thread: 2006-01-17 : More Character Co-ownership

On 2006-01-19, joshua m. neff wrote:

Not just shared story, but shared gaming.

Okay, so: "owns"="the buck stops here." Whoever "owns" something in an RPG is the person or persons with final authority over that thing.

In RPGs in general:

1) Who "owns" an individual character?
2) Who "owns" the setting?
3) Who "owns" the system?

It seems to me the tradition is this: players (that is, non-GMs) own the player-characters, the GM owns the setting and system. The GM has final word on when and how to apply resolution mechanics and obvious reward systems. The GM decides what the setting will be and has final say on what's true and not about the setting. Each player has final authority over what is and isn't true about his or her character (except where questions of system or setting come in, in which case the GM can override.)

It also seems to me that this is bosh. The entire group of players "own" the entire game. I mean, this is obvious, right? Believing and acting otherwise is, I think, dysfunctional game play.

Functional game play: The banker in Monopoly is caught taking money out of the bank and putting into her own stash. The other players call her on it. If the banker fesses up and relents, play can continue. If the banker refuses to stop, play ends.

Dysfunctional game play: The GM is caught fudging dice rolls in order to get "the story he wants to happen." The other players call him on it. The GM overrules them because "I'm the GM and I have final say over the system." The players submit, except one—he leaves the group because he doesn't like what the GM does. The rest of the group label this person "an asshole" for not submitting to the GM.

Now, I do think that a lot of people become GMs in RPGs precisely because they want that kind of power. They want to own the system, the setting and the way the game plays out. And I think a lot of people are players because they want to own a particular character, and want to cede ownership of the system, the setting and the way the game plays out. And as long as everyone is happy, it works okay.

But if you think the GM owns the setting or the system or the way the game plays out or whatever, and if you think each player owns his or her character, then shared gameplay isn't happening.

Or maybe I'm just babbling and off course. But this seems right to me.


This makes jmn go "cross-posted with Ben"
Obviously I agree that it goes beyond character ownership.

This makes SDL go "Seems right, but..."
...i'd like to think that *primary responsibility* being divided non-uniformly is functional.

This makes VB go "I for one am rock-solid..."
...that non-uniform divisions of authority can be 100% functional. I don't see any serious threat to it.

This makes jmn go "I'm not questioning that."
As long as it's all consensual and the distributions are freely given. However, I'm not sure it's always like that in RPGs. I think tradition and precedent have created expectations of divisions in ways that aren't true in other gameplay (or in other social situations).

This makes VB go "absolutely."
I was replying to SDL, and emphasis on the "can be."

This makes jmn go "Gotcha. Cool."

This makes...
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