10 Tips on Being Better PCs & GM

10 Tips on Being Better Player Character

10. Have a Backstory: A backstory doesn’t need to be overly long, but enough for everyone to get a feeling for your character. It should show the premise of the character. It’s always nice to throw in interesting things that the DM can build on or incorporate into a story. 

9. Improvise: Try and play as your character – what would they do in a tense situation? Will they try and work their way out of a situation or are they violent by nature? 

8. Get Personal: Grow attached to things. Saved an NPC from goblins? Perhaps visit them for tea and ensure they’re okay. PCs naming their +2 great-sword “Negotiator” adds some flavour. 

7. Be Quirky: Give your character flaws. And not just the suggested ones but ones that add to a narrative. Have fun with it. An OCD Monk that spends ten minutes organize the layer of a Chaotic Evil enemy. A cleric who lectures on the philosophy of patients, well failing to practice what they preach.

6. Keep it Simple Stupid / Pay Attention: Don’t dig through pages of rules for actions. If the GM has simplified something, come to terms with it rather than attempt rules-lawyering. Speeding up play prevents time hogging and lets the story to continue. Stay focused and pay attention.

5. Stay on Track: The first sidequest is awesome, anything else derails any motivation for the adventure. Try and keep on track with the story with notes and ensuring you know what’s happening.

4. Loathe something: Choose someone or something you hate. Don’t let other PCs know, but pick something and figure out why you loathe it or them. 

3. Keep Secrets: Pass notes to the GM. Collude with another player. Make your character someone to pay attention to without hoggin the Spotlight.

2. Enjoy the Rail Ride: The GM hopefully has an awesome story planned. And the rails are not necessarily bad and allow for a direction to follow through with.

1. Go off the Rails: Hopefully, the GM will be impressed and flustered. Any encounter will be more improvised as your actions shape the villain’s plans. As long as everyone’s having fun that is.

10 Tips on Being Better GMs

10. Use the player’s backstory: Use these often forgotten gems to spook PCs with enigmatic reveals of past secrets, bring random people who remember them, let them add NPCs as the campaign progresses. PC was a thief in this town? 

Let them remember their old gang, or a fence and their family. Not everything needs to have been set in stone. It makes for a more immersive campaign.

9. Villains have a Past, which can be just important to the story. Let the PCs explore and discover a villain’s past. Make your villains more monstrous or more relatable.

8. Plan Ahead: Have something – anything – prepared. A standby dungeon when a plot gets ignored. Planned loot: perhaps the paintings or jewellery reflect NPC enemies help make a memorable campaign.

7. Stay Organized: As hard as it can be to remember most NPCs and all PC actions. Try to keep a record of the PCs actions, and the NPCs in the world – what in the world is tipping (or keeping) the balance of stability (law), and change (chaos)?

6. Stay Involved: Nothing turns players off faster than a disinterested GM. Figure out role-playing hooks for character development. Make NPCs to befriend and hate, a stranger in a pub chatting about sports or a devious necromancer digging up the bones of their sister.

5. Know the Rules: A GM is part enemy, part storyteller, and part referee. Knowing the rules will speed up play and make things run smoother, encounters will be more enjoyable if you’re not needing to reference what everything can do.

4. Rules aren’t the Game: Let the players have somethings. Trust your players to know how their attacks work and don’t double-check everything they do.

3. Make NPCs and Enemies Memorable: Let them run. “Remember that guy who swore vengeance after we stopped his plans to do x?”

2. Improvisation is Required: A little bit of planning is important, but spontaneous is as well. Know your NPC personalities and roll with whatever unexpected things the PCs are likely to do.

1. Know your Position as GM: You are the referee and storyteller; You are the final say on the rules or how the situation plays out for the players. You can’t be too nice, or vengeful. Don’t limit your player’s options to force a decision through railroading. What you say, goes; but ensure what you say makes for a good story, and makes the campaign better.

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