I’ve recently completed a move to Mississippi and I have two new groups of players in two very different games. I’m running a very new player friendly game for some people who are unfamiliar with role-playing in general, and I’m running a somewhat advanced game with a mix of experienced players and new to gaming players.
As I get used to the new play styles, I’m noticing some interesting things about the groups. The game for the new group is tailored towards teaching what role-playing is and is very relaxed and story driven. It is very free-form and collaborative, but at the same time very guided by me to let them explore the elements of gaming. I notice them being a little lost as to what they can do at times, and I’ve been working to help them over these humps of inexperience. They aren’t used to the concept of tracking loot or keeping a list of what is going on from session to session, so I make sure to get that written down for them so they can remember it for next time. Every session shows them picking up a bit more of what gaming is and doing a bit more for themselves, but there are still many areas they shy away from.
The other group, however, is a mix of players both experienced and new. I’ve been amazed watching how they grab different elements of the game to take under their control. One person has been filling up my wiki’s NPC list like crazy – full of detail and ready made hooks. Another person has been taking detailed notes of the session, keeping things on track. Another has been digging into the roleplaying and helping to move the story along. I barely have to plan anything, I just let them lead me along and help solidify the central plot. Usually I work out systems to help engage the group and reward initiative like this, but this group is gung ho on everything.
I look at these two different groups and I compare them to my previous group back in Ohio. We had a groove going, we knew what we liked and what the responsibilities were. I knew what to expect from the players and felt pretty settled in how they did things and which players would work in what ways. I knew what techniques to use to engage them and where to step back and let their enthusiasm run wild. In some ways, my mind got settled and assumed the things we did in that group were pretty standard for gaming groups in general, even if my logical side knew that idea was bunk.
This reflection on how the players of each group have been interacting differently makes me wonder, what exactly can we expect from players? What are the players responsibilities in the game? Obviously this question is a bit loaded. Player responsibilities will change from group to group and each group has a particular play style. So that’s why I want to open this up as a question to you:
What do you expect from your group? What responsibilities do you expect, or at least feel, players should take on?
Is it their responsibility to fill in the details of NPCs they want included from their back-story? Is it a players responsibility to keep track of the loot they acquire? What things do you wish your players would do? What are you frustrated about that they don’t do? With the wide range of diversity in GMs and Gaming styles here on the stew’s community, I can’t wait to see what responsibilities and roles players fill at our tables.