Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Players and their Characters ... sometimes one and the same.


Part of the beauty of running any role playing game comes from the diversity of people who will sit at your table during your DM'ing career.

I have been blessed to have met some wonderful people over the years, many of whom have become lasting friends.  On the flip side, you will also encounter your fair share of odd bods, ego maniacs and total misfits.  Role playing seems to attract them, and allowing them into your home is one of the risks you run when being the DM.  There is an upside, at least you have trusted friends at your table to aid you in ejecting said odd-bod from your game session - though it has never happened to me... thankfully.

Rule #1 of DM'ing... NEVER invite players without personal references from a member of your established rp group - basically, if no one can vouch for them, they don't get invited.

Rule #2 of DM'ing... refer to Rule #1.

Players bring many things to the rp table, many of which can be down to personal hygiene and bad table manners.  Nip that in the bud straight away!  Seriously, no one likes a serial farter, nose picker or cookie monster.

But it is their playing style which can have (and has done in the past) the biggest impact, not only on you, but their fellow players and the group dynamic.  So I thought it might prove enlightening to list the various playing styles I have had the pleasure (or not) to work with as a DM over the years, giving their 'pros' and 'cons'.

Pros: Always at the front, ready to make a stand or an arguement, usually never backing down from a confrontation, and usually the best equipped character.  They either focus on physical prowess or mental agility, and on some occasions a combination of both.

Cons: Never know when flight is better than fight.  Confrontational and rarely ever wrong, or so they think.  Will seek out the best for themselves, always up for looting and can never differentiate between themselves and their character ... reality and fantasy are one and the same - insult the character and you insult them.

Copyright © 2011 Mark Kelly.

THE 'NORMAL' PLAYER. *many might argue that such a thing does not exist, but I would disagree*
Pros: Very much like the 'Role Player' in some ways, your normal player is exactly that - normal.  Down to earth and possessing a good sense of humour, and a sense of right and wrong, their characters are the backbone of the rp party.  Happy to play any race, class and profession.  Will bring their own biscuits - RESULT!
A good sense of humour.  Can converse on topics other than those pertaining to role playing.  Is an easy going type of person, does not take things happening to their character personally.  Happy to make tea or coffee if their character is out of action - SCORE!  Knows enough of the rule system to be sensible with their character.  Always happy to help others around the table.  They can differentiate between reality and fantasy.

Cons: Sometimes bad at making a good cup of tea or coffee.  Will sometimes miss an rp session due to work, family or health reasons.  Most likely will drift away from the group in favour of work, family or a new hobby/interest.  Leaves their role playing gear at your place, even after they've left the group.

Copyright © 2011 Mark Kelly.

Pros: Happy to go along with party decisions.  A background player who is happy just being involved, which makes a DM's life a breeze, with little to no conflict.  Keeps the party dynamic harmonious.

Cons: Indecisive if placed in a position of leadership.  Easily controlled/influenced by their fellow party
members.  Can turn into a player controlled NPC if not careful.  Energy can be less than that of a flat bottle of pop.

Pros: On par with the Egotist, the Killer never backs down from a fight - in fact, they want to fight everyone and everything.  Great in tight situations where redecorating in crimson is required.  Happy so long as their weapon matches their lust for combat and dealing death.

Cons: Gets bored quickly if there is no 'action'.  Has a tendency to kill important contacts without thinking.  Can, and has been known, to turn on their own party members.  Wants to be fighting everything all at once.  Sulks like a child if their character is downed in the first round of combat and have to sit out the remaining combat rounds.

Pros: Great in delegating and diplomacy situations.  Loves problem solving and working out puzzles.  Approaches each situation logically and carefully.  Enjoys acting out their character with others and NPCs encountered.  Prefers the casting professions and enjoys a healing/support role in combat.

Cons: Over analyses any situation to the point of making you want to scream.  Assumes no one else in the party (or at the table, for that matter) can match them in terms of brain power.  Loves the sound of their own voice.  Theirs is always the right way of doing things.  Will sometimes attempt to belittle a fellow player or even the DM *gasp!*.  Will argue the toss until they get their own way if they think it's possible ... due to their higher brain capacity, naturally.

Pros: None exist.

Cons: They come in a variety of the above.  They are a pain in the arse.  Always trying to take a peek over the DM screen.  Re-rolling their dice if they think you haven't seen their initial bad roll.  Not erasing funds from their character sheet, same goes for health/hit points.  Their characters eat, sleep, wash and crap in their armour and ALWAYS carry everything they own with them - unless, of course, they've been knocked out and have their characters subject to looting, then it's all in a safe place back at the inn or tavern.  Always arguing about rules so long as it is in their favour.  Suddenly silent if rules working against them are not enforced due to DM brain fart.  Always looking out for #1, even if it means leaving other characters to die.

Pros: If the party have forgotten to pick it up, this player will. Always on the look out for a potential addition to their collection.  Can often be good at logistical matters.  Enjoys haggling with traders of any kind, often securing a good deal for themselves and their party.  Tends to appreciate things beyond that of a pointy-cutting thing, or a twinkling-zapping gizmo.
Cons: Can be obsessive regarding a certain item or items, going to great lengths in order to attain them.  Encumbrance is a word they hate, as it so often applies to them.  Have a tendency to slow things down for the sake of collecting.  Will sometimes steal to gain their desired 'thing', usually resulting in dire consequences affecting the whole party.  Slides into the 'cheater' mode at times with regards to their character sheet inventory - best keep an eye on that.

Pros: None, except that they've been told about rpg by a friend and convinced one of their rp buddy to get an invite to your rp session so they can 'find out for themselves' what it's all about.

Cons: They sit back regarding everyone else with an amused look.  Contribute zero to the session.  Choose the least creative name for their 'character'.  Will start off by saying, 'I'll sit here and watch.'  Often burst out laughing during the course of a game, usually when everyone else is getting involved with the game.  Thinks it is funny to do the exact opposite of what the party wish to do.  Will start a fight with a player character in the hope of killing them, or will go out of their way to disrupt the game flow.  Yawns a lot, whilst looking decidedly bored.  Speaks for their 'character' in present day language, often punctuated with slang, colloquialisms and swear words.  Eats all the biscuit and anything else to hand.

Pros: Gives life to their character.  Imaginative and expressive, according to their character.  Abides by the rules and the DM's game setting/scenario.  Good team player.  Plays their character to their abilities, race, alignment, profession and gender.  Helpful to others in the group.  Happy to be playing regardless if it is all action or discussion within a tavern setting, so long as it is rp.  Cares for his/her character, and those within the party.  Often brings their own biscuits - YES!  Come hell or high water, they will always be at the game session.  They never bring friends who won't fit in.

Cons: None to speak of... unless of course, they start bowing to you in public and talking to you as if they are in character - then you need to take them aside and have a quiet word.  Will turn up at the session coughing and sneezing, spreading their germs to everyone else around the table.

In conclusion, this is by no means a definitive list, nor is it accurate by all DM's experiences.  Just mine, although I have tried to recall the most common traits of the players I have had join my rp sessions.  Needless to say, many of these can be mixed and cross-referenced with regards to traits.

Happy DM'ing...

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