Congratulations on making the important decision to embark upon a journey of epic proportions – collective storytelling. This is a quest which may test your bravery, strength of mind, and ability to remember imaginary names.
Whether it’s Call of Cthullu, Pathfinder, Monsterhearts or good old fashioned Dungeons and Dragons, table-top roleplaying games (TTRPG) are certainly moving more into the mainstream, with play shows providing a less intimidating avenue to learn about the games.
The table-top resurgence began a while ago but with the new situation we all find ourselves in, people are looking for more ways to engage with their friends from a distance. Most role playing games can be played pretty easily over video or voice call, so if you’re one of those looking to start into a TTRPG with your friends, shop around for what story works for you, or if you’re more creative and have more time on your hands, build your own world. There are plenty of guides online to help you.
As it’s your first time delving into the mythical world of adult imagination you’re bound to make some mistakes, that’s to be expected and is part of the fun. Here are some archetypes I’ve encountered as both a player and a Game Master (GM) that you might want to avoid.
The Epic Lone Wolf
Your name is Jared Deathsword, your family were slaughtered by bandits, or mobsters, or a big monster? That part’s unclear, but the important thing is that you’re Sad. You’ve been through too much to ever truly care about anyone again, you’re like Liam Neeson in Taken, but with a big sword. You don’t play well with others, and you are truly the protagonist of this story… except you’re not.
Anyone with a love of action movies has probably always wanted to play this type of character, and that’s totally understandable, it has an appeal that’s undeniable, but it’s important to remember that TTRPGs should be a lot more Ocean’s 11 than Die Hard, except no one’s George Clooney. You’re actually all kind of Matt Damon.
The point I’m trying to make here is in a group game like this, there is no single protagonist. More often than not, teamwork is necessary to succeed, so creating a character who won’t work with others is going to put a pretty heavy damper on the gameplay. The only way I can see to play this character archetype and still be fun in a group is to be like Wolverine as part of the X-men, not Wolverine on his own. Yes, maybe you sell yourself as a loner, but goddamn it, you love your friends and you’d do anything to protect them.
Needlessly Defiant Nancy
So what if the Game Master has a plan for how this session is going to go, you know better! Everything’s more fun when it’s unexpected right?
Why should you engage with the clear plot hooks that’ve been placed before you, when you could instead decide to leave the town you’re in or just sit in the corner of the tavern ignoring the wise old man or the suspicious cloaked figure by the bar?
These story beats are way too cliché and basic for you, you must argue with every turn the Game Master attempts to steer the story in, and no, you won’t explain why….Seriously, who hurt you?
I cannot speak for every GM in existence, but in general, I promise, we’re actively trying to tell an interesting story, and it will be more fun for everyone if you just engage with it.
The Murder Hobo
I’m not going to spend too much time on this one. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a murder hobo is the type of player that will roam from town to town slaughtering any NPC that sneezes wrong or owns something you want. As a rule, the story will not progress if you kill everyone you meet, and no one wants to be friends with the Joker.
Follow this basic guide and you too can spend hours upon hours pursuing the magical McGuffin to defeat the surprisingly developed antagonist, while remembering what it was like to walk outside with friends that weren’t legally obliged to stay six feet away.