OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers


Roleplaying Focus – Avoiding Alienation

Man sat on a beach

Sorry for the long pause since the last blog in Roleplaying Focus. Blame my power supply on my computer, don’t cheap out on inferior PSUs folks!

Anyway, yes…hello there. Welcome to the second post of Roleplaying Focus. I’m back from a rather lengthy absence as my computer has been all kinds of messed up over the last few weeks. Been rather disconnected from the world of roleplay which brings be to this post’s topic. This time I want to talk about engaging players into the game, and a few tips on how to avoid alienating your players. Your world is the way players connect with your game, so shutting them out is something you would never want to do because naturally they the the lifeblood of any good roleplaying game.

What is alienation?

Alienation is where a player simply can’t interact with the game world because either his character has been forced into mediocrity and a lack of importance. Players like to feel powerful, to feel meaningful within the story. If this isn’t there, then why should they play at all? This is most commonly, but not limited to games where there is a definite hierarchy structure to the characters. The captain may be the biggest fish in the pond, but the rest of the crew need to be important as well. All parts that make up the whole.

So how does one engage people into the game?

1 ) Firstly, and maybe the most important thing to always remember to allow open-ended action to be taken. Certainly, focus the storyline so people have a vague sense of where they want to go, but don’t restrict them, even if the choice themselves are nothing but a red herring. For example, a hallway full of doors, with a giant red door at the end is pretty clear where you want the players to look – but let them have a gander at what is behind door number two! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself!)

2) Allow players to move the story, no matter who they are. So you may only be the janitor in a school, but if zombies are kicking around they can be the hero just as much as the bad-ass Hell’s Angel who comes to the rescue only to find that the janitor has defended the children and evacuated the school. Give players choices. Meaningful choices within the game. Choices that effect the whole storyline which brings be to my next point.

3) As a GM, be flexible. So you may be desperate to get your group of players to the next main plot in your planned storyline but if they want to go explore before that then by all means be accommodating to that. As a general rule, I always prepare at least 3 branching story arcs for every major plot point, sometimes more! Always be prepared to change for your players, never to get your players to change for you. You never know, one of the players may try to solve a puzzle in a completely different way then you thought possible!

4) Include players within your post. There’s a certain sense of connectivity that comes from integrating other people’s characters into your stories and this goes for GMs and players both. Of course, don’t turn someone’s else character into a completely different persona – even an honourable mention is always nice to see, just to make that other player remember that their character is a part of the same world as the stories of the other players are writing.

So there’s a few handy tips about not alienating people from a game.

Next time, I’ll be discussing about open-style worlds, how to manage them, and how to make them fun for players to roleplay within that world. We’ll also be discussing about various genres, how to write for them and ways to improve your world’s vibrancy, and making them a more more interesting place to be.

~ Leon Archer aka. Phantasmagoria

Have any more tips and tricks about avoiding alienation? Ever had problems with computer PSUs? Have stuff you’d like to talk about next time? Comment and share!