Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Find Something You Can Do and Do It

This isn't advice I normally have to give myself. In fact, this is advice I normally give to players - all players - as a way to enjoy their gaming experience more. However, following up on yesterday's post about speaking up so the GM can hear you I need to post this for myself as much as for anyone. It's a conclusion I came back to after a long discussion with the GM to one of the games I'm in about how they felt bad about the lack of screen time I seemed to get in game, and I felt frustrated that I couldn't get traction on anything to do going forward despite the fact that my character is practically covered with plot items. Yes, I realize that is the biggest gaming 1st world problem ever. I also slapped my forehead when I realized that the solution to my problem was the first piece of advice I give to any new player getting into gaming. So, that aside, let's begin.

Feeling Bored? Do Something
This is pretty much the most basic algorithm for having fun in a gaming group or during a gaming session. If you are bored, do something. Now there are caveats to this (don't be a dick) but ultimately the lesson is plain as day. You find something to do, and you do it.

What Kind Of Thing Should I Do?
Honestly, there's only two criteria you should consider when deciding what thing you should do. 1) Is the action I am going to do in character? 2) Is the action I am going to do fun or likely to start a plot or event?

If the answer to both these questions is yes, then you should do the action. Tell the GM, pass them a note, or do something to get their attention and let them know what you're going to do.

What If The Idea is Dangerous or Stupid?
Who cares? Much like the gaming truism that you can't have good RP without bad rolls, you also won't have good RP if every action you take is dangerous or thoroughly thought out. Think of your favorite piece of fiction. How safe are the actions that those characters take? How many crime dramas could be solved if someone just clued the police in, sat back, and let the cops handle the rest? Yeah, it's boring. The idea here is to have fun. Besides, dangerous and stupid things are known for being the most fun. Why else would "watch this" be one of the most ominous things to hear in the English language?

The Action Ruins Story
This may mean you want to cut back on it, but at the same time maybe not. Remember, one of the criteria for the action is that it is something your character would do. Would your character rob a bank knowing that it could make things hard for their friend (another PC) who just got named constable for the area? Would your character raid a neighboring lord's lands knowing it could start a war while your group is still trying to get their defenses set up? If these aren't things your character would do, don't do them. If they're things that could break or ruin the game for another player, don't do them. But if it is in character and the other players (not PCs, but the players themselves) aren't going to have their experience ruined, then do it and have fun doing it.

Include Other PCs
This one can be tricky. See, a lot of times when folks are doing these actions because they're bored part of the problem is they perceive the issue as "everyone else gets more time than me to do X/Y/Z" and so they don't want to include other PCs because the idea behind this action is that they want the spotlight. However, if you include another PC you increase the time the GM can afford to give you because more of the group is involved. Moreover, you make a link between your characters which will make it easier for you to get involved with them later on as well. Honestly, it can really only help.

I Have Nothing I Can Do
This is the problem I had for a long time with my current L5R character. no matter how hard I thought, I couldn't come up with something that I could do that merited GM attention or screen time. This meant that I was doing stuff, but it was stuff in the background or quiet stuff that I didn't want to take the GM's time away from other things with. However, ultimately, the fact that I couldn't find something to do was mostly just me not looking properly.

Simply put, there is always something you can do with your character. Your character is a person, as a person they have wants, goals, and needs. So act towards one of those things. Don't be afraid to have something you deem unimportant to take some screen time. If it is truly mild and unimportant the GM can move along. The problem is though is that importance is subjective. A conversation over tea between two characters can be very important to one player. As important as dueling to become the Emperor's personal champion is to another. It can also start off just as many quests. Different quests, yes. But quests and goals all the same.

So, Ultimately...
Just get out there and do it.

1 comment:

  1. "Feeling Bored? Do Something"
    Wow, love that. The group I'm GM'ing right now has three "followers", if you will, and since the party has five total, that's quite a few. It's good advice for a GM to keep in mind.

    Of course, I've got to be ready to facilitate whatever direction they then decide to go in, "You want to...what now?"

    One of the 'followers' last session, completely unrelated to a substantial storyline going on, suddenly wanted to go pick-pocketing. At the time, already handling a bunch of story-related issues, I gave this seemingly random activity short-shrift. However, after the session's dust had cleared this situation came to mind and, chagrined, I had to acknowledge that the activity was squarely in-line with that character. I need to support it and, moreover, be prepared to possibly work the ramifications of it into the storyline.