Player Ownership

Thursday, 21. October 2010

One of the common topics nowadays is ownership; it comes up in corporate meetings, schools, sports teams, communities, clubs and so on. I am a big believer in the concept of that people who are a part of something will naturally gravitate to be more active with it. They care simply because it becomes their property and likewise a part of them.  This process naturally happens with the players characters. As blood and sweat equity is invested into them, the emotional attachment is virtually impossible to avoid. At this point you’ll virtually always get some role playing out of them as they’re developed. The question is, how do you foster this attachment?  Is there a method of speeding this along?

My suggestion from the beginning is to start building that attachment right away… and the 2 easiest things to work with are Descriptions an idea of their personality. A more difficult one to work on is the  characters background.  This goes back to that sweat equity statement. At that point they might not especially care about them, but they’re invested with some time and effort.  A little there goes a long way.

 In my mind a good character description, is somewhere around 2-3 paragraphs. At this point the avatar in question begins to become a good vivid image, and a consistent image across all of the players minds.  It is concise and something that can be read to newcomers as a description without being long and boorish.  I know some people want to get into it and describe their character on the inside and all that, but really that should be elsewhere if you’re going crazy with it.

Likewise, building the characters personality with at least a hook or 2 is also a good idea. Once you have something defineable acting becomes that much easier and the character really begins to come to life. Like the above description, I recommend just putting together a rough template of how your character behaves and then letting it evolve from there unless you are rather experienced.  Of course, depending on what order things are done… you may establish a background first and then a personality or do it the other way around.. since the background should be tied in somehow with your characters personality.

Character background as mentioned are also a good way of putting some equity into the character.  I mention it as being more difficult because unless your storyteller is doing it randomly for you there is a lot to come up with.  Most likely unless you are very familiar with the setting in question you are going to need some help with this.  As with the above; concise is more useful than crazy.  Family, family history, where the person has come from, significant childhood events and friends, schools perhaps and done.

All of these have at least a little spark of proper ownership to them and will foster at least a hint of attachment.  From there everything just naturally snowballs with a well put together plot, setting and some good support.

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Beginners and teaching the RPG game

Thursday, 5. August 2010

Jade over at Evil Machinations is doing a fine follow up to Madbrews Growing the Hobby carnival. The topic this time is obviously, how do you teach the game and bring new people in. The new players portion is a bit interesting to me because… we have no real game shops in the area. (Sad but true.) Any Case, with out further aidu.

How do you find new players?
This is an issue in my (Detroit) area.  Best bet to start is probably to feel around and see who might be interested.  You can usually pick up a few people this way but it can be difficult if you’ve got a smaller friends circle.  Hobby shops that have gaming or message boards of some sort (Colleges come to mind if you’re a student) are probably the next best best, followed up by looking to see what you can come up with online.  There are a number of gamer location type services I’ve come across Obsidian Portal is One, and Pen and Paper Games has another nice service as well.

How do you help them learn the mechanics of a system (and how much of the system do you require them to learn?)
Initially you don’t. They player needs to know what their role in the group is, and a general idea of what they should be doing. That’s all that’s needed. The problem breaks down to be that rules are a hindrance in this case to good free action, and as a storyteller or other player you need to be assisting with intelligent choices and inserting the rules as need be. Eventually they’ll figure it out if they’re interested… via osmosis, questions or picking the books up themselves. If they’re not, you haven’t spent a bunch of time teaching someone rules who really doesn’t need to know them. More importantly, you’re not intimidating them with what they can, or cannot do.
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Wednesday, 7. July 2010

I’m always looking for tools to enhance gaming, or to simply make life easier and allow for more time to do what I enjoy. Even better if the tools in question are open source or freeware.

RPtools are a set of well designed loosely defined tools which can do most tiresome functions. The more common games are well laid out and tuned, but the more esoteric ones require some code tweaking. The 2 released tools handle mapping and initiative, but there are several others in development that do tokens, characters and dice. Go look!


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Player roles within a group

Monday, 5. July 2010

While the storyteller certainly heralds a large amount of the responsibility within a gaming group, the players certainly have theirs as well.  In addition to being able to act and stay within character, they’re also expected to retain whats going on.  Fortunately, this can be divided amongst players, so no one person has to keep notes on everything.

Most groups are going to have one main spokesman. It is even more helpful if the spokesman is the entity in game that is naturally takes charge. The spokesman is primarily a relay for what the group is deciding after discussion about what to do is had, in this regard they act somewhat as leader, and the overall decision maker.  If the group happens to head in different directions for player or tactical purposes, then several spokesmen will be in order. 

One player should also be taking the role of a scribe and perhaps quartermaster as well. As for their first priority, they’re going to keep track of everything that’s acquired since most players hate being cheated out of hard earned treasure. Secondly, they should be trying to keep more detailed notes on the situation in general given the time to do so.  In the overall process it should help keep arguments regarding loot to a minimum, as well as making the character a knowledge base and perhaps the collective memory of the group.

All players should be keeping some sort of cliff notes regarding the current game.  Important names, faces, locations, items and the like should be jotted down someplace handy.  It’s far too easy to forget the above given the natural flow of time, being that they may be unimportant to us as players, but it’s quite likely our characters wouldn’t forget them.  This helps a good deal with role playing and staying on ones character, unless ones character is naturally forgetful. 

In most cases, each group should have also have a cartographer in hostile or confusing areas.  This player is going to do their best at keeping a map of the area the characters have traveled though. Mapping is somewhat of an acquired attribute, so the role might have to be passed around until someone who can do it easily takes the job. This is important because storytellers love making characters make almost snap decisions on where they’re going due to hostile influences.  In this case, knowing where one is going to be essential to prolonged survival.

By subdividing player responsibilities they are able to retain a better scope of whats going on in the gaming world as well as make life easier on themselves. Unless your storyteller is extremely forgiving and willing to remind the players every time they forget, being able to split these roles up makes keeping track of the amount of game knowledge simple without overloading one player. The simpler everything is, the more energy that can be devoted to role playing, and having a good time.

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