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Knowing your Players

    While creating a world for your players to enjoy or bringing the Worlds of Kralis to life, you need to know and understand your players. Understanding how they will respond to different situations, your GMing style, what scenarios and adventures they like, and how they may interact with each other is important because they make or break a game or a whole campaign.

    There are no actual tips or shortcuts for getting to know a group. Starting a new group at your local friendly game store is different from starting the same game with your friends and family.

    The best ways to figure out what type of group you are GMing for is to use some of the basic or more common types of adventure tropes (town in need, NPC in need, Rescuing an item, etc.). Save the more complex concepts and ideas for your campaign plots for when you have gotten to know your group better.


Player Types

    Having discussed the various, though limited types of GameMasters, you need to understand your players, their desires and what makes them tick.

    There are a number of great resources out in the world-wide-web, that can give you a doctoral thesis on every player type you might encounter in your gaming experience.

    As a standard, most players will be attracted to GMs that are most like them in their playstyle, however; this does not mean that alike-attracts-alike, because, for every 3 players that fit your style, you will find one or two that have a specific style that you will have to accommodate.

    There are typically four types of players, but the following is does not mean that a player fits into only one type, but they tend to lean towards one more than the others: Analysts, Diplomats, Protectors, and Explorers.

    Analysts. These player types focus on the use of the rules within the game. They are the ones that will want to tweak, modify or "hack" the rules for the simple joy of rule-breaking. These players want all the options available to them, even the slightest, insignificant detail is important to them and their desire to modify their characters.

    They tend to take their roles as characters quite seriously, often seeking a way for them build their character that has effects for the character as well as the world around them. They tend to either be aggressive attackers (extroverted players) or powerful, passive support (introverted players).

    Analysts enjoy solving puzzles, prefer to engage in an action based adventure and open-sandbox worlds where they must engage everything. These players enjoy boosting their odds for greater success and will often want to roll the dice just to roll the dice. They are smart, imaginative, strategic thinkers that love to innovate new solutions for the situations (both physical and intellectual). They have bold plans that will always find a way or will make one.

    Analysts make up the majority of power gamers and tacticians in a game. They take on characters such as spellcasters, technophytes, engineers, illusionists, and prefer the more standard types of species like ta' jahu, ha'vatu, humans, and chovah.

    Diplomats. Diplomats, despite their name, are drawn to a game and gaming for their artistic and unique narratives. Driven by the need to tell a story, and not just any story, it must have meaning and depth. They will buck at the smallest scent of a railroading, and while they prefer to drive a campaign with their PCs story. They do not want to play in a sandbox without any direction, while an open world appeals to them and it can spark their imagination. They will balk at a railroading plot, but they are often willing to help author and drive an interesting story. They are more attracted to supporting roles such as spellcasters and clerics. Though if they choose to be a fighter-type they are likely to take on roles based on pure strength and close-range fighting.

    Diplomat type characters are those players that are romantic and passionate types. They are often quiet, altruistic and creative players with a great deal of charisma to create great backgrounds for their characters.

    They love to have their characters involved in the stories more directly than other player types while they wander an open-world where they can embrace the freedom of non-linear missions and goals. Diplomats have a keen sense of morals and principles. They will likely not play characters whose behavior would be frowned upon in real life such as trickery or stealing, eliminating most rogue types of characters.

    Diplomats tend to lean towards acting and storyteller types of players. These players are attracted to playing priests, rogues, or bards and lean towards non-standard species such as acires, aelwyn, ba-liyan, and syliphs.

    Protectors. Of all the player types, the protectors make up a large group of players that look at the game as a place where they are able to bring their dedication to both the game and the players within the game. They are social players that are more attracted to gaming as a group, and being the leader of that group, than going on individual side-quests by themselves.

    Protectors are dedicated and defined by their reliability, integrity, practical logic and charisma. They tend to understand the situation that their character or the party is in and design the best plan.

    These players often are the leader of the party and enjoy bringing everyone into focus. They are straight-forward and never give up on their beliefs. These players tend to make up power gamers and those that specialize in specific character types. They are likely to take on characters such as knights, monks, crusaders, or jinhuur and tend to pick species such as bhahuul, jakara, kanus, or trolls.

    Explorers. Explorers tend to be what are best known as the butt-kickers seeing adventures and scenarios as something really fun and exciting, but always needing to have more to do than other players.

    They prefer to jump into a game and get going right away once the game has begun. Explorers are drawn to fast-paced and free from lasting consequences within a game. They are attracted to situations where they are constantly challenged and where the dice are continually rolling. They enjoy stealth-based scenarios where the tension can be cranked up to high and left there; and where they often must make split-second decisions and decide when and where to peek around the corner.

    These players can drive a GM mad as they tend to split the party and go off on their own for a bit. Where other players may only make a move after taking some time to observe the patrols or the coming and goings within a base, they have already entered the area and moved through the compound, having taken a few chances along the way.

    Most will focus on the craft of the play, challenging the timing of action in a changing environment to make victory.

    Explorers tend to pick either stealth based characters or be in the center of the action where life and death hang in the balance. They often create rangers, jinhuurs, mage-fighters or summoners and tend to choose unusual species such as the acires, aelwyn, jakara, kanus, manax or trolls.

Types of Disruptive Players

    As a gamer myself I try not to think badly of others. However, there are problem and toxic players out in the world. Disruptive players come in a few broad categories. Understanding these types of players can help you deal with them when they arise.

    As the GM, the first thing that you must look at when dealing with disruptive players is to understand that the root of these issues may actually lie in how you the GM view your role in the playing group and how you conduct yourself and the game you are in.

    Bluntly, if you as the GM appear to be willing to let your players get away with actions and types of behaviors that may hurt the game, then the player that might be naturally inclined to towards disruptive behaviors and will likely take advantage of this opportunity. As the GM you are there to enforce the rules, mediate the game itself and provide a safe place for all players.

    Sometimes disruptive players are not even aware that they have become a disruptive player or "that player". Dealing with them should be taken from the perspective that it could be nothing more than a communication issue, a misunderstanding or someone having a bad day. Should the player continue to cause issues from game to game, you might have a problem player on your hands.

    When you come across a disruptive player you should discuss the issue with them and not penalize their character for an out of game player disruption. Depending on the severity of the transgression you should probably talk to them after the game or during a break. Be direct about the situation, tell them what they may have done in a calm tone, try to keep it friendly and be understanding. If two or more players are involved you must become the true judge, listen to both sides, and help them come to a good resolution.

    Sometimes if there is an issue between two players and they are mature enough, it might be a good idea to move on and rely on their maturity to realize that they were both in the wrong and they will naturally apologize to each other.

    At no time during these types of a situation should you or other players gang up on the offending player, though perhaps a group discussion will help alleviate issues.

    In the real world of life, beyond the game, you have no real authority so avoid bullying or intimidating a player. Your only job as the GM in these situations is to talk it out with the disruptive player and hopefully get them to see the situation and help them alter this in game behavior.

    One of the hard and unchanging rules for any game is this: NO BULLYING and NO GATEKEEPING. There is never a need for anyone ever to be made to feel that they are not playing the game in a "right" way. No one should ever be coerced or pushed into doing something that they do not want or are willing to do in the game.

    Under most circumstances, people tend to want to adhere to the group social contract, which tends to state that we are here for fun and a certain level of maturity is required. However, those less mature players, perhaps due to age, will need to be shown the error of their ways. Most of this can be discovered and taken care of during session zero as you get to know the players.

    Following are a few types of disruptive players that you might encounter (and not a definitive list on them), along with some information on how to work with them and help adjust this disruptiveness.

    The Aggressor or Griefer. These types of players are fortunately very rare, but they are the worst sort of players as their attitudes are often the reason why so many fantastic potential players flee the hobby and never return.

    These players tend to create characters that cannot function in any type of adventure or scenario, fantasy games or otherwise.

    The aggressor type of player is different than a bully but is part of the bully umbrella. They are often a combination of an insecure cheat and a bully. They often do not care what the group is doing or is about and are often motivated by getting others to react to their antics; getting their kicks by seeing how far they can push a group before there is a breakdown.

    Usually, they are thoughtless persons, the worst type of sin in an RPG, that cannot be reasoned with or changed. Their bully personality is often delighted to see that others do not confront them about this disruptive behavior.

    When confronted, they become "that player" that we all dread and will have a plan. Often they will begin with deflecting their behavior by blaming the scenario or the GM for allowing them to act a specific way. If this fails, in some extreme cases, this may come from them shouting opponents down.

    These players, when they first join a group, are difficult to spot. Unless they announce it, they will be hard to see right off the bat. Soon after though, their true behavior cannot be kept quite for long. They will soon raise their voice to challenge other players, act aggressively towards others while in game and begin to challenge another's decision on how to play their character.

    They will argue and be disruptive, might refuse to participate in the current scenario and will generally try to spoil the fun for everyone else.

    When this occurs, it is your job as the GM to immediately take charge of the situation and tell the offending player that they have crossed a line in no uncertain words.

    It is doubtful that such players will change their motivations for playing in the game and allowing such a player to remain in the game is a horrible decision, no matter what connection they have to you or the group. There is absolutely no reason to continue to allow the player to remain in the game. You will only validate their behavior by allowing them to stay in the game. You must firmly but politely ask the player to leave the game; otherwise, you will threaten the campaign's life at best and cause new players to quit the hobby in disgust at worst.

    The Fourth Wall Player. Often referred to as the Metagamer, which is a misnomer in a sense (for a great argument about Metagaming see (, these players take actions within the game that might be outside of the current knowledge of the character using information that they have gathered from the GM or their player knowledge of the rules.

    It is possible to use outside-of-game knowledge in a positive way. Most of the time these types of players use it to help their character succeed rather than helping the immersion of the game for themselves and the players involved. Too often it is used to break the groups suspension of disbelieve in the campaign or current scenario.

    These types of players tend to know the weaknesses of most of the popular monsters or they instantly become suspicious of non-player characters when their ill intent is talked about out-of-game.

    They are troublesome because the Fourth Wall Player can wreak havoc on stories, plots, and campaign because it is nearly impossible for humans to "strike from the record" any information that they learn from their minds.

    Fourth Wall Players can make the scenarios less risky or take the challenge out of the encounter that would otherwise be filled with tension and excitement. This type of player waters down the overall gaming experience. Calls attention to the mechanics of the game, such as knowing the weakness of a particular monster, or that the weapon that the major Bad Guy does X and Y, rather than enjoying the experience of the story.

    Dealing with the Fourth Wall Player(s) is often verily easy to deal with. There are a couple of lines of thought on this: first, reduce their knowledge, which is far more difficult than it sounds. How do you reduce the actual knowledge of players outside of the game. Perhaps if they are new players ask them not to read through the Talarius Bestiaries, or ask veterans of your game not to reveal details to the new players;

    Second, increase your requests for specific checks such as Alertness skill, and Perception Attribute checks; When the players are wandering around the region or moving from point A to B ask randomly for these types of checks. If they ask what do they spot or see, base your answer on non-game impacting things like: you see a shadow of a large creature flying high above them cross the road in front of them, or a large flock of birds take to wing as you spook them from their hiding. This way when you need them to make these checks to determine if they notice the oku's hiding in the brush along the road or notice the scent of decay in the air around them, they won't necessarily become suspicious.

    Third, with foreshadowing, the players gain a bit of background knowledge about specific things within the region that they are adventuring in.

    When a character is first created, perhaps the player decides that as part of the character's backstory was once an archivist for the Guild of Sages in Dardura Sheva and knows a little about a lot of things. Perhaps their parents are well known airship pilots from the Duchy of Harr and have spent sometime learning how to pilot various vehicles, including a legendary mecha while visiting the Islands of Caznak. Perhaps, when the player does use their knowledge, ask them how does their character know this. This gives the player the opportunity to tell you more about their character, which can also result in them giving you hooks into the player. Which is more fun than spending wasted minutes arguing with the player about why their character should not or cannot know this. Unless of course there is no way they know about the life cycle of the native red worm of Ghul Ghul island.

    And fourth, when describing non-player characters including monsters, leave out specific details or add more flourishing details about them. Over the last few adventures you have been on a faemabrey kick and the players have come to easily recognize them. In a new adventure with some new characters, you want them to discover a faemabrey in the depths of the Mines of Kholar. But instead of describing them in the following way:

    Proto faemabrey are white in coloration and stand approximately 4' in height and weigh approximately 120-pounds.

    Perhaps describe them as thin and lanky creatures whose flesh is albino in coloration with striations of red across their body.

    The Rules Lawyer - Power Player. While often construed as two distinct types of players, they are more often the same type of player than not. On the one hand you have a player who knows the ins and outs of the game system, they know the rules, and where to break the rules when they need to and how to manipulate the rules when they want.

    On the other hand, well there is no on other hand, in both cases the player knows the rules, perhaps better then the GM and can manipulate them and argue them to a very fine detail.

    These players view the game, the adventure and the whole campaign as a technical strategy game that they want to "win". They have very intimate knowledge of all the mechanics of the system. Can use the mechanics to argue their point about why they should be able to cast both a Summon Animal/Beast and Firebolt in the same action turn. Or to use the rules to build characters that take advantage of very specific sets of abilities for their character type as well as "min-maxing" the system.

    They engage the game system as a series of rules to follow and exploit instead of rolling with the game's flow and creating interesting characters. Or constantly pick at the rulings by the GM, perhaps even attempting to ignore your judgment.

    Often they have memorized every word of the rules, even those found in online discussions or splatbook expansions and will use this as an arsenal to get their way and build the most powerful character that they can.

    In both cases, they are true Rules as Written players and will expect you to follow the rules exactly as they are written, policing you and your judgment, and will likely overshadow other players. Should they fail at this, they will likely be bitter and feel put out.

    Despite the disruption of the game, these types of players make a great resource for the GM in helping to remember a specific rule, or knowing exactly where to look up the rule. Unfortunately, this will likely limit your ability as the GM to use the rules in an artistic way or as the Rules as Intended (the spirit of the game and rules). They often do not recognize your word as GM as the law.

    Put simply, these types of players must be stopped quickly. Your aim in dealing with these types it not to be a stickler and spoil their fun, but to make sure that these players understand that you are the GM and your rulings are final. Try to avoid the knee-jerk reaction of automatic dismissal that they have to say, but do not let them direct the game's flow.

    When contested, give them a brief explanation. Make it clear that objections are allowed, perhaps even welcomed; however, if this is not sufficient, tell them that is your decision and that you will discuss it in greater detail outside of the game. But in the end, remind them that the GM's word IS law.

    Should you find yourself at the table with this type of player consider the following concepts to pull them towards helping them to be a better player which is advantageous for all the players and yourself:

    • When creating characters have them help and assist other players come up with solid concepts.

    • During game play, instead of taking a moment to look up a specific rule, ask them if the know it and how it might affect the game.

    • Use them to help you teach the game system so long as they do so without ego or attitude.

    The Lone Wolf. You set out the adventure, get the party together and in the middle of the action or story, this player decides to run off to do something completely unrelated to the story, the adventure or what everyone else in the party is doing. These types of players, the lone wolves, can often throw monkey wrenches into the game and can be very disruptive during play.

    While the lone wolf wants to play in a cooperative table top RPG, they would likely be happier if they played a single player or online MMO. They want an audience and the spotlight. Despite their best attempts to be the lone, dark and brooding character type, they have yet to figure out how to shine within a group.

    These types of players tend to think that they are better off without the group, they purposely create characters and backgrounds that place them on the fringes of group dynamics which ultimately disrupts the game and the group.

    The lone wolf tends to have little to no regard for group play or cohesion, and they will seize any moment to go off alone, regardless of how it may affect the other players. They split the party on purpose. Most often this happens when they are bored during times where the rest of the group is either discussing how to proceed, during resting periods or in the middle of tense conflicts such as combat.

    While stealthy characters do this as well, stealthy players do so for a good reason: advance scouting; and only doing it when the party thinks is a good idea for everyone involved.

    As with all other disruptive players, except the aggressor-griefer, you may want to work with the loner, helping them become a supportive part of the group. The most direct way is to tell the lone wolfer that you will get back to their character in a bit, and let them sit there and stew, and if the loner gets tired enough of simply sitting out while action is occurring around them they could find themselves engaging more with the rest of the group.

    You could also turn the loners tendencies of wandering off against them. Perhaps in allowing the lone wolf to wander off you can introduce more information and plot hooks about the current scenario or perhaps even the campaign as a whole. Or if you wish to teach them not to split the party is to put them into harms way. Perhaps in their wanderings, the set off a trap or two, or come upon a wandering group of monsters that was going to attack the party a bit later and now the lone wolf must face them alone. Then perhaps they won't be as likely to wander off again.

    You could also use their wanderings to set off events that may not have immediate affects. Perhaps this allows you to explain how the bandits located the group. The goal with these effects is not to punish the lone wolf, per say, but to use the opportunity of their wanderings to increase greater in-game tension and fun.

    The Disengaged. Do not confuse these types of players, with players that are not interested in your campaign, these are players that show up, maybe, when they decide to show up after stating that they would be there. These players are the ones that find the glare of their phone, tablet, or laptop more appealing than what is happening to Suzy's spellcasting acires. They are also the players that frequently miss games, zone out when its not their turn, are easily distracted and love to show off their social media pictures to other players, during the worst moments. They may even drift off, either by getting up and wandering away or falling asleep at the table.

    They tend not to know what is occurring in the game and when they do get involved you often have to bring them up to speed. This is not to say that from time to time some players will get "starry eyed" or get caught up in a conversation with other players about what is going and they miss you stating something. This player is disruptive because they are not paying attention.

    This disruption comes as you or other players constantly catch them up on what is going when it is their turn.

    The best way to help cure this disruption is to actively engage the player at regular intervals. This type of behavior could often result from not feeling personally engaged in the story or the scene or scenario.

    Engage them out of the game and find out what things they would like to see in the game, especially when it comes to their character.

    If this does not work, then put them to work. Ask them to track something specific within the game: Turn Number, Initiative Order, Spell Durations, Party Character's Conditions; this should cause them to become engaged at this point. This could have a unique result with this player type creating the Game Scribe where they begin to keep details about the campaign: NPCs, locations, party treasure, and important campaign notes.

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