[RPG] Creating a campaign everyone can DM in


So I have a group of players I'm playing D&D 4e with. Two of them are hardcore gaming nerds, my brother and his friend. His friend actually has a job but it's not intensive, my brother on the other hand has no job and is CONSTANTLY thinking about D&D. All he lives for is escaping reality. The other players are me, my wife, my 10 year old niece and her father. All of us are new, I have played lots of RPGs so I can handle myself but they're still trying to grasp the concept. Anyway what is happening is that we keep switching between campaigns.

It started with my brothers, then we went to his friend's with Dark sun, and now I'm trying out mine…but now my brother wants to play a NEW one he made. When I told him that it's really confusing for the new players to have to create entirely new characters with different classes and backstories he got offended. I asked him if we could all sit down and try to create a campaign world open enough that anyone could DM without spoiling their fun when they play like they know what'll happen. He argues no one would be able to have world-threatening or changing events, and the continuity would be screwed up. But I'm determined that this is the only way this group can keep playing without it getting chaotic.

How have you set up campaigns/worlds where everyone in the group can DM at any time, without causing spoilers or continuity issues? Are there any good references for building something like this? It's really the only way I can keep everyone happy without taking offense and confusion by the constant shifting of campaigns. Not to mention allowing the total noobs like my niece a chance to try DMing?

Best Answer

It is apparent that you are facing multiple issues here. I will try to address them individually. But first:

Get everyone on the same page

You all evidently have different expectations of play, the game has a few levels of agreement that have to be acceptable to all players, the social contract, and choice of game, and the story of the game are just three examples.

You can use The Same Page Tool - It can help your group discuss and define what you are expecting to get out of the game, an excerpt from the link:

Functional play depends on everyone playing the same game. Sadly, many people don’t even know or negotiate what that means, and a lot of game texts leave crucial things out. Too often, people come with different ideas and don’t realize it, and it turns into a mess during play.

So, this tool is designed to clear that all up before you start playing.

After you have figured out what your expectations are - you can start thinking about what world to play your game in. There are a few options available to make it so that anyone could GM those worlds.

1. Choose a world you all know.

Choosing a world you all know (like Middle Earth, or Narnia, or even a historical period) is pretty straightforward, but you should make sure that everyone has about the same level of knowledge about that world, or that it is easily accessible.

2. Create a world together.

You can do this on your own - or you can use a cool minigame designed just for this like Dawn of Worlds which puts everyone in the role of a god-like creator taking turns designing and building a world and giving it a basic history, excerpt:

It was the product of many minds playing off one-another over the centuries. The solution to our dilemma seemed only natural, we would create a world together. Everyone would have a hand in it, everyone would know its history.

We would become the gods of our own fantasy world. We would raise it up from the meager foundations of stone and water. We would raise up great civilizations, set them at war, guide them in science and magic, and give them leaders. And we would do it in about six hours. From this singular idea arose the game which you now see before you.

Once you have that - the decision of who will be the GM is something that I can propose two methods for, but I am sure others exist.

1. Choose a GM each session, and every player also has a PC

In this manner, the GM role is a "hot seat" players taking turns playing the GM and their own characters the rest of the time. This is a bit tricky if you are doing long campaigns, but for sessions of a few hours with smaller adventures this could be really fun.

2. Take turns running adventures in the same story

Every GM will play out their adventures and then switch out with another player at the end. You could also keep the PC's stories perpetual, just switching out one character and adding another they might meet on their travels - this keeps the players vested in their characters and also provides for some interesting stories.