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  #1  
Old 10-17-2019, 04:44 AM
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How do I get my players to actually role-play?

I've got a couple of new players in the game I'm currently running who don't seem willing/able to role-play their characters.

Mechanics wise they've got to grips fast, combat and adventuring is smooth, and they are generally good at not meta gaming, but their characters seem to have no personality, or rather the exact same personality as the players.

I've had them write a brief background and backstory, which were okay, but they never bring any of it into their interactions with NPC's. It feels like I'm talking to the player, not the character.

I don't want to blast them for it, because they are new to the game. What are some subtle ways to push them in the right direction, and encourage them to develop a personality for their characters?
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Old 10-17-2019, 05:40 AM
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It's a tough one, but as with most things communication is key. And understanding really, because everybody has fun differently. It's possible that's how they want to play or are comfortable playing right now, and that's that. It might change over time, but if you push them and make it a chore then they might just drop it altogether.

Ask yourself the question: Are they having fun doing it the way they are doing it? Then it's maybe less of a problem than you think.

Are there any players in the group that are better at getting into their character? Leading by example would also be a good method for nudging the players into a direction, because coming into pen and paper fresh some people might not have a conception of how enjoyable it can be to embody a character.

Another thing that I can think of how you could aleviate this problem would maybe be a change in game system. There is the "End of the world" series of games by fantasy flight where players are exactly playing themselves and then there is a zombie apocalypse/alien invasion and you go from there exactly where you are on planet earth.
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Old 10-17-2019, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phettberg View Post
Are there any players in the group that are better at getting into their character?
There is one player who is exceptionally good at getting (and staying) in character. Everyone is having fun for the most part, but this player has spoke to me in private about the lack of roleplaying from the 2 new players, which is one of the reasons I'm keen to encourage them to.
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Old 10-17-2019, 10:47 AM
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I've always used positive reinforcement to encourage role-play. You don't want to punish anyone as that might push them away. Small things like Inspiration points if you're playing D&D5 are perfect carrots. Hopefully your newer players will see your veteran players stack of inspiration and want some for themselves!

Stay away from better rewards though. Stuff like items and exp unbalance the party quickly and lead to resentment. Found that out the hard way with one of my real life groups.

Also, feel free to respond in character to their behavior. "You're the most chill paladin I've ever met, not like those hardasses on the hill over there. Let's get a beer!" or the reverse as nobles and other movers and shakers gafaw at their unorthodox behavior.

At the end of the day, you can bring a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. Some people just prefer to roll play and there isn't much you can do except have a Frank discussion about the matter out of character.

Good luck though! We're rooting for you!
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Old 10-17-2019, 05:31 PM
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I would say that the fact that they're new to the game is probably a big part of it. Not everybody can simply slip into character, even less so at the beginning of their gaming career. Another factor might be how long the game has been running, or how long they've been a part of it; sometimes a new character might need a bit to find their voice.

Outside of the other methods that have been mentioned, another good course of action might be to incentivize good roleplaying. Often times games will have some way to reward players for good RP, like the Inspiration mechanic for 5th Edition Dungeon & Dragons, which grants special advantage in combat and skill checks. This might be especially helpful in your case since at least one of the characters is an excellent roleplayer-- start spreading around the rewards to those characters who are doing a good job, and explain that making decisions thinking like their PC (i.e., a paladin putting themselves in harm's way to uphold their oath or a druid preferring the company of an animal to an NPC that might potentially benefit them) will earn rewards, while flat characters will not.
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Old 10-18-2019, 02:13 AM
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If they aren't into RP there isn't much you can do. Support the player that do RP to see if they join in...that's about all you can do.

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Old 10-18-2019, 08:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imveros View Post
Small things like Inspiration points if you're playing D&D5 are perfect carrots.
Great idea! I've never made use of the inspiration system before, but I think that might be a good starting point.
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Old 10-28-2019, 08:54 PM
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I think Phettberg was correct in saying that everyone has fun differently. I DM for children and teens, which can be its own challenge, and within those groups there are some fantastic RPers. However, there are also some players who know their class and race, understand the game mechanics, and contribute accordingly. This play style is fun, for them. They're not into RPing their own characters, but they're still enjoying the game.

That said, I have two great RPers who desperately wish the rest of the group was into RP. They're all having fun, but the RPers want to have a different kind of fun. This is the struggle with running a game for multiple personalities. If half the table wants RP and the other half doesn't, eventually there will be some frustration. In this case, it's up to the DM to balance the approach. I plan some NPC encounters that work in the RPers' backstories and such, but I also make sure I don't allow half a session to pass without having a puzzle, obstacle, or combat encounter.

If the trouble is simply that your players are new and not comfortable yet, as others have said, I second the advice about Inspiration and positive reinforcement. I'd also create scenarios in-game in which the players have to discuss or compromise on a specific situation that ties into a backstory or two. You don't want to pit your players' characters against each other, but you want to try to open up opportunities for new players to defend/introduce their characters' ideals and goals to the rest of the group. Sometimes, it also helps to have a discussion outside of play with the reluctant RPer to determine or agree on said goals and ideals, and sometimes it helps if you give the reluctant RPer a heads-up (out of game) about a situation coming up in-game that might connect to or enhance a character's story. After all, some people just aren't great at improv or thinking on their feet and, when faced with a talented RPer, they can hesitate and pull back and just let the other person keep talking. With a pre-discussion or some other private prep, the shy or considered thinker has more time to plan what they might say in a RP encounter.

Hope some of that helped!

For the rest of it, it's really just modeling. I found that the more outrageous and explicit I became with my NPC RP, the more comfortable my players became RPing their characters.
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Old 10-29-2019, 11:58 AM
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I'm an example of a player that can have a hard time getting into character. My longest running campaign has been one of the "End of the World" settings, where I played myself, and in other games, I tend to play excessively intellectual characters who are overly introspective, and it can feel weird to spill "thoughts" into words.

For these kinds of players, I would discuss how even rational characters have a rich inner world, even if they seem calm and collected on the outside. You can't "logic" your way into good behavior without first considering and ruling out bad behavior, and that process can be very interesting to write about. Devout clerics will struggle with their faith, Robinhood figures often wonder if they've gone too far, Brawlers might be jealous of a more academic sibling, while that same academic (wizard) sibling may wonder if they've lost touch with humanity and feel envy for the fighter's passion.

A background is... a start, but the thing that worked best for me was to write an explicit outline for my character. Give them a family, give them a childhood struggle, give them something to be proud of and something to be ashamed of. Where do they live? How would that have shaped their interests? Do they have a favorite food?

What are their motivations?

What are the little things that influence the path they take in the pursuit of their goals?

Write details that no one may ever read about.



In addition to the previous suggestions, I would recommend reading up on a few of the Outplay(Not 2018), and Post of the Month/Year winners and highlight some of the content in your own game. Maybe set a goal to nominate everyone for Post of the Month at least once during the campaign and encourage people to give you content worth promoting.
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Last edited by Gaijin; 10-29-2019 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 11-05-2019, 05:08 PM
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I very much need to echo the statement that new players will take awhile to start RPing a character. Remember, RPing is a skill just like anything else and not slipping back into what you would do in situations takes practice.

Now, I'm going to do what I do and ask you to hold up the mirror: does your storytelling method encourage new players to try out their characters? Are you providing moments of downtime, especially where there are NPCs that do not appear massively important? Do you sometimes have a shopkeeper talking about current events? Do you have alternate options for completing a story if one method fails? If you don't, try making situations where it's safe to fail and see if that doesn't start to get them in a roleplaying groove. One of the big hurdles I've found is that new players will try to focus more on making sure they don't accidentally grind the campaign to a halt by messing something up and let the character fall to the wayside. I'm not saying eliminate consequences, but try to not have single points of failure in your adventures.
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