Reviews and Ramblings
MIDDENARDE - PART 7 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 6 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 5 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 4 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
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GM Startup Guide by PurpleXVI - 06/10/09
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DORF FORT ELLPEE by CAPSLOCKGUY - 10/19/08
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First DM's, now Players
12:33pm EDT - 10/29/2008
So, I dropped some HARDCORE ADVICING on DM's a while ago, but while they have a lot of the responsibility for whether a game works out or not, it's ultimately just as much(if not more) in the hands of the players.
Let's say you're a Player(Not a Playah, though that's entirely a viable type of Player in some games...), what can YOU do not to fuck up the fun? And what should you definitely not do? Plenty of shit. Let's get started.
(Disclaimer: Most of these issues are things I've personally encountered, I'm sure I've missed a lot and am exaggerating others simply because of how much they've pissed me off.)
#1: "I'm going to reroll until I get all 18's!"/Character Creation.
The root of most disruptive players can be spotted and interfered with here. I mean, look at your character. Think about how he, or she, is going to fit into the game, into the party.
There's some obvious first shit to avoid, don't play Chaotic Evil if the rest of them are Lawful Good, don't make a Vampire Hunter if one of them's a Vampire. But that aside, it's also important to make a character that fits the game. If it's a GRIM AND DARK ADVENTURE IN THE FUTURE OF GRIM AND DARKNESS, don't make a happy little girl with a giant sword. If you're doing EPIC ADVENTURE, don't make a character whose only motivation is to be left alone. Talk with your DM About what works, don't just make a character that's well-crafted stat-wise.
And speaking about stat-wise stuff... Making a character is the opposite of making a game. Fluff before stats. What do you WANT to play? Don't say: "Hmmm, a level 5 Elven Cleric!" Think of a personality, first of all. Is he a devoted ally? A frothing berserker? A sneaky asshole? A gruff bastard with a heart of gold? Get an image into your head: Do you see him hiding in a corner or charging the enemy? Does he preach to the party or cheer them on? Create that mental image, then see how you can wrangle it into the rules and into the game. Sometimes it won't work, and you'll just have to start over, but often if you talk to your DM, you can come up with something awesome.
Some DM's are willing to balance out a mechanically weak concept if the fluff is really fucking awesome, and some even hand out the odd bonus for stuff that's just fucking cool, even if you never intended for it to have a technical effect.
This is not to say that you should be afraid of making characters who can actually DO shit, few of us are happy with a character who just stands in the background picking their nose the entire game. But when you pick a skill, an ability or a piece of equipment. Think first: "Does this fit my image of the character?" and only second: "WILL THIS MAKE ME MORE PHAT CRUNK, YO?" What people remember about a game afterwards is not how many 20's you rolled, it's what you DID with those 20's, and in the end, this game is about creating some memorably awesome shit, not about winning.
Try to avoid characters that are designed to be center stage, like they have some sad past or EPIC PURPOSE that you're convinced will make them the most important guy around. Don't try to GRAB the limelight, if your character ends up as the charismatic or energetic leader, go with it, but don't pick a character who's made for the spot. It just tends to end up annoying for everyone when some guy that no one really cares THAT much about constantly tries to draw attention to himself.
Don't try to make flawless characters. The only thing worse than a character who's shit at everything is one that's flawless and/or equally good at everything. Screw-ups define a character. Anyone can easily play a hero when everything goes to plan, things are fine, it all works out. But what does a REAL hero, or a real villain, or a real PERSON do when shit fucks up? When their epic plan just made shit worse? When they're forced to make tough choices and sacrifices? That's what memorable situations are made out of. Fighting their own flaws and mistakes, the fruits of their hubris and arrogance, often makes for a more engaging story.
I also mentioned cooperation with your DM earlier, this is especially important when writing your background. Talk with him about it, accept his input, suggest things, especially if it's a homebrew campaign setting of some sort. "Yeah, so I'm thinking my guy is a secret agent who fell out with his guys over some ethical shit..." "Hey, that's perfect, you can be an ex-MJ12 agent who decided to blow this shit wide open. You're the guy who hooked the rest of the party into the entire thing." It can help the DM fill out holes in his story or planning, give him a few extra hooks to throw at you guys or just generally give him some awesome and perfect ideas to abuse.
Don't focus on being unique stat/race/class or even skill-wise, focus on being unique personality-wise. Even Bob the Fighter can be a memorable character because of the way he talks, acts or how he died while distracting Zoldark the Lich Lord of Darkness with a kick to the balls, while Xax'xax'zaz the Elven Catgirl Assassin/Cleric/Rapewhistle can be entirely boring and bland despite having more vorpal weapons than digits, and end up being remembered as nothing more than a bad joke.
Finally, try to avoid making characters which are too specialized. If you make a character that is immortal in X situations and instantly dead/useless in Y situations, then you've made someone who isn't very fun for anyone. Either you steamroll everything or you die, no middle ground, no point where things are merely challenging or perilous.
I think that's enough rambling about how not to fuck up before the game's even started. Next up: The actual fucking game, HOLY SHIT.
#2: "Tenbeard swings his axes or some shit, I don't know"/Playing the fucking game
A lot of this shit is going to be common sense, but I'm going to go on about it anyway, because it seems to elude a lot of players.
Let's start with what I told DM's: DESCRIBE YO SHIT. Don't just go "I walk down the street" or "I swing my axe at the kobold." It's "ZOLDARK BLASTS HIS MIGHTY ELDRITCH FORCE AT THE PUNY KOBOLD THAT STANDS BEFORE HIM, HIS HANDS CRACKLING WITH ENCHANTED ENERGY!" and "Skitt the Skizzle strides boldly down the main street of Adventureville, keeping a hand on the hilt of his weapon and an eye on the people around him as he hunts for a place to get his bitches and booze. His HEROIC bitches and booze."
And if your DM isn't being very descriptive, or leaves out something in his descriptions, don't be afraid to ASK. Ask if there are any windows to leap out of, ask if any of the dwarves look like they have a limp that might reveal a wooden leg, ask if you can maybe collapse the ceiling on Tenbeard and Zoldark. Just because the DM hasn't described it in perfect detail, doesn't mean the opportunity isn't there. Hell, maybe the DM never even considered the option as being there, but thinks your plan is brilliant and is willing to let you give it a shot.
Next up, just because your DM has some plans for the game doesn't per definition make them shit. Sometimes there's nothing wrong with following an obvious plot hook or going/doing what the DM actually wants you to. For the most part you gotta trust your DM's ideas, and if you have issues with where he's taking your characters and the game, don't fuck up the game with some gaytastic little rebellion("TORGAL STABS THE WHITE WIZARD, HE'S TOO NICE TO BE REAL!). Talk to your damn DM about it. And if he doesn't listen: Leave the game. The DM essentially has godlike power within his game, it's not like you can PROPERLY shit on any plans he has, all you can do is make both him and you look like total assholes.
Similarly, if you have a problem with your fellow players and what they're doing/the character they're playing, take it up with the DM or the player, don't just throw a fagfit and try to backstab them while they're asleep for no proper IC reason.
Past that? PAY ATTENTION TO THE DAMN GAME. Bad players can hurt a game, but at least they still participate. Nothing hurts a game more than when half the goddamn players are busier with YouTube and private conversations than paying attention to the game. The DM should not have to constantly drag your attention back. Yes, sure, it's a fault of his if he can't keep your attention, but at least TRY. You're adults, or at least reasonably mature children. If the game is boring? Say so. If it's not? PAY ATTENTION. Your DM should not have to remind everyone to shut down their browser windows and IM clients before the game starts.
At the same time, don't be expected to be afforded attention without doing anything. Your character standing around in the back looking pained and oh-so-depressed and etc. is not likely to interest anyone if there are Eldritch Tomes of Power and Mysteries ahead of them. DO SHIT.
Anyway, how to be a good player once you've managed to create a non-obnoxious/disruptive character can be summed up with a few words: Show initiative, pay attention, don't be a dick just to be a dick.