How To Be A Good Roleplayer

There’s plenty of GM advice out there. What about the players? How can you be a good roleplayer? How can you not stink in front of your friends? The answers are sometimes intuitive and sometimes surprising.

Be An Active Participant

Nothing is going to happen unless the players at the table do something. The GM can present plot thread after plot thread but it’s up to the players to make it happen. Without your involvement and acting in the game, it will not be as great a game as it could be.

Is it okay to sit back and let other players run the action? Sometimes, but even when it seems like someone else is on fire and doing awesome, don’t bow out and just watch.

Be Ready To Fail

Without failure, what kind of a game would this be? Sit back for a moment and think about that for a moment. For a while, it might seem like fun but in the end, it all becomes meaningless without a chance of failure.

Where is a game without challenge? What is a challenge without failure?

Now, instead of looking at failure as a necessary evil, can you make failure awesome? A small failure means it’s time for the hero to buckle down. A major failure means heartbreak. Instead of venting that heartbreak at the GM or the other players at the table, channel it into the game and make the story a hundred times richer. Are you angry that the dice didn’t roll your way? Translate that feeling into what your character would feel and really revel in it for a moment. Now, instead of it being a negative feeling that sours the game, it becomes part of the game. Have your character raise their fists to the sky and scream “Nooooooooooooo!”

Now you’re enriching the game and everyone’s experience.

Cooperate With the GM and Players

When a game allows you to do anything, does it mean you should? Not if you want to be a good roleplayer. Most other games are competitive but role playing games are often cooperative games. Even the GM, who embodies everything that opposes the PCs is more often cooperating than competing. If the GM wanted to compete, no player could ever win.

Cooperate with the GM by picking up interesting leads. Cooperate with the other players, even when their plans don’t seem like they’ll work.

Players that don’t cooperate look for ways to hurt the other players. They reason that if their character is a thief, they have license to steal from the other PCs. They pick fights with other PCs just to prove their character is the best. They stall the game by arguing about plans even when it’s clear everyone else wants to move ahead. They split the party.

What would you think of a person that went over to his friends house for a movie marathon party, most there want to watch a movie but they disagree and decide to go back to their house, taking a few people with them?

Some plot threads are just not to a player’s liking. I’m not saying to play a game that you find offensive. Sometimes though a game or another player’s actions are just not interesting to you. Sometimes a GM may present a social challenge when you wanted combat. As long as this is a temporary situation, roll with it.

Even better, try and find something in the situation that you do like.

Amplify The Story

Now, don’t just sullenly cooperate. Find something that you can make the story even better with. This challenge sounds boring? Make it even more exciting. If you can do better, then do better. RPGs aren’t just about you being entertained, they’re also a way for you to entertain your friends. Can you do that?

If a player is really doing awesome this game, try and figure out how you can help them. Make the game even more awesome for them. Be someone’s wingman. Even if it’s just you cheering them on, do it.

Some of the most memorable games involved the players coming up with a ingenious, wild, improbable or bizarre course of action. Sometimes it’s premeditated, often it’s an off the cuff choice to spice things up. Look for these opportunities, act on them and channel it when they fail.

Communicate, Especially When It Hurts

In a lot of life’s struggles, it’s difficult to know how and when to communicate what we’re feeling. It’s hard to turn a negative emotion into a constructive experience. This is one of those skills that not only helps a person in a role playing game but in life. If someone is doing something that bothers you, don’t talk about it behind their back, communicate the problem with them.

Keep calm. As soon as people get upset, including you, the chance of making progress in fixing the situation drops precipitously. A calm, respectful and thoughtful approach makes the chance of you being heard far better. Arguments don’t get resolved by yelling and calling people names.

Be ready to drop it. For now. Say what you need to say and then, if it doesn’t immediately get the result you want, stop arguing the point. Later, when the game is over, in a calm and respectful tone bring it up again. Sometimes it’s easier to write what you want to say than to confront someone face to face, especially when it’s an emotional subject.

On the flip side, remember to tell people when you like something. Did some part of the GM’s delivery make you smile, get you excited, vividly paint the scene for you? Write it down and bring it up at the end of the game. Did another player come up with a great plan? Tell them! Let them know it improved your enjoyment of the game and why. Did a player role play well? Congratulate them on it.

Next up, How To Be A Great Roleplayer

  • Immersion
  • Learning The Language of Improv
  • It’s About Story
  • Know Your Game

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