View Full Version : (Re)Introducing Roleplaying to a group that doesn't?

2014-05-26, 11:54 AM
So, my gaming group doesn't really roleplay much. Like... At all.

We used to when we were fresh to the game, but that was only for 4 or 5 sessions. Beyond that, it feels like we treat our characters as numbers and words on a piece of paper, and little else. I want us to get back to the roleplay. We've been playing for 4 or 5 years now with the same group. Sometimes, I can get into it and really interact with the DM's world, but nobody seems to follow me. They let/make me do all the talking, even when I try to stay quiet.

Has anyone else dealt with this sort of situation? Did you succeed? How?

2014-05-26, 12:06 PM
Roleplaying is all about considering what you would do if you were a character in a fictional situation. It really only becomes possible if that character has several options between he needs to chose. Whose side are you on? What approach do you take? What tools and abilities are you going to use?
And to some extend, there is truth to the claim that combat is not useful for roleplaying. When you are in a fight, you try to remain calm and do the thing that is optimal to surviving and defeating your enemy. It's a situation in which you try to ignore what you want and what your personal values are. It's a situation that demands cold logic to do the optimal things to survive. In a fight, there rarely are any descisions to make. It's just logically determining what is the optimal thing to do.
To have situations that encourage roleplaying, the players need to be confronte with lots of circumstances in which combat is not possible or clearly not the optimal way to proceed. You need situations in which the players have to think what their character wants and what priorities and values he has.

2014-05-26, 06:27 PM
Do you think they're not roleplaying because:

A) They just don't want to
B) They think/subscribe to a school of thought that says that they ARE
C) No one else is doing it
D) There's no opportunity
E) There's no "reason to"

Each of those has a different answer.

To determine which one it is, I suggest spending ten minutes before the game discussing it. "Hey guys, I've noticed we haven't been doing a whole lot of actor voice/serious roleplaying in our games lately, and I'd kinda like to see that change. What do you folks think? Would it be more fun if we stepped it up a bit?" See what discussion ensues. That should at least enable you to figure out a proximate cause. Once you know the reason, you can try to take action.

If the cause is A or B above, forget it. This is basically them not being interested in doing more than they are. While they might enjoy a system that baits them into roleplaying more, you'll probably never convince them to give one an honest throw.

If the cause is C, then all that should be required is a general agreement that "We'd all like to roleplay more, and we're going to step it up."; You can help with this by being an enabling player - rather than waiting for someone to say "I'd like the conch so I can talk now", deliberately "throw the ball" to the other players/characters. Discussing something with an NPC? "My good friend and colleague, Sir SmitesALot has intimate familiarity with the Heretic Cult. Please Sir, share with us what you know." or "Wait? They're torturing prisoners? That's not in line with what my character believes at all, but... what does Bladey McBackstab think, Bob?" Deliberately pass up stuff and hand the hot potato off to the other players. See someone hesitating? Take some action and give them a chance to intervene. "He's running away? Like hell. I shoot him. <pause> Unless Brother David interferes?"

If the cause is D, you can help a little bit by doing the enablement game as suggested earlier, but it mostly comes to the GM here to give the players moments they feel are interesting to roleplay in. ("You break into the cult headquarters, and standing over the sacrifice on the altar is your mentor!") The GM should be part of the aforementioned 10 minute discussion though, so this one should be easy to sort out as well.

If we're looking at E, well, I suggest running a oneshot in a game actively rewards roleplaying. My favorite is Tenra Bansho Zero, but Burning Wheel/Mouse Guard, Houses of the Blooded, or a variety of other offerings have DIRECT game rewards for roleplaying, so there's a mechanical incentive to bring your "A" game to the table.

Like solving just about every table problem though, it starts with a conversation between rational adults. If you can't manage that, you're not going to get anywhere. Similarly, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. If they don't want to, they won't. Accept that.