Oftentimes there’s a lot going on at the table, and we’re all guilty of meta-gaming a little too much, or perhaps not sharing the spot light. Especially for new players, we have come up with 5 questions to assist with curving some of these behaviors, while at the same time, making the experience more enjoyable for everyone. With that in mind, below are 5 questions players should ask themselves at the table.
5: How Would My Character’s God Feel About This Action?
Players often treat their alignment pretty fast-and-loose, but it’s important to remember that in most fantasy settings; Gods are real. Your character may worship one of these beings, and this relationship can shape the moral conduct of a society. However, in this world there are tangible repercussions to such actions that would draw a God’s ire. So, how would your character act in a given situation knowing it could loose them favor with a God which grants them divine magic? This idea doesn’t have to be limited to Gods, and can be applied to affiliated organizations as well. For Example, your fighter may not care for any specific God’s favor, but belongs to a prominent Fighters Guild, in which, honor of a certain standard is expected. The purpose of asking a question like this is to keep in mind the real–fantasy-world consequences for your character’s actions, and how this may shape their decision making. In turn, this should limit the amount of player inspired murder in your game. Even if by just a tad.
4: Does This Situation Fit My Skill-set? Or Would Another Player Shine Here?
It happens all the time. You get in the zone, and your character becomes the star of the show! While having the spotlight is perfectly fine, you should be cognizant that the other players are also the stars, and not your supporting cast. If you’re the fighter with a low charisma and woefully untrained in diplomacy, then why would you be the first to speak on the party’s behalf? Is there another character that has experience in diplomacy, and would shine in this role? It’s natural to get caught up in the game, and we all know what our character would do, but keep in mind that sharing the spotlight is the responsibility of everyone at the table… not just the DM.
3: Would My Character Know This?
It can be difficult, however as players, we need to separate what we know, and what our character knows. Sometimes the DM will have the party roll a perception or knowledge check, and upon passing, those players are keyed in our certain information. The DM may say this aloud to the group, however if you failed the roll, your character doesn’t know this information. Now, the other characters can simply say something to the affect of “I share this information with the group”, but by assuming this information is shared, you take away an element of role-play from the game. Maybe this knowledge check provided a weakness for the monster you are currently fighting. You would miss out on a hilarious scene of the wizard attempting to convey this information while dodging fireballs! In addition, this thought process curves the meta-gaming aspect that goes on during play. It can be hard to separate, but when possible, try to consider if your character would know a given piece of information.
2: How Did My Character Obtain This Skill Or Knowledge?
During character creation, you choose a class and Boom! Your character is granted all of these wonderful spells and abilities. Well, that’s not quite how it works. These skills represent advanced training your character has endured. So, you may want to consider how this training was obtained. Does your monk have a master? Does your Wizard spend time studying tomes found while adventuring? These questions can assist in compiling your character’s backstory, but can also add interesting role-play opportunities during play when it comes time to advance in level. Your character doesn’t suddenly become more skilled at athletics or stealth. Do you find an expert that imparts some of their knowledge to you? Challenge yourself to come up with techniques your character uses to sharpen his/her skills. This will enrich your character’s growth, while making it feel like an organic process.
1: Yes, And?
Those of you familiar with improv may have heard this line before. The yes, and? question is used to teach improv actors how to bounce off one another. If the first character makes a statement, the second should affirm that statement and add their own context. This allows the scene to move forward, as well as, encourages the rest of the cast to participate. Nothing could be more important when playing a tabletop RPG. Everyone at the table is shaping the world around you and making it come to life. Engaging with your fellow party members will only enhance the experience. You can also use this question to pass the spotlight onto a player that hasn’t had an opportunity to speak in a while. If the fighter always comes up with the plan, one can simply say “Yes, bashing in the front door will work, and the wizard can assist with her magic, (turning toward the wizard) what spells do you think would provide us with an advantage? Engaging your fellow players will get everyone involved and feel a sense of ownership over this shared story.
So, what do you guys/gals think? Are you going to use any of these questions in your next session, or do you have one of your own you would like to share? Leave a comment below!