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MoonHunter Sayeth 20180202

MoonHunter

Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
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The Key Engagement
Player Engagement

Player engagement is the key to a better rpg experience.
I can make this statement with confidence. No amount of GM trickery or technique can save a game that does not have engaged players. The more engaged the player the more they are paying attention to the game, as well as actively supporting the game. Not only is this true for the single player, but engaged players improve the game for everyone. Engaged players "up their game", and the game of everyone in the play through example and . One engaged player provides a better play environment for the entire troupe.

Engaged players also improve things for the GM, as their characters are more actively part of the game - story lines and setting. Every engaged player builds up a better character and help build up better story arcs.

The character is the player's tool for playing the game. Both they and the GM need to work on it to ensure it is the right tool for the right chronicle. If the character is right for the chronicle, it will make playing the character easier and more interesting. The player will be able to get more out of "play". This will give them more opportunities to engage with the game.

An aside: Characters with many loose details provide the best player engagement because it provides the most opportunities to be involved in the action. It also makes it easier to build on the character. So flexibility in character design and elements will help your character tool be more useful.
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To ensure player engagement (or improve the chances of), there are some checkboxes the player and the GM should check off. The first is connections for the character (Remember your 7Cs?). These are ties that bind the character to the chronicle, the crew, and the setting. Goals and Needs are things that the character, and the player playing said character, want in the game. Players will want good opportunities to achieve those things. Lastly, GM Actions towards creating and meeting all of the above.

Connections to ...
The connections a character has are the keys that unlocks the opportunities to play that character. They provides avenues of action and information. Let me detail this for you.

The Other Player Characters - The Crew
Everyone has different relationships with the people they know... people they work with and people they are friends with. These are not always "perfectly friendly". There are friends with different opinions than yours. Friendly disagreements happen. There are friends that annoy you (in certain ways). There are friend you compete with. There are friends you don't even like that much. It would only be realistic if PCs had the same degree of relationships with the other PCs. Setting up characters and their relationships with each other will create an atmosphere of personal drama. The more (story) drama a game has, the more fun it is to play these characters.

If you are only roleplaying with GM run characters, that only means one of you can really roleplay at a time. Putting together a relationship that is interesting with each character in the crew gives you a chance to roleplay side scene or add depth to other scenes the GM is running.
The Troupe - The player group
Connections to the group of characters (sometimes called The Crew) are different than connections to the other characters. This connections is related more to "game play". This is more of a player connection, but it blurs with the character group as well. It is a game. You do have to have play strategies and plans.

First players need to establish why the character is in the group and equally as important why the character stays with the group. This is part of the character creation process, like the forming of so many connections.

Knowing your group and crew up lets you know what your character's role is in the character group. Are you the striker, the support, sniper, or any other role. It is more than combat roles, but roles in social or other common situations. One related point to this is knowing what you, the player, bring to the troupe/ group. You are playing your character; you are playing with your troupe.

Connections to the group helps reinforce the idea of teamwork and group actions. This keeps the GM from being forced to run six chronicles for six different individual characters/players.

On an up note, players who feel connected to the group (Troupe and Crew) tend to get a higher degree of satisfaction and engagement from the game even when the spotlight isn’t on them.

The Setting
Nobody exists in a vacuum. Characters are products of their setting. These setting connections are parts of the world that you are interested in and important to your character, usually. Connections to setting defines the character’s role in the setting.
Where did they come from and who do they know there? Who trained them? What other groups do they believe in or belong to? Every connection Break it down to the more concrete: Group membership, religion membership, family, friends, neighbors, and so on.

These connections encourages player understanding and involvement with the setting and allows the player to more fully participate in bringing it to life. This strengthens immersion helping the player experience the setting as an active participant, instead of being a passive element simply getting lectured about it.

The Story Arcs - plotlines
Ideally your character should have connection relating to character goals and somewhat to the player's needs. We will go into these in a bit.

Character need to have a connection to the story arcs and plotlines. This is partially the GM's responsibility and the player's willingness to connect their character to the setting and the events happening. This should a connection to the main story arc and any personal plotlines that come into play.

Once a character is connected to all the game's stories, it will be easier to keep the player interested, focused, and involved with what is going on while strengthening that feeling of active story-telling participation.
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Goals
It is good to have goals...
I am sorry, I had to do it....

Characters need to have goals, things they want to achieve. Often their connections are related to this goal (or visa versa). These goals should not be vague or nebulous, but clear and well defined. For a goal to be useful in play, there needs to be a concrete obtainable next step. Once you have achieved that step, you strive for the next concrete obtainable step.

Players have goals too. This is not about moving out of the basement or getting promoted at work or playing twenty different game systems this year. Theses goals should be something they want to see their character do. The Player goal is ideally related to the character goal, but not always. A character might want to become The Guild Lord for an area, but the player might want their character to fall in love. Not mutually exclusive goals. These should be concrete and defined, but it could be vague and a general idea. It serves as a direction for the GM to go with subplots/ storylines.
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Needs
Players, like all people have needs. I am not going to do those jokes again, you just need to move on.
Everybody comes to the gaming table for slightly different reasons.

Needs in this case are "things that the players like to have in their gaming". A player can be defined by type (Using R Laws: Power Gamer, Butt Kicker, Tactician, Specialist, Actor, Story Teller, and Buddy.) and as play goes on they and the GM come to know their specific needs. They are looking for game activities that fill their needs. As a player you need to convey your needs and goals. As a GM, you need to provide those moments for the player, in addition to meeting their goal.
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GM's part of player engagement is to provide
1) Settings/ frameworks, enough to be interesting and things the players can use to achieve their needs
2) Help in character creation to ensure connections and goals that the player is interested in.
3) Help provide things for the character to do and meet the player's game needs.
4) Arrange for spotlight time in the game. Now this does not mean the center of all attention, though it could be. No, this is the time the player (and maybe the group) is focused on the character... doing something important, interesting, or cool.
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The more engagement a player has in the chronicle, the more effort they will put into the game and into their playing. Like sitting in the rowdy section of a sporting events, the energy in the game builds and everyone taps it; building excitement in the other players and in the GM.

Let us face it, anything one can do to improve their game experience and the experience of others is something that everyone should do.
 
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