MoonHunter Sayeth 20180814


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Player engagement 2
aka I am not happy with this post, but it is not awful... it is just not great.

I have written about Player Engagement before.

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.
I went on to talk about all the ways you can make a character more engaging for the game by given the characters things to do that the player is interested in.

Still there are other things to consider.

Some players are pretty passive and won't do character work. For those players who want to be active, it is helpful to have ideas of how to help the others in the group create a more interesting game experience.
That question came from my birthday blog thread, It's my Blog's Birthday. (A helpful location if you want to request a topic.)

Now unlike most things people ask me, I didn't just blarg back some quick answer. I had to think about this for a bit. I have never had a player not be engaged and do character work (And if they were resistant in the beginning, they soon got on board with it.) It was just not a problem. It was at that point I realized it is the way I run my games impacting the way the players play.

I was giving out player points (bonus points that followed the players around (not their characters) that allowed for rerolls.) since 1976. We would call them Drama Points or Bonus Points these days. Players received a point for above play every few sessions or so, bonus points for notable actions or scenes. Everyone seemed to have 1 or 2 hanging around in my play groups. These rerolls have made a difference for some situations. Yes, this was pre-any game system having these kind of points. (amended Top Secret of the day some bonus points.) Players liked having this safety net. They could try things they normally wouldn't because they knew a player point would give them a chance to do it right (the next time).

Drama Points have always been awarded for good play, including good character set up. They have been withheld when players don't roleplay up to my minimum standards or don't participate.

Drama Points work for me. I liked to give them immediately for good play. It is visible and obvious to everyone at the table. That way they are immediate and learning rewards. Once it clicks for the troupe for what gets rewarded, they start playing/ performing to earn them. (Cinematic Action, Genre relation action, and fun roleplay) My players turned it into a competition. (They also liked it when we converted "extra points" into extra EPs. This worked for me as a GM, as I did not have to keep of roleplay xp except in the most general way.)

You tend to get the play you actively reward. Players learned quickly that doing all this character stuff and doing story stuff netted them more player points and more starting EPs than just killing things or what ever earns EPs in the system.

Each group of players quickly realized that the person who was using their character background and working with the GM on and with the setting, was getting more spotlight time and a lion's share of EPs/ Drama Points. Pretty much everyone was on board by their second or third character. ( They also realized what happened when I did a plot to them it was often brutal or unintresting, rather than when they initiated plot lines they were interesting in.

I also think my collection of Bits (ala The MoonHunter way) when starting the chronicle, combined with being very involved in character creation and character advancement helps keep the players engaged and my GMing on point.

I have had games where Session 0 lasted two get togethers. I have had a player sit out for three whole play sessions before he would finish a character to my standards. I think he thought he could get away with the crap and I would let him play things that did not match the chronicle write up ... and was stunned that I was willing to let him sit there for three whole game sessions. - He ran The Rats (large supernatural ones) and some mooks... sessions two if I remember right. He got it together with the help of a few other player and we had a new character session 4.

A good technique to help players engage in the game, besides GM coaching and point teaching, is assigning a player a buddy. I gave my rule lawyer the roleplayer who thought rules got in the way. He got into roleplaying and non-tangibles, and she finally got a character that could actually do something. Mixing strengths to weaknesses is useful. Groups should work together. Friends should help each other.

One last thing: It is everyone's job to make the game awesome. Give everyone a 3x5 card with that and the chronicles name on it. Maybe the Flashcard magic will work.


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I think the unmotivated player works more in D&D-type games with party treasure and loot than in games where you have to actively play a character because the rewards come from roleplay.

I've found that some players who are unmotivated are just not comfortable taking the spotlight, so I'm still wondering besides a buddy what are good means of encouraging players.

I do give EPs or other rewards for character background work and at times it has been substantial. Players who are developing ideas that can help create the world also get a reward because I will use their ideas.

It's a good workmanlike column--don't beat yourself up for it not being great.
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