Friday, December 17, 2010

Decision making

The last role-playing session ended on a crucial dilemma; does the group continue tracking horse thieves into the night, or do they stop and rest at nightfall, continuing the hunt on the morrow? One player was in favour of pursuing into the night (or at least until the torches ran out - 4 to 5 hours). Three were opposed to the notion. As the game master, I must admit I thought it would be more fun if they continued the chase, so perhaps, one and a half in favour.

We resolved the decision in probably the worst way, flipism. Afterwards, I thought through the ways groups can make decisions. They are
  • Consensus
  • Majority rule
  • Flipism
  • Minority rule
  • Splitting the group
  • Rational argument
Clearly consensus is a terrible idea. It's little more than formalised coercion. Majority rule is better than consensus, at least the dissenters can announce their reservations even though they accept the decision. Still, it's a bad idea (what if the minority are correct in their beliefs?)

Flipism is the worst of the lot, but maybe in things like RPGs it can be fun. I thought it was fun to see the group slowly be influenced into continuing the pursuit, only to see the process break-down on the last person.

Splitting the group is also completely valid, if somewhat dramatic. Nevertheless, there should be nothing stopping one or more people leaving the others behind.

Rational argument, that is, arriving at a decision based on looking at all known options and collectively deciding which is the best, is the finest way to solve a problem. It's too bad that few use it. (I'm not sure how well it fits the fantasy world of Glorantha, however.)

The crazy thing was that - during the session - I'd forgotten all about minority rule. Often in RPGs a leader forms simply because the others aren't very communicative or are disinterested. This wasn't the case with this group/session. I had a bunch of free thinking anarchists roaming Glorantha. This will not do. A leader shall emerge. At the very least, it'll create more interesting dynamics; those that don't lead, rebel. Also, having one more option to fall back on is always a good thing.

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