Before I kick things off this week it’s with a great deal of excitement to announce that we officially have our first sponsor, Jerky Pro Beef Jerky. I’d like to give a big thanks to those guys for giving us a chance and hope this leads to good things for both sides. With that said, let’s jump on in.
Perusing through my garage the other day, I came across on old stash of Dragon Magazines, skimming through a few and picking out a couple that I could delve deeper into later. In one issue, I quickly found myself drawn in, reading through an old article that discussed various styles of gamers and how they could affect a campaign and a group dynamic overall. It got me looking back on the many types of gamers that I’ve encountered for myself over my years of throwing dice, so I thought the heck with it, let’s put together a list of my own and sound off on the subject. Out of all the folks I’ve gamed with I often find that players fall into five broad categories, with some crossing over here or there but in general remaining pretty consistent. So, play along with me and find out where you might land and let me know if I’ve hit it on the head of if I’m way off base here.
By the Book
By the book gamers are players that like to have a set path laid out for them for everything, often progressing through and adventure or scenario by moving steadily from point A, to B, to C. They prefer a GM whose stories go in a logical, linear fashion, and if they run a game themselves everything is planned out in advance from encounters, to treasure, and sometimes even NPC reactions. They’re handy to have at the table if they’re a player as they can usually puzzle their way through about anything, but woe if the game ever starts to get too spontaneous or veer in another direction. If they’re the GM, their games can many times feel like you’re just in a movie and have very little control over your character’s actions, with anything you suggest or try that moves away from their pre-planned adventure being shot down or disallowed. Just know what you’re getting into when you game with someone who has trouble thinking on their feet, and know how to maneuver around it or step away when you can’t.
The Rules Mogul
Similar to the by the book player, the rules mogul is going to do everything by the numbers, and you’d better be prepared to do the same if you expect to have a goodtime. The rulebook will be followed to the strictest of standards, and if you attempt an action that isn’t covered in those pages then you’re going to have a hard time of it. Many arguments and debates have broken out with such players and GMs over just how things are interpreted and why something can or can’t be attempted, which can bring things to a crawl and kill player motivation and campaign momentum fast. Unlike by the book gamers, players and GMs like this can diverge from the linear and take things on the fly, though, just be prepared to do that diverging within the constraints of the rules before tying it. It can sometimes be helpful to play with gamers like this, however, especially if you’re new and prefer the structure of the rules to something you’re not quite comfortable with yet. I started with a GM who was a lot like this himself and it really helped me learn so that I hardly ever had to refer to a rulebook when I started running games on my own, which made things a breeze.
The Power Gamer
Oh the power gamer, I think we’ve all run across a belligerent power gamer or two in our time at the table. Power gamers spend what seems like forever pouring over the rulebook when they set down to play, analyzing everything they come across to make sure their characters are peaked out and as “optimal” as possible. They also tend to glory hound when sessions begin, as they often feel that other players who didn’t spend as much time or thought as did with the game are useless and should just get out of their way. They can often have the habit of putting up a fuss when things go against them, challenging a GM’s ruling or pouting to themselves when they don’t get their way. Sometimes it’s not all bad to have one on your side, though, as they typically build their characters to be combat specialists that are there for the tactical kill, so they can really help get the party through some tight spots when it all hits the fan. Just make sure you can focus their energy in the right direction and there shouldn’t be a problem, which is easier said than done with someone who tries to play an invincible force of nature, and wants to make sure everyone else knows it.
The Fantasy Seeker
The fantasy seeker is in the game for just that, looking for the most fantastic, and often outrageous, adventure or setting they can be a part of and taking full enjoyment in it. They like the wild, the weird, and sometimes the just plain nonsensical, preferring games that push the boundaries of their imaginations and what they can do with their characters. It can be a blast to play these guys as you never know what they might try or come up with next, guaranteeing things are never dull and that you’ll always be on your toes. That being said, this can also be their biggest flaw, as they can often interject complete ludicrousness into an otherwise dramatic game, and if they’re the GM, things can go off the rails really quick when that happens. In all, they’re usually pretty fun to have around, just as long as they respect limits and you’re willing to give a little bit in return. It usually ends being a fun time for everyone involved, especially if things start to drag and you’re not afraid to just let them go at it every once in a while.
The Story Gamer
Last, we have the story gamer, and I have to say that I tend to fall into this category for myself more often than not. I mean what else would you expect from a writer? To the story gamer, nothing else matters as long as they get to participate in a well-crafted narrative, helping to build and weave a memorable tale over the thrill of combat or even the type of character they’re playing at times. They can often help keep the game on track with really great roleplaying when things go awry and if you get enough of them together at once the story that unfolds can really be something special. The downside of the story gamer is in the name, if the narrative is lacking or the game drifts too far to the tactical side they can check out, growing bored with just waiting for their turn to throw dice round after round, I know I have. Keep them engaged and you have a great player that is always there to keep the game going and give you ideas to play off of, let them switch off and it’ll be a hard time to get them vested again.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at some of the types of gamers that I’ve encountered over the years and maybe it’s given you an idea or a bit more insight about yourself and how to approach other players once you figure out their tendencies. In the end, just remember that we’re all here to come together and have a goodtime with a great game, so keep that in mind and you’ll always enjoy yourself and the time spent with good friends. I should make a quick mention about another type of gamer that stretches across the categories above, and that’s the avarice fueled hoarder that keeps everything for themselves. SHARE THE DAMN TREASURE EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, YA GREEDY BUM, I GOT A FAMILY TO FEED!! There, I’m done now. Later, gang.