Monday, July 15, 2013

Communication is Key

Often, going through RPG blogs on the internet, I’m struck to find so little player advice and so much GM advice. After seeing certain things on the internet in the past week, I thought I’d share with you all the few things I tell newbie GMs and players in real life. The key to any good GM and player relationship is communication.

As a GM, be on the side of your players unless you have a good reason not to be. I always tell my worried players (the ones who would never want a rocks-fall-everyone-dies scenario) that I am always rooting for them; I want them to overcome the monsters and the problems thrown at them. It’s okay to not be rooting for them as well, but make that clear in the beginning. If this is a tragedy where everyone is going to be dead or insane by the end, make that clear with mood and foreshadowing early. Tragedy should matter if it’s going to happen.

Also, recently, I’ve seen many blogs that advocate that players need to play characters that would naturally move the story along, and I’m not sure if I agree with that. Sometimes it’s fun to play characters who wouldn’t normally charge in and destroy things, because sometimes it’s fun to see how far a character has to be pushed to get to that point (as both a player and a GM).

For a GM, the best way to do this is to get to know your players. It’s fun in a long campaign to set up challenges for specific characters. This is a bit more difficult in a one-shot where you don’t know your players ahead of time, but before a game, ask your characters what they want out of the game. Do they want lots of group conflict? Do they want their characters to survive? Do they want horrible tragedy? Find out and try to tailor your game. Nobody’s going to be happy if the game isn't what the players want out the RP experience.

In this vein, my best advice for players is to be the kind of player that GMs would want to GM for. No matter how cranky or awful a person your character is be a courteous player. Communicate with your GM what you want out of the game. Let your GM know, kindly, if there is a part of their GMing that you think is causing conflict out of game. In game, be enthusiastic and part of the story. Nothing makes me, as a GM, want to plot the next session of in a long campaign more than player enthusiasm and involvement.

Again, just communicate.

Anyone have advice they want to share with players and/or GMs? What do you think?

If this advice has inspired you to GM, perhaps you want to playtest GM Theatre Noir. 

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