Saturday, January 4, 2014


Have you ever co-GMed? Would you consider it? What are the pros and cons?

I've never had the opportunity to Co-GM a game before, nor have I ever seen it done in person, so I'm not really sure how well it would work for me. I tend to like having creative control, and going in 50/50 with another DM... would be difficult for me. That isn't to say I wouldn't love an assistant more of the time, someone to help me keep my notes organized, someone to bounce ideas off of (that wasn't a player), someone to help run large combats, etc. Sadly I have yet to find such a henchman.

The closest I've ever come to co-DMing is when I've had a steady game that runs every other week, with another game that I don't run playing the off weeks. That works pretty week, especially if you've got the same set of players, and can cover for each other if you need an extra week.

This is post #27 in the 30 Days of Gamemastering Challenge.


  1. The closest I came to doing this was a campaign where another GM and I were taking turns running adventures in the same campaign world. Basically, each player was playing two characters, with me having a character in the other GM's game and vice versa, but each game was taking place in a different part of the campaign world. The idea was that developments in one game could effect events in the other, and we had planned on the paths crossing at some point. We didn't get very far, so I'm not sure how things would have played out in the long run, but one of the problems we ran into with this setup was continuity. We had to keep track of the passage of time for each group, and one group ended up being a few weeks ahead of the other before the game fell apart due to outside circumstances. It was pretty fun while it lasted though, and I still like the idea. If I were going to do this again I would want to address the pacing issues a little better, and make sure to leave wiggle room to speed things up or slow things down for each group to keep them closer together.

  2. It's pretty much superior to solo DMing in every way, IMO. Writing is much quicker and smoother when you've got someone to bounce ideas off. Play goes smoother when one of you can keep the players occupied while the other keeps track of your notes. You can do NPC-NPC interactions without feeling silly.

    We used to informally split the DMing duties. Most of the time, one person would be the referee proper, the other would play NPCs and monsters, we'd skim our notes in the downtime and trade roles when appropriate. We found you can't have more than one person "driving" at a time or it's gets messy, but we'd switch back and forth quite a lot over a single session.

    The major downside is having to coordinate with another person to write the campaign. We were able to meet fairly regularly to hammer out our notes, which was best and a lot more productive than when I do it on my own. Stuff we emailed to each other didn't really have the same energy and wasn't as fun to DM. You also have to lose the "my special snowflake game world" aspect, but that's not entirely a bad thing.

  3. It's dicey, actually. You have to have the same philosophy.

    For instance, my escapism is Sword & Sorcery, period. I do not mix Science Fiction with my Sword & Sorcery. I play Greyhawk, but, in spite of that, there is NO Space Ship crashed in my Barrier Peaks. No clockworks city buried under the ice in Blackmoor. I simply do not mix the two.

    In the case of the example given by "the rambler" -- above -- suppose the other DM decided to through in the Space Ship bit, in the same Gaming World. Now where am I?

    "Well we've got the Space Ship in the other game! How come we can't have ray guns?"

    No, no Co-DMing for me. I've taken over games where other DM's have bowed out and played the game they started, with the rules they were using. Not always happy with it, but I finish it that way for the players.

    But no Co-DMing.

  4. I've done it with two other DMs separately. It worked out well in both cases, but we were all of a similar mindset which I think is important (as Mystic Scholar mentions). One game was for a convention, and we both worked on the prep and then split the DM duties at the table; one running the combats and tweaking things while the other handled the players' questions and did the non-combat stuff. The other case was a regular 3.5e campaign, and we both worked on the material and switched off running and handling the the NPCs in the game. It was a lot of fun in both cases.