Friday, July 17, 2015

The Art of Playing

It was recently brought to my attention that there are a lot of guides and advice out there for GMs but not really much for players. In fact the traditional wisdom of there being an issue with a player is either kick the player to the curb, or it's the GMs fault (as popularized by the WotC forums). Some of these I'm quite familiar with, others I've been fortunate to not have to deal with them often.

This is just a quick post before a game, so I might add on to it later.
As a player, the responsibility is to play the game. Most video games these days are built around the idea of exploration and control. That is the player must provide the input to move around and affect things around them. The player must also take initiative to work towards discovering things. 
As someone sitting down to a table at a role playing game, a person needs to keep that in mind. If all you do is wait for the GM to tell you what's happening, the game will stagnate and you'll only have as much information as the game master gives you in that moment. One needs to act and take charge. Even if you don't get the answers you want, you need to continue to ask the questions. 
Example: If a someone shows up to insult the characters and generally make their lives miserable: question his motives, seek more out on him. Which is more productive, ignoring his antics and going about your business, or fighting back? Even if fighting back is the "wrong answer" it moves the game forward. Ignoring him will get the GM to change plans and move onto something else, which involves more set up and work. This is bad for everyone if you want a strong engaging story. You'll get all the set up and no pay off.

Players also need to make sure they're not taking assaults on their characters as personal attacks. I've seen this several times over in my nearly 20 years of running and playing in games. A villain's plans to humiliate, trap, frame, injure, maim, disable or any other villainous tactics is not the game master being a jerk. It's just the villain being a villain. Let bad guys be bad guys. Choose what you want your character to be and play it. There's a reason why it's called Role Playing.

Don't be the jerk. Don't be the guy that for no reason will steal from the other characters. Don't have a long drawn out thing where you're working against the group: unless that is you ARE working against the group, in which case you should be prepared to die at the end. Sometimes there are games and systems where a moment calls for a fight between characters, it happens, it can be fun or interesting. You shouldn't however go out of your way to be a jerk about it or do it because you think it's "fun" without that story element to support it. More importantly, if you are a traitor or working against the group, you shouldn't be a jerk about it, because that would be obvious.

Don't negate. If someone makes an action, don't stop them. Especially in a story game. If you're lost because of the direct actions of another player (as opposed to random chance) don't try and roll to find your way without reacting to the situation at hand. These situations are why you play the game, so rolling some dice to undo them is merely trying to win the game. Rolling should be one of the last choices for something. Respond, take action. To be intensely cliche "Role play, don't ROLL play."

Know the rules. This one is important. Knowing the rules at least as far as your character is concerned is important. If you're a fighter knowing the details of magic isn't a huge issue but knowing the details of tripping might be. Know what your abilities do, how to use them and if you can't remember them make notes!

Accept your limitations (and understand them). If you want your character to be able to walk through every challenge without a hitch, that's hardly fun for people around you. Especially if you're doing everything at the expense of other players (which goes back to the negating part). 

h/t to

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