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Pen and Paper: The Types of Role Players

Updated on April 28, 2013

Humanity is strange in that we like games. We don't just play games when we can, we build our schedule around when we can play games. We like to play; the social interaction, the imagination that can required, the skill and talent that we can harness in a safe setting, it's all fun. While some like to run and lead the game, nothing beats playing.

We don't play the same way, either. Even if it's the same game, we all play differently. When it comes to roleplaying games, this truth holds. Like all Dungeon Masters are different, so are each players. With a game that allows for anything you can imagine, people finds all sorts of ways to work the system to their style. Action heroes, deep thinkers, thieves and chaos junkies all surround the table. The question is; which are you?

The Role Player

Often found playing: Paladins, Clerics, the opposite gender, philosophers, gnomes.

These are the players who get into their character's head before they get into their stats. They love playing a character that allow them to take on a new role and interact with the game world. They're a World Builder's best friend because they want to explore everything just to see how their character would react.

Not to say they don't care about statistics. But their stats are more to describe the character as a character, not a combatant. If there is a hindrance system in the rule set, you can bet they're taking some. Losing an arm might seem like a problem but it only gives them a deeper back story.

Role Players love alignments because it gives them direction and something to struggle with, internally. They're going to play a lawful character so they can see how far they can go without betraying their hearts. They're going to play evil character because they want to have a redemption story. These players are extremely helpful because without them, nothing would get done. These are the players who initiate conversations, dig up clues and solve mysteries. They ask questions without the Dungeon Master needing to nudge them along. They add the flavor to tabletop games that makes the medium so enjoyable. It's not readers theater, but it's close.

The Roll Player

Often found playing: Fighters, barbarians, other types of fighters, monsters, things with eight arms so they can hit eight times.

If Roll Players have a soundtrack, it's the sound of dice hitting the table. Nothing is sweeter to them than a natural twenty, an exploding die or the highest card. The thing is they usually get them. Don't ask me how, call it superstition, but these players somehow know how to find the magic dice that come up high. They don't even need to be paying attention, they roll and monsters die.

Roll Players are the action heroes of a game. They're the first ones into a fight and the last ones out. Odds are, they started the fight. When the other players fail at diplomacy, these guys and girls argue with their fists. The games they remember fondly aren't the ones where characters learned a lesson but the ones where they stood against a whole army. It's why they pay so much attention to their stats, with high physical traits and as many weapons as they can carry. They want to level up and they want to do it quickly.

Sure, they can be tough to deal with sometimes but chances are they're the ones saving your life. When your party's thief is caught or the cleric is down, it's up to these tanks to be the hero of the day.

The Chaos

Often found playing: Magic users, thieves, evil characters, anything that involves fire, characters who are too weak to get into the trouble they find.

These are the chaos junkies, the trouble makers, the lovable scamps and the guys who get themselves and the whole party killed. They're the Deadpool of players, the Joker, the Mister Mxyzptlk. They play for the fun of seeing what they can get away with. They're not bad, they just have no boundaries. And why should they? Their in a world of collective imaginations. It's insane in there and you got to be a match for the madness.

They like character that seem cool, like thieves and wizards, but it's never enough. The magic they know is never powerful enough and they can never escape from a crime well enough. They don't have the best stats and their equipment is as makeshift as it comes. They run into a group of baddies only to run back to the group for help. They might not even mean to be the chaos, it's just their nature.

They tend to go evil without meaning to, they burn down towns because it has to happen, they punch diplomats in the face because it's too funny not to and their only goal in life is to be the first orc to invent marshmallows. To all Dungeon Masters, heed this warning. If you give these players power, it will destroy them and perhaps your game. Give sparingly and always be ready to pull a deus ex machina out to save them if you must. It's their way. God help the DM with more than one of these at their table.

Which Type of Player Are You?

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Which Are You?

There's different ways to describe players but these three are most basic I've found. As with most things, players might fall into more than one category every now and then, but they will always remain true to their hearts. A Roll Player might like to get into his character's head just fine, but his true love will be the dice. A chaos might try to control himself but odds are the attempt will be too much strain.

Knowing which type of player you are can be helpful in building your character and interacting with others. Though, nothing's worse than a self-aware chaos bringer. But, knowing you like to role play over dice will save you the stress of getting your stats just right before the game begins. As a Dungeon Master, knowing your players is the best way to ensure a good game, balanced to their needs. Which are you?


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    • ScottLoogan profile image


      5 years ago from High Point, NC, USA

      I'm the Chaos.Most of the time. Other times......spoon!

    • Geekdom profile image


      5 years ago

      I tend to go with the Roll Player. I like the adrenalin of not knowing how the dice are going to roll. Maybe that is why I like gambling so much.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I think I would qualify myself as a deep thinker, but many people may deny that :)


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