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Appealing to Player Types 07.02.04

Last time we talked about how to get your team into a more “balanced” formation, so this week I’d like to chat about how to actually make sure everyone has fun in a tandem… this week I even made script because I am a humongous dork. No I really mean that. While I am in good shape, everyone I know says… and I will use quotes since they ALL say the EXACT FRIGGIN SAME THING…

“You know who you remind me of… that comic book guy on The Simpsons”.

So rest assured, when I say “I am a humongous dork” I mean that in the strictest since… geekdom isn’t just a place I visit, I preside over some kind of “geeks council” that monitors other geeks for signs of redeeming value in the hopes that we can crush it under our wicked cheetoh stained thumbs. What was a I talking about again? Oh yeah… players having fun.

The best way to tacklle this subject is to break up the various types of players ... and within this Matrix of Fun we will describe how to accommodate each personality type..

The Loner:
The loner likes to achieve success on his own. Regardless of what the group does, this player likes to have separate resources that he can call upon to save the day, or jobs that only he can perform. The loner player needs to succeed without needing “help” from other players and NPC's.

This does not mean however that the loner character cannot co-operate with the rest of the team, quite the opposite usually. Loner players simply cherish the moments when their character can save the day. This can be anything from a well placed sniper shot, to the right contact at the right time.

While setting up the next game sessions run, look over the players character sheet and work in his special knowledge skill, or his contact. Find some way for this insignificant detail to help in a large way. Then during the game you can ask "Does anyone have a Knowledge skill about the sewers?", when you know full well ONLY the loner has it.

If you have had your players write up backgrounds you can also pull information from that. You don't need to do this every game session, but every once in a while will really make the loner happy.

The Fucktard:
This son of a bitch always plays the goddamn hafling in D&D. They thrive on causing chaos and irritating the NPC’s. If they can’t piss off the NPC’s they will try to piss you off. If you can point them in the right direction they can be a great source of comic relief and a reliable member of the team… but beware the fucktard without a villain target, he will drop on his own party like a ton of bricks.

This player typically plays casters, but sometimes plays a rigger. They key to a Fucktard is to answer "Yes" as much as possible. Allow me to explain with a script...

"Game Master: You are standing at the top of the stairs in the old hotels lobby, your weapon ready. You think you see a hint of movement near the help desk, suddenly a heavily modified GM-Doberman drone pulls from behind the desk and begins sweeping the area with it's visual sensors... it hasn't noticed you yet, but it's only a matter of time..."

Fucktard: Is their a couch in the lobby?

GM: Yes, it was once quite beautiful, but it is now faded and worn.

Fucktard: Is it flamable?

GM: Yes, the exposed foam and dried out cloth make this couch very flamable.

Fucktard: Great, I toss a flare on the couch and while the drone is distracted I jump on top of its turret, I'm gonna smash out its sensor array!"

See how that went? Now if the fucktard asked "is there a sherman tank in the lobby?" I would say "no" then punch him in the wang. However he asked about a couch for a reason. In his mind he had a picture of the lobby, and was trying to form a plan of action. By forming his questions into more discriptive objects I could meld his vision of the lobby into my own, while at the same time letting him wreak the havoc he so greatly desired.

The above happened last week by the way... almost verbatim...

The Conniver:
This character is typically the quiet one. She/He sits back and builds up his character over time, trying to influence the game through roleplaying rather than out right dice rolling. These players don’t need bad guys to beat; they need bad guys to outwit. You can spot your groups’ conniver really easily…

Step 1: Draw up a map of an area your group will be assaulting.
Step 2: Hold map 3 to 4 feet above the table and tell the players what is on the paper.
Step 3: Release map.
Step 4: Notice which player pounces on the map like a drunk cheetah on a porterhouse steak.

This player needs to be able to make plans in advance, and see those plans come together. During combat she needs to improvise in such a way that it swings the combat. Just like the fucktard, if she asks a question, try to answer yes.

If the conniver comes up with a plan, alter your run so that it has a chance to work, with a few "glitches". If the players are held up in a third story office by a small gang of security personel, and the conniver gets the idea to shatter the window so that the security group thinks they are leaving through the window... have the officers fall for it. As they rush through the door to catch the players rappelling out the window instead they meet with a hail of bullets... to bad about the DocWagon bracelet on the wrist of their commander... the players better scram...

The Wu of John:
These players are easy to satisfy. They crave one thing, and one thing only… COMBAT. Most of the time, however, they do not crave mindless combat. They want interesting, cinematic combat, even if they don’t know it yet. They don’t want to stand in a hallway and exchange bullets with 2 gangers… they want to wade/dance across a snow covered parking lot, dodging behind cars and filling the air with bullets like rain on a may afternoon, sliding amidst shattered glass and flattened tires to catch a glimpse of a shadow moving between the wreckage only 20 feet away… his Predator II is low on ammo… but if he can just make this burst count...

This player is most likely going to choose the samurai. He needs three things in his combat, description, description and description. A sample fight would go something like this,

Game Master: The Orc Merc has beat you on initiative, so he acts at 28, he quickly draws a battle worn Browning Max power from a concealed holster beneath his long coat. His eyes lock with your briefly as he runs sideways to the left, making his way to the cover of a doorway. <GM Rolls Orc Mercs Pistols check>. As he leaps through the air he squeezes off a wild shot from the Browning that whizzes harmlessly past your head smashing through a florescent bulb above you… amidst the flickering light and the shower of sparks you realize that you have just this one chance at a clean shot before he gets behind cover… what is your action?

Wu of John: I fire twice from my Predator as I charge the doorway, hoping to regain visual contact if I miss.

GM: You rush down the hallway, squeezing off two shots at the vanishing orc, roll your Pistols, your target number is 6.”

This player is all about setting. They love combat, and it's your job to make it more than just an exchange of dice rolls. No matter what the Wu of John chooses to play, he lives for the struggle, and building it up above the levels of "roll your pistols, ok next initiative pass" is really important. If your WoJ is playing a decker, use ONLY scuplted systems and describe odd metaphors. If they are a rigger, play up the number of mathematic equations and 3D models flying across his screen as the targetting computer does it's thing. Really emerse the player in the location of the action, and make it more than just a card board backdrop. He will even enjoy it when the NPC's use their surroundings against him.

One thing I do (and I think I learned this from Blackjack) is I never let the players know what damage rating they are at during the game. I describe their wounds to them, and they can guess by their Target Number modifiers, but that's it. After the game they can heal, and during that process I'll go ahead and tell them, but during the action... it's all discription.

I hope this has given you all some ideas on how to make the game more fun for some of your players. I am sure their are other types of players out there, but I think these tips really give you a basis for adding some great depth to your enjoyment.

Until next time... I have nothing witty to say here...