What Makes A Player Valuable?

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0909

Last Starfinder game I felt valuable when I came up with a good idea about talking to the Starfinder Society office greeter. That person would see the comings and goings of everyone and might get us a lead on the employee we were investigating.

It’s awesome feeling valued.

I was thinking about this when I got a deck of Describe cards [http://www.describecards.com/] from RPT subscriber Rob Reinhardt.

Rob suggested I use the cards for NPCs (thanks for the note, Rob!).

But the first card I drew asked this question:

What makes a person valuable?

That got me thinking with my GM hat on about what I could do to make my players feel valuable. Because as I just experienced, it’s a fantastic feeling.

Here are some ideas.

Make Them Heard

When the table gets noisy, players get drowned out.

Pay attention if someone is struggling to get an idea or question out there. Make eye contact with them and give a quick nod.

Then when opportunity strikes, carve your way into the chatter and let the table know the player has a question you want to hear.

Then kindly ask the player to repeat their question.

Use Their Ideas

Imagine ideas as a deck of cards. Each time a player has an idea that gets used during a session they are dealt one of these imaginary cards.

Now, at the end of the game, what are the hand sizes?

I suck at winning arguments or convincing people to do things my way.

Some people are fantastic at that. Those people will usually get dealt several idea cards each session.

At every opportunity, use ideas from your players. Try to hand out those ideas cards often, and spread them out amongst every player.

Ping Them Between Sessions For Feedback

Email, text, call, or meet with players between sessions.

  • How are you enjoying the adventure so far?
  • What do you like about your character?
  • What would you like to see happen next session?

Also talk about non-campaign stuff. Get to know them. See them as a unique human and special. Become friends.

Be Agreeable

People feel valued when you are agreeable and positive with them.

As GMs we can get defensive or argumentative.

RPGs are a creative sport. When players want to murder hobo, ignore, or circumvent our ideas, that can sting. So we become disagreeable.

We also get cornered by bad player behaviour. Rules Lawyers, know-it-alls, poor sports.

Here’s the thing. Justified or not, when we become disagreeable it affects the whole table much more than when a player gets unruly.

And a nasty feedback loop starts. Your words become sharp. Theirs too. You react with more negatively. They do too. Now nobody is having fun at this game.

As soon as you spot this happening, flip your agreeable switch back on. Deal with things after the game with the player(s) involved. Hash it out. Then get back to good gaming next time.


I was bad for giving a player my attention and then getting distracted while they were talking to me.

I’d let other players interrupt.

I’d think of something and start writing it down.

I’d start thinking of what GM Move I was going make next.


People notice when you’ve been hit with even the slightest distraction. They feel disrespected when you tune out mid-sentence.

So commit to giving someone a full listen from start to finish before moving on to the next player or thing.

Surprise Your Players

From the archives, here are 10 Ways To Surprise Your Players & Enjoy The Fun.


How do you make your players feel valuable? Muse on that today as you go about life. Please share any ideas that come to mind!