Continuing with our RPG run of blog posts here is something based on personal experience from the point of view as a DM and as a player. I guess you can call this the player’s guide to be a good RPG player, According to Lilly, of course. I have been involved in RPGs since I was a kid. I started DMing by the age of 11, so I have already nearly 15 years of different game experiences at several levels and from a unsual point of be: I be them rare species of female gamers. I have noticed with time that usually people fall in certain stereotypes of players and/or characters – which I guess is inevitable, it is just human nature. But I am sure this is not unheard of and you all have come across the destroyer (all he/she does is kill…team-mates included), the tank (he just can’t roleplay or doesn’t want to so he is just there to attack things – not the same than the destroyer, destroyers usually roleplay with the purpose of…well…destroying), the-guy-who-no-one-knows-why-he/she-plays-rpgs-cause-they-never-do/say-anything (a lot of the time a mate or someones gf who has been dragged into this…not really sure how), the smart ass (the guy who thinks that knows best than everyone, including the DM)…This is obviously just a sample, but they are a very common tendency. And, unfortunately, if you fall into any of those categories, you will not do well in my games. That is like noob status in an MMO. If you truly want to enjoy and get RPGs you need to pass that stage and actually engage with what is it that roleplaying is about. And it usually comes down to challenging oneself, experimenting, and pushing the boundaries. (Note: Destroying, as a pathological M.O is NOT any of the above!!)
So, what makes in my opinion a good player for a demanding DM? People with initiative, first of all. If you want to play a game where the DM railroads everything…just read book, or watch something on the TV. The DM is telling you a story, you are supposed to interact with it, so please DO. Do not wait for the master to tell you what to do, to force your hand; get things going. Yes, you will make the wrong choices. Yes, the DM is hoping you will. No, no one is coming to save you. But at least it will be fun! And you will learn. Moreover, initiative usually comes hand in hand with creativity and parallel thinking.
RPGs are a great way to get you thinking outside of the box, develop your problem solving in unusual ways. It is fiction after all! If you cannot try your crazy plans in here, you may never get a chance. If you can get these two concepts under your control, you are already good for the ride, and setting the ground for another important aspect that is crucial when playing with a twisted, demanding DM: smarts.Think. The puzzle was not aleatory, it was created with a purpose, the same than that riddle you spent 3 games trying to solve. Of course, i get it is not always easy – it probably wasn’t supposed to! But what is more rewarding, working out the story plot and then taking action or killing, yet again, 5 more goblins with your axe…wwooo yeeeaahhh, I *may* not fall sleep with your next roll, oh wait your stab yourself. Your dead – make a new PC. Try harder next time…
Another crucial thing to make RPGs fun as a player is the other players. Yes, the DM is there to guide your game, but you all make it happen. Develop dynamics, relationships, invest in each others characters, plot against each other, or cooperate, make it flow. Having a good player to player interaction is what will make this worth while and different from you reading a book in your room or playing a video game on your own. Now, do not get me wrong, it is not always about being a group or a party like say in D&D. It is more about being a compound of people with different interests, strengths and strategies. You will all aim to achieve something that is not the same than the others, but that doesn’t matter: that will make your interactions the more entertaining! This is easy to do if you play with a group of friends, but if you don’t is a great ice breaker and a way of making new friends – show interest in other people’s’ characters and this will be returned. Simple.
Something that improves players actions within game is caring about the story and getting immerse in their own time. Do make sure you do learn about the lore of whatever game you are playing in your spare time. You do not need to study it. But familiarise yourself, express interest and let your DM guide you. This could well give you an advantage for your next campaign – without metaplaying of course. And this is very important: meta gamer is a bad gamer. Do not let your player knowledge impact the decisions your character makes, that is just not cool. if you know your mate is a traitor and decide to leave him behind for no apparent good reason within game, you will be betraying all of the points i have just covered. It is difficult to separate player and character knowledge, so if you are struggling, again, let your DM help you. And this is something else a good player needs to understand – your DM is your Guide. You Do Not challenge the DMs authority – DM rules. There is a difference if the DM had misinterpreted a rule that has aggravated your situation and there is consensus amongst everyone this should be revised – absolutely fine, but do it in a civilised way. Do not question the decisions the DM takes over the game: its their game after all, you can take it or leave it. If as a group you are struggling with your DM, then approach the situation.
Do not try to over power the DM by breaking the game whilst playing, that will just piss everyone off and will likely guarantee that you will not play together again. I have suffered this, both as a DM and as a player, and it is one thing that is simple not tolerable. Do not breach the trust of the party, otherwise there is no point playing. And remember to leave any baggage that does not belong to the game, outside of the game: you and one of the other players have an issue in real life? This happens, yo! Do no taint the story and roleplaying of you an others for the sake of petty vengeance and the likes.
If you can keep all these things in mind, through time you will become one of those golden players everyone loves having at the table. And you know what? This will certainly make you a better DM if you decide to pursue that route, because then you will be able to feed from this positive feel about being a good player and promote such an environment amongst your own party.
And now we shall depart, but if you have any other golden rules about being a good player, or any issues that you struggle with and want some advise to help you out, just drop us a line 🙂