It's topic worth discussing, I think.
The genesis is here. I made an off-hand remark that nobody wants to be Kyle Pendleton, Barbarian-Accountant. I was referencing the fact that when a party settles down into a home base, they don't spend their time hiring people and calculating rents. Which I largely think is true. Mostly because there really is no way for a player to do this on a regular basis. A GM can give a list of prices, but the most a player can do for things like castle construction is work off what the GM decrees. He can do the petty book keeping, no different than keeping a treasure sheet. You tell him he makes X a year and that his expenses for a Y sized garrison is Z. He'll do that math and deduct the money on a regular basis, if he's honest, if not he fudges.
Yet they don't want to spend their time doing this. They wants to go kill things or at least they want to spend some time role playing more exciting negotiations. I've said it before, I'll say it again. People might play Railroad Tycoon, but they don't play railroad tycoon accountant.
Now he might even go draw up a plan of what he wants to build, but you're still the guy who figures out the bills, as you're the only one who knows where the nearest stone is, the nearest labor pool, whether their is a handy mud to stone guy, etc... Unless he can build that project single-handed using stone shape and rock to mud, he isn't goign to be able to calculate his own work.
I don't give EXP for cash. I haven't for years. Which means I've run a lot of campaigns which were high money campaigns. I've also experimented with non-cash prizes. I've given out henchmen, buildings, mills, inns, workshops, a mine, a smithy, and even a kingdom once. Which means I've been down that road. I know it's the GM doing most of the work.
Not a big Kingdom, I swear it was wafer thin.
(yes the point of such campaigns is to get them off copper pinching)
A certain someone claims that players willing to do elaborate book keeping are common, that players love doing such book keeping, and then proceeds to claim he's proved this by pointing to all the blogs on line and that they prove people will "put the work in." Well except he's wrong.
I admit it. I'm new to the blog thing, but one thing I've noticed is that the majority of the blogs are from people who are GMs at least part of the time. Why? Most likely because they're the ones who willing spend hours of alone time on the game. They're the people who invented a zombie apocalypse game to kill time at work one summer. They're the people working out rules for floating rock worlds just like Shattered Realms. They're also the ones who just wasted three minutes and got a mild death threat because they felt the need to go look up the title Shattered Realms on a dark bedroom bookshelf, rather than have you think they stole the idea from that death gate cycle. I think I could extend this to an idea I got while reading an older blog ( Which I will plug here How to start a revolution) that gave me the idea that the people who have held onto dice games over things like World of Warcraft are far more likely to be GMs than to have been just players. They're the ones who enjoy doodling maps. Who enjoy writing narrative. Sure there are still non-GMs who play, but we all know players who were perfectly content with retiring to their couch, where they can get their fix at any hour and not have to go out. It's the people who enjoy creating who stuck with the dice games. I'd say that even goes for the pure players, they're the few that work on who they see their people as being.
Now I admit I like having at least one player who loves the details. I couldn't operate without at least one. Back in the day, that was the guy who did all the mapping, who listened to things like "the ten foot wide hallway elbows left in fifty feet, there is a ten foot wide passage way on the left wall in thirty feet, and doors on the right wall in ten feet, twenty feet, and a pair of brass double doors at forty feet" and produced a decent map, before we started using glass to draw maps. Even then he was still the guy who copied down the maps that were drawn. Today he's the guy who keeps track of treasure and keeps everyone honest on their encumbrance. It's takes a huge burden off my shoulders when he keeps track of things like "5lbs of assorted brass trinkets" or "corroded mass of silver 13 lbs." Most of the time it's a chore though. They'll do it, but it takes a rare guy who enjoys doing it.
I love that guy. I love anal retentive treasure keeping man. I rank that guy above the woman who used to keep "minutes" and started to email them to us in the middle of the week and I wish she was still around. I need him, I liked her. I won't try to rank the girl who used to do sketches of everyone while we played, she was special. I miss art students.
Anyways. those people are rare. Most players don't get off on the that sort of work. Let's be honest, with some people you're just happy when they finally can handle your own character without help. Then there is that kid who can't be trusted to play anything but a fighter.
Yet as much as I like that guy, he's less important than my ramrod. Admittedly, more than one ramrod can cause trouble till they learn to take turns, but you need to have one. They used to label it the "caller," but it usually works better if it's not an official post. He's the guy who makes decisions when everyone is yawning. The guy who takes things in hand, when it's not exciting. Who gets things done.
Ultimately, the ideal party would all do their homework ahead of time and arrive sharp and excited. They'd all have printed out the spells they actually have, so they wouldn't need to flip about. None of them would be fighting with their mate and be unable to stop fighting long while company was in the room.
In the ideal world, I'd print out my own clones ala David Brin's Kiln people and then half of them would cheerfully do the prep work ahead time while the other half then played the game.
Then I'd ride my flying pig. Till then I'm hoping someone writes down treasure and I'm emailing them updated dungeon maps every Tuesday.
PS. For purposes of full disclosure Kyle Pendleton, Barbarian-Accountant, would come from a somewhat elaborate D&D parody a friend made when we were both twenty, which included Kyle's battle to sleep with Muffy Meatwhistle, possible-transvestite art student in the adobe condo of doom. My friend John resented my wasting time playing D&D when there were things to do. If there was to be a Musical Melodies movie version made of my life, John would play the small devil who'd pop up on my shoulder and encourage me to drink everything in sight, enter the mosh pit, and then to break things in the night for no other reason than to hear the glorious sound of shattering glass.