In recent years, a lot of advice for making fun sessions and campaigns in roleplaying games has been the idea of giving the players more control over the game. SlyFlourish (an RPG blogger) has a style known as Lazy DMing that makes the life of the Dungeon Master easier by putting off specifics until game time and letting the players give you ideas along the way. Much of this advice can be taken and used for other games too.
There are other good reasons to give players control once in a while, other than allowing the GM/DM to have an easier time. It makes the game more fun for them. It gets them involved in the story and the world. It allows them to make it personal.
How Fate Handles Player Control
Fate’s ruleset does this in the game’s creation phase, having the whole crew work together to define the setting that the campaign will take place in, as well as collaborating on the creation of each other’s characters.
This is an awesome idea, but it’s mostly limited to creation time. Granted, the Fate Core Rulebook does give advice on “Ninja Tricks”, where the GM has the players help out, but that’s just advice; it’s not truly a part of the rules.
How Dungeon World Handles Player Control
This is going to seem like quite a roundabout way of looking at Dungeon World’s implementation of player control, but let me assure you, it’s surprisingly good.
The first thing I want to look at is the Spout Lore move. The results of a success or success at a cost aren’t what I’m worried about here; it’s the note that says “The GM might ask you ‘How do you know this?’ Tell them the truth, now.” It’s such a little thing, but it can be powerful, giving the player a chance to invent some backstory and a possibility of inserting some facts about the world. And that’s just one of the moves that every player has.
Nearly every class has a move where the player asks the GM to answer some sort of question about the world. For example, the Bard has something where the player can ask the GM for information regarding an important creature, location or item that they’ve just encountered for the first time, and the GM must answer. But then, again, the GM gets to ask how the Bard knows this information, restricting it to tales, songs, or legends that he could have heard.
That’s Not All, Folks
In any of those instances where the player asks the GM a question, if the GM is hard-pressed to come up with a good answer, it is recommended to turn the question over to the player(s) to answer. Here is where Dungeon World really shines in allowing player control. A smart GM will hand over those reigns fairly often and make the game that much more fun.
Where This is Really Going
First off, I want you guys to know that, in the campaign setting that Delos and I are working on, we will definitely be keeping this in mind when designing our classes (in Dungeon World AND in Fate).
Secondly, later this week, I’ll be handing out tips for using this idea in your Fate games.