In RPG Play Everyone’s Responsibility is To Each Other
Salutations, nerds! Today we’re going to talk about sharing responsibility when it comes to tabletop roleplaying games and the ultimate responsibility — to the other people at the table. The important part of a good tabletop RPG is making sure everyone has fun. That’s you and everyone else whether you’re the Game Master or a player. On paper this sounds like a big part of what the GM is there for and in a sense this is correct but the GM has a lot of things they’re already responsible for keeping track of and as a player it’s a good idea to keep tabs on each other’s mental weather.
Social contract for RPG game play
A responsibility to support other players in our RPG experiences is why we have tools like the consent checklist. The GM is responsible for whether or not NPCs are doing dark things but these are things players can potentially get into as well and as a player you should still know what kinds of content your fellow players are and aren’t down for seeing.
A big part of Session Zero involves talking about expectations. It gives you an idea of what other players are opting into and what they’d be bothered by, and it’s a good idea to know what those things are.
As a note, everybody donks this up once in a while. I’m not going to pretend like I personally haven’t donked up an RPG session once in a while. When this happens the important thing is to pause, address it and do what needs doing to make it right.
Aside from this it’s just generally a good idea to keep tabs on each other’s mental weather.
Paying it Forward
One thing that tends to happen in every gaming group is the understanding of what the other members of your party are good at doing. There’s always a good feeling to be had when another member of the party acknowledges your skills and asks you to apply them. When you get the chance to ask the rogue to pick a lock or for the druid’s expertise on something Nature related absolutely take advantage of these scenarios!
In fact, make plans. My home group tend to be always coming up with zany schemes and dragging one another into them. There are some great roleplaying opportunities to be had especially if you’re trying to draw a reluctant character into one such scheme who might not be as inclined to participate into something. At the very least you get a scene where you’re trying to convince them in character. Nothing gets a person in character more than these small moments of conflict.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself at the table with someone doing something that just gets deep under your skin. It can help to consider why the other player is doing the thing frustrating you.
For example I was once at table with a group and we had a member of the party constantly going ahead, finding treasure and not sharing it with the rest of the group. He was trying to emphasize a character point rather than hoard all the loot though and it was an easy enough conversation to get him caught once and drag this circumstance into the light.
He got what he wanted because it really highlighted how his character had sticky fingers, and everyone involved got to roleplay a little argument for which there was no hard feelings because all of us were on the same page about it.
To be on the same page though you have to talk to each other. The trick there is to be honest and to be willing to accept another person’s honesty.
The important takeaway here is the most important thing about an RPG session is everyone is having fun, and everyone has a responsibility to make sure this happens. Folks, play nice with your GMs — they aren’t machines. And play nice with each other too. All the other players at the table are people. And of course, stay nerdy!