Friday, December 9, 2016

The One Thing Everybody Playing Should Do

Broad "Listen Up Everybody!" advice on GMing often boils down to a list of things that'd be great if you had infinite time or a list of things that would be really dead-on if you were a totally different person.

Broad advice on playing often has the same problems plus it's for players so nobody reads it.

It's hard to give advice that applies to all the different problems people can have, but there is one thing that I think applies across the board to players and GMs in pretty much all RPGs and all playstyles and all personality types and that even experienced players and GMs can always push themselves to do better in every game (myself 100% included): support the reality of the other peoples' inventions.

What that means is: when someone (within whatever parameters the game says is legit) establishes they're doing something or something is there or something is like that--constantly casually acknowledge it in how you talk. It's basically a lot like the old improv rule: "Say 'Yes, and...'" but it doesn't ask for as much. You don't have to top them or even build on it--just mention what's there, whatever it is.

If the GM incidentally says the room is lit by magical fuchsia flames--say how weird everyone looks in the pink light. Mention looking down at the veins in your palms to see how they look. Or ask if it gives your pink warpig a stealth bonus. Not necessarily to get a bonus or find anything, just to say "Hey, that little detail--I heard that".

The druid says she has a scarf made from an ermine that (she hastily adds) died of natural causes, have your thief make a point of being like "How's that sound, dead ferret?" before nailing down the heist plans.

Do it in little ways: if you're playing in a pick-up or con game, try to use the other characters' names. Try to remember what they are good at and ask them to help. "Can you hold them off with your pike, Arnie?"

The only consistent difference between hanging with your buds and playing one of these games--the only reason we chose to do the second thing instead of just the first--is whatever it is we get out of a shared imaginative space. Simply reminding them "Oh you imagined that? I am now imagining it too" deepens what we get out of that, no matter which direction we then want to use that space to go.


The Wanderer said...

Well said and I agree completely. When we play RPGs we are imagining a shared world at the same time. Creating it together. Dreaming it together. Listening to others and acknowledgimg it, is key to that.

s7610ra said...

Lovely post. Takes a while to learn to embrace the shared and yet it's so lovely when one gets there.

Chris C. said...

Excellent advice (and something I forget all too often -- always good to have a reminder!).

Ro said...

And not so strangely this active engagement is one of the important things which sets RPG's apart from any other type of game. A long time ago I had a player who opened the Ark of the Covenant and was was judged. Turns out when she was 8 she stole a bicycle. She went "Poof"!. What a way to die. The devil is truly in the details.

MonteCook said...

This is fantastic advice--a great thing to remember, easy to do, and enhances your own fun as well as theirs.

Bachman said...

Best advice I've read in a long time.

Soyweiser said...

Same advice applies to the GM of course. Let your players create the world together. If a player wants to grab a goblet filled with wine to throw at the bandit king, let him. (Don't roll for it or deny it).

If you want to roll for something, have something unexpected happen. Perhaps the goblet was poisoned. Or throwing wine during a meal is actually a sign of respect in this bandit culture etc.

But I think you already talked about the GM side of this ages ago.

Zak Sabbath said...

First: this post is advice for GM and players, It says that.

As for the rest of your comment:
If a player wants to grab a goblet filled with wine to throw at the bandit king, let him. (Don't roll for it or deny it).

Do you mean don't roll to see if it hits or don't roll to see if he can pick up a goblet?

Unknown said...

If you are drunk enough you have to roll to pick up a goblet I suppose

Gauntlet said...

I wouldn't roll for any of it, I would just go ok you picked up the goblet and chucked the wine over the bandit. Now you have a wet angry bandit that tastes of red wine. What do you do? (obviously I would let other players try to stop that before and maybe that would be a roll)

Soyweiser said...

I meant roll for there even being a goblet at all.

Enzo said...

This is great advice :)