On the Shoulders of Dwarves
The Spotlight (episode 87)
The other day Uri started a discussion in our [Facebook group](https://www.facebook.com/groups/dwarfpodcast) about suggestions for future episodes. A lot of great ideas came up, and today we’re focusing on a topic suggested by a listener named Tal Shiboli’s: The Spotlight.
Defining the Spotlight (01:22) \- When we say The Spotlight in this episode we mean that person around the table who is currently describing what is happening in the game. It’s easy to confuse the spotlight with the GM’s attention or acknowledgment, but they are not the same thing.
Everyone loves the spotlight! (well, not everyone, we discussed [passive players](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/stimulating-passive-players-episode-22-3623c34b0ab084/) in [episode 22](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/stimulating-passive-players-episode-22-3623c34b0ab084/)). Also, note that sharing the spotlight is not the same as “e[mpowering fellow players](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/empowering-fellow-players-episode-83-380227415218c6/)” (as we’ve discussed on [episode 83](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/empowering-fellow-players-episode-83-380227415218c6/)). Sometimes sharing the spotlight can be an issue. The issue arises when someone hogs the spotlight or when some players don’t get their fair share of the spotlight.
In this episode, we want to talk about the spotlight and show several ways to control it both from the GM’s side and the player’s side.
# Player control (03:55)
**Equality** \- Distribute the “spotlight” equally. Be aware of some potential problems, such as that men tend to take the spotlight, marginalized groups tend to allow it, not wanting to “stir the pot”. As a GM or as a player you can help less dominant players get their spotlight.
**Flavor Interjection** \- When the spotlight is elsewhere and you want to express yourself and be a part of the scene, interject with some flavor, instead of pulling it toward you (Some suggestions on interjecting your character can be found in [episode 23 - making your character come alive](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/make-your-character-come-alive-episode-28-364fbcb535fe1a/)). For example describe how your character reacts, something that others can choose to advance on or ignore. Saying “you see a look of disgust spread over Besters face as you continue to move through the king”
**Invite Others** \- Create an opportunity for other characters to join in on the scene, in my eyes that is one of the best ways to share the spotlight. “Listen poor NPC, you don’t want to marry her. Do you know who’s married? Haskar, our dwarf, for years, and he’s miserable, aren’t you Haskar? Here why don’t you tell this NPC here how miserable you are”.
# GM control (08:00)
As a general rule, the GM usually has a lot of influence on the spotlight. cutting some players turn and referring specifically to others.
**Push and Pull** \- The GM’s ability to direct the spotlight can be used to help push and pull (if you wonder how, try listening to [episode 27 - slaps and bennies](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/slaps-and-bennies-episode-27-364a24326f571a/)).
**City of Mist Example** \- In City of Mist, the spotlight is an element of the system. But the system only defines it, and it wants the MC to control where it’s pointed and when it’s moved. “Managing the spotlight is comparable to a director switching between cameras to ensure all the lead characters receive enough airtime in the story”. The MC have a tool called Intrusions - allow the MC to intrude on the player’s spotlight.
**Using the Spotlight as a Pace Setter** \- Spotlight is also closely linked with pacing and atmosphere, much like editing in a movie can set the tones or affect the viewer. Quick jump cuts of the spotlight between players lead to one effect (usually for action or frightful effects) while slow transitions of the spotlight give more time for every player to express themselves and consider what just happened.
# Mechanical Control (16:30)
**Initiative** - In most gaming system there isn’t a mechanic in place to control the assignment of the spotlight. One notable exception is Initiative - while mostly considered to be a combat turn order mechanic, the initiative is also a way to make sure everyone gets their turn.
**[Primetime Adventure](https://payhip.com/b/LEsX)** - another example is [Primetime Adventure](https://payhip.com/b/LEsX) that has a very interesting way of dealing with this. Some sessions are declared in advance as focusing on a specific character. Their players get most of the attention.
# Summary (19:15)
Distributing the spotlight evenly among those who want it is an important aspect of the tabletop roleplaying game as well as the burden of sharing it equally.
# Taking the load off (19:55)
**Uri** \- played 3 sessions this week. Testplay for short standard adventure, Masks - a new generation and Pathfinder1e.
**Eran** \- Returned to Hell’s Rebels!
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Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).
Brought to you by Eran Aviram of On the Shoulders of Dwarves