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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Not Worried

Lesser Seed“Why are we camped here? I brought this up before! You said you weren’t worried about it. I said that this was not a defensible position and you said you could fortify it! I don’t see any fortifications Andre! All I see is a hole you cut into the wall. A hole that is useless as an escape route because it goes nowhere! We are about to be overrun and you start maintenance on the teleporter! Are you insane?” Jackson lit into the engineer.

“I’m not worried.” Was all that Andre answered.

“That’s it? If I somehow survive this, and I have no idea how, I am going to see you court martialed posthumously! Because I’ll kill you if those hounds don’t.” Jackson was nearly frothing, his face turning three shades of red.

“Calm down, it’s not a problem.” Andre sighed.

“Not a. . . ┬áThere are at least ten thousand hounds advancing on our position according to the scouts! Last I heard, that’s at least 500 times as many men as we have. I’d say that’s a problem Andre! We need to teleport out of here in the next fifteen minutes or they’ll be slicing us to ribbons.”

“And we will teleport out. Tomorrow. It’s all ┬átaken care of.” Andre mumbled. He turned to Fasal. “Okay, pack it up.”

Fasal, one of the other engineers signaled to have the teleporter dismantled. “Okay, pack it up.”

“What are you doing? You’re disassembling our only escape?” Jackson’s jaw was on the ground.

“Of course, wouldn’t want anything to happen to it. Then we couldn’t teleport out tomorrow.” Andre answered cooly.

“I’m going to find the biggest gun in this camp and then I’m going to kill you with it.” Jackson said.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. There’s at least ten thousand hounds out there, just climbing in that hole we blasted in the wall isn’t going to be enough to protect yourself.” Andre replied. “Speaking of which, you need to get all the men into the hole or they’re going to get hurt. Or dead. Fasal, spread the word to get up in the tunnel.”

“Yessir!” Fasal answered and went off to get the platoon together.

“That’s it I’m done talking. You have us backed up against the wall of a Reservoir Hex with no avenue of retreat. These men’s lives are on your head Andre.” Jackson threw his hands up in the air.

“It’s okay, really. I’m not worried.” Andre answered, he packed up his tools and joined the men climbing up to the tunnel they had blasted into the wall. The men were nervous but Andre had never let them down before.

“They’ve just come into visual range. Looks like they know exactly where we are because they’re moving straight toward us.” one of the scouts reported.

“Let me know when the main force is within five hundred meters.” Andre replied.

“Should we engage them? You know, send the E-Suits out and launch rockets into them?” they asked.

“Definitely not.” was all he said.

They waited silently for another few minutes. “Five hundred meters!” a scout called out.

“It’s time Fasal. Open the lid and then let the big one go.” he directed.

A moment later the wall they were all sitting inside shook ever so slightly. Then the sound of thunder rumbled above. Then another quake, much stronger than the first. From one of the doorways of the Reservoir Hex came a deafening roar that at first sounded like an explosion but quickly took on a different kind of rumble. Even the hounds knew something was wrong because they stopped and began running.

“One hundred and thirty million tons of water.” Andre whispered to himself.

With a hole in the top of the hex to let in air and one to let it out, the water came. For six hours, a torrent poured from the door next to them with the force of Niagara Falls and scoured the plain in front of them with relentless fury. A Reservoir Hex unleashed. When it was over, there was not a single sign of the hounds. The dirt basins near the mouth of the torrent had been scoured of their soil. Now the basins formed lakes of water that had frothed brown but slowly cleared until from up on the wall, they could see all the way to the bottom of them. The drainage system was overwhelmed and then plugged by mud and sludge. Water filled the water system for the hexes all around and trickled down through cracks between the hexes.

“Ok Fasal, let’s teleport out.” he finally said with a smile.

 

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It’s Free RPG Day!

NicoeFor free RPG day Store32 is offering our entire PDF line up of games for free! Come and get The Artifact RPG and Steampunkfitters RPG PDFs at no charge! If you want to test the waters there’s also The Warp quickstart for The Artifact with only the rules you need for the included adventure.

How can we offer these fabulous titles for free? You could almost say that every day feels like free RPG day for us.

(Shhh! Don’t tell them that we normally offer them for free.)

Also check out 1KM1KT for more free games than you or your grandpa can shake a stick at.

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A Player’s Handbook? When?

The Player’s Handbook has been updated for the 3rd edition rules, I have the art needed to replace the pieces I took and put in the core book. Now I’m trying to think of a cover. One that screams “Player Character”. I have a few vague concepts that float in and out of my head from time to time but nothing has gelled yet.

Now I’m starting to think of something more radical. I want to combine the Engineer’s Resource with the Player’s Handbook.

Pros: This will bring the information in the Engineer’s Resource more to the center of the player’s experience. There’s a lot of world information in there that informs the players of behaviors that they can encounter.

It makes a bit more sense to have the Comm Officer’s Guide and the Engineer’s Resource in the same book.

It also means fewer books, which is helpful if a new player is looking at picking up the game and playing it. There’s less confusion.

I only have to make one cover.

Cons: Nearly a third of the new Player’s Handbook will be engineering information. Now that’s mitigated by the fact that a good amount of the information could be considered general use. Another factor is that a good amount of the rules in the Engineer’s Resource are now covered in the core rule book and Tech Challenges.

It’s also going to take a lot more time to put out the Player’s Handbook. The Engineer’s Resource is a hairy beast of rules and pointy things when it comes to building vehicles. I’m hoping that it can be simplified a bit as Tech Challenge rules are applied to the process but it’s still a lot of effort to get it right. I was going to do it eventually anyway but now it affects the handbook.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

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Optional Character Generation Rule

We tried this in our last go round of character generation. Even though my players didn’t get much out of it due to poor rolls, I think it could save a number of players from having to play a character they’re not interested in.

What we said was, that if a character starts the game with an attribute 20 or lower the player gets to roll on a bonus table of their choice for each low attribute.

That could be on bonus table one or bonus table two. It’s up to the player.

If an attribute is raised by using a limitations table roll it does not count for an extra bonus table roll. The player has to start the game with the attribute 20 or lower.

Of course the bonus table roll has the potential to raise the attribute above 20. That’s fine, it doesn’t recursively remove the roll which thereby removes the bonus which allows the player to roll on a bonus table. We’re not going there.

I’d feel bad about this not being in 3rd edition if it wasn’t a very difficult rule to explain, especially with the three different character generation methods. Let’s just say that if the above makes sense to you and you want to use it, enjoy.

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Not Obvious Tech Challenges

When explaining Tech Challenges to people, I often get the response that they don’t represent the kind of challenge the GM is looking for. While yes, they are designed to replicate technology challenges, “Tech” is actually referring to Technical Challenges. Let me explain how we’ve used them in our games to illustrate how flexible they are.

In our current campaign, I used a Tech Challenge when the players wanted to pick a lock. Obviously the first skill that was attempted was the Pick Locks skill but that roll failed. The next player didn’t have the pick locks skill, and this really shows the power of Tech Challenges, he wanted to use his sensor systems to see the internal workings of the lock to help. He rolled amazingly well and solved the challenge. How I interpreted this was to say that, with the internal workings of the lock understood, it was a trivial matter to now open the lock.

When was the last time you used sensors to pick a lock? It was a first for me.

With a typical skill system, I would be hard pressed as a GM know if I should allow that kind of cross discipline skill use. But that’s part of the beauty of the Tech Challenge system.

In another game, the PCs needed to figure out why a general was holding out on supporting them. We used a Tech Challenge using sociology and culture skills to find clues. It worked wonderfully well. Each Challenge Point reduced, yielded more information on the general’s situation.

The power here is that the players decide what skills they want to use to tackle a problem. They justify the use and the character’s skill helps to decide if the skill will help. The idea here is that someone who is very competent may be able to use even unusual skills in unexpected ways.

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Amusing Swag, Sometimes Artifact Related

We’ve talked about doing this for ages, and I just got around to doing it.

Dodge! T-Shirt
If in doubt Dodge!

Banner T-Shirt
The Artifact Banner on a T-shirt and Chezbah on the back

More Equipment T-Shirt
NPC = More equipment for my PC

Chezbah Hound T-Shirt
Big pointy teeth!

And unrelated fun stuff. . .

Grouchy Mad Scientist T-Shirt
Yes I’m a mad scientist, don’t hassle me, I haven’t exploded anything today and it’s making me Grouchy!

Averagezombie T-Shirt
Averagezombie & Fitch, fashion zombies!

Bacon Genius T-Shirt
Be a Bacon Genius!

There’s lots more so check out the rest of the store. If you want something that you don’t see, give a shout out in the comments and I’ll try and make it happen.

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Running

We’ve played with the new rules for 3rd edition for a while now but just last week I was able to see one of the rules play out. This was the rule that running (more specifically sprinting) acts as a defense, just like dodging does. The players have focused on their dodge skill for defense for so long. It’s been an part of play for many years and now it’s been upended.

For the longest time, it frustrated me that when faced with overwhelming danger, players would stand their ground and defend themselves. It occurred to me that when faced with danger, players concentrated on the safest course of action. That used to be dodging attacks and hoping to give as good as they got. It really was their only mechanically sound choice.

In the last few games the players have picked up sprinting to defend. That’s right, they ran away from a fight and it was marvelous. The reason it was so enjoyable is because by giving the players a mechanical advantage to running away, they were able to change their long ingrained behavior.

It’s very gratifying to see a mechanical change deliver the results they were intended to.

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Updated Core Download File – Now 5% Original Size

I promised to revisit the download files and get a smaller version out there. I got the time this morning to fiddle with the files and got the whole thing down to an astonishingly small 11.8 Megs. I think that’s as small as my original, first edition download.

The internal links are intact and I was able to add chapters to the file for your navigation pleasure.

Come and get it! The Artifact RPG

You can also get a softcover for yourself.

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3rd Edition Softcovers Are Available!

They’re finally here! You can order your very own 3rd edition softcover book here!

I got my proof today and it looks great. The wrap around cover looks good and there were some interior corrections to make. Interestingly, this proof is the full 8 1/2 inches wide. The first one was 8 1/4 inches. Maybe the last book was trimmed by the new guy? The trim job is also cleaner than the last one. Maybe someone was having a bad day.

So what’s up next? The Player’s Handbook is nearly updated for 3e. All the rules have been updated but there are two pictures that I used in the main book that had been in the handbook. To avoid redundant pictures I’ll have to do some new ones (I know, I said I wasn’t doing any new art for the handbook, oh well). The other thing that I’m debating is changing the cover. All the books before this had a consistency to their covers, with art in the center and a border of a solid color. That’s changed now.

I’ve re-opened Tortuga, there are still some textual updates to do but they’re minor. Again, it’s the art that needs some attention.

We’re running a game now that I would like to make into an adventure. It fits into Tortuga so I think I’ll build it into that document. I don’t want to say anything because my players might read this. Shhhh!

I have some ideas for posts about the Chezbah (that would eventually go into a sourcebook about them). Particularly more nasty toys for Priests.

I want to re-work an old adventure that I wrote a while ago that delved into the Chezbah and their culture. I really liked it but it was too railroady but I didn’t know how to fix it. Now that I’ve written more adventures and studying some other people’s, I think I can do it justice.

There’s a third adventure that I set down so I could concentrate on 3e. With that done I could also work on kicking it out the door.

So pick up a softcover! You know you want to!

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