RPG player responsibilities

I’ve been thinking alot about what players owe each other at the game table. There’s alot of writing and advice on how to be a better GM, how to run better games, and what your supposed to do or not do to ensure everyone’s fun. However it seems like there isn’t much focused on players. A google search turned up only one blog post(for larps even, but a good read) and a number of discussion that were more about, who should bring chips and whether you had to make a character to match a game or whether a game should match the characters brought.  Considering one of the core tenants of RPG’s seems to be a group game build towards collaborative story telling it seems odd so much is focused on the binary dynamic of GM to Player and so little on player to player.

This is changing, GMless games like Fiasco are forcing that sort of interaction and story games such as FATE and Hillfolk, which grant the player much more narrative control over things outside of their characters direct interactions, demand a focus on player to player relationships. I’m hoping we see more advice on this front as more games address it specifically in the rulespace. I haven’t really formalized my thoughts on this subject more just hoping to create some ripples in the pond that might eventually turn to waves of people giving a better thought out advice.

There’s the obvious, pay attention when it isn’t your turn, don’t pull out your phones, no party fighting in non pvp game, ect but this is looking for more general story focused behaviors.

The first thing and most important is that you are responsible for everyone’s fun. traditionally it’s said the GM is responsible for everyone having a good time, but RPG’s are supposed to be a team activity  with the goal being explicitly have fun. As such that’s a role that falls on everyone. Every player should be aware of what the other players enjoy and don’t enjoy in gaming and should be looking for moments to facilitate them getting the thing they are after. Every player should likewise think before acting whether they are about to shit in some one’s sandwich with their campaign changing choices and consider other peoples enjoyment. Perhaps event take it to the Meta to discuss it.


A coherent story.  The GM is considered the person responsible for trying to weave 4-6 people’s different stories into a single narrative and this is an incredible task. I always feel drained after a game, almost as if I’ve just run a race or spent a day fighting. Players can join in on this task though by looking at each others back stories and considering what the narrative direction of their fellows is and how their actions can compliment that instead of acting independent of it or actively against it.


Be part of the supporting cast. I see this as being done in too ways. Sometimes it’s someone else’s turn in the spot light and as such if instead of trying to become a protagonist in the scene you tried to think of your role that as a supporting actor, the scene should flow better. But also if you are in a group that splits the party often you could offer to play a shop keep or hanger on, ect to help fill out the scene.


Compartmentalize. You are not your character. Often we talk about not Meta gaming as not using information your character wouldn’t have. But it should also include not having emotions they shouldn’t have. Try to be separate the fear, elation, and anger you feel from those that the character has going through her brain. Keep in your head what they know and what they don’t and think how that would make them feel.


There’s probably more and I may come back to this later but that’s good for now. Anything you can think to add?



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