My post the other day about selfishness in GMs and players led to a fascinating comment by lindevi of Triple Crit. Here’s a part of it: You speak in the language of kingdoms and gods and ruins; the players converse in levels, equipment, friends or foes.
That is a fantastic quote, one that has a lot of connotation to it.
There’s an incredible disconnect between players and GMs, even with people who often wear both hats in their group. The players only have control over one thing in the game: Their character. As such, they don’t care as much about the greater plot (Kingdoms and gods and ruins) than they do about what is directly in their control, their character (levels, equipment, friends or foes).
If I’m running a game where I drop hints here and there about a greater overall plot, and the players just drop the ball, can I really blame them? Those hints didn’t directly relate to their characters (at that moment), so how can I be surprised?
With my new group, being entirely new to RPGs, I plan on breaking them of that a little, by encouraging them to take lots of notes. In doing so, they will perhaps be able to piece together the varied plot elements to realize the overall story. And, as brand new players, they won’t have the bad habits of old players have (hopefully).
Is there another way to help players look beyond the character sheet to the greater world around them?
I think so: Let them create NPCs.
If you give them a little homework to come up with three allies, three enemies and three contacts, it gives them a vested interest in the world. I’m not saying they need to create the full stat-blocks of the NPCs, just the names, jobs, personalities and information about the character.
In doing so, and with the expectation that you’ll introduce the character into the story at some point, you can populate the world with people they actually feel a connection to.
I think it’s also key to not let them know when the character will show up. It allows for a surprise when suddenly, their NPC, Joe the Dwarf wanders in, flirting with wenches and pounding tankards of ale, just like they described him.
So that’s the advice I have for helping bridge that disconnect between the players and GM. Do you have any advice?