Players come in a variety of fashions, and MES has all kinds … more than can be truthfully listed in any given document. Each type brings their own strengths to a venue or the club. What a player is willing to bring will depend on the experiences they have and the amount they are willing to give will depend on how invested they are in the club. With that in mind, here is a list of some of the types of players that can be encountered in the club, and potential ways to support them to give each of them a positive game experience.
There are a number of different categories that a player can fall into.
This is a new, average starter to the club. In general new players don’t have much of an idea of what is going on, either in or out of game, most likely doesn’t know the majority of the group, and may be very nervous. Dealings with them will set the tone for the rest of their time in the club, so it’s important to keep that in mind. Be helpful, be diligent in interactions with them. No one is saying to pull punches, but make sure he or she is aware if they are taking an action that may have unforeseen consequences either in or out of game.
A coordinator should point out to new players club resources, offer assistance and contact info in case they have any questions. The more positive a new player’s experience, the more likely they are to return. That said, be wary of those who begin to use others’ assistance in lieu of learning; being willing to help is one thing, but if a player feels like their time is being either wasted or worse, taken for granted, it will ruin their experience and will make them shy away from helping other new players in the future. Be sure to be mindful of both sides of these interactions.
An “Experienced Player” is a broad topic. This can cover anyone who is not brand new to MES. This could be the player who knows the basics of the club because s/he’s been here for a short time, all the way up to the player who started in 1994, knows everyone and knows all the ropes. As players spend more time in MES, they gain more connections and become an even stronger resource for a domain through their knowledge and experience. Sometimes it can be intimidating for players who are not part of these player’s shared experience to join in or break into the group because they did not take part in all of the stories, connections, backgrounds and bonding both in character and out of character that have come with time spent in the organization.
As a coordinator, when dealing with experienced players, the first thing you need to do is understand where each of the players are. Each experienced player become strong in different areas as they spend more time in the organization. Often however, issues of burnout can be a concern if the player is too active. Players who have experienced a lot can get bored and aloof or feel that they know more than others. Coordinators need to be ready to address the inclusiveness and bridge the gaps between different cliques in the organization. Not everyone is going to be best friends, but it is necessary for domain coherency to work together towards the common goal of a strong domain, region and nation.
Encourage them to act in a support role for a newer player until the new player gets their feet wet, and in turn improve both players’ experiences. Coordinators should work with them and should not be afraid to call upon their expertise when it is needed to strengthen the domain.
These players will go all out with their character. Accent, wig, fully decked costume pieces… you name it, hardcore players will put it into their character. They do research that a history professor would weep at, and he or she knows precisely where the character was born, the upbringing, life history, etc. A hardcore player is amazing for costuming resources or other such facts, can be called on often to play NPCs, or fulfill a certain role. They live for the RP and grab it where they can.
Issues can arise where the player will become overly attached to a character if something does not go their way, or if he or she feels they cannot play the character. Keep them focused, because hardcore players may turn into a selling point of the game, but also make sure to keep them balanced with other interests and characters. At the same time, they may desire to talk about their characters to new players a lot. Which is fine… until it takes away from the new player being able to get a word in. But you won’t find anyone better to help the club for fleshing out character ideas, and should be pointed towards often to help out for character creation sessions or costuming socials. These players can be a valuable resource both to new and more experienced players. You can help channel their passion for the game(s) in the right directions.
Casual Players just came to play, or hang out. They’re not overly attached to their character, but these players enjoy the game. Casual Players won’t do downtimes, or make many events outside of specific ones they find interesting. They don’t go all-out on costumes or character depth… but they will often be a venue’s foundation.
Don’t mistake their casualness for lack of interest, because that’s often not the case. Time, funds, resources, driving… all of these can contribute to them not being as involved as others. But that doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t want to be. See what their schedule is like, see what they hold interest in, even if it is only one venue, and let them know about the socials that could be related to such, or let them know when/where games will be held that may be outside the norm. If or when their situation changes, any attention they have been given will help them grow and encourage them to become more involved as their changing circumstances allow.
These players want to help, simple as that. Be it in game, out of game, during game, events… Likely a helpful player will be the first one to volunteer and the last one to leave. Often times helpful players are some of the friendliest members in a domain. Coordinators should encourage this behavior, but also make sure helpful players don’t overextend themselves; they can become their own worst enemy and very quickly, promising more than they are, or should be, able to accomplish.
A coordinator should help them find a balance between real life and game life. If he or she looks to be handling themselves well, then likely the player has everything well in hand. But if they do get frustrated or overextended, be sympathetic rather than accusatory of their frustration. A helpful player may just need to vent briefly as a refreshment to their own needs, and will likely come back to their normal selves soon enough. If it becomes a pattern, then perhaps suggest taking a step back for their sake. But these are the players who will be the first to help others out, and if treated well, can always be relied upon.
Shy players will want to hang back from the crowd, will try to keep to only the players who they are most comfortable with, and will rarely move themselves past that particular circle. It isn’t that they don’t want to meet or interact with others, simply that there is a lack of comfort or knowledge on how to do so. Plenty can cause this behavior, more than this document has time to cover, so look for ways to help nudge the player along, either by finding more knowledgeable or more social players who don’t mind taking someone under their wing. While shy, the more they grow in comfort, the more eager they will be to interact with others.
This can easily be approached by either the coordinator or storyteller. Have their friends invite them to socials out of game, or likewise pull them into larger groups in game. Talk to your experienced players to have them engage without intimidation; don’t come on too strong or the player will simply close off more. During game, engage them or have them included either by asking them for their opinion (preferably in a way they can make an easy answer) or making them the focus of a plot; either one will help their sense of importance and involvement. Find a balance, and you’ll be richly rewarded.
A Rules Lawyer knows the rules in and out, backwards and forwards. They can quote sections of books that the ST hasn’t ever heard of, and are more up to date on the addenda than the NST. When on-the-spot clarification is needed, a Rules Lawyers is the player to consult. In a pinch, they can be a fantastic gaming resource, especially for new players or when books are not on hand.
However, a rules lawyer is not infallible and can often mis-remember or misquote rules without intending to. There is the risk of a rules lawyer trying to argue with a storyteller during the game, because they are “right.” If necessary, a coordinator can remind the discussion that the Storyteller has the final say in the scene; if there is an issue, ask that the question be brought up after the matter. If it may involve a serious repercussion, such as character death, find a rulebook and verify what their claims are. Having them can be a tremendous asset, but they will not ever replace the printed text, and both parties need to be reminded of that.
These kinds of players are the types who often, but not always, use the rules and setting of the game to find a way to bring their characters to the top, and sometimes use this to justify their behavior in an OOC setting. They can be seen as disruptive to others, and often will come across as overly aggressive or intimidating to younger players; you will see this player type be the kind to often care more about hard numbers that can be measured to judge their character’s worth more so than any other aspect. With others, you may see them critiquing how players have built their sheets and characters, dismissing anything save the “optimum” or “most efficient” build.
It should be made clear immediately: this does not make them bad players, though they are often gathered into this group. In some ways they can be a great help to new players who may not understand the rules or mechanics behind certain powers or skills. In this aspect, they can help build a character to a particular style that the player desired. Be careful that they do not write the character completely for the other though, as it makes a disconnect and removes part of the ownership of the character from the player. But as aids and assistants, they can help remove frustration before it can ever settle into place.
In the end, ultimately, this game is a shared experience and it’s important to remember this when approaching the game from any angle or background. No one person’s experience is more important than another overall, and any extreme will leave someone else feeling left out. This isn’t to say you should try to appease every type every gamer; it’s not feasible for the period of time a session often runs to have a meaningful experience for anyone. Instead try to see who seems to be left out or has gone some time without moving past a greater interaction. As a Storyteller, try to determine what your player is looking for and determine what may be the best way to offer it. Bouts of inactivity for certain play styles may also offer a rest period so that your players can recover; remember too much attention can be just as bad as no attention, and suddenly a player may find themselves being immensely overwhelmed. This is where the other aspects of players can come in; experienced can help assist the new, while at the same time the new player can offering a fresh perspective for the experienced player. Casual can gain insight and ideas from hardcore, while the relaxed approach can be a breath of fresh air or inspiration in turn. A helpful player can turn someone towards a rules lawyer, who in turn may find themselves able to help in clarifying or locating rules that may not be known. Each can have something to offer, so don’t overlook anything that can not only help your game, but your community as well.