Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Having a Better Game - Party & Player Dynamics

 Party make up has a huge impact on a campaign, but so does player make up.  Nothing is really right or wrong here but I review things to consider and take into account for better gaming.

Party Dynamics

The makeup of a given party is important. Everyone should have something to do that helps the party succeed at its goals and everyone have fun.
The most common thing that comes to mind here is niche protection.  The idea being that everyone has something that they are special at and can shine when its their turn.  However that need not always be the case!
Every character should meaningfully contribute to the party and its goals.  In most cases multiple skills or other abilities will be needed to achieve the goal, though you often want some redundancy. If combat is a thing everyone should be useful in combat, does not matter if your the best, but if you can help your contributing to the parties success -not sitting around bored. For mystery campaigns everyone should be able to gather information, and for social ones everyone should be able to converse without things always turning out bad.  Definitely try to avoid situations and builds where your character hurts the parties chances of success!
Some things are of so little use if multiple people can do them that such redundancies should be minimized, though typically you'll still want a little.  Wheelmen for example, one person able to get everyone around is usually plenty. But if they are unavailable backup transportation is useful.
Some roles work well with multiple people doing them, others one is plenty. This varies on the campaign focus so plan for that.
A good GM will anticipate party needs and help players build appropriate characters. Some players strongly prefer specific roles so others need to adapt for everyone to have fun, this is usually fine but works best with a group that knows each others preferences and has a mix of preferences.

Player Dynamics

Were all at the table to have fun! However different people have fun in different ways or doing different stuff. Communication and honesty is key here!
If you like to minimax or power game, be upfront about it so others dont find out later. Maybe that works in your group or maybe you need to find a different group.
Everyone likes a chance to shine, but some more than others and some prefer the background.
As a GM my preference has been 5 people; 2 leaders and the rest active but not really interested in leading they just want to do something. I prefer two leaders as GM because it saves me a lot of work and as the group debates and decides who to follow in a situation it gives me time to set things up or adapt to changing circumstances. Everyone needs to get along and once a decision is made fully support it for the good of the party. If it goes sideways you can playfully jibe the leader with an "I told you" or something bur be mindful if they are sensitive and easily frustrated or hurt.
A good GM and party leader will try to include everyone if at all possible, even a little time is often better than none at all and above all listen to everyone!  Also if your ideas are not used or your character fails at a task, dont take it hard or be resentful. This stuff happens, get better, adapt and work towards a happier group.  Everyone should have a good time, including you but dont be selfish about it and remember the other players also want to have fun.
Speaking of fun, remember people find different things fun! Some love to plan and work out all the details for a carefully thought out masterplan that wins the day. Others get bored with that and prefer to just charge in. Try to work it such that everyone is happy most of the time rather than one person happy all the time at the expense of others.
The best way to do this is good communication and observation, figure out what your fellow players prefer and try to set it up so they can do the things they like while you also get your fun.

Solo activity is usually more fun for the person doing than the people watching.  If your doing something alone try to be entertaining about it so the other can sit back and enjoy the show. And try to get it done expeditiously but not so fast you fail or dont have any fun, a good GM will help here but this is more an art than science and takes practice.  Also some people simply better at it than others! But if other people enjoy watching you work than the whole game is better for it.
Party leaders should take all the above into account and plan not just for a successful mission but people having fun at it. If your the leader give everyone a voice (even those who don't want it usually like being asked or acknowledged) and a job to do.
Group activity should be fun for everyone, be prepared when its your turn, ask for help if you need it, and try to be efficient for improved gameplay. But also try to be interesting! Dont just say I attack but describe the attack. Your an actor in a play or a character in a book and the rest of the table is the audience when its your turn - so put on a good show!  Just don't ham it up too much! Unless your playing TOON or its otherwise appropriate.

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