In a cooperative game, you don’t often think about players being skilled. Even if a game doesn’t directly measure skill though, I think there is still a wide variety and range of strengths and weaknesses of RPG game players. In an RPG, a GM is often described as skilled or not, and certainly there is no doubt that one GM can be more skilled than another. In fact, the range of skill for a GM can be so vast, it’s hard for me to feel adequate to the job, and I can understand why anyone would be intimidated to try.
I think the same can be said for the players.
While there’s less responsibility on an individual player’s shoulders, groups of players can lead to very different, and vastly more or less successful games. This is most obvious to me at convention games, where a single awful player can ruin a game session in spite of a good GM, or on the other hand, a single session is memorable because of the way one player approached the game. Alexis has written a great deal on the skills involved in running, and playing in a game. There’s a lot of insight there, but I thought I’d try to distill some of my own thoughts in a series of upcoming posts.
In the meantime, I’d like to see if anyone reading would be interested in writing their own bit as it relates to running or playing in an RPG. Do you think player skill matters? Do you think GM skill matters? What are those skills? What advice would you give to someone who had never really played an RPG? What advice would you give to someone who played and wanted to improve the experience for themselves? Is any of this worth taking seriously?
I think I’ll get around to posting some of my thoughts on these issues, but while I do that (and hopefully before I start posting), I’d like to see if anyone would be willing to share their thoughts on the topic – more than a few sentences. What can the players do, and what can the GM do, to improve the shared gaming experience. What do you think is the upper limit to the quality of the game? What would be the characteristics of that high quality game? Does it matter to you much to make an attempt to reach that level of quality? How is the game like a team sport? What would you practice and how do you get better? What player skills compliment each other? Does a group synergize better with players who have different strengths?
There are a lot of ways to approach answering these questions. One goal I have is to include in the rules for Lost Worlds some discussion about the skills the game will require of them to be successful. I want it to feel like more of a guidebook with transparency in the design and a clear message about what the “win condition” looks like and how to get there. Still, I don’t have a chance to play much, so I feel a little bit more capable writing the GM advice in the guidebook, and reaching out to the readership here for some developed thoughts for the players’ advice.