Do This Often To Keep Your Players Engaged

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0885

Questions are the best way to get your players tuned in, roleplaying, and thinking about the game.

However, not all questions are equal. GIGO applies here. Ask a bad question, get a garbage answer and no game lift.

But ask the right question at the right time and you reap all kinds of game table rewards.

For example, when a player explains why their character just acted that way before they roll the dice for a big risk. Everyone is dying to see how the action turns out. The tension ramps up. And we get to learn a little more about the player’s mind and the character’s personality as they explain.

Likewise, a super shy player can be drawn out with a good question. Timing helps. Hopefully you’ve chosen to sit beside them ongoing. So when the table is loud and busy you lean over and ask. They don’t have to defeat the silence or face the burning spotlight. And they speak.

Cardboard characters can also foil gameplay. But start digging for personality and I’m sure the player will surprise everyone with thoughts about who the PC is and what motivates them — thoughts that lurked below the surface of bonuses and buffs the whole time.

Great Questions To Ask

Here are three of my favourite questions to help players learn more about their characters and to get players to join in the game.

What Are You Doing Right Now?

A classic question. Point it at anyone who has disengaged.

The last two words make the win.

Right now means hurry up and think or do something. It snaps the player into the present.

Omit those words and the player could enter a planning or musing mindset.

But right now gets you doing something for the game immédiatement.

Graphic of section divider

What Are You Thinking Right Now?

Want to discover your player’s mind? Ask this.

Want to get into the character’s mind? Add the PC’s name.”Hey Grog, what are your thoughts about this tribe of goblins?”

Our game is about make believe. So let’s make things up!

Ask for player and character views about game events to get your group picturing what’s happening, what it’s about, and what it might mean.

Graphic of section divider

Why Did You Do That?

Not an interrogation or challenge. Ask in a way so the player reveals their motivations and thought process.

What got them to the point of taking that risk, making that decision, or doing A instead of B?

Ask this question as a retrospective. Get your players thoughtful about the game.

“Hey Bob, good job challenging your foe to a music duel. Why did you go that way instead of whipping out Mr. Cleaver?”

A question like that also rewards actions you’d like to see more of.

Graphic of section divider

What Are Your Favourite Questions?

Right time right question earns you bountiful rewards at the table. What questions do you like to ask to get your players engaged?