using multiple systems:

The name is a reference to the West Marches campaign structure by Ben Robbins:

http://arsludi.lamemage.com/index.php/78/grand-experiments-west-marches/

3 Likes

That’s really fascinating! Do you (or anyone else) have any more info on this experiment? Some threads, blogs, statements, anything like that?

I assume you mean beyond the videos of 31 sessions linked above?

Yes, exactly. I’m curious if there has been any discussion, summary, mission statement, write up, debrief, or something similar.

I’m now curious about the setup and the takeaways than I am about watching the actual gaming (which, while I’m sure it’s cool, would take dozens of hours to consume).

1 Like

We did a Slack chat that got transcribed for the Blog: https://www.gauntlet-rpg.com/blog/gaunt-marches-slack-chat-part-1

2 Likes

Gauntlet Comics is a multi-GM shared continuity run in many different game systems as well! It has a long Youtube playlist and a wiki. Perhaps there should be a blog post write-up about it as well?

2 Likes

Oh, excellent! Thank you. It’s a really interesting experiment and worth documenting.

Would different people play different characters under each GM, or would each person “convert” a given character when they would go from one person running to another? I’m curious how that worked (or maybe no one played under more than one GM?).

It sounds like everyone was using more or less but not quite a common rule set, so some conversion and such would have been necessary.

We did a Slack Chat about it on the blog. All of the systems were DW based (DW, Freebooters, Funnel Wirld, etc.), so shifting characters between games was pretty minimal, but would be significantly easier keeping the same system. I think the key to this particular project working was really what @Ben_L pointed out above, but @yoshi’s point about keeping the world loose was also key: everything was in a haunted/enchanted forest and wetlands, so the loose world was key to the fiction.

3 Likes

Wow the one hour rotation is brutal (but good fun I’m sure)! If I ever get the slightly less brutal version of this protocol to the table, I’ll let you know how it goes.

1 Like