© 2019 Legends of CascadoN

player types

   One of the hardest parts about running games is dealing with players....  Lots of people play games, so the variety of challenges GMs face is ever growing. The LoC Crew compiled a little list of player stereotypes and brainstormed how to handle them! By no means is this an exhaustive list, and most people will be some sort of combination of multiple types. The goal of this is to help inspire you to find better solutions than putting-up with someone.

Bro-Gamer

   The bro-gamer wants to tell you all about that time he had that character that did that stuff with the things. They are enthusiastic about past triumphs and awkward about anything serious/emotional. Bro-gamers have to have the last word, often interrupt, and often lack attention for details, like, you know, the plot. Sometimes they come with another player, sometimes as a boyfriend/girlfriend, making it difficult to get rid of them without loosing someone else as well. The bro-gamer often delights in telling other people how to play their class/character.

   HOWEVER - bro-gamers tend to know the system, and like to “win” as much as possible. You can harness their passion and excitement and redirect it to the plot!

  • Provide consequences for bad/inappropriate in-character behavior.

  • Don’t let them boss around other players - support your other players in making their own choices, especially if they go against what bro-gamer suggests.

  • Require attention - make details matter so that the bro-gamer will be less effective in game if they haven’t been paying attention to who/what/where the plot involves.

  • Provide emotional/mental challenges for Bro-gamer’s character.

Cellphone/Laptop

   You probably don’t understand why Cellphone keeps coming back. Everytime you play, Cellphone is plugged into social media, or playing some game on their phone/computer. Sometimes they even interrupt gameplay to share some meme with the table, or laugh at inopportune moments, disrupting your flow/tone. Not to mention, Cellphone doesn’t generally have a good grasp on game mechanics, and slows down combat to a crawl by asking questions like, “Which one is the d10” constantly and then picking up the d8 every time. *sigh*

   HOWEVER - Cellphone might just not know how to play! It’s possible that Bro-gamer has been bossing Cellphone around, or By-the-Book made Cellphone’s character, or something. You never know what depths lurk beneath the vacant stare of a distracted player.

  • If you can, just ban cellphones/laptops from the table.

  • Don’t let other players tell Cellphone what to do - force Cellphone to be engaged and to learn how to play.

  • You can always kill off their character if they didn’t make it for themselves and work with them to make a new one that they actually know how to play.

  • Put them in the Bunny Suit.

  • Provide emotional/mental challenges for Cellphone’s character.

LOOK-AT-ME

   Gods help us. LOOK-AT-ME always finds a way to one up everyone else. The fighter took two damage? LOOK-AT-ME is gonna throw themselves in the fire to take 3. The cleric fails a fort save and gets seasick? LOOK-AT-ME decides they have seasickness too and makes a production of puking overboard. The wizard runs out of spell components? LOOK-AT-ME misplaces their quiver. LOOK-AT-ME will make up their own problems to make sure that they have the worst problems, often detracting from the experience for the other players. This also makes it hard to put actual story points in the game for them because they can’t stop making up their own.

 

   HOWEVER - There are qualities of LOOK-AT-ME that can be helpful! LOOK-AT-ME is creative, and wants to play. LOOK-AT-ME wants a dramatic story and wants terrible things to happen to them. You can work with that.

  • Don’t feed the monster. When LOOK-AT-ME starts acting out, just move on. Don’t let them have the spotlight.

  • Get them involved in the actual story, and the plot lines of other characters. This can be in the form of a secret they have to keep that can have dire consequences for another player, or giving a promotion to another party member that gives them authority over LOOK-AT-ME.

  • What does LOOK-AT-ME want? Are there not enough conflicts and points of interest in your story? Do they want to play the game you want to run?

  • Provide emotional/mental challenges for LOOK-AT-ME’s character.

Elaborate Backstory

So, Backstory already created a campaign in their mind and ran this character through it. The result is their character, fully formed, and amazing. The problem is, where do you go from there? The other characters have a backstory, sure, but it’s, like, “Was orphan, became thief” and “Was orphan, became priest.” Backstory handed you a 300 word novella about their character. The problem now is that Backstory’s character is stagnant and unchanging while the other characters are delving into the plot and changing as a result. Meanwhile, Backstory doesn’t get what everyone else is to emotionally invested in. Backstory is sometimes also By-The-Book, so it seems like they are more interested in the rules than the game.

   HOWEVER - Backstory is obviously invested in their character! If you can integrate their character into the world and the story, then you can help their character grow along with the other players!

  • Perversion. MWAHAHA! Take the plothooks Backstory provides in their backstory and twist them. Dead parents? Nope! You thought they were dead, but really they were on the run for war crimes and now they’re the next boss you have to take down. Dead brother? Nope! Lich brother now! Happy spouse raising four children at home? Nope! Your spouse is secretly a demon that’s been feeding off the lifeforce of the children and corrupting them into imps while you’ve been away. ^_^

  • Integration. Write the next chapter of the character’s story into your plot. Set a goal for them that requires Backstory to change and develop.

  • Provide emotional/mental challenges for Backstory’s character.

Q&A

   This player usually comes with Cellphone in tow, and exhibits many qualities of By-The-Book, but the way you know you have a Q&A character is when they look at another and ask, “Are you sure?” Questioning the actions of other players/characters makes them doubt their course of action, despite the fact that they made those choices for themselves. It is a way for Q&A to control the flow of the game. They constantly tell other players what to do (You should…) and question choices they disagree with. Q&A thinks there is a right way to play and it’s their way; they ask the questions and provide the answers.

   HOWEVER they do sometimes have valid insights and suggestions. Q&A can be a productive team mate if you can help them be supportive rather than judgmental.

  • Speak to them out of game about letting other players play their characters.

  • Interrupt them in game and direct focus back on what the original player wants to do.

  • Guide and support other players before Q&A gets a chance.

  • Provide emotional/mental challenges for Q&A’s character.

By-The-Book

   This player knows it all. He can tell what monster you’re using by the page number. Every rule in the book is considered gospel to BtB. This gets annoying and detracts from game play because BtB also isn’t great at anything that doesn’t have rules. I mean, what skill do you use to seduce? Bluff? Diplomacy? Who cares?! BtB will get lost in the rules and arguing semantics while the rest of the party rolls their eyes and waits roll some dice.

   HOWEVER BtB can be a powerful ally for helping new players learn how combat and things work. You can use BtB to avoid looking things up, and it will help them feel important. Just be careful that they aren’t being a Q&A, telling other people what to do.

  • Make up your own monsters. Make up house rules. The GM has the final say. Look in just about any rulebook and there’s a section up near the beginning that basically says, “Hey, these are just guidelines; do what you want!”

  • Focus on what is more interesting. If the rules make the fight more interesting, use them. If the rules make the fight LESS interesting, then why bother?

  • Provide emotional/mental challenges for By-The-Book’s character.

Game-Therapy

   This is a player that is working out real life issues in the game setting without letting anyone know beforehand. Game-Therapy gets tangled up in their own issues that may not be the character’s issues - and those issues may not even be in the story. And since it’s a personal issue it also brings a lot of emotion that may not be appropriate. No one wants to pause the game to help someone with their abandonment issues.

   HOWEVER, they are emotionally attuned to something, and if you can redirect that passion and create separation between the player and character, Game-Therapy can be a great asset!

  • Pick your battles. Some people need an outlet, and if it doesn’t interfere in game play, then that’s okay. All things in moderation.

  • Have an outside conversation with Game-Therapy about what’s happening.

  • Maybe a new character for them….

  • Provide emotional/mental challenges for Game-Therapy’s character - separate from their own issues.

The Patient

   This player is invested in the story, wants to see it unfurl, but doesn’t necessarily have to have immediate involvement to feel included. They show up every week, and seem to have a good time, but does not seem to be affecting the story in any way. They do their stuff, they know how to play, and it’s not like they’re unhappy… but… they’re just kinda there. This can be distressing to the GM, because it looks like they aren’t really playing the same way others might be.

   HOWEVER the patient is really just waiting for something to react to, or they are just shy, or both. If you work with them to help them feel more comfortable with the group and find out what they want (which might be nothing), The Patient can be an awesome party member.

  • Give their character a purpose that connects to the main story

  • Create a deciding moment with a black & white decision with real consequences

  • Just accept them the way they are and move on

  • Provide emotional/mental challenges for Patient’s character

The Inquisitor

   When the Inquisitor sits down at your table, they want very much to know how your world works, why, and how they can control it, usually through others. They ask a lot of questions; be careful which ones you answer. They will find any chinks in your continuity, be prepared to smooth them over, or deflect. The Inquisitor will also manipulate party members to suit their own designs, or just for funsies.

 

   HOWEVER this player does the work for you. If you let them, they will create interesting plots and conflicts, you just have to rein them in from time to time, or they will just, sometimes literally, take over.

  • Consider letting them break the world. If they are doing something cool, roll with it.

  • Review your own material, and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but it’s not important to what you’re doing.”

  • Provide emotional/mental challenges for Inquisitor’s character

Active

   Most of the time, you are pleased to have an Active at the table. This player does things. They are decisive. They like to roll dice. They are sometimes too quick to act, and overshadow players who need more time to consider (see The Patient). But, in general, they move the plot along, and aren’t afraid to take risks.

  • Encourage when you can, but pull them back when they get pushy

  • Involve them in the plots of others, to use them to motivate story lines of other characters.

  • Provide emotional/mental challenges for Active’s character

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