These 7 Easy Steps to Better Role Play will make anyone have more fun while playing their characters.
1 You are not Matt Mercer
The very first step is to come to terms with the fact that you are not Matt Mercer, Brennan Lee Mulligan, Aabria Iyengar or any of the awesome streamers that you admire. In fact, most of those people are trained actors so let’s not have the expectation of becoming as good as they are.
And that is totally okay that you are not them.
You do not have to be any of them in order to play a kick ass character and have tons of fun. You are your own unique person with your own unique talents and figuring out what you enjoy doing while you role play is going to make you better.
I have played with folks who LOVE doing voices. They spend time practicing them and learning new accents and really immersing themselves in that space. I am not one of those people. I don’t really enjoy that process and I find it stressful to try and put on an accent.
I do love thinking about them as characters, though and figuring out how they think about things and why they do things the way they do. Because I do that each of my characters are different and I love to play them and explore their stories.
Neither way is right or wrong, it’s just about figuring out what you enjoy doing and doing more of that.
2 Build Your Character for the Right Length of Game
Shorter games that are only one session or a handful of sessions can have quirkier, more over the top characters. You can have downright annoying characters in them and have a blast playing them.
In these instances really dial up their character quirks and character flaws. It makes them memorable and often hilarious.
Longer campaigns need characters with more depth and a clearer motivations otherwise they will get stale after a few sessions and you may hate playing them. Usually you need to tone down your character quirks, like drinking too much or getting into bar fights all the time, so that it doesn’t become repetitive or annoying to the other people.
What does your character want? Why are they an adventurer? This is the core of your backstory. What has happened to your character to get you to where you are now and how have these events impacted you so that you have a drive to do something?
These questions are really hard to answer so take a look at some of our backstory ideas if you need someone to give you the help action. They may spark a mote of inspiration that allows you to figure out the key reason that your character is doing this adventure. This step is worth spending some time on because this is probably your most important driving force for your role playing.
A good thing to realise is that it doesn’t have to be a big thing like saving the world or avenging your parents. It can be small like you saw an advert for a really cool sword and wanted to get it and this is your journey to get the cool sword. A goal that is physical, like getting an item, seeing a place first hand, getting to try a particular experience or even going to see an old friend who lives far away is great. It means that you have a quest.
Not only are character quests really fun for Dungeon Masters (DMs) or Game Masters (GMs) to use as part of their game creation but having a quest makes it relatively easy to answer the question – what brings you here? And that sparks conversation and makes role play easier.
Bear in mind that motivations can change as characters grow and their priorities change.
In terms of making your role play better just having this knowledge of what it is you want will make it easier to say and do things the way your character would because you understand them.
A great tip to supercharge the role play though is to start your character journey in the middle of their story, not at the beginning. In other words if they want to get a particular magic sword to defeat a giant who is ruining towns all over their home lands then figure out where they have already gone to seek help, what have they already done, what have they already sacrificed.
That way you have a framework for your character already. You know what you have done and what you will do. You know what had failed. And this knowledge adds a layer of depth to paying your character.
Every person has flaws. And the more flaws you give your character the more realistic they will feel. Flaws can be big like lying when they feel put on the spot or small like having a nervous twitch when they feel like they are in danger.
I highly recommend adding a handful of flaws to your character but make it easy to play the flaws by making them situational. A character who is messy or drunk or easily angered can become tiring to play. Yes, those are flaws but they are constant flaws. Situational flaws allow you to have flaws but they only really come out during times of stress or times or peace.
Situations that could prompt reactions could include when a person feels
- like they are being spoken down to
- angry about an injustice
- frustrated because something isn’t working
- anxious about speaking to strangers
- relaxed with the present company
- safe and secure
- like they trust someone
Adding a handful of these will make it fun to role play because you can change who your character is in specific situations which adds levels of complexity to the character.
Character quirks are a fantastic way to make your character memorable. These are small actions or things that your character does or says as a habit.
Here are some examples of character quirks:
- your character may love animals and treat them way better than they treat people;
- or someone may pray for every dead being they come upon, even if the character is not religious.
Notice that the quirks are not defining the character like a motivation or flaw does but rather adds some flavour to being able to role play your character.
6 Listen to Fellow Players
Role playing is a team job. Having great dialogue and touching moments happens when you are part of a group. Pay attention to the people at the table, ask them questions and find common ground. This will create moments you can reference later in the game.
Say yes more than no when you are at the table. Yes is a magic word, it creates synergy and flow. No stops everything in its tracks and it puts an emotional barrier up at the table.
Great role players know that they should say yes and then add something to the story.
7 Immerse Yourself in the Game
This may seem like an overly simple tip but put your phone away, close the door to the room and create a space where you are fully invested in the game that is going on in front of you. Great role players are playing the game, not watching it from the sidelines while checking their phones or playing with their dogs.
We hope you enjoyed this article on 7 Easy Steps to Better TTRPG Role Play. Let us know what else you have found that helps you with your role playing. You can find us on Twitter.