Posted by Viriatha, the Bard of Valiant
Saying yes to players is something we all know we should do, whether it be a hard skill challenge or finding that unique cool item in a shop. Much has been written on this principle and how it works with game mechanics, and I’m not going into all of that here.
Instead, I want to ask, if we’re all saying yes why am I reading more about punishing players for not roleplaying? Isn’t that saying no?
I understand most people are on limited schedules, with families and kids. I understand that everyone is getting together for a small amount of time each week or even every other week for the very purpose of roleplaying and accomplishing in-game goals.
I also understand that this one night of the week might be the only time some of these people ever see each other.
So why are you saying no? Learn to say yes.
Balancing the social aspects of game night with the actual goal of playing the game can get tricky. We’re all just friends getting together to have a good time, after all. But is it a good time if we’re not actually playing the game?
One obvious solution is that instead of punishing players for not roleplaying, you consistently reward them for it instead. Say yes to good gaming instead of saying no to being a friendly member of the group.
At the end of the night, give them person who contributed most to keeping the game on track, while in character, some extra experience points. If more than one person did this, reward them both (or all three, etc. – whichever applies). Be careful not to reward a player who hassled the group. Don’t punish that but don’t reward it, either. Reward positive behavior with a positive reaction.
And be consistent. If you do this each game for the same behavior, the group will get the idea.
That’s why punishing social interaction that’s out of character can backfire so badly. Most players see this as positive behavior. If they get negative results, game night loses some of what makes it fun.
That’s the most obvious way to say yes. What are other ways you use in your game?