There is a dynamic at every game table that revolves around the players and the roleplayers. Players come in to roll dice and play the game mechanically, but roleplayers are a different breed altogether. They want to fully immerse themselves in the game by becoming their character for a few hours. While there is nothing wrong with being either of these things, there are a few things that need to be understood before throwing random people in a party together. Having both players can be a lot of fun…if you consider having dogs and cats in the same room for an hour fun. Don’t get me wrong, some days it can be a very fulfilling experience to have both sides blend and create something together. In my experience though, it usually goes a little something like this:
Roleplayer: Ho, friend! What course shall we take regarding *insert conundrum here*
Rollplayer: Did you just say “ho”? *snickers audibly* But really, I don’t know. I’m rolling pretty high tonight so I think we’ll be good either way.
Roleplayer: But we must consider the lives at stake! If we do *choice A* we may become rich, but there are so many who will suffer for our greed!!
Rollplayer: Seriously though, how much gold are we talking for that one? Could I get my bow enchanted?
And so it spirals on and on leaving both players a little frustrated. We have covered similar topics to this one in previous articles, and there we said that nobody is wholly one or the other. Everybody is some blend of immersion and mechanics because that’s how the game is designed to function. Whether you’re playing on a d20 system, a narrative dice system, or any other system available, roleplay and mechanics are two ever-present forces. They’re essentially the yin and yang of tabletop gaming. You need to have both to play at all. Finding the balance between the two (within yourself and within the group) can be a bit of a struggle but it pays off when you are able to flesh out your character through simple dialogue while also being a total bad@$$ when it comes to combat. I have been lucky enough in the past to have groups of friends who are good balances of both. While all of us lean one way or another towards what we prefer to be in a game (I lean towards the RP side of things) we all respect the other side and have a good understanding of how play into it.
Now I want to send a quick message to those on either end of the spectrum.
To the Roleplayers:
Keep doing what you’re doing. Immersing yourself in your character is a wonderful thing and a rare thing for people to be comfortable with. Understand, though, that not everyone shares your rare ability to deeply connect with a fictional character. Don’t try to force people to become their character in voice and action if they’re uncomfortable. This will do nothing but drive them away from the game. Learn to dial it back a bit when necessary. Additionally try to help those that are uncomfortable find their own style of roleplay. Funny voices (like I use) and deep character backstories (like I spend way too much time writing) are not necessary for a character that you want to roleplay. At the end of the day, all they have to do is make a decision as the character would instead of as they would. Simple as that.
To the Rollplayers:
Your mechanical skill and understanding is awesome. Use that to be the smoothest son of a gun on the battlefield during every combat. It’s nothing but a help to the group as a whole when you creatively use your character’s abilities to do something totally unique and amazing! I will caution you though, it is very easy to get frustrated with slower players. You have to understand that not everyone has the same understanding of the game as you do. Instead of rushing someone or (hopefully none of y’all do this) insulting and belittling someone for not knowing what to do immediately, be patient and give simple suggestions. As time goes on, ramp up the complexity and difficulty of the suggestions that you give. This will help develop that player’s mechanical skill and the entire group can run like a well oiled machine. Role Playing Games are very complex and take a little bit of time to understand before they can be mastered. It is just like playing video games for the first time. Nobody gets to be a Killionaire during their first ever game of Halo.
In all instances, both types of players should be helping each other. While it can be like a war sometimes trying to get them to work together, they also bring flavor and life to the table simply by being who they are. It is up to everyone at the table to encourage an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding within both camps. Once that is achieved, the game will be more enjoyable for everyone involved.
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