How do I get more roleplaying out of my Players?

Red Baron

First Post
Humanophile said:
I'd think that anyone who wanted to roleplay would go for the big, neon "family member in danger" sign, especially in a group of relative novices.... I'd also reccomend putting a kibosh on all non-PHB races or possibly even all non-humans after this. (I know some people will disagree with me, but in my experience good roleplayers would rather be known for their exploits and abilities, while bad roleplayers are more likely to want grand, implausible backgrounds and lists of stuff. Templates and odd races tend towards the latter.)
I agree, H-phile. I certainly don't mean this to be insulting, but, creamsteak, how old are your players and how long have they been playing? I think most, if not all of us who started gaming when we were quite young probably went through a phase in which having bizarre, outlandish characters (often of decidedly N if not even NE/CE alignments) who only cared about getting Cool Stuff was pretty normal. It's pretty natural to most younger/new players. Still, if you're trying to DM in a different vein, then things can become uncomfortable for you (and, as a result, for everyone else).

My advice: If the many good suggestions above don't help, then take some time away from DMing with this group, or at least with certain players in the group. It's tough, but having fun is really the bottom line, isn't it? If you're not having fun any more, take the few players (nine is an enormous number of players to keep entertained...) who do roleplay, and continue whith just them -- let the others "spin off" into their own game with one among them DMing in their favourite style. You'll find that everyone's happier, I think. After a while, the others may grow tired of playing their way and come to see the role-play beyond the roll-play.

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1. I suggest that as the campaign progresses--if it isn't already this way--that you have any pregnant prostitutes' pimp go to either the local Thieves Guild or member of the ruling body--some big authority figure with lots of power and clout--and drag the PC who fathered the child into a minor legal skirmish. You know, something that can only be settled by the PC agreeing to do something in character, to support the child, etc. Or otherwise require dialogue, arguing, and verbal conflict to resolve. Then force him to follow it up with action.

2. A potent tool that should be used to encourage role-playing is pacing. It involves a few factors: How much time are the player characters are given outside of the action to deliberate, in character? Are they ever trapped in a situation--like the hostage / captive scenario you described--in which they can do nothing but talk with one another, plot, etc.? Can you put an NPC in the cell with them and say, 'you're trapped in the dungeon of the Big Bad Guy... what are you doing? Oh, and you see a grubby gnome who looks like he's been here for at least a decade, he's sitting in the corner, eyeballing you.'

3. githyanki half-dragons should not exist, and neither should undead elves. but that's a horse of a different color.


First Post

I think its been said before, most new players (if they are new players).. like to cut thier teeth on "neat stuff adn ganrly monster bashing" as time goes on and you players and DMing style change (as they will) things will change...
But the best way to get roleplaying out of your players is to lead by example, keep them in character byt you keeping in character... not saying you don'y, but tis advice there anyway..


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First Post
If I tell player A his brother is kidnapped he doesn't care. Do you see what I am saying?

Well, yes, but really the "kidnap the family" hook is a particularly poor example.

IMO, if you're going to use family or friends as adventure bait, you are obliged to get some emotional connection going first - have them visit, help - actually make the character care for them somehow. Only then do you get the right to kidnap them and expect the player to care in more than a lip service way.

In short, you have an obligation to emotionally connect the player to this brother in some way - otherwise the roleplaying will probably be insincere, and (if you're using family members only as ways to manipulate the PCs) - cynical.

If you do a good enough job in making the player care for the PC's family, your job is already done. This is the opposite of making the players hate (or want to see the comeuppance of) your villains, which is also important...
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First Post
If you read the Githyanki Culture section in the Psionics handbook, it says that as soon as they reach 15th level, their queen kills them... Or is that Gizerthi? THAT would sure make that player want to roleplay...


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William Ronald

Rounser's suggestions are quite good. If the NPCs surrounding a character are part of the PCs lives, it is likelier that the player will be concerned about them. Possibly have the NPC relatives help the PCs out of a jam, or help them celebrate important events in the character's lives.

It is hard to get some people to role play. The irony is that I have seen non-human, and even odd-ball characters roleplayed well. However, this is VERY difficult for most beginning players to do.

Talking to the players is probably the best thing that can be done. It also helps to create something for the characters to identify with. Nation, family, faith, an organization -- most people tend to belong to something other than themselves. Even Conan the Barbarian, a bit of a loner, saw himself as a Cimmerian who would never abandon a friend. Heck, even Elric of Melnibone had loyalties beyond himself.

Perhaps it would be good to just have tne new players have human and other relatively normal characters until they have a clearer grasp on role playing. Is it easy to make a powerful character, yes. But it is more important to make one that can at least give the impression of having a heart and a soul. Mind you, powerful characters and role playing are not mutually exclusive. (Power, I believe, should be earned through blood, sweat, tears. Along the way, such characters should have built up such interesting and meaningful lives that they would qualify for a good episode of Biography. Contrast this with a munchkin character whose victories are meaningless and who never truly fought for what they achieved.)


Did I make a mistake?

Last session, about two hours before we were actually going to start, one of the githyanki came over to work on his character.

We were starting anew with the campaign, and he went about rolling a similar character to his previous ones. Thirty minutes into his writing a background another player came in. This player made a similar character and desired to be his younger brother, which was fine with me.

A few hours later I was looking at everyone else's characters... 90% of them were humans, the other character chose a dwarven subrace (mountain I believe).

Two outsider characters and four players handbook races... I was befudled.

While I was looking over characters and discussing the campaign setting I had chosen to use, the Githyanki and rouge were outside talking. I could hear some conversation about, "I don't really feel like playing tonight," from the rouge and that both Githyanki broke up with their girlfriends simultaneously the day before and then got drunk.

I then decided I didn't want to have Githyanki characters at all for the sake of campaign stability. When they all came inside I asked them if they would use the character generator on my computer and make some simpler characters.

They said something, but I can't remember what. I know I didn't get to say anything back. They went outside.

After a few minutes one of them came in and grabbed his stuff and said he was leaving. I asked him why, knowing the answer already, "because you won't let us use our characters we spent two and a half-hours making." In his face, however, I read "I'm getting drunk because I am distraught."

I did not get to play this week. Someone asked I'm 17 and just had my birthday on the 19th. There was some talk about possibly playing, and I would have.

One of the players called me Saturday when we were supposed to play. He said that the Githyanki and Rouge were planning on playing with another DM (a person who I played with when I first started playing, but we had a falling out). He told me they would make plans with me and then break them to get wasted. I felt a bit disturbed and did not know what to say. I called Kevin, one of the three "bad eggs", but the one that I really don't feel betrayed by. He stated he had no idea, and I believed him. But both other players were already at his house. My friend that called me earlier was correct.

I have a little more to say, but I will post that after I get some response to just this material.


First Post
A game is just a game. What you sound like you have going on is people being self-centered and troubled, and sadly sitting around a table does not make people more mature. Step back from the game, and realize that the "bad players" are not likely to improve soon.

(This is not a "kick the bums out" rant. Doing so is probably one of the worst things to do to friends, and I'm assuming these people are friends of yours.)

I don't envy the position you're in, having to keep a game up while simultaneously not seeming too antagonistic to people who need to work through their own stuff in their own ways. As a DM, make it a point to superficially write in roles for them, while making those roles of as little importance to the campaign at large as you can. If you're really skilled, try getting them to blow off games without making it look like you want them out, but that requires skills many people don't have. (Hint: put a lot of social action or puzzles between fights, puzzles especially as you can't attack them for S&G, and those players will probably lose interest fast. But don't push it.) But at the same time, make it clear that you're there for your friends, and (even against previous advice) let them just kick ass if they need to blow off steam.

You've got a tough trick ahead of you. Good luck.

William Ronald

Hi, creamsteak.

Sometimes you have to let friends work out their personal issues. It seems that there is a lot going on outside of the game.

I have seen more people come and go in 21 years of role playing than I can keep track of without a spreadsheet. Sometimes people will drift away and come back.

It sounds like it was not the githyanki vs. more regular PCs issue that caused the players to leave. It seems that they have a few things they have to work out. Just let them know that you will be there as a friend. Sometimes, that is all you can do. (People have to make their own decisions.)

I think Humanophile had a lot to say. Leave an open door for your friends, and hopefully they will continue to value your friendship.

I wish you good luck with your players and friends.

Sorry to bump this old thread but I am trying to be sure I update the "DMing Advice" thread with the proper urls... :)

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