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Brother Orpheo

Encouraging Players to Take the Lead

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In a recent thread, several GMs have mentioned their players haven't embraced the notion of taking their own lead and are a bit unfocused, instead following their GMs' master plans or jumping at any/every plot hook that comes their way. This seems an excellent reason to host Session Zero- get the players focused, take some notes on their in-character interests, set campaign expectations, and etc.

 

Perhaps some GMs with "real go-getter" characters could give us a few tips on how to get players to take their own lead?

Edited by Brother Orpheo

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As one of the GMs in the aforementioned thread, I'm concerned my players' unwillingness to act on their own initiative is reflective of a lack of engagement with the overall story. Obviously, that's no good.

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Depending on the player, one tactic I like to use is to introduce NPCs or situations that involve themselves with the character.

 

In our group's version of "Long Arm of the Hutt", I introduced a Twi'lek teenager (Bura'ban's niece) who was part of the mining colony. She came to the group and asked Oskara's help specifically. She secretly had a boyfriend who was a member of the group of thugs harassing the colonists. She wanted the group to go easy on her boyfriend, and to possibly help them leave Ryloth.

 

Later when the PCs assaulted the thugs' compound, the boyfriend was there and in danger. The teenage girl also showed up and put herself in danger, so Oskara was motivated to help her. (The boyfriend got eaten by a lylek, but the girl survived.)

 

I knew the player had embraced this storyline when he told Bura'ban, "Make sure you keep your niece here tonight," and Bura'ban said "Oh I haven't seen her, but I'm sure she went to bed hours ago".

 

The player had watched enough movies and TV shows to know this would probably mean that she'd snuck out and would be getting involved in the action later :)

 

Anyway, involving the character's story and background can be good, either with a new NPC who gets involved with them or someone or something from their past. Obligation is great for this.

 

Also keep an eye on the character's Motivation, and put stuff in their path where they might need to make a choice. If they have Greed as a Motivation, do they go for the easy money or do they do hard work and help people? If their motivation is for a Cause, do they help their cause or do they take the job that will pay to fix the ship's hyperdrive?

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I like to get a campaign kicked off in grand fashion- an introduction scenario is prepped and ready, and the players are excited to get stuck in and develop characters, both mechanically and personality-wise. But I'm in the same boat as many other GMs when I put the players at the helm- blank stares all around. Black Crusade has a widget similar in function to Obligation, but it's done nothing more than frame a character's background- no one steps up on their own to take the brass ring without some not-too-subtle nudging from me.

Edited by Brother Orpheo

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I've had great success with interaction. Share a laugh with newbies then as you explain the system and as you tell the story, ask for players opinions. No dice rolls involved, just ask how they engage and interact.

Hell,get them to talk as their characters and make a few joke rolls as they make bombastic claims and boasts, lying to each other.

Usually gets a laugh and people have fun as the silliness unfolds.

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Some players enjoy the 'follow the plot' style. 

 

Best tactic I've found is 'make it personal.' Throw in a long lost friend, sibbling, lover, dog, weapon schematic, etc. Drop it/them in their lap. Then poke them with some 'if you do nothing, something will break/kill/capture' said thing. If they bite, they'll likely be invested. If they don't, let that thing fade away without much fuss and toss a new one in.

 

I liken it to being a tennis ball machine. I just lob a bunch of things at the player and see which ones they notice/care/bother to chase and hit back to me. Those ones get refined and relaunched.

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I've constantly put my players into a 'your move' situation. When things seem to stall, I remind them that this is their game and their free to do what they want and I'll intervene when necessary to insert plot hooks, or for rolls. It's taken some time to get used to, but they understand now that they are primarily in control of the game and I'm just here to throw every day life at them. Its more fun that way :)

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When I give a your move situation often the PCs will discuss thoroughly the situation until one (or more) decide to shoot first. It is odd when presenting them with a situation of armed and belligerent drunks to have them not knock them out or insult them but rather to knock back some beers and take their keys.

 

I love my party sometimes.

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I was one of the GM's mentioned by Brother Orpheo.

 

Interesting story. I was talking to one of my players who had switched characters part way through our campaign. As a result I moved his former character to NPC status until I found a good way to phase him out the story. The player confessed to me one day that he hopes that when his old character gets phased out that I will bring in a new NPC that will stick around the party. His reasoning was that he wants me (the GM) to have a mouth piece so I can steer the story.

 

I don't think he realizes the point of my games. This player is one of my best friends but part of me wanted to strangle him, in a friendly "You don't get it" kind of way.

 

Well, looks like I will be replacing that NPC with another. A training remote.

Edited by kaosoe

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If you want players to self motivate you have to provide a reason other than you think your idea is cool.  You have to make it personal to them.  Borrowing from novels is an easy way to develop hard to avoid plot hooks.  I used Han Solo and the Lost Legacy's scene where the Falcon is stolen by the mining thugs.  Having to go get their own ship back was plenty of motivation.

 

Providing mystery they want to unravel.  In the aforementioned temple they found a relic.  Far older than any of the period pieces in the temple.  So old it didn't seem like it could be dated by field equipment.  How old it is alone is a mystery, what the object is presents another mystery.  Coincidentally F&D beta will be out shortly, not that I'm suggesting the immeasurably old relic is Force related.................  

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My group as a whole is pretty self-motivating (with one exception), but last game they took the game pretty far outside of the scope of what I wanted from the game. New game has Session 1 set for tomorrow afternoon, and expectations have been made much clearer and character motivations are much more thought out. I'm optimistic.

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