Team Collaboration with Tabletop Roleplaying

I have discussed tabletop roleplaying a few times on this blog.  I’ve talked about how it has helped me break out of my shell, and how it helps me reduce stress.  I have also talked about how it can, by playing someone entirely different from yourself, give you a new prospective.  However, there is another aspect that I haven’t talked about yet; team collaboration.

My recent Pathfinder session last Friday, which you can see a short clip of on my “About” page for this blog, got me thinking about how tabletop roleplaying encourages complete and full team collaboration more than anything else (in my opinion at least).  During our session, we had to come up with a plan on how we were going to handle our meeting with some drug dealers that were selling a rather dangerous drug (it’s called mumia and has the side effect of eventually killing you and turning you into the undead).

We had encountered mumia before and discovered not only its side effect, but what the evil forces behind it were going to do with the sudden influx of undead.  We were also working with the Church of Pharasma, a god who despises the undead, so we were trying to come up with a plan to destroy their operation.  However, we didn’t exactly know how we were going to do this.  Enter team collaboration step 1: Planning.

Image credit: http://www.theverge.com/2014/11/11/7193647/dragon-age-inquisition-pc-ps4-impressions
Image credit: http://www.theverge.com/2014/11/11/7193647/dragon-age-inquisition-pc-ps4-impressions

Each of us, in turn, discussed what our objectives were and how we best thought we could achieve them.  We didn’t rule or shut anyone out; it was going to take the full party to handle this.  We compared and contrasted what each character could do ability-wise and how best to utilize those abilities.  We came up with a few ideas on what we were going to do.  We put specific people in charge of specific aspects of the plan and came up with a kind of “in case of x do y” contingencies.

Since my character is the only foreigner, and I had met with a patsy before to try to get a meeting, we decided to continue that rouse.  I would go to the meeting with my guides from before, which were other party members, and another party member was going to be our expert on the drug.  The last member of our party, who excels at sneaking into places, was going to do just that.

Even though this plan seems simple, we debated it for several minutes.  We couldn’t just storm the place with swords and maces a swinging, we had to be delicate; we didn’t know if the high ranking member of the criminal organization would actually be there.  So we decided to act as though we were serious about procuring the drugs, and then try to ambush them when their backs were turned.  In the end, it did work out quite well, though there were numerous times when we all thought we were going to die.  But, that’s what tabletop roleplaying is about sometimes.

The fact that everyone got a say and no idea was turned down without debate and analysis is the key.  We were able to come up with a plan we all agreed upon because we allowed everyone to have a say, to be invested in the plan if you will.  Since this was a unique scenario, there weren’t any past events or plans we could pull from to help us.  We had to build our plan from scratch in a timely manner (no one wants to spend all night coming up with a plan only to run out of time before implementing).

This same kind of team collaboration works in the real world.  Whenever you have a unique problem, get the appropriate subject matter experts into one room and open the floor for suggestions.  Remember, one of the keys for this to work is that no idea is thrown out without examination.  Not only will this give every member of the team a stake in the outcome of the agreed upon plan, but it will increase team cohesion.

How do you handle planning operations in your tabletop roleplaying adventures?  Does everyone get a say, or is there usually a point person?  Have you tried implementing something like this where you work?  How did it go?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.

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