Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Player Tips: I made a cool new PC, now what?

So you've sat down at the table to game, you've rolled up some player characters (or started off with some pre-generated ones) and now you and your adventure party are ready to dive in to new interstellar exploits!

The GM tells you that you've arrived at the spaceport that will be the home base for your future adventures, so "Start exploring!".

Uh, okay.... what?

Having a big RPG sandbox to play in (or even a small one) can feel a little intimidating if you're a new player or haven't stretched your roleplaying muscles for a while. You might feel overly cautious or maybe just unsure of which direction to head in first.

Well, you can badger your GM with questions about the campaign's setting but you want to be doing something, not just get filled in on background information. It might just be helpful to know what your options are right out of the gate. Here's a very basic (and not nearly exhaustive) list of tasks and tactics to get you started:
  1. GOLDEN RULE: Ask the GM questions and try stuff. Have fun!
  2. Talk to each other, you're a team so get to know your teammates.
  3. Look around at your surroundings, try to be aware at all times.
  4. Listen - this means both you as a player and your PC in game.
  5. Learn about your abilities, see Golden Rule.
  6. Look in your gear bag, learn about your stuff, see Golden Rule.
  7. Check for traps - decide if they should they be disarmed or sidestepped? Left for enemies to run into?
  8. Always be searching for clues, information is as valuable as treasure!
  9. Record any clues you find or hints you might suspect are being dropped.
  10. Learn about your enemies, keep a record in case you run into more.
  11. In combat - look for cover and take up key positions when possible.
  12. After combat - loot the bodies, see #7, and see #8.
  13. Remember to get paid, collect treasure, and then convert it to liquid currency if needed. You earn XP for spending your income.
  14. Return to HQ/town/etc. and get information on what you've found. Refer to previous clues discovered.
  15. Heal yourself and other teammates whenever possible (this includes rest and nourishment).
Trial and Error, pre- and out-game tips/advice for campaign style play
Some additional advice that may take a little preparation before gaming or practice in multiple game sessions:
  • Besides sticking to your class and/or race attributes, determine who's doing what on the team --(e.g., is one of you the group's "leader"? Who looks after team-owned gear, etc.).
  • Learn about basic tactics in combat (flanking, etc.)
  • Get a primer on basic parts of air and space craft as well as flight maneuver basics for piloting and combat.
  • When in doubt, ask the locals. Brush up on bribing, interviewing, and intimidating NPCs. Even if encounters appear to yield nothing, there could be a clue in their temperament or mood. What aren't they saying?
  • Try to determine who might find value in the treasure or information you've discovered. It may take a while to track down someone with the proper knowledge about an artifact or clue.
  • Always review your character sheet -- look for ways of improving yourself. How will you spend your XP? Think about how you want to develop your character while you're away from the game table. Work with your GM on your plans.

Supplies at the game table:
  • Dice - preferably at least one of each: d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20; ideally a few d4s, at least 3 d6s, and 2d10s for percentile roles
  • Writing utensils - pencil works best on character sheets, colored pencils or pens are helpful if you're the group's mapper
  • A dedicated notebook for gaming - you'll need to keep track of clues, monsters encountered and draw maps etc.; you can also use it to pass notes to other players or the game master
  • Players guide book - also called a players handbook; this can somewhat of an investment, depending on the game, but it's extremely handy to have this at your disposal (or to help with preparation before playing)
  • Miniature - does your game use minis? Not all do, but if it does, you should have one for your character and if your team has a spaceship, you should have it represented as well
The supply list is really just the bare minimum. Every gaming group is different. Be sure to check with your GM about anything else that might be needed at the table. Remember the Golden Rule, be an excellent gamer and have fun!

 Top image: Spaceport concept art by the incredible Ben Wooten