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Comet
2016-06-07, 03:15 AM
There's a lot of discussion online about being a GM. Not so much with players, even though players outnumber GMs by a pretty great margin.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about what you think is best about being a player, having a single character and really running with that role. Things that you find difficult would be interesting to hear, too, as well as things you do to make the experience as good as you can for yourself and your group. What is a good player? How do you get better at it?

I'm usually a GM, but for the last year or so I've been a player in three separate campaigns, the latest of which we just started. It's definitely been a learning process. We've mostly been playing D&D of the old school variety, which I do love. Having a premade dungeon and impartial GM and running through that to see what happens is great fun. I love that genre as a GM and greatly enjoy it as a player. I have to admit, though, that some things have emerged that have made me realize flaws with that form of playing that I hadn't considered as a GM.

One thing I'm really having trouble with is the double-edged sword of very light rules. On one hand it's great to not have to look up rules all the time and a reasonable GM can really speed up play by ruling on the spot and keeping things moving. On the other hand I do enjoy having things written into the rules that I can use as a player to guarantee a particular result. Without those rules to back me up a lot of interactions turn into 'mother may I', where I basically have to present my case and hope that the GM agrees. My solution for this, when I GM, is to say YES to just about anything the players propose that isn't specifically made impossible by the rules. That may be too lenient for some, granted. There's a happy medium, I'm sure, and I'm lucky enough to have a bunch of pretty great GMs that are reasonable about their rulings in situations like the above, but I do still find myself wishing that we were playing a game that had more narrative mechanics that allowed me to guarantee certain results and move the story in a certain direction.

Another thing I'm struggling with is spotlight time and group interaction. When I GM it's pretty easy to bounce from player to player, let them talk amongst themselves and really keep your finger on the pulse of the session while remaining strictly on the sidelines. As a player I feel like I'm much more on the spot when I want to present some roleplaying moment, backstory element or lengthy description. The action stops, the whole group turns to me and I feel like I have to really make that count in order to justify dragging the spotlight away from the other players and the GM. I'm not sure why I feel this way, but I'd like to learn to jump in and out of scenes as a player with as much ease as I do when I GM. Again, we're playing D&D so the mechanics aren't really helping me there. It's all down to me to find that midway point between just sitting there as a spectator and annoying everyone by hogging the spotlight and jabbering on about things nobody else finds interesting.

TL;DR: What do you think is cool about being a player? How do you get better at it? How do you get the most out of your character? What kinds of systems do you like as a player? All kinds of discussion about being a part of the majority at a table is welcome.

2D8HP
2016-06-07, 04:05 AM
We've mostly been playing D&D of the old school variety, which I do love.
-snip-
What do you think is cool about being a player? How do you get better at it? How do you get the most out of it?.Does your DM have an open seat at the table? I'll bring Ale!
What's cool about being a player?
Please look at this picture.
LOOK AT IT!
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-QTIeBuLnD-A/UR_ToMA9-VI/AAAAAAAAAKA/q8g2RT4XY-s/s1600/holmes+box.jpg
A Wizard with a Magic Wand!
:smallsmile:
A warrior in armor with a longbow and sword!
:smallsmile: :smallsmile:
and,
A Dragon on a giant pile of treasure in a dungeon!
:smallbiggrin: :smallbiggrin: :smallbiggrin:
Does it get better?
As a player you:
1) Don't need to actually remember any rules.
2) Don't need to keep track of a hundred and one little (pretend) facts.
3) No you just explore a fantastic world that has freakin' dragons inside of dungeons!
NO IT DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER!
Sign me up now and forever!

Phoenixguard09
2016-06-07, 05:25 AM
I think the main thing about it all comes down to practice. The more you play, especially with the mindset of wanting to improve, will make you a better player over time.

You mention being worried about dragging out your moment in the spotlight too long by talking about information the other players might not care about. I think this comes down to communication, and specifically with your GM. Talk to him/her about your backstory reveal and how you might like to have that happen in the coming session. The GM should be able to prepare a way for your reveal to tie into current events in some way, meaning that your other players should be interested as a matter of course. Or at least that's how I try to do it as a GM.

Anonymouswizard
2016-06-07, 06:11 AM
As a player you:
1) Don't need to actually remember any rules.

And annoy those people at the table who actually know the rules. This is why the best systems are simple and easy to learn, so there isn't one person at the table annoyed that all the other players (possibly including the GM) haven't bothered to learn the rules.


2) Don't need to keep track of a hundred and one little (pretend) facts.

This is true. I don't mind trying to keep the facts straight personally, but I do enjoy it when I play and don't have to remember everything. It's a different experience, as a GM I love getting it all consistent and working out all of those one thousand and one little facts (which I don't expect you to remember, but I do expect you to remember at least the ten major ones, plus everybody's PC), but as a player I'll remember everything in broad strokes with the odd specific detail, as I get to sit back and actually plan responses rather than trying to deal with 4+ players.


3) No you just explore a fantastic world that has freakin' dragons inside of dungeons!

Don't forget Space, I'm currently writing a Space game. It's probably got really bad rules compared to all these big name RPGs out there, but it does some stuff they don't and has a focus more on managing a ship and your crew than most games out there (I still have to write them, but there are rules for hiring people in the player's section, and most ships players have access to will require 10+ people just to move about in-system, let alone Warp anywhere), and sending a robot to do the dangerous work is the expected strategy (there's no Strong AI in the setting, but automation is advanced enough that most people have a bot or two, with PCs being expected to have several plus software bots [which can make skill checks or aid in yours]).

Man, I didn't intend to advertise my game, but fictional worlds with cool stuff is the best player incentive I've ever seen.

Jay R
2016-06-07, 09:43 AM
I'd love to hear your thoughts about what you think is best about being a player, having a single character and really running with that role.

Exploring. Finding out about the world one mistake at a time.

Improvising. Making up new ideas based on new information.

Role-playing. Really getting to know the characer by playing him in many situations. None of my characters wind up being exactly what I originally planned. But then, I'm not what I originally planned either.


Things that you find difficult would be interesting to hear, too, as well as things you do to make the experience as good as you can for yourself and your group. What is a good player? How do you get better at it?

...

One thing I'm really having trouble with is the double-edged sword of very light rules. On one hand it's great to not have to look up rules all the time and a reasonable GM can really speed up play by ruling on the spot and keeping things moving. On the other hand I do enjoy having things written into the rules that I can use as a player to guarantee a particular result. Without those rules to back me up a lot of interactions turn into 'mother may I', where I basically have to present my case and hope that the GM agrees.

There's an old legal maxim. "Any lawyer knows the law. A good lawyer knows the exceptions. A great lawyer knows the judge."

Similarly, and especially in a rules-light game, any player knows the basic rules. A good player knows the magazine articles. A great player knows the DM.

An essential skill of early D&D is learning how the DM approaches the game, so that you will try the things that appeal to that DM. In my early days, Todd appreciated the gutsy, flamboyant move. Richard loved the careful plan. Pat could be swayed with glib scientific jargon, even when it was wrong. But don't try that with David - he always caught it.

I once rolled a character with STR 4, DEX 16, CHA high, WIS low, and the rest low-to-average. I was considering dumping him, when the DM said, "That's a nine-year-old kid. He could get away with anything." So I went with it - in large part because the character idea was exciting to both me and the DM.

He once took down a sentry by walking up sniffling and crying, and saying, "Where's my daddy? I can't find him. I'm cold, and I'm tired, and I'm hungry, and I'm thirsty, and I want my daddy!" As the sentry bent down to get him some food, the kid sneak attacked.

Rules-light D&D is performance art - improvisation for a one-DM audience. And as in any art, success is measured by how well you entertain your audience.


My solution for this, when I GM, is to say YES to just about anything the players propose that isn't specifically made impossible by the rules. That may be too lenient for some, granted.

I had a DM like that, and played accordingly. If your players start asking for more unlikely things, then they are playing you and your approach. That's when you need to tighten up.

When players ask for something, it's all right to say "No." That's half the job of the DM. (The other half is saying "Yes," of course.)


There's a happy medium, I'm sure, and I'm lucky enough to have a bunch of pretty great GMs that are reasonable about their rulings in situations like the above, but I do still find myself wishing that we were playing a game that had more narrative mechanics that allowed me to guarantee certain results and move the story in a certain direction.

The you need to learn to read your DM.


Another thing I'm struggling with is spotlight time and group interaction. When I GM it's pretty easy to bounce from player to player, let them talk amongst themselves and really keep your finger on the pulse of the session while remaining strictly on the sidelines. As a player I feel like I'm much more on the spot when I want to present some roleplaying moment, backstory element or lengthy description. The action stops, the whole group turns to me and I feel like I have to really make that count in order to justify dragging the spotlight away from the other players and the GM.

Exactly. That's perfect. You should grab the spotlight when it serves the entire table, not when it just serves you. I wish more players understood that.


I'm not sure why I feel this way, but I'd like to learn to jump in and out of scenes as a player with as much ease as I do when I GM.

Don't. You are all of the DMs at the table, but only one of the players. In a six-player game, you have only 1/6 as much right.


Again, we're playing D&D so the mechanics aren't really helping me there. It's all down to me to find that midway point between just sitting there as a spectator and annoying everyone by hogging the spotlight and jabbering on about things nobody else finds interesting.

Again, think of it as improvisational performance art. You're supposed to grab the spotlight and jabber on about things you make exciting and interesting for them all. When they aren't interested, back off and wait for your next cue.

Airk
2016-06-07, 09:48 AM
If your "rules light" game is boiling down to "mother may I" very often, it's not a very good game, or you're using it for the wrong thing. "rules light" does not have to mean "it's GM fiat all the time."

goto124
2016-06-07, 09:53 AM
If your "rules light" game is boiling down to "mother may I" very often, it's not a very good game, or you're using it for the wrong thing. "rules light" does not have to mean "it's GM fiat all the time."

As an FFRPer, there's a lot of player fiat as well - entire games have stalled because I, the player, ran out of ideas the same time as the GM ("Wait... what was I supposed to do?" "I don't know either, I was running by the seat of my pants!" "You're the GM!" "Yeah! So?"). FATE should have a similar effect too. Okay, apart from the stalled games bit.

Comet
2016-06-08, 04:31 AM
What's cool about being a player?
Please look at this picture.
LOOK AT IT!


That image is amazing, for sure. I especially like the ADULT FANTASY ROLEPLAYING tag. So boastful, so simple.


I think the main thing about it all comes down to practice. The more you play, especially with the mindset of wanting to improve, will make you a better player over time.

You mention being worried about dragging out your moment in the spotlight too long by talking about information the other players might not care about. I think this comes down to communication, and specifically with your GM. Talk to him/her about your backstory reveal and how you might like to have that happen in the coming session. The GM should be able to prepare a way for your reveal to tie into current events in some way, meaning that your other players should be interested as a matter of course. Or at least that's how I try to do it as a GM.

You might be right. I kind of get the feeling that our group, as a rule, doesn't like discussing these things out-of-character. They're really big on immersion and the classic dislike of metagaming. Still, it might be worth a shot!



Rules-light D&D is performance art - improvisation for a one-DM audience. And as in any art, success is measured by how well you entertain your audience.
--
Again, think of it as improvisational performance art. You're supposed to grab the spotlight and jabber on about things you make exciting and interesting for them all. When they aren't interested, back off and wait for your next cue.

Wow, that's a lot of really great advice! Definitely something to think about. I think the fact that being a player is much more about performance is what's tripping me up. When I GM I have the system, the players and the world to bounce off of and keep things moving. As a player, then, I only have myself and my one character, which feels like added pressure. Maybe it's just a matter of practice.

Another thing that came to mind for no reason in particular is the pressure of choosing a character and sticking to it. My tastes in genre fiction and aesthetics differ quite a bit from those of my fellow players. I decided to try and put together a character that really spoke to me and that I found fun, but now I see that might have been a bad idea. I established this character pretty hard in the first couple of session and only later realized that the other players might not be as jazzed about him as I am. Their characters are pulpy action heroes, grim slayers and treasure hunters and such. My character is a friendly and curious monk who is really na´ve and constantly tries to talk to the monsters and spare as many enemies as he can. This might work well enough, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm just slowing things down for the other players.

As a GM I could just throw that character into the trash and push out something else and nobody would bat an eye. As a player, though, it's much more difficult to adapt. I can't just throw the character away. I can't just make him change overnight. The best that I can do is to gradually work towards some kind of in-character epiphany and hope that things click into place to allow me to change my character in a natural way. Or I could try to get my character killed. This particular hero is selfless enough that a heroic sacrifice wouldn't feel out of place, but even that requires a situation that is harrowing enough to warrant it and the difficulty of the campaign we're playing is much more mellow than that. This is my only character and, again, I feel the heat of the spotlight enough to feel like I need to make his death or change really meaningful and cool. And I can't do that on my own, I need the world or other characters to throw me a bone to kickstart the process.

I'm probably overthinking things. We're all having a lot of fun at the table, but I would still like to find ways to improve and relax as a player. It's also kind of fun to think about these things that I honestly hadn't considered enough as a GM!

goto124
2016-06-08, 04:39 AM
You might be right. I kind of get the feeling that our group, as a rule, doesn't like discussing these things out-of-character. They're really big on immersion and the idea that metagaming is the devil. Still, it might be worth a shot!

I've been in that sort of group before. Tensions ran high and I later got PvP'd for reasons the players refused to talk about. I left when I realized I wasn't having fun.


This might work well enough, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm just slowing things down for the other players.

This is why you absolutely have to open up OOC discussion with the players and GM. Their characters and the players can have very different thoughts and feelings, but they could also be the same. There's no way to tell which is which without direct asking. Sure, you could try assuming and picking up on cues, but it's still guessing.

Honest communication is key to any sort of relationship, including player-player and player-GM friendships.

Out of curiosity, do you initiate OOC discussion when you GM?

Comet
2016-06-08, 04:52 AM
I've been in that sort of group before. Tensions ran high and I later got PvP'd for reasons the players refused to talk about. I left when I realized I wasn't having fun.
Ouch, that sucks. I'm lucky enough to have a really jolly group and not have to worry about things like that, but I do feel for you.


Out of curiosity, do you initiate OOC discussion when you GM?
Every now and then. If and when I GM again I'm definitely going to do it much more. Being a player has helped me realize just how important this stuff is, which is definitely going to influence my GMing in the future.

Jay R
2016-06-08, 10:54 AM
Don't trash him. Let him grow. What is he learning from the others about focus and interacting with the world? What does he decide to stoically accept?

I'd treat him like Kwai-Chang Caine in the original Kung Fu series - a martial artist in the old West. He wandered through, doing what he believed in, trying to stay in harmony with nature, and often bemused by the Western cowboy attitudes, and often spouting wisdom that the westerners just didn't get.
"I seek not to know the answers, but to understand the questions."
"Avoid, rather than check. Check, rather than hurt. Hurt, rather than maim. Maim, rather than kill. For all life is precious, nor can any be replaced."
"Each waking moment is as a rung on an endless ladder. Each step we take is built on what has gone before."

Perhaps he can be like Mr. Miyagi in the original Karate Kid movies.
"Never put passion before principle. Even if win, you lose."
"Fighting not good. But if must fight, win."

The goal is to make his character entertaining. A monk with an unusual outlook can certainly be that, as long as what you are saying and doing is entertaining but not disruptive.

I'm currently playing a northern Ranger traveling with a group of people all from the same city. When my character was first recruited to lead them through the forest, I said, "I understand. My duty is to protect the city folk from the forest. Or to protect the forest from them. Whichever becomes necessary." I currently respond to anything weird with, "I will never understand you cityfolk," especially when we all know that the weirdness has nothing to do with the city. We stayed in a city for a month, and were attacked by slaadi, a vampire, and others, all there hunting us. Gustav commented that he doesn't understand why people live in a place as dangerous as a city.

Make it fun for everyone.

And if you ever decide to attack first, and they comment on it, point out that "One of you would have done it if I hadn't."