Shining Dodecahedron

One geek's views on role-playing and games in general.

This place is all about discussing paper-and-pencil roleplaying games. I'm Jay, and I run this joint, but that doesn't make me smarter than you. This will all work best if I say things, and you say what you think about them, lather, rinse, repeat. With luck we can all understand the hobby a little better. If you have a topic that you would like me to start a thread about, post a comment here. If you've got something to say about characters (my ongoing topic du jour), post a comment here.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Being a Good Player

Lots of RPG rule books and gamers on the street have heaps and heaps of advice for game masters, but there is relatively little advice and instruction available for players. It seems like the basic RPG text says to stay in character and be a good sport and not get in the way of the GM's story too much (it may not say that last part outright, but it is heartily implied in many games).

Anyway, it's about time that players had some rules to live by. I've got a few. Read and comment on them and then tell me yours, if you have any (and I know you do).

  • Get involved. Don't sit back and ride along with what everyone else is doing. Take part. Give suggestions. Role-playing is so much more fun if everyone is contributing
  • Play your character's story, not just your character. It isn't always about the method acting "what's my motivation" stuff. Sometimes the game is much more fun if you think about what your character's story arc should be like and then play toward that. Remember that real people in the real world often do things for which there is no logical explanation. Humans are random and chaotic, so should your character be.
  • Invest in the whole game. If you are watching a movie, you don't just pay attention to the parts with your favorite character in them do you? Well then why shouldn't you pay attention to other player's scenes in the game? Not only that but take part. Add details. Offer suggestions.
  • Be honest. If the game rocks, say so. If it sucks, communicate with the group to let them know what could be done better to make you have fun.
  • Don't be a prick. Everything that you do in the game should be designed to provide fun to everyone at the table. If you aren't happy, don't act out. Don't throw tantrums. And for the love of Pete, don't get all passive agressive and try to sabotage the game. If you do, every person at the table has the karmic right to beat your ass with heavy, pointed objects.

12 Comments:

Blogger John Harper said...

That's a good list. I have one to add:

Create. Roleplaying is a creative activity. Don't be shy about making stuff up. Unlike movies and TV, roleplaying is improvised on the spot, so everything doesn't have to be perfectly consistent and refined. If you have an idea that you want to include, pitch it to the group. Someone will probably have authority over what ideas get "into the game" and which don't. Let that person do their job of selection. You do your job of creation and don't worry about editing too much.

Just like a good brainstorming session, the more ideas floating around, the better.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005 10:52:00 AM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beware of having too many "secrets", or of having too defining a single "secret":

Certainly, secrets can be a really fun part of any character concept. I don't know that I've encountered any good characters, either in gaming, reading, or movies, who didn't have at least one good secret.

However, in none of those stories were those characters boringly opaque blank slates to those around them (especially those who do not know the secret, like both one's fellow players and their characters). I've lost count of the number of players who have handed me a well-thought out and well-written character background a page or more in length. And yet, if I blacked out the parts that pertained to the character's secret, the end result was...a boringly opaque black slate (and the ink has probably bled through the paper to the desk surface below).

No character should be primarily dependent on its secrets to give it "character" at a gaming table (**especially** if the other players at the table are, for whatever reason, supposed to remain "in the dark" about a given character's secret).

As a corrollary to the above, players need to understand the purpose of a character's secrets should always be to tell a good story about the character (and who else are you telling the story to but the other people sitting around the table with you?). If a player comes up with a good secret or two, and then subsequently refuses to trust anyone else with its use and development (including an understanding that, inevitably, the secret will be come "public" knowledge as part of any ongoing game), then the secret has little reason for existence.....and **definitely** should not be the defining characteristic of the character and his/her background.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A suggested addendum to the Get Involved rule for players.

Learn at least a bit about the setting for the game, and be ready to learn more during the ongoing story (with the corrollary rule to subsequently apply what you learn to the overal betterment of the story). This rule addendum applies irrespective of whether one is playing in a published setting or one of the DM/GM/etc.'s creations.

Now I'm not saying that a player should develop an encyclopedic knowledge of every setting one plays in (especially if one frequently plays in more then one setting). That can often prove prohibitive in both time and money. But some basic information (to use a common euphemism: “common knowledge”) that one’s character would certainly know, most of which can easily be obtained from the screen monkey running the game, goes a long way towards connecting you, as a player, with the story. You are far more likely to be proactive in the game, and even contribute to the story in the fashion Mr. Loomis here has described, if you know enough to be comfortable playing your particular character in the setting.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005 4:56:00 PM  
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