Happy players (and remember, you’re a player, too) make for a good game.
So how do you make your players happy? Try these four tips on for size…
1. Make props
Have you ever met a player who didn’t like props? Even the lamest attempt at making a prop of any kind makes my eyes light up when I play — and if you go all out, I will frame your props and put them on my wall.
Pound for pound, the amount of time you invest in prop-making for your game has one of the best game prep:value ratios around.
And if you’re one of those GMs who makes elaborate props for every session, I salute you — you have figured out something that, despite knowing it’s a good idea, I always fall short on.
2. Use their character backgrounds
What’s the single largest investment your players make in your campaign? Easy: it’s their characters.
Simple as that.
Every time you use a PC’s background in the game, you draw that PC’s player more deeply into the world, and get them more heavily invested in the game. And that investment pays off for everyone at the table, because an invested player makes the game more fun for everyone.
3. Incorporate spotlight moments
A rule of thumb I tried hard to follow in my last campaign was including a spotlight moment for each PC in every single session. It didn’t always work out (it was harder than I thought!), but just having that goal in mind during prep made the game better.
Much as using PC backgrounds in play ups player investment, so does giving every character their time in the spotlight.
The sessions your players will likely remember most are the ones where they took center stage — or someone else was in the spotlight, and played their ass off.
4. Do what you’re best at
Man, did I spend years paddling upstream before I figured this out.
But if you’re anything like me, you might figure out what you’re best at but decide — foolishly, in my case — that that’s not what you want to be best at. That can be a fine decision, but it can also lead to tons of frustration for you and your players.
When you focus on your strengths, you make your GMing style clear to your players. The next time you play, they’ll have a better idea what to expect.
And you’ll have more fun, because when you do the thing you’re best at, you tend to be on. You’re in your zone, rocking it, and that vibe is infectious.
Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t stretch yourself; getting out of your comfort zone is critical to becoming a better GM. Just don’t fight what you’re good at — instead, embrace it.
What would make your list of four ways to make your players happy?