PART I: What is this and why should I care?
This is a method for the game’s participants to temporarily entrust a single player with full authority to plan and conduct a specific undertaking (e.g. getting past the troll on the bridge). (It’s inspired by the office of dictator in the Roman Republic.) Participants and the dice will choose differently for different undertakings (see PART II below).
Having a single player be in charge of an undertaking has two major advantages:
a) 1. It limits discussion, leading to more time playing out actual operations.
b) 2.It ensures a coherent plan. (Not necessarily a good one, mind you, but often too many cooks spoil the broth.)
PART II: What is special about the proposed method?
The game’s participants choose a temporary commander via a combination of voting and rolling dice. Interested players pitch their plans to the group and everyone casts a secret vote. Each volunteer then rolls a d20 and adds his or her character’s Charisma modifier and a +2 bonus per vote. The highest result determines the temporary commander (and plan). Crucially, this result is treated as a consensus reached by the characters.
This method has two major advantages:
a) 1. Partially randomizing the process ensures that everyone can have a chance to be in the driver’s seat. (Frankly, we owe this to each other among friends and in the context of a game. You may not agree with Bob’s proposal but you should respect his desire and right to contribute.)
b) 2. Pretending all characters believe in the plan provides both emotional distance and roleplaying opportunities. (It’ll be easier to go along with Bob’s plan if you treat the situation as your character having been convinced by Bob’s.)
PART III: Step-by-step instructions
Step 1: Invoking the process
Any player may invoke the process if he or she feels a discussion is beginning to drag.
Step 2: Free-for-all discussion
For a limited time, the participants voice opinions, ask for clarifications from the DM etc.
Step 3: Stepping up
Interested players declare that they have a plan.
Step 4: Sales pitch
Volunteers pitch their plans to the group in a random order and briefly answer questions. (Think of politicians addressing the press.)
Step 5: Voting
All participants (i.e. the players and the DM) cast a secret vote each. The votes are tallied.
Step 6: Rolling the dice
Each volunteer rolls a d20, adds his or her character’s Charisma modifier and a +2 bonus for every vote. The character with the highest result is treating as having won over the party.
Votes can be cast for any number of reasons, e.g.
- tactical reasons (Bob’s plan sounds most likely to succeed.)
- social reasons (Bob’s had a rough day at work.)
- artistic reasons (Bob’s plan promises lots of combat, is off the beaten path etc.)
Step 6: Roleplay
The players provide some description of the process at the character level. (“My magic-user is awed by the barbarian’s naïve courage and agrees to the crazy plan, surprising himself most of all.”)
Step 7: Execution
The player of the commanding character now plans and conducts the operation.
The proposal assumes a neutrally refereed D&D group with about six players and Charisma modifiers ranging from -3 to +3.
Also, this has not been tested yet, so I might be talking out of my ass. What do you think about this?