Monday, 7 December 2015

Hints & Tips - THE QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN GROUP

On the first Monday of every month, read a new hint or tip from Jonathan Hicks, as featured on www.rpg.net and available on Kindle as 'The Book of Roleplaying Hints, Tips and Ideas'.

There are quite a few roleplaying groups out there. Which type are you most suited to?

A myriad of different gaming groups has spawned a lot of different styles of gaming. You get your heroes, your wargame-types, your freeformers... each group has a different approach to how the game should be played. Roleplaying has come a long way since the days of ‘don your armour and draw your sword to kill lots of nasties and get the gold from the dungeon’ type games.

Hundreds of groups all over the world have their own little quirks and house rules that make their game unique, but on the surface a lot of groups share the same traits. How do you play your games?

The SOCIABLES don't take their gaming too seriously. In fact, as soon as they are distracted by anything that they think is more entertaining, they'll drop their dice and take off. Oh, they'll get together on a pre-set evening to do a game, but there's a chance that the game will fall apart half-way through the session, or maybe it won't even take off. This is because that roleplaying is just another way of getting together. Groups like this don't usually last long. Sometimes they'll have a good game where they'll get into a situation they can relate to, but those games are few and far between.

WARGAMERS are almost exactly what the term means- they play the game to conduct detailed combat situations, and roleplaying pretty much takes a back seat. Their characters are two dimensional, almost always being a part of a military outfit, or at least trained that way. The term 'hack n` slash' applies to these kind of groups, who don't think they've had a decent night's game unless someone has been killed or something has been blown up. Considering a lot of games are especially created for conflict and war, these kinds of groups are quite common.

The FLAMBOYANT groups are the ones that belong on the stage. Their games are more or less freeform, with the rules used only to govern confrontational situations. They'll jump from their chairs and wave their arms about to physically express their character's actions. The place they play their games will be decorated to suit the mood of the game, like having candles lying around or drapes over the windows. Each player is an actor in their own right, and would rather decide a situation using their skill as a thespian rather than what they have written on the character sheet.

Another common kind of group is the RULESMONGERS. The rulebook is law, and deviating from that law is wrong. These gamers will quote rules for every situation, be it combat or climbing a rope or NPC interaction. Half the evening's session will be taken up by flipping through the rulebook or companion volumes, checking charts and tables and passing books across the table. Some of it is also taken up by disagreements on a rule interpretation. The players question each GM decision and the GM checks every player action carefully.

MOTIVATED roleplayers are the ones who only really want what's best for their character. They want decent equipment, better skills and a higher status. They'll play their characters to the hilt to get the most out of it, and try to reap in rewards and prestige. They'll place their character sheet and applicable notes in clear binders, and flesh out the character with complicated backgrounds and a predetermined goal. Likewise, the GM will have detailed notes on all the NPC's the PC's will meet detailed locations and maybe even draw up a sequence of events that happen around the players.

These sorts of groups' spawn the STORYTELLERS, who play the game to unfold a plot that has the traditional beginning, middle and end. These groups can be quite linear with their play, with the GM guiding the players along a story already conceived. They can also be quite unpredictable, what with the players wanting their characters to do what's best for them, and the GM trying to cater for all the different PC's by introducing alternate plots.

INTENSE groups are the ones who get right under the skin of their characters, giving PC's and NPC's alike psychological traits which go beyond what they have written down on their character sheet. They play characters with dark pasts or horrible phobias, and react to situations with intricately fleshed out actions. They have personal reasons (at least, personal to their character) why they are acting in a certain way. Their campaigns revolve around personal tragedy and psychological trauma, with moments of high drama and tense atmosphere thrown in.

Finally, there are the CASUALS, who are willing to play the game but are indifferent to the outcome. They'll crack jokes throughout the game, make light of grave situations and generally be laid back about aspects of the session that would mean a lot to any other roleplayer. These groups tend to change GM's frequently, and PC's are quite expendable. The players will play their characters, sure, but if they died it would be no big deal. The scenarios are pretty much open, allowing the players free rein of their environment with the GM winging the games to give the players something to do.


Different types of groups produce different kinds of players and GM's. Some players don't mix well, however. Could you imagine taking a rulesmonger and slapping him in the middle of a flamboyant game? It doesn't take much to realise that it would not work. A rulesmonger would probably fit in better with a group of wargamers. A motivated player would probably mix well with a group of flamboyants. A sociable type would probably get bored very quickly with any other group.

So which of these groups would you fit in well with? Perhaps you would fit in with more than one. You may be a rulesmonger who likes to be intense about the games, or you may be flamboyant gamer who has a lot of motivation for the character being portrayed.

Better still, which of these groups is like your group?