RPT #6: Use “In-Character” Feedback To Encourage Roleplaying

Thanks to the intense Politically Correct environment in this city I’ve taken more conflict resolution, active listening, customer service and employee communications courses than you can shake a stick at. There’s one skill I’ve picked up from all this, though, that has truly made a huge difference in the quality of my roleplaying and game mastering:

  • Use in-character feedback to encourage roleplaying. Incorporate your players’ words and player characters’ actions into your narrative.
  • Everybody likes to be appreciated and valued.
  • Use the specific words and actions the players use during your encounters.
  • Have their words and actions actually affect the play beyond what the rules dictate.

Do this and you provide fantastic on-going feedback and encouragement. Plus, you’ll find that the quality of roleplaying in your sessions will shoot way up too.

For example, here’s two versions of player/GM interaction during a combat scene:

Scenario #1 – No Feedback

GM: The kobold measures you up and down, snarls and draws his short sword!

Player: What?! How dare he assault Gilthor the Mighty! I raise my two-handed axe high up in the air over my head, unleash a blood curdling scream and charge headlong at the foolish creature!

GM: OK. Roll initiative… You win, roll to hit… Great hit! Roll damage… The kobold dies horribly!

Scenario #2 – Feedback & Reaction

GM: The kobold measures you up and down, snarls and draws his short sword!

Player: What?! How dare he assault Gilthor the Mighty! I raise my two-handed axe high up in the air over my head, unleash a blood curdling scream and charge the foolish creature!

GM: The kobold flinches at your blood curdling scream. He nervously brings his sword up to parry your headlong charge. The creature is so intimidated that you automatically win initiative. Roll to hit and add a 1 bonus because of your mighty overhead swing… You land a mighty blow! Roll damage… The kobold is cut down in one blow with your two-handed axe. The poor thing didn’t even have time to beg for mercy as, at the last moment, it sorrowfully realized that it was completely outmatched trying to defend its poor mate and 2 little kobold children. Great attack! How do you feel?

As you can see, I hammed it up at the end to try to make the player feel a little remorse–undeserved or not it’s always great trying to draw a player reaction–but the essence of the point is there. The player gave such a great attack description that I had the kobold react cowardly and gave the character a couple of perks by way of the automatic initiative and attack bonus.

This rewards the player for good roleplaying and creates a better quality roleplaying experience for everybody at the table. And don’t just do this for combat either. Anything and everything the players and characters say and do can be embellished, reacted to and rewarded (or penalized if the action was foolish).

Practice this skill at your very next game session and let me know how it went.

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