There have been quite a few times I’ve been asked about how to get players to tabletop RPG’s to role-play. This question in my time as a DM section been quite common as DM’s like to see the players get into character. However is not always easy to accomplish that. As mentioned in my article about my journey through shyness in D&D it can be hard to role-play if you are shy.
In my experience there are two main reasons why a player will not role-play. This article will explain my solutions on how to get a player to role-play.
Keep in mind you should never force a player to role-play if they don’t want to. If you do this it will only make the game less enjoyable for the player.
Being Uncomfortable To Be Someone Else
The first reason is that they are too shy and feel comfortable to role-play. This can come from many reasons. For instance they can be naturally shy and have trouble coming out of their shell. Or they can be new to the group of players and feel uncomfortable interacting because their stranger status. This can be quite difficult for certain players because they do not want to interrupt what’s going on.
The major solution to this issue is time. Let them become comfortable with the rest of the players so that they feel comfortable role-playing. You can have NPC in game pull that character aside and talk to them directly. This can be done at the table around the rest of the players or off to the side separately. If you do it separately you can negate the feeling of interrupting the group. Either way the main goal is to slowly get them comfortable with the group. Once their comfortable with the rest of the players, players who felt too shy to role-play usually will start to get into the character more.
The second reason why they do not role-play is that they don’t know how. To many of you, reading this may seem strange because it seems pretty easy just to play someone else. However this is not always the case. It can be hard for players to create a whole new character and understand how they act let alone follow through on how they would act. Everyone starts somewhere and the goal is to remember that they are just starting in will take a while to learn.
So how do you teach them? It may seem challenging to teach someone to role-play but he taken steps it can be quite manageable. For example if I’m ever teaching a person to role-play in my games, I have them make themselves. That way they do not have to worry about creating and playing a character. Once they get confident and or they’re are ready skilled enough to go past this I have to make a character from something else. This can be a character from a TV show, a videogame, or any other already created character. With this step they do not have to worry about trying to create their own character and he gives them experience playing a character that’s not their own.
The last step I normally have them use is having them create a character around the concept. The concept can be create someone who values all life, create someone who wants to see justice carried out in matter the reason. These are just examples of concepts but can help players learn characters. These steps allow the player to slowly getting used to acting the way someone other than themselves would act therefore allowing them to eventually have the confidence in the ability to create new character concepts role-play them.
The Generic Solution
This is called the generic solution however it is more like offering the players a chance to role-play. I do is if they want to do an activity. Start the role-playing process and then follow their lead. This solution works great in tandem with both solutions listed above. It helps give the shy person a one-on-one chance to role-play and it gives the person who is an experienced practice with the character without having to role-play any tough decisions.
For example a player wants to go buy a new weapon.
Player: I would like to go and buy a sword
DM: so you find a weapon stall full of blades from short daggers to large axes. A gnome is facing away from you polishing and access. He turns and looks at you and with a hop comes up to the counter.
Gnome: hello! What can I get for you?
Player: I am going to purchase a long sword
DM: so you are able to purchase the long sword.
As you saw a chance to role-play was offered were not forced. If the player decided to ask the gnome if they had long swords you would continue to conversation until they got the weapon or they stopped role-playing.
No One Learns In One Day
These are the solutions that have helped me with getting players to role-play. I would like to emphasize again that it is fine if players do not role-play. But if your heart is set on having all your players role-play remembers encouragement and taking things one step at a time.