Exploring the various means of encouraging proactive play in role playing games.
  rpg     podcast  

My friend Jon and I spend a lot of time thinking about, and talking about role playing games. We recently dove into the topic of encouraging players to take the wheel more often in various role playing games. We ended up talking for a very long time! If this sounds like something that would tickle your fancy, have a listen right here!

Discussion Notes

It's important to provide players with a firm understanding of the boundaries of both the fiction and the mechanics. The more familiar players are in the space, the more empowered they will be to drive the game in the direction they want. Understanding the rules and boundaries lends itself to knowing what is special, and what stands out against the backdrops which the game explores.

Encourage players to share their thoughts more often. Players can often get stuck in trying to find the perfect answer before sharing with the rest of the table, but if they can be encouraged to share their thought process aloud the GM can help keep them on track in pursuit of their goals.

Create space during sessions for players to reaffirm their characters. Establish rituals for beginning the session and diving into the shared imagination of the table. Have players speak aloud what their characters are trying to accomplish, even if it's as simple as just going along with the adventure. A consistent approach to this will form habits that can smooth out the otherwise bumpy parts of a session, which open up more time and energy able to be devoted to proactive play overall.

Consider that the longer it takes for players to see the results of their choices, the more unclear the impact of those choices become. In situations like encounters, or combat, players are able to see the outcome of their choices almost immediately. However in longer form scenarios that stretch across an entire session or longer, it's harder to determine what exactly drove each outcome. Make full use of game systems that reveal the inner workings of long term effects from player actions, such as reputation points or influence systems.

Allow players to be the arbiters of truth more often than not. In many situations the GM can pass the torch of narrative authority to the acting player, and make adjustments to their contributions as necessary. If the overall goal is to facilitate a collaborative storytelling environment, passing narrative authority around the table will ultimately guide players toward taking a more active role at the table as they are given direct responsibility over their actions.

More Details?!

The full recording goes into a lot more detail with some examples from both of our experiences running and playing games. Give it a listen!!


I'm Kyle Pulver and this is my current home on the internet. I worked on Super Meat Boy: Forever, and Rival Rush, and before that I made games like Offspring Fling and depict1. I also draw stuff, create tools and applications for tabletop role playing games, tinker with general app development, as well as design and develop games of both the tabletop and digital variety!

I'm a cis bi boy currently residing in Seattle with my partner Corey. I have adhd and anxiety but I make it work most of the time. I'm usually down to talk about whatever so feel free to send me a message over email or twitter if you have any questions, concerns, comments, or accolades. I am not accepting criticism at this time.








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