You’re finally going to do it. You’ve thought about it for a long time, but you were rather unsure. But curiosity got the best of you, and now you’re going to play your first Tabletop RPG.
But who is going to be there? What kind of people should you expect?
For this Tabletop Tuesday, we’re going to take a look at the six people who are at basically every tabletop game. Sometimes, they’re just who you need at exactly the right time; others, they drive you insane. But no matter how you may feel about their tendencies, having them around is the only way you’re going to get to play a tabletop.
I will say that six can be an unusual number of players to have. You may find that one person actually falls into two of these categories. That’s okay – us humans are complex creatures whose personalities are not one dimensional. Just accept it and it will make this whole process easier. With that said, let’s dive in and take a look at these classic characters of the tabletop realm.
#1: The Game Master
Every campaign has a GM (or DM, or host, or MC, or…you get the point). But every campaign group has THE game master – the person who tries to be the GM even when it’s not actually their job.
It pains me to admit it, but for my RPG group, I am this guy. See, the game master tends to be a stickler for the rules and mechanics of the game. So whatever game he or she is playing, the game master reads the rules in great detail. This person may end up being more familiar with the rules and mechanics than the actual GM of the game, and may even bring it up during play.
“Actually, he gets a +2 for flanking in this instance, so the attack should actually hit.”
“Um, grabbing leaves you vulnerable to attack, so the orc should have no problems hitting her.”
“I’m pretty sure I should get two XP for that. It’s in the section 784 on page 345 of the rulebook.”
These are the sorts of things you might hear a game master say, and while he or she is probably right, it’s just annoying to constantly have someone citing the rules for every single tiny thing. Particularly if that person isn’t ACTUALLY the person who is in charge.
Pardon me while I go apologize to some people…
#2: The Self-Inserter
Self-insertion is a pretty normal practice for beginning roleplayers. Unsure of how to create a character that fits the new setting, not fully familiar with the idea of roleplaying in general, this person will basically just insert himself or herself into the game. Yeah, the name is different and the character looks different, but you know the truth. It’s just Joe or Jane inserted into a fantasy world, holding a sword and espousing the same values, beliefs, and behaviors that he or she does in real life.
However, some people never break this habit. You’ll be four campaigns in and the person is STILL just themselves, now in a different fantastical world. You can usually identify these sorts by looking at their characters over time. Do they have any outstanding traits? Or do they all seem to kind of blend together? Chances are, if they are all the same, the person is a self-inserter.
Or they could be this next person:
#3: The Archetype
This player is the one who knows what he or she wants and always gets it. And by “it,” I mean what kind of character he or she is playing. In every campaign, this person will always find a way to be a warrior, or a wizard, or a thief, or whatever their class of preference may be. They may dress the character up in new clothes or a different personality, but when you look at what the character actually does, you’re gonna see a whole lot of the same thing.
Some archetypes may not focus on a class, but on a certain ability or even an item. You may have an archetype player whose characters always use a ranged weapon. Or one that always has stealth skills. Maybe your archetype player is fascinated with a certain power, and will always make a character that can control fire. There are lots of different archetype players, and it can be tricky to get these folks out of their shells.
#4: The Crazy Guy
Crazy girl is also perfectly possible. This person is the one who always makes absolutely out of the box decisions, just because it’s a game so they can. The GM may have given this person the sandbox but now he or she just wants to build rocket ships while the rest of you are trying to make a sandcastle. The crazy one tends to also be a self-inserter, or an archetypal player whose chosen archetype is the goofball or wild card.
This person can be very distracting, and as the GM you have to keep an eye on them to keep the game from derailing. Sometimes the players may even step in, tired of the crazy one’s antics. Of course, sometimes the crazy things that this person tries will actually be exactly what the group needs at a pivotal moment. Often, these incredible moments of success make having the crazy one around worth it.
#5: The Min/Maxer
This is the other thing that I personally am guilty of. The min/maxer is the person who wants to make their character the best he or she can possibly be. I mean, to a degree everybody wants to do that, so maybe I should be more specific. The min/maxer wants his or her character to be the best in terms of the game mechanics. That means that the min/maxer will utilize the rules and carefully manage the stats of his or her character in order to create the ultimate warrior. Or wizard. Or whatever.
Min/maxers can be frustrating because maximizing their stats and building their character perfectly is always on the forefront of their mind. This player will often argue every possible loophole to get XP, try to solve every problem with his or her highest stat, and will sometimes make unrealistic decisions in order to somehow make their character better. Of course, the min/maxer can also be relied upon to have a very powerful character, so there’s at least that.
I once read a really great line about this player. I can’t find the original quote to give credit where it’s due, so I’m going to paraphrase here. Just know someone more clever than me thought of this.
Every player wants to be Batman, but no player wants to be the one on a team with Batman.
I’m gonna say it’s safe to assume that pretty much everyone knows about the Dark Knight. We love him. He’s rich, brooding, intellectual, and cool as heck. He doesn’t have superpowers and yet he runs around with guys like Superman and doesn’t miss a step. He punches out criminals left and right, always has the right gadget for the situation, and always runs off on his own to solve problems while everyone else is away. Awesome, right?
Not when you’re anybody other than Batman.
See, in a tabletop campaign, running off on your own to singlehandedly stop bad guys isn’t cool. It’s a pain. It requires the GM to split attention between multiple parties, it takes play time away from the other players present, and ultimately it’s selfish behavior by the person playing Batman. If one person is so cool and amazing that they solve every problem, the other players feel like they aren’t participating and it takes the fun away from the game.
Unfortunately, every group has the person who wants to be Batman.
The tendency may not always surface, but every now and then this player will reveal his or her true colors. When it happens, be ready for groans, frustration, and a longer game session. Batman tendencies can pop up in any kind of player. Game masters are vulnerable because they think knowing the rules gives them an edge. Min/maxers have a character built to handle difficult situations alone. Archetype players may have a Batman-style character as their preferred archetype.
If you tend to be the Batman in your group, just know this: STOP. You’re not being cool. Your friends will like you way better if your character stops being a pretentious jerk and trying to do everything by himself.
For those of you who play tabletop RPGs, do you find this trend to be true? Be sure to comment with any common players that I missed, and next time you try your hand at a tabletop, just be aware of which of these six you are and try to not to do your thing in an obnoxious way.