Why Won't My Group Roleplay? How to Encourage Player Behaviors

Why Won't My Group Roleplay? How to Encourage Player Behaviors

How can we encourage players to adopt desired behaviors in tabletop RPGs?

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I like to end my sessions with a debrief in which we go around the table and get everyone's thoughts on how the session went. Speaking last, I make an effort to highlight something positive that each player contributed to the session, whether it was a clever idea, a memorable roleplay moment, or taking the initiative to move the game forward. Everyone likes to be validated, and a player won't know his efforts are appreciated unless you state it.

Does this not feel overly mechanical? I can see where the RP Rewards system you've mentioned before could use a space like this, but passing the conch around the table, and ending with the DM praising something everyone did, sounds artificial to me. Our regular game master gets opinions on how people felt about things during the period after the session, but it feels less like an after-action report and more like a casual talk that drifts in, out and around the subject of the session.

I can see the value in this space, and one of my favourite parts of a game is decompressing afterwards as we talk about what just happened, but it quickly becomes a regular conversation with ebbs and flows, rather than part of our gaming ritual. If it works for your group, it works, but it seems like an unnecessary imposition of structure- once you've done the whip-round, do you spend time just talking?

Anyways, a good article. Be the change you want to see in your players.

Now can we have an article on how the DM shouldn't single people out just for shits and giggles?

RaikuFA:
Now can we have an article on how the DM shouldn't single people out just for shits and giggles?

Speaking as a DM, but that is the whole point.

bdcjacko:

RaikuFA:
Now can we have an article on how the DM shouldn't single people out just for shits and giggles?

Speaking as a DM, but that is the whole point.

The whole point is to turn people away from the game? When I tried to play, the DM would have all the monsters attack me. I couldn't attack because my character was stuck in mud. Then when the battle was over, I was the only one with a treasure chest that was a trap. Everyone else got good equipment.

I know if I stayed, the stores would have probably denied me service or charge me higher prices. Or get eaten by a dragon that would have nothing to do with the story.

You're not going to get good roleplay unless everyone is comfortable with each other, because it's basically public performance which almost everyone is afraid of.

RaikuFA:

The whole point is to turn people away from the game? When I tried to play, the DM would have all the monsters attack me. I couldn't attack because my character was stuck in mud. Then when the battle was over, I was the only one with a treasure chest that was a trap. Everyone else got good equipment.

I know if I stayed, the stores would have probably denied me service or charge me higher prices. Or get eaten by a dragon that would have nothing to do with the story.

We're you playing with a buddy? Because that guy sounds like a d**k. Nobody'd make an article about that, because in my opinion it's generally well known that you shouldn't be a d**k.
Ask to GM yourself and not be a d**k about it, or look for a new group. If it's not fun for everybody your doing it wrong.

OT: I like the Advice, my old GM would tend to do this because we the players somehow accidentally messed up his Masterplan. It's hard to not punish the players to get back on track and instead roll with it. It's also hard to keep this up all the time and not punish the players for Roleplaying in a way you hadn't expected them to.
But yeah in the end it's the game the DM has made and especially on new players it leaves an impression of how you've let them play it.

Checked out Rhykkers other Quick Tip vid's some nice stuff there.

Having played with approximately the same group of people for about three-quarters of a decade now across several systems, I would say that role-playing comes down to four factors:

1. Familiarity
2. Preference
3. System
4. Medium

First of all, it's easy to say that the more comfortable players are with each other, the better they role-play. That is not necessarily true. An old gang of buddies will more likely devolve into off-topic chatter than a group of strangers. This one is tough and hard to balance, because every group hits that stage of familiarity sooner or later. To make players feel comfortable with each other (and the system, setting) while also keeping the social component intact, the other factors must be considered.

Knowing their players' preferences in gameplay should be a no-brainer for a GM/DM/Storyteller. However, "knowing" and "slavishly fulfilling" are two different things. Sometimes, players (I'm counting the DM as a player here) don't know they enjoy something until they have tried it. This goes both ways: a player may discover that they actually enjoy a well-crafted investigative adventure just as much as a DM may find that the violent escalation brought about by the players is actually pretty fun. Again, this is a matter of balance in two ways: a) balancing what players want against new ideas and what the DM feels comfortable presenting, and b) keeping everyone involved off-balance and guessing, thus negating a bit of excess familiarity. I personally as a GM seek to establish tropes that seem to always be true in my settings, only to topple them when the players least expect it.

System is another tool to fix a lack of role-playing and immersion, and an important one at that. D&D is, by its very nature, more closely related to board- and war-games as it assumes use of the square-map and miniatures. It assumes much more of what I call an "American" play style (i.e. 'competitive'/'trying to win'), as I've only really seen Americans approach D&D without the kind of cynicism that most Europeans I know have towards it. If you want meta-driven storytelling (i.e. players consciously impacting their characters' narrative), other systems do that better. In fact, any sort of narrative campaign should in most cases avoid gamistic systems like D&D and find something more appropriate. That is not to say that d20 or D&D as a whole cannot do narrative - it just takes a very specific group to appreciate.

Finally, in the modern digital age, medium is also a major factor. A play-by-forum (aka play-by-post) group will always play differently from a play-by-chat group, same for voice chat and of course face-to-face groups. Generally, the slower and less immediate the medium, the more RP you will see, but the less social interaction between players will take place.

Those at least are the things I've gathered from my experience. Feel free to disagree :)

RaikuFA:

bdcjacko:

RaikuFA:
Now can we have an article on how the DM shouldn't single people out just for shits and giggles?

Speaking as a DM, but that is the whole point.

The whole point is to turn people away from the game? When I tried to play, the DM would have all the monsters attack me. I couldn't attack because my character was stuck in mud. Then when the battle was over, I was the only one with a treasure chest that was a trap. Everyone else got good equipment.

I know if I stayed, the stores would have probably denied me service or charge me higher prices. Or get eaten by a dragon that would have nothing to do with the story.

Now that is quality DMing right there.

Now seriously, as a DM, yes I would go after someone for an encounter. But never would I shit on the same character constantly...unless they kept asking for it. One player would always roll a charisma check to see if he could confuse the monsters, they were always super high rolls because he min-maxed the hell out of his character. I demand he explain how he was going to do that or what the goal of the ruse was. He never could describe it, so even though the roll was good, the role playing was awful, thus a failure. Other players in the same game would explain how they are doing their checks, and when the roll was good, they succeeded.

Now if one player ran straight in the middle of a pack of monsters, of course the monsters are going to attack that guy first, so they would get singled out.

So now in your example, was your character the tank? Did you walk into mud that could be avoided, and was the trapped treasure chest a random roll?

Rhykker:
Why Won't My Group Roleplay? How to Encourage Player Behaviors

How can we encourage players to adopt desired behaviors in tabletop RPGs?

Read Full Article

My advise on how to get players to adopt desired behaviors is to try and present the game as an improv theater performance, with you as the Director, and them as the actors. With some minor amount of randomization in the script based on dice results.

That's been a good tool for me over the years to at least spark their brains into thinking along the right lines. It might sound cliche, but asking them what their character's motivation would be, is very helpful.

Also, encourage fleshed out backgrounds. Don't let them just come up with a list of stats. Ask them about the PC's family, are any of them still alive, do they dislike any of them. Are any of them so dear to them that they would do anything for them (River and Simon from Firefly for example). Have they killed anyone before? Etc etc.

Make them make the PC 3 dimensional. This is a good groundwork to build on.

After that, have a talk with them on what you want to get out of the game as the GM, and ask them what they want to get out of the game as a player. If all of your players are clamoring for a political intrigue game with lots of scheming and espionage and stuff, your epic hack n slash World War 1 trench battle campaign might not be the best thing to run.

In my experience, a lot of players are hung up in the following mindset system, which stifles fun/creativity.

1. The GM is the enemy, trust nothing he says, and always act in a way that will fuck with him. Assume everything he says is designed to lead you into some horrible death trap.

2. There is only 1 solution to the problem in front of you, and it's usually found at the end of your sword/blaster/wand.

3. I can't provide input into the situation, or ask for further details as to the environment that might prove advantageous.

If you can break these 3 flawed concepts, you can have a lot more roleplay from your players.

I usually tell my players "Look, I'm here to tell a story, and you guys are the characters in it. I want you guys to be badass and do cool shit, so don't assume I'm here to kill your PCs. Now death might happen due to events unfolding, but I'm not going to be actively gunning to kill you. Because if you guys die, the game/story is over, and none of us are having fun anymore. So trust me to try and make the game fun for you guys, and be creative. Try crazy cool shit, ask me if you can try something that you just thought up. Ask me for details around you that you could incorporate in to make the scene more fun. Random background stuff that I just didn't bother to detail, but is likely there given the location. Be awesome, be bold, and you will be rewarded, not punished."

Now some people are just performance shy. Some people are just uncomfortable pretending to be a character, and speaking in their voice, or acting in a way that would make sense for the character. They assume they're going to be laughed at, or mocked by the others at the table, and this discourages ROLEplaying, and makes them inclined to just do ROLLplaying. You have to prevent this as the GM. If a player is trying to get into the spirit of his character, and others are mocking him, shut them down hard. Encourage the player for his creativity, or his willingness to stay in character. Hell give him some bonus XP for his effort, or reduce the difficulty for a check because he gave a stirring speech that was well said, before his Charm roll. Seeing the benefits of roleplaying might also encourage your other players to do it too.

It doesn't always work, because some people are just hardwired to a specific mindset for gaming, but in a lot of cases in my personal experience, this helps to shake them out of their mindset on how to game, and embrace roleplaying more.

bdcjacko:

RaikuFA:

bdcjacko:

Speaking as a DM, but that is the whole point.

The whole point is to turn people away from the game? When I tried to play, the DM would have all the monsters attack me. I couldn't attack because my character was stuck in mud. Then when the battle was over, I was the only one with a treasure chest that was a trap. Everyone else got good equipment.

I know if I stayed, the stores would have probably denied me service or charge me higher prices. Or get eaten by a dragon that would have nothing to do with the story.

Now that is quality DMing right there.

Now seriously, as a DM, yes I would go after someone for an encounter. But never would I shit on the same character constantly...unless they kept asking for it. One player would always roll a charisma check to see if he could confuse the monsters, they were always super high rolls because he min-maxed the hell out of his character. I demand he explain how he was going to do that or what the goal of the ruse was. He never could describe it, so even though the roll was good, the role playing was awful, thus a failure. Other players in the same game would explain how they are doing their checks, and when the roll was good, they succeeded.

Now if one player ran straight in the middle of a pack of monsters, of course the monsters are going to attack that guy first, so they would get singled out.

So now in your example, was your character the tank? Did you walk into mud that could be avoided, and was the trapped treasure chest a random roll?

We literally started off with goblins attacking us. The DM kept having them hit me and I wasn't allowed to fight back because I started off in the mud and was therefore unable to fight. The treasure chest were given to us as a victory prize. Mine exploded and nearly killed me. Everyone else got stuff that was beneficial to them (like a sword for the fighter, a cloak for the theif etc.) I just got a face full of shrapnel.

As for my class, I was a necromancer I believe. Or I was considering it. Maybe a paladin.

RaikuFA:
We literally started off with goblins attacking us. The DM kept having them hit me and I wasn't allowed to fight back because I started off in the mud and was therefore unable to fight. The treasure chest were given to us as a victory prize. Mine exploded and nearly killed me. Everyone else got stuff that was beneficial to them (like a sword for the fighter, a cloak for the theif etc.) I just got a face full of shrapnel.

As for my class, I was a necromancer I believe. Or I was considering it. Maybe a paladin.

A paladin would be far more tankie than a necromancer...Also if you were in mud, it could understand you not being able to move so quick, but you should have still been able to swing if the goblins were in melee distance.

I am not saying I don't believe you, but all of the things that happened in that scenario could have happened because of your choices just as easily as the DM picking on you. Also your character lived at the end despite the DM picking on you.

Now of course if this is your first game and they are trying to get you started, maybe the DM should have taken it easier on you and shifted some of the ill-effects, like the trapped chest to a more experienced player...but then again he may have known you weren't going to stick around being that you don't know the difference between a paladin and a necromancer.

Anyways if you live or want to move to the KC area, you can join my game and I won't pick on you until the 3rd game.

bdcjacko:

RaikuFA:
We literally started off with goblins attacking us. The DM kept having them hit me and I wasn't allowed to fight back because I started off in the mud and was therefore unable to fight. The treasure chest were given to us as a victory prize. Mine exploded and nearly killed me. Everyone else got stuff that was beneficial to them (like a sword for the fighter, a cloak for the theif etc.) I just got a face full of shrapnel.

As for my class, I was a necromancer I believe. Or I was considering it. Maybe a paladin.

A paladin would be far more tankie than a necromancer...Also if you were in mud, it could understand you not being able to move so quick, but you should have still been able to swing if the goblins were in melee distance.

I am not saying I don't believe you, but all of the things that happened in that scenario could have happened because of your choices just as easily as the DM picking on you. Also your character lived at the end despite the DM picking on you.

Now of course if this is your first game and they are trying to get you started, maybe the DM should have taken it easier on you and shifted some of the ill-effects, like the trapped chest to a more experienced player...but then again he may have known you weren't going to stick around being that you don't know the difference between a paladin and a necromancer.

Anyways if you live or want to move to the KC area, you can join my game and I won't pick on you until the 3rd game.

I did know the diffrence between a paladin and a necromancer. I just couldn't decide which class I wanted. I just couldn't remember which one I decided on as this was back when I was in high school. I just know the DM was giving everyone else a easy ride while I was given the "rocks fall but only you die" attitude.

My trouble isn't getting my players to role-play, it's getting them to play my games, or more so having a consistent group, getting everyone's schedules to line up. That and a couple players are always wanting to start new games rather than continue an ongoing one. One player in particular. Ever since he got a place and we game there most of the time, he has become very control freakish. With this guy it seems like we spend more time making characters than we do playing them. We have a couple new people, and I asked if I could run a game. He said "they are learning the system and having to make new characters would only frustrate them." Really? you don't want to frustrate them but it didn't bother you at all frustrating us with making us constantly make new characters? Then he agreed to let me DM, but he wanted me to run his campaign, for which he made a bunch of new races and an entire pantheon of his own making, that I knew literally nothing about.

 

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