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A question suggested by

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What RPG does a good job of encouraging teamwork between PCs? And what game mechanisms help to encourage teamwork?

Do you have a question you want asked as QOTD? Post here!

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Alain Curato
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Nefertiti Overdrive does. One single character cannot overcome an encounter, we need all the help ; each player adds one cumulative die.

Good mechanisms are, for example, the ability to give points between characters, such as HeroQuest.
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Steffan O'Sullivan
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It takes some people repeated lasering to learn to cooperate, so I'd say the clone mechanic in Paranoia does a great job of encouraging teamwork. It gives strong incentive as well as time to learn. Cooperate or die! (Well, perhaps that "or" is hyperbole.)
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Pathfinder tries with a host of teamwork feats, but in my group no one ever seems to take any of them unless they have an animal companion they can "force" to take them so they can use them.

Champions has teamwork rules, but I've only very rarely seen them used and then usually only by villain groups.

Steffan is probably right. Maybe DCC should also count, at least during the funnel.
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I've yet to find a system that handles teamwork in a way I find playable. But my expectations are way way up there: 1000 mooks and their overpowered tyrant fight your 5 pcs (which are 5 teams of 3-5 different scale individuals.) resolve this SIMPLY in one roll per player.
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I enjoy The One Ring's Fellowship-pool mechanism, which lets characters draw Hope from the group as a whole when they're under the threat of Shadow, and really like the way the game lets you spend extra successes to make up for failures of other party members; if your party is making a Stealth test to sneak up on an orc camp, and you get two successes but another PC fails, you can give them your extra success (representing your PC pointing out the dry leaves they're about to step on, say) to help the group succeed. I wish more games used this approach.

The 2d20 Conan game lets any PC pull Momentum (metagame currency) from a pool that's populated by all party members' actions. This lets you set up "one-two specials", where PC #1 performs an action to generate Momentum that PC #2 can use for an attack or other action.

5th-edition D&D lets you give your Inspiration (automatic advantage on a chosen roll) to another player's character so they can have a better shot at making a vital roll. We use this rule all the time at my table.

All of these revolve around mechanisms that allow PCs to share success or metagame resources. But there are other mechanics which support team planning, such as Marvel Heroic Roleplaying's "choose who goes next" initiative system which lets players plan team actions ("I'll tackle this guy out of the way, then you pick up Wolverine and throw him through the door!") that are difficult or impossible in pure random-initiative systems.

(Edit: I forgot about The Burning Wheel's version of help, where you lend another player one of your dice representing your assistance, and can tell from the roll whether you actually helped or not. Simple and a bit more flavourful than games where assistance just provides a flat bonus.)
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Assisting is the most common: Player says that they want to help and describes how. Helper pays Stress. Helped gets an extra die.
There's also a Group Action manoeuvre: One player leads an action (we sneak past the guards), everyone rolls, best result stands and the leader pays extra stress for every member of the group that fails.
And a Setup manoeuvre: Do a thing that will make someone else's task less risky or more effective.
There are also Long-Term Projects which multiple characters might contribute to.

The Cypher System
Player says that they want to help and describes how. Helper uses their Action to help. Helped has their action eased (or is faster or bigger or stronger or their opponent's action is hindered or whatever makes sense). When the difficulties get up to the 8-10 range, making things easier for the PC best suited to the situation is probably more effective than attempting a virtually impossible task of your own.
Also, any player at the table can use an XP to allow a reroll of any failed check regardless of who made the check. When a GM Intrusion is made, the GM gives the targeted player 2 XP, one to keep and and one to give to another player. Typically, if someone has given another player a reroll, it will be repaid.

Both games also have a Take the Hit manoeuvre, allowing you to take damage intended for another character, but that's a less common option. If it is used, it's often by one specific heavily armoured character, and not something that might be generally used by anyone.

So, how do these encourage teamwork?
They are easy to do. The rules are simple and straightforward.
They work. Helping works. You say that you help and you do. There's no extra rolls to see if the helping works, it just does.
They're effective. In both games, you're better off making fewer, higher probability rolls than you are if you make lots of low-probability rolls hoping to get lucky. You will expend fewer resources (Stress, Effort, Harm, Damage).
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We tend to think of D&D characters in a different light, but it's very, very possible to craft a spellcaster whose purpose is almost entirely to support other party members. The fact that this is a rare type of build speaks more to gamer mentality than the system, imo. Just a couple weeks ago, a friend lamented his lack of contribution to a fight, when his Twinned Haste on two other party members likely contributed more to the fight than anything we did.

Specifically cooperative RPGs are another obvious candidate. The Quiet Year, for an example I own. There's conflict at times, yes, but it's ultimately a cooperative endeavor.
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The PbtA game The Fellowship is ALl about teamwork. The mechanism that presses this most is the point of the game. The GM plays as the Overlord. The Overlord's focus is to complete their goal. If the Fellowship gets in the way, then the Overlord focuses on destroying their bonds. If all of their bonds are destroyed, The Fellowship splits up and loses. So, the group focus is on building bonds and teamwork.
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Twilight: 2000 (1st Edition) because of the military chain of command.
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I think Star Trek 2D20 nailed this.
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Benevolentgamemaster wrote:
I think Star Trek 2D20 nailed this.

Enlighten-me...
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Personally, I love the synergies that can emerge between the different characters in 4th edition D&D.
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shiva666 wrote:
Benevolentgamemaster wrote:
I think Star Trek 2D20 nailed this.

Enlighten-me...

I'll step in on this, because I agree with Peter. The game encourages teamwork in three ways.

* Extra successes a player's roll over their target number can be put into a resource pool called Momentum, which can then be spent for other things by other players, instead of being used immediately.

* Aid on a roll is handled very easily by each person who can aid just rolling an extra d20 into the main acting player's roll, using their own attributes and disciplines.

* Advantages can be created by one player that then reduce difficulty of rolls by others.

The system itself helps encourage teamwork as well because the GM advice plus the difficulty numbers makes it such that maybe 50% or more of the rolls a player makes will need assistance from someone to be able to succeed.

None of it is revolutionary, every element has been seen in other games, its just put together in a neat and efficient package that works very well.
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EnricPDX wrote:
Personally, I love the synergies that can emerge between the different characters in 4th edition D&D.

I remember enjoying this aspect of 4th edition, but I tend to prefer mechanics that make the teamwork explicit, as per the games I listed in my answer above, to the more implicit "these abilities work well together if you think to use them that way" approach.
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Most if not all of the examples given, I would not count as teamwork.

To me, teamwork would be cooperatively working on a single task together. Most of the examples are how, mechanically speaking, player A can do something mechanically that helps player B with B's rolls.

Now, it is possible that this is what the OP is asking about. It is just now how I would conceive of teamwork.

With that said, I am surprised no one has mentioned Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. It has rules for things like the other games mentioned, e.g. you use your rolled advanatage to give a boost to the next player's roll, there are certain abilities that can also give boost to other player's rolls, and initiate is a pool. Thus, the initiative pool allows the players to decide on the order their PCs go in rather than the person who rolled the highest going first.

To top it off, there are rules for actions that I describe as teamwork. That is, there are rules that allow people to pool their PC actions together to complete a task faster/better.

Paranoia 25th Anniversary, has mechanics that get in the way of teamwork. I mean, when your team is filled with commie mutant scum, you have no choice but to kill them. It is all for your friendly computer overlord.
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The Fall of Delta Green and Traveller (Mongoose 2nd Edition) have rules that explicitly model characters helping each other.
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SteamCraft wrote:
It is all for your friendly computer overlord.


The Computer is your friend. Use of the term overlord suggests you are a subversive.
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SteamCraft wrote:
I am surprised no one has mentioned Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. It has rules for things like the other games mentioned, e.g. you use your rolled advanatage to give a boost to the next player's roll, there are certain abilities that can also give boost to other player's rolls, and initiate is a pool. Thus, the initiative pool allows the players to decide on the order their PCs go in rather than the person who rolled the highest going first.


Yes, it was FFGs Genesys system that instantly sprung to my mind.
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skalchemist wrote:
shiva666 wrote:
Benevolentgamemaster wrote:
I think Star Trek 2D20 nailed this.

Enlighten-me...

I'll step in on this, because I agree with Peter. The game encourages teamwork in three ways.

* Extra successes a player's roll over their target number can be put into a resource pool called Momentum, which can then be spent for other things by other players, instead of being used immediately.

* Aid on a roll is handled very easily by each person who can aid just rolling an extra d20 into the main acting player's roll, using their own attributes and disciplines.

* Advantages can be created by one player that then reduce difficulty of rolls by others.

The system itself helps encourage teamwork as well because the GM advice plus the difficulty numbers makes it such that maybe 50% or more of the rolls a player makes will need assistance from someone to be able to succeed.

None of it is revolutionary, every element has been seen in other games, its just put together in a neat and efficient package that works very well.

Further, the whole flavor of Star Trek Adventures is teamwork in that characters are typically part of a bridge crew and must work together to accomplish their goals. Different characters need to do different tasks to, for example, navigate and pilot through an asteroid field while scanning for an alien power source while under attack, which itself may require ship repairs and/or medical treatment of crew.
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Azukail wrote:
SteamCraft wrote:
It is all for your friendly computer overlord.


The Computer is your friend. Use of the term overlord suggests you are a subversive.


Accusing the most devoted ally of friend computer of being subversive is a treasonous action deserving of immediate execution.
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SteamCraft wrote:
Azukail wrote:
SteamCraft wrote:
It is all for your friendly computer overlord.


The Computer is your friend. Use of the term overlord suggests you are a subversive.


Accusing the most devoted ally of friend computer of being subversive is a treasonous action deserving of immediate execution.

And at this point it's on to Laser skills, repeat as necessary, and eventually they'll learn to get along because they're on their last clones. See how the mechanic creates teamwork? Perfection!
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Good thread and examples, guys. Thanks!

I was interested in the question because I've got a 5e D&D group running right now. Dads and kids from my Cub Scout unit, including two of my boys. I like that RPGs tend to put the crew together as a team to confront and defeat enemies. But I also think that the mechanisms in RPGs that help to reinforce that "team" mechanism can leave something to be desired. So I was looking for good examples of ideas to pull into my games. And there are some good ones here.
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One other example I thought of is Marvel Heroic. This game allows you to use your team die (which could be the better die) if you partner up with someone to do something like a "fastball special". This only applies though if you are playing a hero that is known for teamwork.
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Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple has teamwork built in, and when you draw certain color combos of stones (2 white and 1 black or 3 white) you are able to aid other players and get them out of trouble (though with one black stone, you'll be putting yourself in trouble to help them!)

Nefertiti Overdrive does have aiding other players built in, though you can only add one die to what they are doing. It helps that the challenges are pretty challenging so that players need to work together to overcome them. And since the mechanics are based on Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, that RPG probably has something very similar in place (though I haven't played it, so I don't really know).

For games that don't innately have it built in, I like to use group successes. Say you are playing Call of Cthulhu (2nd - 6th Edition) with party of five, and they are all using Library Use in order to find a specific book. If three of them succeed or if one gets a crit success and one gets a normal success, they find the book! Otherwise, they have bad luck at that library.

Cooperative games do not necessarily lead to teamwork. The Quiet Year often produces factions that splinter off and do their own thing, the rest of the group be damned. Yes, the overarching story is cooperatively built, but the individuals within the story do not have to be cooperative at all! And often aren't, at least in the games I've played.
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