Tabletop role playing is a fantastic hobby. It combines imagination, problem-solving, social interaction and a relaxed environment to create adventure, excitement and fun for everyone involved.
Whether you’re new to roleplaying games or you’ve been rolling dice for a while, its always good to make the most of your time at the table. Here are some hints, tips and advice on how to get the most out of a pastime that many of us love.
Please note that this guide isn't intended to cover the mechanics of roleplaying (particular rules systems, etc.) nor is it an introduction to roleplaying (there are lots of great guides out there for that), rather this is specifically aimed at what players can do to improve their own enjoyment and that of the group that they join.
The areas this guide covers include:
1. Learning about the game itself
- Learn the rules
- Create an interesting character
- Try new things
2. Getting help and advice
- Ask for advice
- Find a mentor
- Relax and go with the flow
3. Socializing when roleplaying
- Treat others with respect
- Don’t spoil other’s enjoyment
- Encourage others
4. Have fun!
Benefits to players
- You'll have more fun roleplaying
- You'll put more in, and get more out of your roleplaying group
You'll create great moments and memories when roleplaying, for everyone
Who is this article for?
- People new to roleplaying
- Experienced roleplayers that want to help and teach others
- Gamesmasters to share with their players
Step 1 - Learning about the game itself
Learn the rules - Although not essential when you’re starting out with a new group or game, try to learn the rules of the game as soon as you reasonably can. Just start with the basics (e.g. ability scores, skill checks, combat rules) and work out from there. Learning the rules means that you’ll have a better understanding of what you can (and can’t) do in the game and will help the game session flow and move along more easily; if you don’t have a rule book yourself, ask if you can borrow one between sessions.
Create an interesting character - One of the main elements of roleplaying is the character that you choose to play. In addition to their class, ability scores and skills, there are lots of things that you can do to make your character memorable and unique. Do they have any interesting quirks or features? Do they approach situations in a ‘different’ way? How do they speak, how do they look? What is their attitude towards what they are doing? Spending a few minutes thinking about this and coming up with 3-5 ‘handles’ on who you are playing can help you create a more richly textured character.
For example, what’s more interesting - a fourth-level cleric, or a fourth-level cleric that’s afraid of rats, great at talking to people, walks with a slight limp because of an old war wound and is very impatient?
Try new things - One of the great things about roleplaying games is having the freedom to do what you want. Your character can be a true hero, through the way that you play them, and some good characterization, combined with some lucky dice rolls can make for some truly memorable moments! That’s why you should never be afraid to try new things in the game. Understand your character’s strengths and weaknesses and play to them, but push your character at the same time, and you’ll create some brilliant moments.
Step 2 - Getting help and advice
Ask for advice - Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from other players or the games master. If you’re not sure how to do something, people will appreciate it if you ask. Everyone starts somewhere with role playing and almost everyone will be happy to share their knowledge.
If you need to, find a mentor - If there’s another player that you really get along with and you want some advice or tips, ask if they would spend some time with you talking you through different areas. Perhaps they play a wizard and you want to find out more about spells, or they are a fighter specialist and you want to know more about combat. They could be an awesome role player and you want help to inject more personality into your characters.
Relax and go with the flow - A roleplaying session is a place where you can let your guard down. No one else is judging what you are doing, so you shouldn’t feel self-conscious, after all, everyone is there to have a good time. As long as you treat others well, play your character and ask for advice if you need it, everyone will appreciate your involvement in the game.
Step 3 - Socializing with others
Treat other players and the game master with courtesy and respect - Other people are at the game to have fun too, so normal social courtesy and mutual respect is expected from everyone. This includes turning up on time, being friendly and getting along with other people; also bear in mind that others in the group may be nervous or unsure, so treating everyone with some kindness goes a long way.
This also means not arguing unnecessarily, about the game or specific rules. Its fine to occasionally disagree with the gamesmaster if you believe a rule should have been interpreted differently, but you need to do it in a reasonable way. Explain what you think should have happened, reference source material if you need to and listen to the gamesmaster’s response. If the ruling is still the same as before, you’ll need to accept that.
Don’t spoil the enjoyment of others - Everyone is at the game to have a good time. Roleplaying is a great way to tell a mutual story and have fun together. This means that you should avoid doing things that intentionally disrupt the group or other people’s enjoyment of the session. Don’t pick on other players or characters.
A little ‘in character’ conflict is fine, but try to learn the line between ‘fun roleplaying’ and ‘giving someone else a hard time’ and stay on the right side of that line! When you’re at the table, know when its appropriate to speak ‘out of character’ and when you need to stay ‘in character’ - In other words, don’t talk about last night’s ball game as you’re in the middle of facing a dragon!
Encourage other people - Roleplaying is great for safe, social interaction, especially for those of us that may not easily fit into other groups. The gaming session is a place that we can, ironically, ‘be ourselves’ more. For this reason, its great to connect with others, encourage other people, provide advice yourself and include others in what your character is doing. They will really appreciate it.
Some great books on roleplaying from Amazon
If you want to find out more about roleplaying, here are some excellent books from Amazon that can help you out:
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook - One of the most popular roleplaying systems
- The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game Core Book - Adventure in the world of JRR Tolkien
- Star Wars Roleplaying Game - A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away
Have fun - I honestly think that roleplaying is some of the most fun you can have. It’s a safe environment, with other good people, it creates adventures and great stories, allows you to step into the shoes of someone else and creates something that’s memorable for everyone. And what could be better than that?