I had two conversations this week with a few friends that made me think. The first conversation was with my friend Kevin, who plays the head of the Cell for The local Accord game. He had said that In Character Leadership is partially NPC. This implies that there is a level of responsibility that you are working with the ST and therefore the setting of the game. Because the world they control isn't just what the players are doing, it's the entire world in regards to the stuff that can't be seen.
That made me think about the role of leader in the games I've played. It's interesting and it's fascinating, it's one part "my character wants this" and two parts "I as a player want to do this". It's a social function, as you are the face and the will of the local group of players to anything that gets thrown out by visitors or the ST. You're the figurehead, the diplomat, the warleader, and the commander in chief and some times all at the same time.
The most prominent of these roles in the Mind's Eye Society is the Vampiric Prince. The Vampire games focus around Predation, both physical and social predator. To be Prince is to both signify your status as the Alpha Predator as well as the Man everyone must beat. I've seen games for runs for Prince be, both ICly and OOCly, the ugliest things ever. It's the kind of position you don't take if you don't want your PC in the line of fire.
It's the exact reverse for the Sovereigns in Changeling. Each Court has their own Sovereign, with the system behind it denoting who exactly is the presiding Sovereign at the time. The rulers of the Seasonal Courts reign the freehold throughout their respective season, transitioning at the equinox. The Diurnal Sovereigns exchange roles at the rising and setting of the son. The Directionals are always in power, and therefore must work at central purpose to attain anything. There are currently 7 PCs in the local changeling game wearing the Crown of a Court, I hold the Western Crown. It becomes a game of foreign dignataries, in a sense, where even if you're a part of the same freehold, doesn't mean you're on the same page.
In Mage, the Hierarch represents the Authority of Magic in a Consilium (council of Mages and Cabals). It's position is usually as moderator and chair than supreme overlord, but I've witnessed more laid back planners than I am the Alpha Mage style of thinking. Right now, New York has no Consilium, so the role of Hierarch is unfulfilled. This has lead to drama, and it's one of the points that needs to be hashed out as time goes by in a war ravaged game.
In Accord, the players are part of a multi-species (Mage, Hunters, Werewolves, and mostly ever template) Cell that is dedicated to eliminating the truth. Every Cell has a Cell Leader, and that's currently held by Kevin, who plays the century old son of the Devil. He's in a position to know everyone and to have seen everything, which is useful for someone who has to deal with Telepathic Hunters, Computer/Human Changelings from the Hedge, Asshole Demons and Immortals of one stripe or the next.
Then you have the various factions bread into most games that are pre-disposed to lead. I'll use White Wolf for the sake of arguement:
Vampire The Requiem has the Invictus, the Vampric Nobility that rules and deals through Oaths. They want to be in power, they need to be in power and god damned the high most.
Mages have the Silver Ladder, they are the philosopher priests of the old culture of Atlantis. They have the double whammy of being the religious group as well as the political group. The rule through cults and politics and not everyone can do nearly as much.
We don't get many people these days wishing to play those roles. Playing someone with a Crown though and being responsible for others has made me think more about it. Personally, I don't want to play in the Invictus as too many A-Type Personality Players have soured that Covenant for me. The Silver Ladder however is an interesting thing, and possibly beneficial one to the local Mage game. The Silver Ladder is non-existent and no players have taken them. As the storyteller who founded the setting, this allows me to play a more passive role, upholding the themes of the game in a position built to do that while not using too much of the world I helped build. It's sad though, at some point, I fear this would lead my PC to be hierarch.
And then there is Requiem. The other conversation that precipitated this article was a comment a friend made about Owen, my Mekhet PC. He said that Owen would make a great Prince. There is something interesting in that. Owen would want the throne, he has the ambition. Craig isn't too sure. Keep in mind that I'm what I'd like to refer to as a Shy Megalomaniac. I like being in control, but get very anxious and self conscious when I do. That being said, Owen would, if he could or wanted to, make a play for the throne. And god save anyone who got in his way.
In short, the role of Leader is an important position in the game and it takes a player and a character who is capable to lead the group. There is risk, there is drama, and there is a threefold responsibility to the players, the PCs and the Setting.