Do you have any tips for a newly starting RPG player?
- Picking a game
Look into Quickstarts and Beginner Boxes until you find something you like. You can get a few different QuickStart PDFs from DrivethruRPG for free.
- Don’t be afraid to get into character
Everyone is there to play make believe and it’s far better when everyone throws themselves into character than when people are trying to maintain a facade of cool detachment while playing. Good role playing will often get you some bonus xp from the GM too.
- Keep notes or better yet, a journal
A little notebook will help you keep NPC’s in order, keep related information together and help you get back into the game easier at the start of each session. The GM can check out player notes when they may have forgotten something or draw on the opinions expressed within for new ideas.
- Drop your hang ups
The games table needs to be a safe place for everyone and people who game come from many different groups. Make your gaming group a welcoming one, diversity benefits us all by giving us a larger pool of experiences to draw upon. Gaming is not solely the domain of white male geeks many believe it to be.
- Game forums
A super handy resource many people overlook even though it’s more accessible than ever is the Internet. I am currently running a Star Wars game and started off with a published adventure, I went to Fantasy Flight Games forums and found out what other people did to add to the game and came away with a few great ideas.
- Think of the story like a movie or book series
Foreshadowing, red herrings, Chekhov’s gun, pay attention to everything (this is where notes can come in handy) and remember to pump NPC’s for information. The person who wrote the adventure put everything there for a reason.
- Have a good idea of WHO you are playing
Don’t think of your character as “Level one, Human, Fighter.” Work with the GM to give them a personality and background that is interesting and try to consider things from that perspective. Most classes gain their abilities through training, where did you get yours? Did you always intend to make your way as an adventurer? Do you have family? A goal? How has your past challenged your world-view? How was your outlook on life coloured by your training? The character development memes on tumblr are handy for this, the ask memes can be too if you answer them in character.
- Avoid cliches and negative tropes
The best example I can think of for this is called a Fishmalk… In Vampire: The Masquerade there is a clan of Vampires called Malkavians who, because of their vampire blood all gain a “derangement” which is basically a mental illness they have to deal with which many players read and instantly thought “I am going to play my Malkavian as a wacky vampire version of Bugs Bunny, only with less restraint and ability to reason, I shall also make them carry a bloody teddy bear wherever they go, wear bunny ears and pyjamas to every social event and run about hitting NPC’s in the face with fish.” When they should have been thinking more Dexter Morgan or Annie Wilkes who are viewed as mostly normal if somewhat odd by people who don’t directly experience the manifestation of their mental illnesses.
- Be mindful of lore
Work with your GM or players to craft characters that fit the setting, reserve character ideas that don’t fit for other games. Most game worlds are developed enough to find something you will enjoy.
- Don’t Powergame or Minmax
That is to say, don’t make character build decisions based on what will get you a bigger attack die more HP or access to a lightsaber if it’s not right for your character. You’re there to play a person not a mathematical construct.
- GM’s may want to provide “player packets”
Maps, a brief history, local legends, news and rumours and a rundown of the local power structure, slang specific to the setting and a glossary of terms are all things that could be handy for a player to know, presented in a little folder that contains their character sheet can help them have needed information at hand instead of forcing you to go digging through notes when they have more general questions about the setting.
- Finding a group
Many company websites have forums containing a group finder thread. Game shops may have advertisements for gaming groups posted about and some stores like Haven for Heroes in Port Jervis NY will let you play in store.
- Engage your fellow players not just your GM
If you are in a group with the other people at the table don’t only be talking to your GM. If you think your character would discuss things with another character at the table talk about it, you can often get bonus points out of your GM for good roleplaying ;)
- Dealing with conflict
Be cool headed and wait to talk it over with the GM or offending party and the GM when there is a break. If things don’t go your way don’t be a broody grump about it, try to move on. If things do go your way, don’t be a gloating jerk either, he only thing worse than a poor loser is a bad winner.