So far in these series of pieces covering one of my passions, P&P Roleplaying Games, I’ve gone over my own Storytelling style and a few Tips & Tricks & Advice for GMs, but now I’m focusing on the types of GMs & Players you’re sure to find when you play.
I started played about 10 years ago, give or take a year, and since then I’ve run about 3 successful games and a slew of failed or interrupted ones, as well as playing even more, so I’ve had a chance of playing with pretty much every type of player and storyteller under the sun. Your average players & storytellers are somewhere in between a few of these, but you can also have purebloods and while some are good to have in your game, count yourself lucky if others aren’t in your game, or even worse, running them!
Let’s get down to them and let’s begin with the players:
The Baby: Players always want something, even things they know they can’t get, and they try to get their GMs to approve it, and then they’re shot down and things move along, but not for The Baby, for him that’s just the start, and he better get what he wants or he’ll throw temper tantrum after tantrum, escalating in frequency, hostility and offensiveness, until either the GM gives in, or he’s kicked out.
The Power Player: The PP spends hours, sometimes even late-nights, poring over the rules to find every single exploit, trick, synergy and bonus and will build his character around it. Doesn’t mean he’s not a good player, no, most are; in fact, they’ll often build their character’s stories around the exploits, to explain in-game how he’s so good, but in the end, the use of their Empowered character is the most important for him, to show just how good he is at building them (I’m like that with Magic-types, I’m that good! XD)
The Number-cruncher: This is the bad evolution of the Power Player. The number cruncher isn’t so much a role-player, more like a role-accountant. His entire time and energy will be spent going over his stats, figuring out the numbers and what to do to get more numbers. He doesn’t care about the game or the story or the other players, he’s too focused on his stat blocks. This is the type of player who won’t even participate in the game; instead, you’ll see him reading his character sheet every second of the night, only showing signs of life when the time comes to put his stats to use.
The Deeply Invested: The polar opposite of the Number-cruncher, the DI cares only about the character from a plot point of view. Stats are irrelevant to him, he doesn’t care if his character is the best at what he does, he just wants to play them as much as he can, finding out more about them, sharing in their victories and defeats, the joys and sadness.
The Shyguy: Shyguys are good players, often having fantastic ideas, but grow mute the moment it’s time to role-play, to act as if they were other people, their embarrassment or stage fright keeping them quiet, often talking in the third person: “My character agrees” or “My character explains”, without actually doing the role-play themselves.
The Goldfish: These are the bad short-term memory players, the one people need to explain things every time they come up, be it in different sessions or during the same one. They’ll forget how to use skills, or how to fight, or how to do X ability their character has, prompting the same explanation for the umpteenth time, making the other players and GM consider maybe writing down a tutorial for them.
The Stagehand: This type of player will always try to “help” the storyteller, often playing music he thinks helps set the scene the GMs painting, mostly oblivious to the fact he’s probably doing the opposite and is instead distracting people away from the descriptions. Other times he will cut in to further explain something he feels the GM left incomplete, even if that was the point. In general, the stagehand will always try to “help”, but will
often just hinder the GM.
The Unbeatable: Entire planets have to die out for the universe to balance the equations when it comes to the Unbeatable’s luck. You have 3 dice and need to get three 6s? The Unbeatable will roll them and get four of them. This is the player that’ll instant-kill your hard-worked villains, whose roll of the dice in a negotiation will be so obscene he won’t only get what he wants, but with a bonus. Is there a chance for him to survive the car blowing up? If the possibility exists, no matter how statistically improbable it is, he’ll do it. He doesn’t need loaded dice, he doesn’t need to cheat, he’s just that lucky.
The Black Cloud: The antithesis of the Unbeatable, the black cloud can’t catch a break. Out of 30 dice in a night, he’ll get above average results in maybe 3, and that’s being optimistic. His die rolls will always be low, sometimes the lowest possible, and no matter how much you stack things on him, it’ll be useless, since his luck is abominably bad. Is there a chance of failure? If the answer’s yes, then it’s almost certain he’ll cause the worst possible outcome.
That’s it for the players, the types I can remember, now let’s go with the GMs:
The Hardmoder: Nothing is ever easy. Every encounter needs strategy and care to make it through, and getting out unscathed is a miracle. Negotiations can quickly go out the window, fights will always be challenging, and bad decisions meet with extreme prejudice.
The Elitist: The elitists consider themselves the top of the hill, and will only play with those experienced enough for his advanced skills. He doesn’t have patience for new players, and if he has to suffer through them, he’ll pass the explaining buck to someone else in the group, since he can’t waste time to do it himself.
The Evil Bastard: Don’t give your character a purpose in life, or a family, or even a background. The Evil Bastard will use it against you in extremity, often turning them into tragic points of your character’s life, or even enemies, and not because it’ll add to
the story, but because it’s fun for him to screw with you like that. If he does it enough (and repeatedly to the same player(s)) then he should be considered a Mercilessly Evil Bastard.
The Filmmaker: Rules are irrelevant to the filmmaker, as are most character decisions. The most important thing is his vision of the story; the players are just spectators with the illusion of free will and the ability to change the outcome of the story. If it means pushing the story where he wants it to go, he’ll kill your character, no questions asked or ways to stop him, often doing things cinematically (aka, no dice or mechanics involved).
The Controller: This is the Ultimate Evolution of the Filmmaker. As his name implies, he needs to control every single aspect of the game, from the story to the characters, his vision is of so vital importance, the players have to accommodate to it. He directs character creation, making sure every choice is tailored to his desires, from skills to background stories.
The Recursive: The recursive will, before even the first word’s been uttered in the first session, already built sprawling, multi-branching storylines for all characters and will constantly update those branches with even more branches, going over the again and again, making sure every character decision has the appropriate impact and building a web of both independent and converging storylines.
The RAWmonger: The RAWmonger or Rulemonger deals only with the rules as written, no house rules, no exceptions; what’s on the book is the law, no second guesses. A storyteller can only be considered a RAWmonger if they’re experienced, as new GMs tend to grab firmly to the rules as support while running their first games while they find their own rhythm and style.
The Tolkien: The Tolkiens are extensive in their descriptions, sometimes overly so. No room is ever a room, but a 30-minute tirade explaining how each chair was made, where the wood came from, the fascinating stories about the carpenter’s wife and how two of their three children died in the plague last year. No weapon if ever just a weapon, a simple crossbow will instead be a work of amazing craftsmanship, the rail where the bolt goes so intricately carved, if you look down it, you realize it’s the shape of a rose. They’ll often trick players into believing things are more important than they actually are, if only because of their evocative descriptions.
The Coach: They know everyone started as a newbie, so he’ll make sure those less experienced are appropriately supported so they pick up the gist of things as quickly as possible. They’ll also keep things amiable and movingforward, making sure everyone is playing nice. He’s firm but fair in his decisions, sometimes slipping on the firmness, because not wanting conflict among the group extends to him.
The Carebear: This is the Coach’s mutation. The Carebear will put people’s feelings first, making sure nothing makes them uncomfortable or unhappy, and will often employ Deus Ex Machina moments to make sure everyone survives and even comes out winning.
The Arbiter: His job is just to mediate between you and the world, aside from his duties setting the story. Players often have a greater degree of liberty than with other GMs, but they’re forewarned everything they do is at their own discretion and peril. He will intercede for the players, but in general will let things play out.
The Indoor Larper: LARP stands for Live Action Role Playing and this GM type acts and plays as if he’s doing just
that, often pulling out various costumes during gameplay, as well as using music and props extensively, sometimes to his own detriment.
The Wingman: Called such because nothing is every prepared in advance, not even the plot or major characters or NPCs or anything, instead he wings it all the time, improvisation taken to a professional level. Nothing will ever have a character sheet or be put on paper even. And if, or better yet, when he forgets everything he’s made up till then, he’ll make shit up as he goes along, hoping someone in the group will remind him where the plot ended up last time!
I may have missed a few more player & GM types and maybe I’ve focused on the more extreme, so hit me up in the comments with more suggestions and I’ll add them to the post, and hey, maybe you’ll remind me of a few more types!