Since July I have been working very hard at designing a role playing game to go with my campaign world. Don't worry I have no intentions of becoming a serious game designer and only using this blog as marketing tool for my pet projects. I just really want to create a game that's all. But the process of creation has raised a lot of interesting questions for me.
One of the things I've realized is that a lot of newcomers don't know what they are expected to do in a game. Frankly this is something I've never given much thought seeing that most of my players and myself have been playing for so long that it's just old hat to us. So I started writing out some ideas so new players could get an idea of how to play a game. This, of course is just my opinion but maybe some other people could get some ideas from it. I might also add that these tidbits are most definitely of an old school leaning.
The role of the Player
The moving force for any role playing campaign is the player.
In a role playing game there is no story, there are only situations where there is potential for stories to develop. Any story that unfolds in-game is the natural outgrowth of the players interaction with the world that they are playing in. Put simply, you the player, create the story, and the gamemaster provides the world with which you explore and have your adventures in.
The more ambitious you are as a player the better the game will be. Remember that you can do anything and go anywhere in the world (so long as you can procure the resources necessary). Try to create self-motivated characters with their own ambitions, strengths and weaknesses. Treat the game-world as if it were a real place, full of mystery, danger and opportunity.
Always remember that your ingenuity as a player is far more important than what's written on your character sheet. Be bold and daring and explore the world like a true adventurer and carve out your destiny with the roll of a die.
While it may be impossible to define “playing well” in a completely objective way, it is certainly possible to give general guidelines to aid new players participating in a role playing game for the first time. The following is a simple list of general principles that can help anyone play better.
General principles for better play:
- Your ingenuity as a player is far more important than what's written on your character sheet. Think about everything, be strategic and use your characters skills and abilities to your advantage.
- Always ask for details. This might be the single most important thing to do during play. A good gamemaster will only describe what is needed, it is up to you to ask for the details. If your character fails to spot a trap or is ambushed, it is most likely the result of failure to examine the details of a given situation. Always, always ask for details.
- Have the proper equipment. Adventurers need things to help them while adventuring. Never forget your torches, rope and handy 10' pole. Always be prepared, the proper equipment can save your characters life.
- Get out there and explore the world. Don't sit in the bar waiting for someone to come in and give you a quest, explore the world yourself. Role playing games are in essence games about exploration, the players use their characters to explore the campaign world, and adventure ensues.
- Be self motivated, but not self absorbed. Do not look to the gamemaster to find out what to do next, tell the gamemaster what you would like to do and see if it's at all possible. Don't be afraid to be aggressive, but be sensitive to the other players and don't steal the spotlight after you've had your say.
- Be decisive as a player, and as a party. If the game is slow it is likely the result of being indecisive. The best way to avoid indecisiveness slowing down the game is to assign a group leader. When things slow down for too long the group leader can step in and make the executive decisions for better or worse.
- Combat is not always the best alternative in every encounter. Bravery does not win wars, strategy does. Always rushing headlong into fights is the worst possible strategy, and will most definitely lower your characters chances for survival. And always remember that retreating and regrouping is the best method of survival in harrowing situations.
- Remember that the game is in no way balanced in your favour. A good gamemaster attempts to be as impartial to the players as possible, but the dice will fall where they may. And only your good or bad judgement will ultimately decide your characters fate.
- Everything you do in-game has consequences. Remember that guy you beat up in the tavern. Turns out he has a brother, and his brother is a local lord and you are on his shit list now. Think before you do things, and expect consequences for all your actions.
- The Gamemaster may be impartial, but they will be playing people who are your enemies in the game. This is an important point, that although the gamemaster doesn't hate your character, they will be playing those who do. And those enemies will do whatever it takes to survive, and succeed with their diabolical plans.
- To play a role playing game, you have to role play. While it may seem redundant to make this statement, it is a point worth remembering. You will be expected to act, react, and speak for your character. The more you are immersed in the character and the world they inhabit, the more enjoyable your experience will be. This doesn't mean that you need a degree in theatre in order to play the game well. Just do your best to imagine what your character's feeling and thinking, and use that when it comes your turn to take action in the game.