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How many Rainmakers are in your game?

D&D characters

I saw a great article on Gnome Stew recently titled “All hail the Rainmaker” (read it here), and wanted to highlight parts of it here. The article is intended for tabletop roleplayers but has a crossover with play-by-post, and types of play-by-post roleplayers.

What is a Rainmaker?

Here’s the author’s description:

The Rainmaker is a type of player who creates action or drama (the good kind) at the table, without any prompting. They are the players who when the table gets too quiet or unfocused does something in or out of character to bring the table back together and get the game moving.

Obviously ignore the “at the table” bit in this next sentence. Again, it’s for tabletop but applies to us text-base roleplayers.

They are a great asset for a GM because they make things happen at the table, and often generate a more interesting story through their actions. They can also help with a job that is often attributed to the GM, which is to manage the group; helping them stay focused and helping the story to continue moving forward.

Types of Rainmakers

The author has identified different 3 different types of Rainmakers:

Alpha Player

This is the player who is serious about playing. They have their character put together with a backstory, motivations, goals, etc. They are knowledgable about the rules of the game. They are at the table, because they are here to play. If the game starts to wander into Monty Python quotes or Dr. Who episode recaps, you can expect the Alpha Player to get everyone back in line and start playing. Their deep knowledge of their character means that this player will always know what to do next. This Rainmaker keeps the players focused, and with their knowledge of the setting and rules they are a great resource for keeping knowledge of what is going on, and helping the other players. They are your go-to for figuring out what to do next.

The Leader

This is the player or character (sometimes both, but not always) who is the leader of the group of players, characters, or both. They take charge of the game, they make decisions and delegate tasks to others, in order to achieve various goals. They may be martially-oriented being a tabletop general, or they may be the charismatic smooth talker. The Leader gets the group to move through the story and conquer the challenges that arise. This Rainmaker rallies the group to a common cause, and often makes the group a more efficient force.

The Chaos Maker

This is the player who has their characters undertake risky or dangerous actions because things have gone flat. They hike up their kilt at the orc chieftain during a failing trade negation, punch the city guard for blocking their way, or they pull the mysterious lever in the depths of the dungeon. Then they revel in the chaos created, which inevitably draws the rest of the players into the newly unfolding conflict. This Rainmaker makes things happen, things you never thought would happen, and they wind up getting the other players involved. They eradicate any slow parts of the game.

Having Rainmakers in the group is great, we all want to add drama and interest of course! But the player types mentioned above also have negative connotations when they act too often or too intensely.

The Alpha Player – will come off looking too intense by the other players, and be thought too serious.

The Leader – will come off as being bossy and controlling of the game. Players will resent always being told what to do by this player.

The Chaos Maker – will come off as a troublemaker and be treated like a child; under constant watch to prevent them from wandering off and getting into trouble. This will be made worse if one of their events got someone hurt or killed.

Can you identify with any of these in your own game?

Read the original article by Phil Vecchione here. Artwork by Ralf Horsley.

  • Ha. In our tabletop D&D/Pathfinder games, I try to be a non-annoying Chaos Maker. Just occasionally I’ll make a secret intelligence roll to see if my character says something dumb (such as greeting someone by name when we were in disguise and shouldn’t have recognised him!), or keep a failing roll instead of using one of my free rerolls, or do something else risky such as wade into combat because another character is in in difficulty, despite my not being a great fighter. I mostly play things for laughs: character humour, slapstick, that kind of thing.