Role Playing


Advice


I'm starting my first session as a GM, I'm looking for pointers as to get players to role play. any suggestions?


One suggestion would be to ask players for a backstory which includes at least three NPC's with some relation to the character, which the player can invent. Then right there, you have some interesting NPC's which you can hook into the action.

I generally find that roleplaying is increased the more the characters are integrated into the setting, in terms of backstory and eventually in terms of the characters having changed the world in some way.


Saint Caleth wrote:

One suggestion would be to ask players for a backstory which includes at least three NPC's with some relation to the character, which the player can invent. Then right there, you have some interesting NPC's which you can hook into the action.

I generally find that roleplaying is increased the more the characters are integrated into the setting, in terms of backstory and eventually in terms of the characters having changed the world in some way.

my players are used to running APs, but I'm not going to run one. I'm going to do a home brew, but i think it's going to piss them off because they like to meta-game and min/max toward combat.


jeuce wrote:
I'm starting my first session as a GM, I'm looking for pointers as to get players to role play. any suggestions?

If they don't want to RP, they won't. Simple as that. If they want to kick in the door and butcher the orcs, but you want them to hunt down 'Grothnar, scourge of the east, whose hidden lair is nestled high in the mist wreathed mountains of the Vergigorm range', they'll kick in the door and remember some dude they need to kill who may or may not be on a hill somewhere... and maybe there was a storm on the mountain?

Get them to come up with Characters, not stat blocks.

This can be a gradual thing over time as the campaign plays. Have them look at the 'Traits' section for background ideas, not stat bonuses. First question I always ask before they have even sat down at the table.

"So how do you chumps know eachother?"

If that comes back as 'We shared a room at fighter college together', you can probably pack it up there and then.

The other key one I like answers on is, "Why the have heck they become adventurers?" It's a dangerous profession with an obscenely high mortality rate. Why would anyone want to do that?

Fame? Fortune? Women? Chip on his shoulder from Uncle Edgar the epic level sorc? What makes the char tick and why does he get up every morning and think to himself "There's a dragon up in those hills... lets go get eaten by it."


jeuce wrote:
I'm starting my first session as a GM, I'm looking for pointers as to get players to role play. any suggestions?

I have gotten people to role play in groups I have joined when the other people would say "he doesn't come to role play, he just comes for (insert reason)". The trick is something that one of my DMs told me once when I first started to DM and that is people will only be as involved as you are. Being a DM is easy, but being a good one is hard. If you don't already have one you might want to check out getting the Game Mastery Guide for Pathfinder.

If I had to give any set of tips I would say always remember what you tell people: NPC names, locations, magic....etc (I have a small notebook to write things I use when I pull something off the top my head) and try to involve everyone through planning, example being monsters that everyone can be effective against and a story that involves each person separately but gives a good reason for the rest of the party to tag along.

Hope this helps. :)

Liberty's Edge

I agree with the statement of, if they dont want to role play they wont.

Im currently playing in 2 games atm. In one of them, where I play a halfling fey sorcerer, we just had a good role play event. There are 7 PCs in this game. The game started just a few weeks ago by throwing all 7 into a bad situation without knowing each other. Not going to go into detail of course but suffice to say all 7 survived. In the next session the majority of the players and the DM allowed a small round table event in game.

My character, invited the others to have a drink since we had all survived something dangerous together. Now, none of us know the rest of the others back stories. So the 'have a drink' at the local tavern turned into an hour long banter where the PCs where chatting as if we were our characters. The DM joined in as the serving wench, bartender, random people in the tavern, etc. It was a blast! So our characters got to know each other in game and plan for their next event at the same time.

I say it was a blast, cause I thought it really was. However, back to my 1st line. There were 2 of us at the table whom I could tell were really itching to just get this meet and greet over with so they could slay something.

So there you go, if they dont want to role play, the wont!


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A recap:

-A back story- I would suggest you keep people away from the orphan line...

-Contacts or friends your players can all upon. Have them give you a brief blurb about this contact or friend. How they know each other perhaps a quirk you can use when you get in character.

-How do these players know each other- You can manufacture that yourself but it doesn't hurt to ask the players themselves. I've often asked why my Lawful Evil monk would care if the ranger I just met was being eat by a gorgon. I mean if you ask me that is the perfect moment to grab the gold he was guarding a leave.

-Keep track of names and places- keep them simple. No need for you to reinvent the wheel. while yulf'chativent is a great Orc name yurri is much easier to remember.

-Make sure everyone can feel useful. If you have a thief who is geared towards stealth or a Bard who has all his points in diplomacy then allow him to use it.

I would add that beyond a back story you need to have each of the players give you a goal. What in his history lead him to have these goals? In other words what motivates them? What is it they want or hope to achieve as this character. Then as a Dm it's your job to dangle that goal in front of them giving them just enough of a taste that they keep coming back for more.

If my Dm tells me that the six fingered man who killed my father is somewhere in town you better bet I'm going to start asking questions and plotting my revenge.

The Exchange

There are a few levers you can push, even with the most apathetic combat-machines, to get a little role play out of them.

Kill Stealing: The PCs arrive at the site where they were going to kick in the door and kill the orcs, only to find all the doors smashed in and the whole place redecorated with orc fragments. Be sure to mention the signs that a heavily laden wagon rolled out just a few hours ago: and, if you don't think it's heavy-handed, you can even include a note pegged to the door with a dagger that says TOO SLOW, GRANDMA!

The Kid: Kick-in-the-door PCs tend to have a staggeringly high opinion of their own prowess: introduce a young NPC who shares that high opinion. A stable boy is the easiest, since there's a reason for him to meet the PCs. The kid should be a wide-eyed obsequious hero-worshiper: "I had them save the good suite for you Mr. Minmax! Fetch anybody for you - the town healer or the money-changer Mr. Minmax? I'll get that cleaned for you Mr. Minmax!" (Just don't let it cross into Smithers territory: you don't want the kid to seem annoying.) After a few weeks of sincere sucking-up, you can put the kind in serious trouble and the kick-in-the-door guys (although not truly upset) may actually put down their beers to help.

Hilariously Cursed: A carefully placed cursed item, if you're inventive enough, will do wonders for RP within the group. I don't mean one of the lethal cursed items - go for something sillier such as boots of dancing or a cold iron greatsword +2 that causes poultry to follow the wielder about, utterly enthralled. The second one is better, since the weapon's drawback doesn't hurt the PC's beloved damage-per-second ration but gives the other PCs something more substantial to RP about.


If you're not roleplaying then you're not playing a roleplaying game.


Saint Caleth wrote:

One suggestion would be to ask players for a backstory which includes at least three NPC's with some relation to the character, which the player can invent. Then right there, you have some interesting NPC's which you can hook into the action.

I generally find that roleplaying is increased the more the characters are integrated into the setting, in terms of backstory and eventually in terms of the characters having changed the world in some way.

This!

I've been doing this for years, and always enjoyed it. (If your the only one to do it... you tend to get more 'personal moments' in the games ;)

As a rule, I go with the three Allies/friends/family in the backstory, and at least 1 or 2 enemies/rivals. This should give the DM PLENTY of fodder to play with.

The last character that I really enjoyed had 3 allies, 3 enemies, and 1 neutral guy who would be a mystery if we ever met.. could easily have gone either way.

It was a great game. Only a portion of my 'hooks' were used... but the more hooks you make... the more surprised you get to be when its used ;)

If you only come up with 'one sister'... Then odds are something will happend to that ONE sister!

As for getting players to roleplay when they don't want to... I'm not really sure there is an answer to that. Most of my group is into the 'rp'ing aspect... We've only had a handful of 'meta-gamers' come and go...


I agree with the back ground story always good to get the players involed with the story also i find getting the players to only refur to each other in character names helps and if someone starts to metagame pause for a moment and ask why there character is making those choices or acting in such a way and dont be affraid to be hard on them if they cant give you a good answer


This may seem a little trite - but quiz them a little first and ask them what they like to do in a game.

Then ask them for a character background after you have handed them a players world background.

If they can't be bothered to read your material, integrate their character idea into their background, or even write a background themselves then don't have them in your game.

Direct such people to the nearest MMO and tell them they will enjoy it's brainless 'RP' far more....


jeuce wrote:
I'm starting my first session as a GM, I'm looking for pointers as to get players to role play. any suggestions?

Try to ignore some of the more antagonistic responses. Make no mistake, there is no "wrong" way to play the game. As a long-time gamer, I've found that gamers DEFINITELY go through cycles. The younger they are, the more action-oriented and tongue-in-cheek the game is going to be, whether male or female. If you don't make it action-oriented and frequently humorous, then they will make it action-oriented and frequently humorous.

You've gotta run the game they want to play. Your best bet is to insert small tidbits of story between frequent action scenes and let RP growth occur naturally.

Having said that:
Giving them a defined locale from which they come (such as "you're all from town XYZ") is an excellent way to get them thinking about why they're in that town.

Asking for backgrounds is another excellent way to get them grounded in a scene/situation.

Grand Lodge

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that just because they are not role-playing, doesn't mean they don't want to.

Now, I agree with the others, if they do not want to role-play, they won't. However...

--

In my case, I had relatively inexperienced RP-ers. To help them out of their shell, I had npcs take a particular interest in them individually. I found that one on one, they could emerge with some strong roleplaying moments. The danger to this method is that sometimes they become too reliant on that npc, at which time you need to wean them off. (Killing NPCs is the easiest, but you do that too many times and they stop caring about them.)

Once they start being comfortable speaking in character, start encouraging it between PCs. Have them get into a fiery argument, but then, get them to realize that these fellow PCs are their friends. Now half of this responsibility falls on the players, but half of it falls on the GM.

Give them a chance to flesh out their characters before they even head into combat, otherwise combat will be the only thing to define the characters.

This is just what worked for me, and maybe it can help you too...


It is a good idea as a new DM to watch your pacing. Even experienced role players can lose interest if you have interactions with NPCs drag on past their logical end point. I'm not suggesting that you cut off a player that is getting into their character in the middle of an exchange with an NPC, but keep the game moving. Our group loves the intricate story and plot developments of our game, but that doesn't mean that the game is a slow slog through endless conversations with hundreds of minor NPCs.

Quantify what constitutes a good game in your view, and verify that it is consistent with what your players are looking for (as mentioned by others above).

That's my 1cp worth of free advice.

Silver Crusade

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Saint Caleth wrote:

One suggestion would be to ask players for a backstory which includes at least three NPC's with some relation to the character, which the player can invent. Then right there, you have some interesting NPC's which you can hook into the action.

I generally find that roleplaying is increased the more the characters are integrated into the setting, in terms of backstory and eventually in terms of the characters having changed the world in some way.

Good characters and interesting/fun/annoying NPCs make for great roleplay.

Right now, our group's barbarian is my stepfather. And he's younger than me. My older brother tried to kill me, my sister was the greatest Empire's gunslinger sharpshooter before she was shot point blank by surprise by a betraying ally who tried to seduce her weeks before, just to better f&&$ with our group and try to make me fall from paladin status.

Said barbarian's player, before this campaign, was the bastard, simple-minded brother of AM BARBARIAN and sighed/played with his phone whenever there wasn't some squishy sundering. Today he just loves roleplaying, even though a good fight is the delicious cherry on the cake. The barbarian is concerned about his daughter's path and had the most impressive behaviour shift I ever saw in a game, from "idiotic savage spitting on the Empire" to "loyal citizen of said Empire even though the city and government aren't anymore".
The mother, brother and sister didn't exist before the third game when I had to put my fellow players's characters under arrest for murder and refusal to comply.
So my advice, because it worked so well for us, is this :

Ask players to create NPCs or try to get suggestions about what would please some of them, like "it would be cool if I had a brother, and he would be higher ranked, and dislike me because I'm ashaming them, this kind of things, you see... good for drama and storytelling !" ; or CREATE these NPCs for them, playing on their soft cord to make them concerned about said NPCs = for the mini-maxing machine, a childhood rival or little brother over-achieveing him, disappointed parents, etc.
It makes for a more living universe, allows drama, and forces your players to roleplay if they want to save face or feel a little more awesome.


In my experience the two biggest Motivators that I have used to get people to role play is Greed and Hate!

GREED
Reward roleplaying. I dont mean with money or experience (though bonus exp for good roleplaying is cool). I mean give them power influence options.

Those that make friends with the NPC get perks, they are the ones the NPC go to with extra information or that help the PC's out of a tight spot. When other players are seeing that the roleplaying is actually giving a "In Game Benefit" they will join the fun as well. If your not playing a game with a Magic-Mart on every corner then those contacts and friends the PC make could be the ones that give them options to buy magic items. Once they see that the roleplaying will earn them things that the door smashing and slaying wont they will start focusing on roleplaying.

HATE
Put in NPC that the PC will HATE but are unkillable. I dont mean the PC are not powerful enough to kill but that the PC are not ALLOWED to kill.

For Example: If the PC's are working for the Baron have the Baron's Son be a total jerk head. Have him snub the PC and mock them in the tavern etc. The PC can just kill the Baron's son not only would they loose the aid of the Baron but it would be a crime and punishable. They will have to seek other ways to get back at the baron's son. This will require roleplaying.


Kalyth wrote:
For Example: If the PC's are working for the Baron have the Baron's Son be a total jerk head. Have him snub the PC and mock them in the tavern etc. The PC can just kill the Baron's son not only would they loose the aid of the Baron but it would be a crime and punishable. They will have to seek other ways to get back at the baron's son. This will require roleplaying.

This approach will not work without some major deus ex machina to save the NPC...in some groups, at least. When I'm on my computer again I might regale you all with my Lords assistant story...

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