Friday, December 18, 2009

Great player advise

In the course of refereeing many of my games, I often encounter players who whine about survivability and the pain of character death. I'm not generalizing but many players I have encountered (both as a game master and a fellow player) need to bone up on their player skills as opposed to their characters' skills (particularly when using games which are character skill and attribute heavy such as Gurps). This is by no means exclusively confined to newbie players either. So-called veteran players often tend to lose the sharp edge given time.

I remember playing in a friend's D&D 4th edition game for one session. I was appalled at the seemingly brainless tactics used by his regular players in finishing the dungeon: rush forward, attack, use powers, use powers to heal, and repeat the whole sequence - ad nauseam. No exploration, no problem solving, hardly even any role-playing.

Leaving aside the merits of the game system, I observed that the players acted the way they did because they were allowed to get away with the way they acted. This is by no means a condemnation of my friend's refereeing style in any way. I enjoy gaming under my friend and still believe he's one of the more serious dedicated followers of the hobby I know. I feel that his players learned this gaming style even before they met my friend (makes me wonder what kind of games they started out with) - and carried over their incompetence to my friend's game.

I would imagine the same players going up in arms if they played in one of my old school games these days. And maybe I'll get my chance to try them out in the future...

In any case, the point here is that I encountered a very informative post in Planet Algol, a sword and raygun genre gameblog which I regularly follow with great interest. The post can be found here

The article's last sentence captures the point quite succinctly (although it may apply to all games and not just D&D) - if you want to be a better player, then this is for you.


  1. Many nice thoughts and pointers for players' survival. I hope some of your players take time to read the blog. Tactics seem to be something taken for granted by some players thinking of it only as a plus factor to their die rolls. How many times some application of "un"common sense may have saved the party from terrible fates? 4th ed appears to have sacrificed time for tactical consideration for speed of execution. Good for card gamers but not for RPGs. We therefore end up with players but not Role-Players.

  2. You did a far more eloquent job with this subject than I did!

  3. By no means sir! I'll be printing out the salient elements from your post as part of my GM's "advise to players" when I start running a game for some newbies in the coming days. Once more, thanks for the great post!

  4. @Joseph- so true doc! Blair's post will form the foundation of our 'survival guide' for new players. Our old players should read the guide too... hopefully they'll survive longer in the coming months. :-)