Player Tips: The Importance of Note Taking

A video discussing the importance of players making their own notes during RPGs.

Player Tips: Failure in RPGs

Some thoughts and advice on the roll failure occupies in RPGs.

Player Tips: Orc or Orog?

orcPlayer tips articles offer a short series of tips to help you brush up your skills in certain areas, the lists aren’t exhaustive but keeping them in mind should help you develop your playing style.

In this player tips article we are looking at the benefits and downsides of playing an average member of a particular species/race as opposed to playing an atypical member of the species.

Please note: These tips are not intending to be exhaustive or provide a “one true way of roleplaying” (since TBH I don’t believe such things exist), they instead offer suggestions that have work for me and that you might like to try in your own games. Continue reading

Player Tips: Help your GM help you

Player tips articles offer a short series of tips to help you brush up your skills in certain areas, the lists aren’t exhaustive but keeping them in mind should help you develop your playing style.

In this player tips article we give some advice on how you can help your GM to help you.

Please note: These tips are not intending to be exhaustive or provide a “one true way of roleplaying” (since TBH I don’t believe such things exist), they instead offer suggestions that have work for me and that you might like to try in your own games. Continue reading

Player Tips: Writing a Background

tree-701968_960_720Player tips articles offer a short series of tips to help you brush up your skills in certain areas, the lists aren’t exhaustive but keeping them in mind should help you develop your playing style.

In this player tips article we offer some advice when it comes to creating background for your player character.

1. Put some conflicts into your background

A background where everything is fine and a character has a blissfully happy life isn’t generally very interesting, it’s fine to start a background like that but roleplay characters, like those in fiction, characters really shine when they are drawn into conflicts and have to struggle against opposition. Whatever that opposition is, be it an illness, social injustice or a marauding orc horde, make sure you put at least some conflict in your background.

2. Leave some questions unanswered

When you create your background, don’t try to neatly tie all the loose plot threads off, the GM will be looking for things that he can bring into the game to give your character some spotlight moments, and unanswered questions are like a signal to GMs that there’s something they can play with and use to enhance the game for everyone.

My character was wrongly imprisoned because he looked like the perpetrator of a horrible crime, he never did find out who actually committed the deed.

3. Create some links to the campaign world

If the GM can’t find a way to bring your background into the campaign world or it’s a real struggle then chances are they aren’t going to use it as much (since they already have enough work to do), make sure that your background links you with people and organisations throughout the campaign world. If you can describe/create at least the barebones of an interesting NPC or group then so much the better since the GM will be more likely to incorporate it into their game.

Thad was a member of the Dark Moon thieves guild in the town and passed their initiation test when he was just 13 years old.

4. Make it easy to read and reference

Huge voluminous novels are great, if you’re sitting down with a lot of time in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea, however, if you’re a time-pressured GM struggling to get ready for their next great session, you don’t really want to be wading through vast chapters of superfluous information to find what you want. I recommend setting your background out in a series of bullet points to make it easier for the GM to read. If you want you can still do the novel but give the GM a handy summary/reference sheet.

As an example of a great background please click here to see the background for Ordious Mawlin the half-orc thief from my 3Brothers D&D Campaign played by Thashif Maran.

5. Tell the GM what you want to see in the game

Most importantly of all, tell the GM what you want to see in the game, if a GM is combing through your background and finds out that your character was involved in lots of investigative work then they’re going to throw lots of mysteries and secrets your way, whereas if it has more explosions and chase scenes than the average action film the GM will assume that you want lots of fight scenes and high octane action. Whatever you’re looking for in the game, make sure that there’s some of it in your character background.


Ship picture is a free vector graphic designated CC0 Public Domain, the original image can be found here. Tree graphic taken from pixabay public domain images.

Player Tips: Adding stuff to a scene

Player tips articles offer a short series of tips to help you brush up your skills in certain areas, the lists aren’t exhaustive but keeping them in mind should help you develop your playing style.

In this player tips article we give some advice on how you can add stuff to a scene to make the game more fun for yourself, your fellow players and the GM, it can also help you succeed on your rolls by tying them into the story.

1. Check with your GM first

First things first, check with your GM that you are okay to make additions to the scene, it may not always be appropriate. If you phrase your addition as a question then you are more likely to get a positive response.

Okay so we’re in the stable out the back of the tavern, are their any water troughs and tack for the animals around here?

2. Make sure that your additions don’t contradict established facts

If the GM has already established a number of facts in the scene, don’t try to contradict them or work around them, try building them into your additions, the GM is more likely to reward you for working with the narrative rather than struggling against it.

Okay so the four guards are approaching the stable, perhaps they’ve been on patrol all night? They’re cold and tired meaning that they don’t spot us straight away in the darkness of the stables.

3. Ensure that your additions are consistent with the current environment/situation

If you are in a stable in a fantasy game, don’t ask whether or not their is a weapon lying around or a convenient firearm, think of things that might be found in your environment that can serve the purpose you want them for.

If there’s hay in the stables to feed the animals is there maybe a pitchfork or something that they use to move the hay around propped up against a wall?

4. Use your additions in your actions

Once you’ve gone to the trouble of adding to a scene and enhancing the description, don’t simply let it remain in the background, use those elements when you are engaged in combat or when you take action in the scene.

As the guards move towards the stables I grab hold of the pitchfork and hunker down behind the water trough, hiding myself from view.

5. Ask the GM whether you can get a bonus for doing so

Okay, so you’ve used your scene elements, don’t be afraid to ask the GM whether or not you can receive a bonus for doing so, at worst the GM will say no and you’ve still added a cool descriptive element to the game, however, if you’re enhancing their game then the GM is more likely to give you a bonus of some sort.

As the guard move around the water trough I stand up, kicking the trough over, spilling water on the ground at their feet and attack with the pitchfork, would I get a bonus since I’m attacking from surprise and they might be slipping about on the damp cobbles?

 

Ship picture is a free vector graphic designated CC0 Public Domain, the original image can be found here.

Player Tips: 5 tips to be a better team player

Player tips articles offer a short series of tips to help you brush up your skills in certain areas, the lists aren’t exhaustive but keeping them in mind should help you develop your playing style.

In this player tips article we give some tips for being a better team player. Everyone likes their time in the spotlight, but the vast majority of RPGs are a team-game, you get together with a group of other players (your team) and attempt to accomplish a goal, whether that be to rescue the princess, steal an ancient treasure from a deep dungeon or escape the clutches of an intergalactic warlord. Games generally flow better and create a more interesting story with everyone involved, but some players might not be comfortable with jumping straight in; don’t rely on your GM to sort it out, here’s a few things you can do. Continue reading

Player Tips: Wear lots of Hats

In my latest Player Tips video I talk about using simple costuming to add something to your character portrayals.