for Critical Role here on Geek & Sundry,
and welcome to today’s episode of GM tips.
Today’s theme: getting your players
to engage in more roleplay.
Now, I want to preface this with the idea
that you cannot force your players to roleplay.
Some just may not be comfortable with it.
Some may not be into this game for heavy RP,
and instead want more of a Diablo-like
kill shit, take loot experience–
and that’s totally fine, it’s totally great–
a little worrying, but totally great!
However, you can certainly engage them
with some of the following tips,
and you may be surprised which elements
they pick up and end up liking.
My first recommendation is to talk to your group
in advance about wanting to
actually RP more in the campaign.
You don’t want them being caught off-guard
with an aggressive change in GMing style
that asks more of them.
It puts them in a weird, awkward place
where they feel like they have to
perform more for you. You want it to be
natural and fun, so listen to them.
Engage with their eagerness,
and adjust your expectations accordingly.
Next, if the group is on board,
have them develop some written background stories,
or history about their character,
or general personality traits if they haven’t already.
I mean, not everyone has to write a
multi-page backstory, you just have to
have a half-page or one-page history
that helps them become more invested
in their character, if anything.
It aids them in finding elements of
their history and informing them of their
own personality traits, impulses,
and general reactions to elements they
may encounter throughout the campaign.
It’s a useful tool for anyone involved.
You can even award bonus experience
or some other small reward if you feel inclined
if you need just a little push to finish it–
which you will, because we’re all
human beings who are busy… and lazy…
I’m very lazy.
Some systems, like fifth edition
Dungeons and Dragons have a whole section
of the source book on characters, personalities,
and backgrounds that can be a great guide
to fleshing out a character’s personality–
or just rolling for it if you just don’t give a [beep].
Get comfortable enough with your early NPCs
and their dialogue points to try and engage
players with a lot of eye contact and direct gestures.
Do not read the entire encounter off the page,
because they’ll disengage immediately and
not really be willing to meet you on a level
that you’re not willing to meet them.
When you begin your endgame foray into upping
the RP with your players, you really need
to speak to them as the NPCs in the same nature
that you wish them to RP in return.
Make direct eye-contact with whichever
party member or members who are
leading that encounter. Lean in and gesture,
or point them when asking a question
for their character! Let them know
that they are in the moment, and
this is their moment to seize!
When a player begins to describe
the gist of their response instead of in-character,
gently remind them to try and respond
in-character, like, “Great! How would Durmans
ask that question to me, the jailer?”
or “Sure! And as those angry thoughts fill her mind,
how would Leila express that verbally?”
Now, players, sometimes a different or
silly voice can help. Textures, speaking
in a lighter place in your palate, or something
that’s a little different than your normal speaking voice.
Fun voices and accents are by no means
necessary for the game, but they can help
you as well as your fellow players and GM
separate your in-character dialogue from
your own thoughts and comments in the game.
Physicality helps too! Think of how different
your character would hold themselves
compared to you. Would they sit up straight,
broaden their shoulders– or curl up and
act like a crazy person?
Maybe they give giant, bombastic gestures!
You may find yourself physically embodying
your character in RP moments more often once
you think on these little details.
For all you GMs, you need to be patient.
For some players, it’s a really big step
in letting go of their own insecurities and embracing
the play that makes these games so wonderful.
Don’t expect a huge, sudden change.
It may just take a while– sometimes
a very long while, if at all. Be supportive.
Compliment players after a session for good
roleplaying and don’t scold them for any
missed moments or opportunities during the session.
Players, also be supportive to your
other players and willing to elevate your
less comfortable players.
Let them have the spotlight.
Pay attention to them when they’re speaking,
and back up their statements with your own
in-character moments: “Indeed!” or
“Exactly, Leila!” if they make a good point in RP.
Most of all, have fun! Even just the slightest
shift in this direction can lead to some of
the most immersive RP experiences,
but you have to make sure that all these
experiences are still fun for everyone involved.
That’s the key to the game,
and that’s the key to making your
players want to engage more on a roleplaying level.
Anyway, I hope these tips have
been useful to you at all.
You can find more GM Tips here on geekandsundry.com.
I look forward to seeing you
somewhere on the Internet in the future.
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