How to Play: Lost Worlds

A roleplaying game can be intimidating to new and experienced players alike.  There are a few pieces of advice I’d like to pass along to would-be players.

Investment

Lost Worlds works best when you as the player are investing in your character.  Yes, this means you should spend some time thinking about the person whose persona you will be adopting for the course of the game sessions until that character’s story is over.  It also means you should care about your character in an emotional sense.  By playing the game, you’re accepting the responsibility of bringing a spark of life to this character that before the game started, and after it ends, is just a fictional person.  During the game though, this person is you.  Of course, the person isn’t really you, he or she is someone who lives in a dark and dangerous world, who processes powers you don’t, and who may even have some extreme habits that you certainly don’t have (and thankfully so, because crushing someone’s skull with a hammer or being engulfed in flames would be pretty traumatic for you).  Even so, your character isn’t any less you while you while the game is happening.  While the game is happening, the decisions that your character makes are your decisions.  They are your decisions based on what you would do if you were them, in their circumstances and with their emotional baggage.  This isn’t a movie where you have a script to follow.  When you’re playing the game, your character needs you to give him or her life, otherwise it’s just a shade of a person and the game can never be great.

Action

Don’t wait for things to happen.  Remember, you are the star of the show!  You have a lot of control over the tempo of the game, more so even than the GM.  Don’t be passive in Lost Worlds.  Your characters are ready to go forth and explore.  Don’t make the world come to you, although you should be prepared for that to happen now and then!  Be decisive and decide to do interesting things.  Don’t simply ask yourself what your character would do, ask yourself what interesting thing your character would do.  You’re playing a game and you only have a few hours to get to the good stuff, so while you want to make sure to enjoy the scenery, don’t doddle.

Teamwork

Unlike most literature or cinema, this show has multiple stars.  Keep in mind that in the few hours you get to play, everyone needs to get opportunities to shine.  Help them.  There are many ways to accomplish this.  Watch for when their characters are making interesting decisions, and go with them.  Look for opportunities to get them involved when you have the spotlight as well.  Be aware of how much time you’re taking at the table, whether you’re making a decision, rolling dice, or struggling to recall a rule.  This is time you are using that could have been used by someone else to act.  Look for people who haven’t had a chance to get involved in a while, and actively engage them in the action or do something that you know they can connect with in some way.

Creativity

Anyone can respond to a threat by drawing their weapon and attacking.  If that’s the only thing you ever do, the game is going to get stale.  Lost Worlds is a much better game if it’s not played solely as a tactical combat game (trust me, there are much better ones!).  Engage hostile people in dialogue, user your environment, rig up a bizarre trap, or combine things in new ways.  The secret is, that the GM dying for you to do these things, and you’re going to be able to accomplish just that much more if you’re willing to try them.

Organization

As a player, there is a lot of information that you’re not expected to know and remember, but the stuff on your character sheet is your responsibility.  Know your strength score, and how many background points you spent and where, and what equipment your character is carrying, and where they are carrying it.  You should know what powers you can use and what spells you can cast.   Don’t settle for knowing where to find this stuff on the page – know it.  The tempo of the game relies on it.  Look it over now and then and make sure it’s accurate.  Remembering what equipment and powers your character has isn’t enough though.  You should know the rules that your character is using.  Ideally, all of the players would know all of the rules, but I’ll admit that there’s quite a few and it is going to be difficult to know every one of them.  The GM will try, bless his heart, but if you’re a player, you can vastly speed up the game by at least knowing the rules that relate to the character you are playing.

Contribute

Lost Worlds is going to require more of you as a player than most other RPGs in the same genre.  This is because Lost Worlds has made the design decision not to pre-create all of the character build options for you.  Instead, as a player, you are expected to contribute actual content to the game.  Create backgrounds and aspects with some depth.  Design your distinction powers, or at least some concepts for what those powers should be like.  Generate content for prestige classes, magic items, achievements, or spells.  The rules that follow will give you the structures for these components of the game, and some examples, but the quality of the game still boils down to what creative energy the group of people playing collectively put into it.  If you’re not willing to contribute, your play experience is going to suffer.

If all of this is intimidating, that’s understandable.  But remember, you’re among friends.  Even the best players will have strengths and weaknesses, and it takes skill and practice to become an excellent player.  Even so, Lost Worlds should be fun and accessible to everyone, even if you’ve never played an RPG before.

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