Campaign of the Month: August 2018
The Praise of Old Men
A Message from our GM
Some advice for new players, or … "what I'm looking for is …"
Rule 1. Respect – it's mutual: If you make someone uncomfortable, apologise and talk to them about it.
Rule 2. Do stuff: Job one for you as a player is to do stuff; you should be thinking, at all times – “What are my goals? And what can I do to achieve them?” You are the stars and you are not going to get anywhere by sitting on your backside and waiting for adventure to come and knock on your door. Investigate stuff. Ask questions. Follow leads.
Rule 3. Your character does not exist outside of the things you have said: You can write as many pages of backstory as you like but they don’t effect the game unless you show them happening. Are you a diplomatic priest? Cool. Convince someone to take your side, in front of everyone else. It is not the responsibility of other players to read your backstory, and their characters cannot read minds. So display your talents, your traits, your weaknesses, your connections. Take every opportunity to show, and not tell, the other people at the table what your character is about.
Rule 4. Take full control of your character: “My character wouldn’t do that” is a boring excuse, a massive NO to the game’s story on a fundamental level. It’s a point-blank refusal to participate. Instead of being bound by pre-conceived notions of what your character would and would not do, embrace complications and do it, but try to work out why. Why is your Rogue doing this mission for the church? Does he have ulterior motives? Is it out of a sense of companionship with the rest of the party? Characters in uncomfortable situations are the meat and drink of drama.
(Do you remember that great story about that hobbit who told Gandalf to sod off, and sat at home picking his hairy toes all day before his entire village was swallowed up by the armies of darkness? No. No you bloody don’t. So put on your backpack and get out there, Frodo!)
If you keep finding yourself having to explain your actions, or not wanting to go along with group decisions because of your character’s motives… well, sweetheart, maybe your character’s motives are wrong. They’re not written in stone. The group’s the thing, not your snowflake character, and if they’re not working, drop them off at the next village and maybe try playing someone more open to new ideas. Maybe work with the group to build a character that fits in.
Your character is part of the story; this is not your character’s story.
Rule 5. Know the system but don’t be a rules lawyer about it: If you know a system, you are easier to GM for, because you know your character’s limitations. You can calculate the rough odds of a particular action succeeding or failing, just like in real life. You can make prompt assessments of situations and act accordingly, because you understand the rules of the world.
(New players, of course, get a free pass on this one. But do make an effort to learn the rules, obviously, if you’re keen on sticking around in the hobby.)
But for the love of God, don’t rules-lawyer. if you are arguing over a rule for more than twenty seconds, you are a rules lawyer. You are the Health and Safety Inspector of roleplaying games, and you need to stop talking, because you are sucking the fun out of the game. There are times when the rules are wrong, and that’s fine, but I’m hard-pressed to think of that time the fella remembered the rule and we all laughed and had a great time because he made the GM change it.
Personally – I hate those games, DMs and players who quote a rule telling me what I can't do …. particularly when I'm trying to be heroic!