Category: Game Designer’s Pulpit

Selling Your Tabletop RPG Adventure to Players

Wild Hair RPG Tabletop Player Schemes

Game Masters deal with many problems during a tabletop roleplay session. Player issues become the highest percentage of problems. GMs plan and prepare for all sorts of paths a character can take. Yet players will do unpredictable decisions. Often based on little to no information, except for what the Game Master explains. Everything the GM utters players process and use to further make decisions. The decision to take the fork in the road or the tunnel down below comes down to player thoughts. Each fork, turn, tunnel and path becomes influenced directly by the Game Master.

If you want players to go down a path, don’t force them to go there.

Sell The Path To Your Players.

Salesmanship is one of many social tools a game master needs in her bag of goodies. You need to sell your players on the paths you want them to go down. This is not railroading. Players should always have a choice. The art of persuasion can lead to many great nights of gaming for the game master and the players. Along with improvisation this can turn an ordinary night of frustration into smooth sailing for both players and game master. Instead of creating a 20 hour dungeon that no one wants to go into, you create an appealing place both players and game masters want to explore. Below, you will find several tips on how to sell the game scenario you set up to player.

  • Understand your players.
    • You need to know your players. Game Masters who do not will have a tougher time creating a collaborative atmosphere and selling your players. It’s great to game with people you grew up with in High School. Old friends and family make for great player groups. Knowing what makes a person tick will help game masters sell new content.
    • For the game master getting a group of players who are strangers can bring lots of problems. If you don’t know the players, sit down and talk to them. Ask them straightforward questions about ethics, conduct and what they expect out of a gaming session. You should get an idea of who they are after the interview. Creating a social contract brings lots of value with unknown players.
  • Use your words wisely
    • What you say as a game master players take to heart. Do not mince words, or throw about harsh words casually. Make a habit of listening to players twice as much as talking. Ask questions about each player’s intentions. Ensure both players and game master talk in clear terms. Words are powerful and you can bring joy or ruin to a participant’s experience. Choose your words carefully.
  • Talk about the value in your proposed event, scenario, path
    • This is where you “sell” the portion of the game you worked hard on. Make sure you ask a few questions to yourself players would ask.
      • Why would I go there?
      • What is in it for my character?
      • Does this event, scenario or path match the player’s possible choices she would make?
      • If I was playing a character, would I go here?
    • If the answer is no to at least two of the questions, you might want to reevaluate the idea. Reconfigure how it shows up. If it’s a surprise, make sure it is one players would respect.
  • Create excitement
    • When you talk about the necromancer’s castle in the distance, do you say it with enthusiasm? Maybe hint at the untold riches lying in wait? Old art and valuables lying around? Talk to the player’s sense of excitement. Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm. Bring an extra oomph to your voice.

Closing the Plot Point

Presentation and wording will help your castle get discovered. Knowing your players and what they like helps to create the visuals, by words or props. It’s not recommended to railroad players into going towards the castle. But make a compelling case for your players to explore your hard worked dungeon. When you get done creating the weekend adventure, don’t forget to plan out how you will convince them the rewards is greater than the risk.

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