If you are interested in becoming a better roleplayer, here are some advanced tips to help you get the most out of your gaming experience. Some of these tips might seem advanced and that’s why they are here. Some of these tips might seem basic yet I hardly ever see players doing them, so that’s why they are here.
Be The Best Player You Can Be – The best advice on becoming a better player is simply strive to become a better player! If you had a job as a roleplayer, wouldn’t you want to be the best player possible? Talk to the gamemaster and other players and work with them to make the game the best it can be. Support other players in the actions they choose, even if it isn’t the action you would have chosen. Be a positive and supportive player that always strives to be better.
Put Extra Effort In Prior To Showing Up – There are many players that their ‘prep’ for gaming is making sure they have all their stuff before they show up. If that’s the level of effort you want to put in, that’s your deal. I try to respect the fact that the gamemaster has probably spent several hours thinking about the session and planning things out. I think it’s only fair to spend a little time, even just fifteen minutes, thinking about the upcoming session and how I can make it awesome.
Build An Extensive, Open-Ended Background For Your Character – Sometimes fleshing out your character with a solid background can really help you play at the gaming table. If you know certain things about the character, it can help you determine how you react in-game to certain situations. If you make the background open-ended, the gamemaster can sometimes weave aspects of your background into the campaign without too much effort. It enhances the game for everyone and maybe it will get others to do it as well!
Try Gamemastering At Least Once – I’ve heard it a million times, “I just like playing. I don’t think I would make a good gamemaster.” Maybe that is true, but you never know until you try. Plus, you get experience learning what it is like from the other side of the screen. We had a long-time player that asked us if he could gamemaster a Delta Green session for us. I could tell everyone was a little wary, even him! He ended up running a mini-campaign for about four sessions that was one of the most memorable experiences we all ever had. We all were blown away by how much fun we had and he was extremely proud of himself that we all had a great time during those sessions. To this day it remains one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve ever had during gaming.
Try New Game Settings, Systems, And Characters – We all have certain things we like to play. Maybe we really like fantasy settings, the d20 system, or playing an Elf Ranger. If that’s your thing, great! But try expanding your horizons every once in a while. Play different game settings and try out different game systems. If you always play a certain type of character, switch it up and play the opposite. You will be challenged, stretch your gaming muscles, and you may just discover something different that you really enjoy.
But… Know The Type Of Game You Want To Play – Be upfront at the start of a campaign with the gamemaster and other players regarding the type of game you want to play. Different people want different things from games. Gamemasters should be upfront about the type of game they’re running and players should be upfront about the type of game they want to play right from the start. Gamemasters aren’t mindreaders so talking to them will help. The goal is for everyone to have fun. This isn’t saying you can’t be flexible and try something different, but if you know a certain type of game just isn’t your thing, why play?
If You’re Not Having Fun, Take A Break – Even if you invest more time in playing than you do in your job, it shouldn’t ‘feel’ like a job. It’s easy to contribute and have fun when you’re honestly invested in the game. If you’re not having fun for an extended period of time, know when to pull the plug (even just temporarily). I have no idea why players continue to show up at a weekly game when they’re not having fun. It’s like a WoW crack addict that continues to log in daily, yet they have no idea why they do anymore because the game stopped being fun long ago. They simply do it out of habit now. Take a break if you need it and come back when you’re refreshed and ready to rock.
Thank you to all the gamers at the RPG.net Forums and Dungeons & Dragons Forums for helping me brainstorm for this article. You guys and gals gave fantastic advice that will help make me a better gamer!