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.

1. Ask other characters what they think

Some players (particularly if they are new to the game) may be a little uncertain of when they can jump in with their character and make suggests or discuss what’s going on; if you notice someone who hasn’t spoken for a while or seems to be a little reserved, ask them what their character thinks. Obviously don’t interrogate them or make them feel uncomfortable, but just a general prompt can help people to participate more fully in the game.

2. Give yourself time to think and let the spotlight pass to someone else

Every now and then when you’ve been the focus of attention for a while ask the GM if they’d like to jump to someone else while you think about something, it’s very easy for a GM (I’ve certainly done this myself) to get wrapped up in an exciting bit of the plot with one character and not realise that everyone else has been twiddling their thumbs for a bit. By making this suggestion you not only give your team-mates chance to get their roleplay on, but you actually give yourself a bit of breathing room and thinking time.

3. Suggest goals that either the party or another PC might like to pursue

Don’t just suggest goals that your character wants to pursue, occasionally chuck in a suggestion that might relate to someone else’s goals in the game:

Hey Rudric, how about if we took some of that money we made in that dungeon and buy you some fancy clothes? If you’re seen swanning around town dressed to the nines it might get you that invite to the Countess’ masquerade ball.

This not only helps your team-mate pursue their goals, after all they may not have considered the suggestion you’re proposing, having alternate viewpoints is a good way to start breaking down a problem; it also means that they are more likely to be helpful and reciprocate when it comes to pursuing your in-character goals.

4. Engage with other people’s plot

When you find the party engaged in pursuing someone else’s plot, get involved with it and try to help it progress, don’t just blow it off since it’s not related to your character, find a way to get involved and to help; if your character finds the proposed course of action objectionable due to their morality then suggest alternatives. This will help the game progress and again, makes the other players more likely to want to actively help when it comes around to resolving your plot.

5. If you split the party accept that individually you’ll all get less spotlight time

Parties inevitably split up at certain points during a RP session, but the amount of times I’ve heard people split up and then complain that they didn’t get to do much in a session is unbelievable. If you’re all together as a party then the plot will be presented to the entire party give everyone a chance to get involved, however, if the party is split then the GM has to divide his attention between the group and you’ll only get that small amount of screen time when they’re focussed directly on you. If you do have to split up for some reason try and do so in a couple of groups to minimise this, and try to ensure that the party re-unites before too lengthy a time has passed, that way you can minimise the amount of jumping about the GM has to do and maximise the screen-time that you all get.


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4 thoughts on “Player Tips: 5 tips to be a better team player”

  1. Don’t forget that while the party is split into multiple groups, while one group is getting to play, the others are bored sitting on their thumbs with nothing they can do. If the PCs split into more than 2 groups, it gets progressively worse, especially since all the gametime spent on any of the groups, will have to spent equally on the others just to keep the time synched. (Having part of the party be 2 hours, or whatever, in the future and out of synch from the rest isn’t exactly conducive to the party, or the GMs sanity.)

  2. In our Star Wars Cortex+ game, we use individual scene time (Bit of a misgnomer. We often use this time to do subplot stuff with other NPC’s) to help fuel later big action scenes. This is the time where we talk to other players, do small off screen tasks, and build up Plot Points and Force Dice for the big action scene. We typically reserve about a hour for the table to have their own small scene, and pass the spotlight to every player so they all get a chance. Then we follow that up with an action sequence. It’s been working well for us.

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