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TYPES OF ROLE-PLAYERS
A very old and unedited article I wrote about the types of role-players I've known over 35 years of gaming. Strong language advisory.
TYPES OF ROLEPLAYERS
The Video Gamer:
They don’t have a clue. That’s not to say you can’t have fun with them, but they view roleplaying like some MMORPG – kill everything, collect experience and move to the next level. If placed in a situation that involves sacrifice, moral/ethical considerations, or acting, they’re usually lost in space. The solution to this is obvious – run them through a series of mental challenges until they get the idea. If they have nothing to shoot at, they’re bound to get involved in some actual roleplaying.
The Reader’s Digest Roleplayer:
This player type loves to fill in all the blanks before doing anything. Their favorite line is “if that doesn’t work, I try this…” They don’t even try the first thing – they want you to hurry up. “Let me solve the problem,” they seem to say, “and move on.” Ignore everything past the first action – always – and make them roleplay through that. By the time they’re done with the first action, they will have forgotten their shopping list of other things to do.
This is not meant to offend, really. Asshole gamers can be great fun – as long as they’re getting their way. They love challenges, but hate losing. They argue rules, threaten to walk out on the game, and other bullshit. How do we handle these gamers? The second they get out of line, switch to another player and give them the attention the Asshole doesn’t deserve. When they see that they’re not getting their way, they must then choose: your way or the highway. Most will choose your way, trust me.
The Method Actor:
This gamer throws himself or herself into the role. This can often get pretty scary. Don’t fret, these are die-hard, solid-state gamers who live and die by the genre. They can be great fun as well, but when they start introducing themselves as their character in otherwise inappropriate settings, call an intervention. Run them through several adventures with different characters, just to get the source of their obsession out of their minds for awhile.
Nothing is more annoying than the player who doesn’t take anything seriously. I mean, everyone has had that one player (I’ve had at least ten) that would rather see what you’ll let them get away with than actually participate in the story. I let them go off on their little tangents, crack jokes and have fun – by themselves. If you don’t want to play with the rest of the gang, so be it. But my responsibility is to the group as a whole, not the one person in the group who can’t be bothered with the rest of us.
The Power Gamer:
Their ability to create invincible characters is astounding. They make characters that run roughshod over your entire world. Nothing to them is difficult. They never face challenges because their stats are so friggin’ high you can’t send major deities to fight them. My simple solution? It’s what I call the House Fire Effect. Take the Combat God and put him in a situation where all the combat skill in the world doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. If that same character had to save innocents from a house fire – hence the name -- he would be forced to roleplay instead of fight.
The Rules Rapist:
Of all these, this is probably the best to describe me. I love creating original concepts for characters, and having them work exactly as I planned. Sometimes, this requires using rules no one ever noticed, or interpretations no one ever suspected. So my usual solution to the Rules Rapist is to out-do them. Of course, it’s easier to kill their characters in a particularly embarrassing fashion. If your player is a combination Power Gamer/Rules Rapist, kill the character within the first five minutes of game play and save yourself hours of unnecessary trouble.
Hey, we’ve all been there. We try things that are patently impossible according to any set of rules in the universe. We make cannon fodder instead of characters. My first character was a paladin who dropped his pants within the first ten minutes of the game over a cute little sacrificial virgin. We’ve all been a Newbie. With that having been said, we often coddle the Newbie. The best thing we can do for the Newbie is introduce them to the basics in an objective fashion. Okay, ignore a roll or two. Explain why they can’t simply make the Atlantic Ocean evaporate. But don’t forget that one day the Newbie won’t be a Newbie anymore – pop the cherry quickly.
The Science Guy:
This is the guy who tells you what is impossible all the time. His physics degree sits right next to his character sheet. This guy (and it’s ALWAYS a guy!) hates games with magic in them because he can’t complain about how things are physically impossible. Now, sometimes this can help a GM. Sometimes it eats up valuable game time while the GM receives an impromptu course on thermodynamics or weapon technology. How to deal with this? Two ways: One, the Science guy might have a valid point that helps add realism and detail to the story. Don’t be too proud to incorporate good ideas. Two, lay down the Law. Use GM Fiat and remind him it’s just a friggin’ game – pull the slide rule out of your ass and play.
The Other GM:
Yes, they do constitute a problem. These are either GMs with more experience who question your interpretation of the rules (they should know better, but they usually do it anyway) or newbies that have certain expectations. In the first case, tell the Other GM to shut the fuck up or scarper. They wouldn’t have you questioning their style of play, so shut them down quickly and decisively. Give no quarter. As for the newbie, explain that different GMs play in different ways. If they pay attention, they might find that “different’” doesn’t mean “wrong.”
This guy or gal loves to go against type. They make up evil characters for groups of heroes. They make up characters that totally violate the genre, just to entertain their iconoclastic desires. They want to prove themselves by confronting other characters, being a hard-ass and ignoring the story. The best way to deal with this is directly. Tell them to masturbate alone and on their own time. Most roleplayers are iconoclasts, but roleplaying is a chance to be a part of something with a bunch of friends. Don’t let the Judas ruin that.
Sorry, but it has to be addressed. Female players often feel they’re missing out on something, and in a way they are – the male bonding ritual is truly gender-specific. That, and women do see roleplaying differently that men. They commonly associate their characters as imaginary versions of themselves, and often see other player characters as representatives of their players as well. The female player always brings a different perspective to any game, and should always be welcomed. With that having been said, it’s important to play on their strengths. They have the most fun being themselves, however exaggerated or outrageous. If you know them well enough, use that knowledge to give them opportunities to cut loose.
This is the flip side of the Asshole. He’s typically the one who gets stomped on by other players. He’ll wait until the other players take the lead before taking any action for himself. When he loses, it takes all his strength to keep from crying. Get him out of the box, help him get a few victories under his belt, and build up his confidence. Run solo adventures with him and show him a few tricks. In other words, take him to the gym and make him work out so he can go back to the beach and kick that guy’s ass.