It’s incredibly rare to find an article that teaches you how to be a good player, which is more common, right? Isn’t it true that for each GM there are, on average, four players? Yet there is this strange disconnect that the responsibility for entertaining falls entirely on the person behind the screen, with the players attending passively. And this is bullshit, of course.
If you keep standing in the background with our hands in your hands – why does such a boring character keep hanging around with people who are dealing with their problems instead?
Be active, not passive. If you can’t (or don’t want to) learn anything else from this article, gee, learn this at least.
Understand that your character does not exist outside of the things you say
You can write as many background pages as you like, friends, but they won’t affect the game in any way if you don’t actively enter them. Are you a smart business man? Sounds cool. Do business, smartly, in front of everyone. Are you a fantastic jazz saxophonist? Play the saxophone. Are you a wild elf with problems interacting with civilized people? Show it through these interactions. Don’t go away to sit alone under a tree, you assholes!
Don’t try to stop things
Denying another character’s actions is a very bad way to play; When it happens, it’s like having two elements of the story rowing against each other and canceling each other out, making nothing happen. For example, your warrior wants to punch some idiot, but your monk wants to stop him, so he grabs their hand before all the hell happens. In terms of the game, nothing happened. All you’ve got is wasted time, and no one has an endless supply of it.
Take full control of your character
Instead of being bound by preconceived notions of what your character would do or not do, embrace each complication and do it, but try to work on why. Why did your thief accept this mission for the church? Do you have other reasons than the official ones? Do you feel cut off from the sense of belonging that binds all the other members of the company? Characters in uncomfortable situations are the flesh and blood of the drama.
Don’t harm the other players
Oh oh, there’s a prankster thief who steals other party members’ things! And his “swift hand” roll is so high that no one will ever notice. Why, what a joke.
Likewise, attacking other players is equally terrible. I agree that there are systems that support and encourage this way of doing – something like Paranoia or Dogs in the Vineyard – but, good people, cut it out. I find it very difficult to think of any way this could be good for the game; If it suits your group, then discuss it before playing. Leave me out though.…