10 Ways To Surprise Your Players & Enjoy The Fun - Roleplaying Tips

10 Ways To Surprise Your Players & Enjoy The Fun

From Johnn Four

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0021

A Brief Word From Johnn

I’m sending this issue out early as I’ll be away Easter weekend. I’m not sure what your background is, but Easter always meant “treasure hunt” to me. In nooks and crannies I’d be surprised with chocolate eggs and rabbits. Surprises are fun.

So, in the spirit of Easter, why don’t you surprise your players (in a good way) and enjoy the fun?

Hop. Hop.

Johnn Four
[email protected]

For The Players 

  • Give them each a chocolate bar or homemade cookies halfway through the session.
  • Buy each player a toy that costs under two bucks. Recently I gave my players silly putty, crayons, balloons, pick-up sticks, a mini-lego set and modelling clay. I’m not sure who had more fun: the players, or me when I borrowed their toys.

For The Characters

  • Free gold/credits/cash. Ever find money on the ground? I have and it’s a pleasant surprise. Just don’t give away the bank.
  • Free treasure. By treasure I mean items that are not money. Let them find potions, scrolls, guns, an abandoned ship, etc. If possible make the treasure a one-shot or limited time item (i.e. 3 charges left, low on fuel, etc.) to protect game balance.
  • Help them make a new ally. Often characters have to turn the world upside down in order to earn the respect of their peers. Let them make a new ally through a friendly conversation or simple deed.
  • Let them find or make a good deal. Maybe a store has a needed piece of equipment and it’s under-priced. Perhaps a rare item is found for sale. Mayhap a merchant gives them too much in change. Or, gasp, the PCs pay for an item and discover it is of higher than normal quality.
  • A new family member, or a long-lost one, contacts a PC. Make this family member friendly and useful to the party in some way.
  • How about giving a PC a free, useful, *non-annoying* companion. Everybody likes a servant/helper/gopher.
  • Have the Bad Guy make a mistake in the PCs’ favour. Or, an unexpected boon gives the party an advantage over their enemy.
  • And here’s the grand-daddy of all happy, unexpected player surprises: one of their plans works without a hitch.
  • I asked my wife for ideas on surprising players. She doesn’t roleplay but among her suggestions, some of which are above, was to give the characters pig snouts so they could snuff out truffles. Er, well, make of it what you will but I decided to include it for completeness. 🙂

Do you have any pleasant player surprises of your own that you could add? Let me know: [email protected]

Have more fun at every game!
Johnn Four

Readers’ Feedback

Figure Storage Tips

From Martin Brabander

“My figures box is also my dice box. I use a cheap fishing tackle box which I picked up at a discount plastic store. I am sure you have the type in the USA, but I don’t have any names. I have one layer dedicated to dice (this layer has 6 partitions of about 6″ x 1.5”) which nicely divides my D4,6,8,10,12,20’s and holds more than sufficient for a decent sized fireball.

The top layer is sub-divided into 2″ x 1.5″ compartments (for keeping hooks I suspect). These I fill with a piece of foam for the bottom, in which I have cut the rough shape of the individual figure). So far in about 8 years of use, I have had one bent sword. Total cost…I think about $5.00.”

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Figure Storage Tips II

From Nina and Maureen

A collection of downloadable screenplays and short novels”…go to any cross stitch/needlepoint craft store (or North Van’s Walmart on Marine drive in the craft department) and you can buy compartmentalized flat containers with flip up lids for organizing your cross sticking floss. the box is about 8 by 11 and is divided into two rows of even compartments – big enough for an average single character fig.

And it would fit into your larger tote.Or, get a flat tote and go to a foam store and get a piece of foam that fills the entire tote hollow up holes for the figs to rest in and remain separated by a foam layer.”

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Response To Handling Difficult Players From Issue #20

From Tatsuki

“This is my first feedback to your e-zine, so let me begin by saying that it is a well put together, well thought out and informative letter, thank you for your time and energy in putting this together.The person asking mentioned that they were playing Heavy Gear, White Wolf and MechWarrior. these are all very cut throat type games.

If a player is vengeful, you should simply attempt to outwit the person and continue to foil his attempts at outwitting you. Especially if the Game in question is Vampire the Masquerade or Vampire the Dark Ages (both by whitewolf). In these games, that is half the fun. If you are truly afraid that the player is going to try to do something to your character because of your actions, then you must have a reason to think so. If it was a game in which plot foiling and the like are not the norm, and it was an honest accident, then you should simply state so to the player.

The player should be mature enough to say “ok” and let it go. however, if the game was designed around such actions, I suggest that you begin taking measures against the other players character, covertly, to insure your own survival. If you are the game master, never, ever set a players target numbers higher than the other players, that is not fair and will result in resentment by all your players, not just the one you are doing it to.

They will begin to wonder if you are doing it to them. remember that it is just a game and if the game becomes not fun, stop playing it. That’s all.I have found that young gamers can be quite refreshing in their innocence to various situations. Why not try running a game for the younger people who ask you to play, you will find that they can have a great deal of fun, and so will you if you don’t make the scenarios too complicated for them.

I suggest the AD&D rules, as the game is much simpler than other more complex systems like Warhammer, Twilight 2000, and almost anything by Whitewolf Games (though Changeling the Dreaming with a bunch of 10 year olds can be really amusing). Try it. Make a game for them, keep it simple, don’t put in adult issues (like sex) and you will have a great deal of fun.

Furthermore, you will be enriching and shaping the minds of tomorrow, which can be rewarding in and of itself. you may even find that some of your constant more adult players will want to get involved for a light hearted break. In this case, i would suggest that you take them aside and inform them that you are running this one for the “kids” and though they are more than welcome to join it is their show, so let them have it. In other words, tell them not to overshadow the younger players with their more experienced role-play or tell the “kids” how to do things.

They will probably have more fun if they play a more supporting type character (ie not the party leader) and let the kids have some fun.As a final note, for your readers, I am an Administrator at the Fantaseum Message Board which addresses all sorts of issues for the AD&D system, the Core Rules and CR2 expansion CDs and the Campaign Cartographer. If they have a gaming issue with one of these subjects or just want to check it out, the url is http://fantaseum.rpgconsortium.com/bin/ubb/Ultimate.cgi?action=introAgain, thank you for all of your efforts.

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