Sunday, September 29, 2013

Player Advice Regarding Other Players

There are plenty of articles advising players on how to support their Storyteller and on how a Storyteller should treat their players but there's not a lot of advice on how players can keep the other players happy.  This is a shame as there are more players in any game than Storytellers and since PCs have more on-screen time than other NPCs and therefore the other players and PCs have a pivotal role in sculpting other players' play experience.  So what can you do to ensure that the other players are enjoying themselves?

Support The Other Players

Different players have different strengths.  Some remember rules with relative ease, others have comprehensively absorbed and understood the patterns of mechanics available in combat or other avenues, some know all the right investigative techniques or have expert social skills, while others understand the canon behind the setting.  Not everyone is going to be able to have much skill in any one of these areas.  Where possible, offer your expertise to the other players.  Don't tell them what they do and, please, don't badger them into taking their advice but please point out the little facts you know to the other players to make their gameplay smoother.  If you know a feat that would be suitable, point it out.  If you know how to do an investigation, create a very short tip sheet.  Maybe they won't take you up on your offer but it's nice to know the option is there.

Share the Limelight

The other players are there to have their chance to shine. While they should be happy to see your character in the limelight occasionally, they are also here to feel special in some way (even if it's in a way that sees their character shredded by the horrors of them from beyond). If their character has claimed a niche then let them star in it. If your buddy made a pickpocket then it’s only fair their character is the first one chosen to steal someone’s wallet. Don't find a way to muscle in and find an excuse to have your character's primary skill come into play just so you can keep the limelight. It’s also important to help other people have the chance to speak as well and to encourage quieter players to have their voices heard. You can also be proactive in this by actively pointing out opportunities where others can use their abilities. Sometimes the pickpocket’s player won’t spot their chance but you may. Point it out to them.

Give the Other Players What They Want

You might have the perfect solution to a particular problem but if another player who has had less involvement desperately wants to use their solution, and it seems good enough, why not go with it? Why talk your way through every problem when you know the player to your left is desperate for an excuse to cut loose in a fist fight? Why ignore a crime scene in favour of roughing up witnesses when you know the player to your right really wants to play at being Sherlock Holmes? Every player has their own play style. While this is related to Sharing the Limelight, it isn’t the same thing as there’s nothing to say that you can’t indulge in another players’ style by piecing together the clues or throwing a punch yourself.

Let the other players know if you like what they did

Sometimes you think another protagonist did something very clever or you appreciate when the player gave you the spotlight. Sometimes you actually adore something negative about a character – the way their protagonist pushes around yours or the dumb yet realistic decision they made. Speak up about this! It not only gives the player a pick-me-up but also encourages more good roleplaying, clever behaviour and spotlight sharing. Let's face it. Most people deliver criticisms quicker than compliments.

In-Game Arguments

While we all like to think we can clearly define the In Character and Out of Character wall it can sometimes get a bit difficult when we’re in a heated argument with another player while looking through the eyes of our own protagonist. It can often help to break the tension post-argument with a cheerful out of character comment on how much you enjoy the player’s skill in the debate, what points you liked (even if you didn’t agree with them), and that you like having that character around for the extra spice. This can do a fantastic job of smoothing over any ruffled feathers and remind everyone that it was an in-character argument. After all, there's a good chance neither of you actually believe what you were saying or would have that argument outside of the game. If you’re feeling a bit annoyed by the fight you have extra reason for the congratulations as emphasising it as an out of character thing can give you a bit of much needed distance and likely stimulate the other player to do the same.

So what do you guys reckon?  Got any advice for players dealing with other players?  What makes you feel welcome and happy among a group of players?

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