Teamwork. What is it good for? That’s a tough one.
In the session of The Dee Sanction I ran at Dragonmeet on Saturday, I found the teamwork dynamic of the group worked quite well. When someone faced a challenge and they rolled outside their success threshold, the team generally jumped in to help. Once they understood their role – as the first call for assistance after a failed roll – they got involved whenever they could.
The opportunity to dump a point of Incriminating Evidence whenever you helped provide some definite incentive. I didn’t have to remind anyone at all about the mechanic. Actually, the only time I mentioned it happened when people got too enthusiastic and tried to get rid of their own when they spent pool points. You can’t impress anyone by simply helping yourself.
Discussing the mechanic after the game, I found two opposing views. That was interesting.
On the one hand, when I explained the reason for the mechanic, a player seemed surprised that it had been needed at all. Why would I need to introduce a mechanic to get people to work together? I explained that in two previous games teamwork had not been that important – indeed, they led to the revelation that changed the Incriminating Evidence mechanic.
Later feedback found another player liked the mechanics that emphasised teamwork, or even roleplaying. He saw it as a way to get around situations where, for some reason, the characters don’t like each other or don’t have a reason to help. That’s definitely the reason I introduced it. I have no issue with players running their characters with personal agenda that challenge or oppose the will or purpose of the group; I do want them to contribute to the greater cause, however, and not solely drive the story toward fragmentation or failure.
The teamwork mechanic means that all players have a reason to get their characters involved, even if – in the end – they have the worst possible intentions for doing so. For the time being, the mixed feedback probably suggests that the mechanic does what it must without negatively impacting the game. In a game where the team works well, the mechanic just runs in the background. Where the cooperation struggles, the mechanic provides a vital impetus to get everyone on the same side – even if they do it for selfish ends.