Dragon Snacks 3

It’s the last Tuesday of the month, and that means it’s time for more of those mental morsels, Dragon Snacks! This month, I’m talking about roleplaying. What follows are tips and tricks to make the roleplaying in your game smoother, better, and more consistent.

Why should you portray every NPC? Here’s the situation: two characters are talking to each other, neither are players, and you’re not the best at voices. So, these two similar sounding people are talking to each other, neither of them are using names, and you look like a crazy person. And this entire time, a group of people are idly watching you. Why not put one of them to work? Give the lines for one of those NPCs to one of your players. Let them portray the NPC. They’re going to hear this stuff anyway, why not get them more involved?

Your villain is wishy-washy and has a vague plan. This is a common problem (one I’ve had at least). Sometimes things just start to lose focus. The campaign is being changed by the actions of your players and you’re desperate for them to keep encountering your villain.  You start changing things and putting your villain in situations that just don’t fit his goals. A great exercise to avoid this is to write your villains goal down. Write down his goal, his plan, and how he’s going to get there. This will keep you on course when you’re in the game and your group starts throwing curveballs at you.

How do you make it obvious that players are dealing with members of a certain group? There’s an easy way to solve this problem. Take three adjectives that describe a typical member of your group, write them down, and whenever they meet a nameless member of the group, keep those three adjectives in mind while portraying. For example, in my current campaign, there are a group of warriors dedicated to Bane (evil god of war) called the Wyrmbreaker Knights. If I was to describe them in three words, I’d say “driven, loyal, and cocksure.” Whenever they encounter a member of this group, he’ll act accordingly, and hopefully the players will be able to tell him over an NPC that isn’t a member of the Wyrmbreaker Knights.

There you have it. Some hints to help your roleplaying. Next week, I’ll write about the start of my new campaign. You know how I love beginnings.

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The Other Side of the Table

Recently I was able to play an RPG for the first time in years.  It was weird being on the other side of the table.  We made characters and jumped right in.  My friend was running Nightbane by Palladium games.  I don’t have a ton of experience with Palladium; I know they made a lot of games in the Eighties.  The extent of my experience is that I had a copy of Heroes Unlimited pass through my hands.  I donated it to my college’s gaming club.  I remember it having a lot of charts that you rolled a percentile on to generate powers.

Nightbane wasn’t much different.  There were a lot of charts (that we didn’t find out about until later) that turn you into quite the hideous monster.  In Nightbane, you play as a typical Eighties movie monster.  It’s a pretty cool setting, all of it very old school horror.  Being a huge fan of that sort of thing, this game really hit the spot for me.

Our DM made a smart decision by not having us finish our characters until we transformed for the first time. Usually I don’t like rolling to generate anything in a game, but this time it was a blast.  Maybe the idea of a hideous transformation appealed to me because I’ve been watching too many horror movies lately.  I rolled and found my humble mechanic transformed into a were-weasel with sixteen arms and missing patches of skin.  When I suddenly transformed into a horrible beast and killing a mugger it was awesome.

So we ended up having a neat little session where our characters transformed, dealt with the fact that they were no longer human, ran from the police, and fought a weird creature.  It was fun.  I forgot the simple joy in showing up and letting someone else take my imagination for a ride.  I found myself absorbed in a way that just doesn’t happen when I’m running the show.

The main thing to take away here is to keep things in perspective.  If you usually run the game, never ignore a chance to play.  It will give you new ideas, a new view of gaming, and refresh you for the next session you run.  It’s always good to be on the other side of the table.