In a recent newsletter article, Try Player Input, Johnn gave us some great tips on soliciting players’ help with describing the scenery and setting for each session’s encounters. Today, I’m going to expand on this by offering a few pointers on how to encourage your players to jump in and put this technique to work.
Have a Talk Before The Game
After outlining the concept and making sure your players understand what’s allowed and how to present it, remind them they can begin doing so immediately. This will help smooth the way for this new style of player participation and they won’t hesitate to give it a try. Having a small queue card with the words “describe it to me” written, and flashing it to your players as needed can also help as a silent reminder.
Lead by Example
Give them examples from the start by using dynamic scenery generation during encounters. For example, if the group is meeting with an NPC in a bar, have the NPC drink from a bottle of vodka that’s nearby, even if you never described one when setting the scene initially. By showing them the concept in action it will help inspire them to fill in the missing gaps of description without hesitation, and show them how much more detailed it can make the game.
Answer Questions With Questions
The next time a player asks for more description about the scenery in an encounter turn the question around on them. For example, when a player asks if the bar has any pool tables, rather then giving them a yes/no response let them decide by answering, “You tell me, does it?” Or after giving your initial description you could ask them to tell you what else their characters see as they walk into the bar. Empowering them with open-ended answers will make adding to the scene easier in the beginning, and cause less hesitation.
Make it a Contest
Try challenging your players to see who can provide the best cooperative scene enhancements during the next session, and then reward the player with a small XP boost or just letting them choose an extra topping on next week’s pizza. Most players love to compete on some level and will enjoy the opportunity to shine. This will also help encourage any quieter members of your group to participate without continual prompting on your part.
How do you encourage player co-creation in your games?
I’ve given a few tips here to help with this new approach to GMing, and I’m sure there’s more ideas out there, feel free to comment with your own!