Friday, August 17, 2012

Discussion: Plucking Wallflowers

It isn't a surprise that wallflowers - is that the terms you kids still use - are a part of many gaming groups. Among the reasons people game escapist fantasy is a big one, and often the people who are quite shy in real life will play games to try and be one of those "people that actually matter." However, once things get going their natural tendency to hide and become reclusive wins out and they end up sitting at the table and perhaps only occasionally contributing.

Now, I don't want to make these people feel uncomfortable. But I did want to take a shot at doing a sort of collaborative advice column with this week's discussion. So, my discussion prompt for today is this: How would you draw a wallflower out of their corner and into the activity of the game?

The way I've seen work the best, at least short term, is to dedicate a small chunk of the game session to them. Even if they don't do anything super important, just give them the time to flex their character a bit and get used to talking and being the focal point. Let them pull back when they want, obviously, but give them that chance to try it out front and center. Later, when everyone is involved, make sure that you aren't ignoring them or missing out on them due to other activity. This can be hard, so it can be worth it to ask one of the more outgoing players to take the wallflower under their wing.

As a player if you want to help, one of the best things I've seen work is to attach your character to them. That way, even while they hide, you can have some quiet RP with them and help bring them out into the world while providing a shield should they get nervous.

How about you? What have you tried?


  1. I've found it's usually other players who are the best at this. Any experienced player knows that they could easily steal the limelight from the rest of group, especially the 'wallflowers'. What's nice is that they don't. Sure, they'll tend to be the ones coming up with the plan, but they often, if not always go out of their way to find a pivotal role for the wallflower, to give them a chance to shine. yes, the GM may have thought of that himself, but having what is essentially, a character suggest it means the wallflower shouldn't feel like they've been singled out, which can actually make some of them withdraw even further.

  2. I've found that with one of the wallflowers in the game I run one of the best ways is to make sure I know what the character is best at, and make sure situations come up that cater to that strength so the player gets comfortable in the character. As they get comfortable in the character they tend to extend themselves more.

  3. Offer to run a sub-session with a smaller subset of the whole group of players that can focus on the wallflower's character either directly (over time) or indirectly (to start.)

    This sub-session should simply be used to help flesh out the wallflower's character in relation to other characters.

    Make sure the cadre chosen for this smaller group is populated with those identified by shortymonster above - they should be experienced players willing to relinquish the limelight as soon as the wallflower takes the reins.