Personalities at the Table

A GM has to wear many hats: storyteller, actor, cat herder, referee, mind reader, therapist, god, etc. Only a few of the hats have anything to do with preparing the game, and most have to do with getting the people at the table to play together. I’ll be discussing some of the personality types I’ve either ran in a game or played with.

The Planner:
They tend to be in depth role players, who enjoy coming up with a way to do things. These player love taking time to set up a plan before going running into the fight, and they usually cover all their bases with backup plans if things go wrong.

If you want to make a Planner enjoy a game, make sure you reward thinking ahead even if this means they sometimes bypass some of the traps or monsters. Through careful planning my players were able to take a near impossible battle down to only a few monsters. First, by figuring out who one of the minor villains was, and then by putting him to sleep for a day.

They also did investigation into the evil dragon to find out they had to cover it in water after they killed it to keep it from rising again. Allowing the player to figure things out before hand while still giving them a fight has a really great feeling of productivity.

The Actor:
They’re there for the character. Usually they have voices for their character or ways of moving. They want to present a story about their character.

These players want their time to shine. Give them scenes where their characters can show off their strengths, and their weaknesses. They want to interact with NPCs in interesting ways. I sometimes put myself in this group. I really enjoy seeing my character grow through the game.

The Rules Lawyer:
These are sometimes the hardest players to play with. They care so much about the rules, that they will happily point out rules for ever occasion. I’ve played with this type of player, but thankfully haven’t actually GMed one, yet.

I still remember falling asleep for an hour only to find that two players were still arguing about the same rule. For these players, I think it’s best to have a time-limit, and making sure that in the end the GM has the last say. As long as things are kept to a minimum they can be awesome for remembering those hard to find rules.

The Mechanic:
They’re all about the mechanics of the game. In truth, the story is backseat to the hows of their character. They are great at min-maxing and building characters.

Overall, these people are bored by story, but brighten up when they can use their characters abilities or skills. The best way to get these people interested is allowing them to roll. Dice in their hand make them happy. I’ve had a few of these players both as a GMs. Once, I had a player who built his character so well that he could all but take out the big bad in 1 round. Nothing delighted him more than being able to take them out quickly. That and ramming ships… Ramming is good.

The Mischief Maker:
These people are here to poke the dragon and see what happens. They play chaos personified.

It’s important to keep their mischief channeled so that the other players can have fun as well. I remember playing with one player who always played crazy, this sometimes took the game into other dimensions, literally. As a GM, I find it really important to allow these players to do their mischief, but keep their attention on the goal at hand. Don’t kill the party because this player decides to poke the dragon. (But maybe burn this character a bit).

The Relater:
These people like to talk. Not always about ingame things, though. It’s amazing how many things that happen ingame relate to memes or animal pictures.

Depending on how strict I’m being on time, I usually allow a bit of digression from time to time in my games. We’re all friends, and it’s fun to talk about things. That being said, there are times I use the words, “So what’s happening in this world…” to get us back on track. My advice is be nice, but make sure it doesn’t happen too often.

The Sweet Talker:
These people aren’t quite actors, but they do enjoy the conversation part of role playing games. Usually, they have fun getting things out of NPCs by being nice.

I’ve had a few players who have had high charisma scores, and like using them, and I try to allow it as much as I can. Have fun interactions for these characters too, who knows when it might be important to seduce the barista.

There are more types out there, I’m sure, here’s just a few I’ve seen. Feel free to let me know more types and how you deal with them.


One thought on “Personalities at the Table

  1. I love how you have identified all these types and give suggestions on how to work with all of them! I admit to being an actor and relater, which can be hard to handle from a GM point of view. And on the flip side, I’m still figuring out how to make a game fun for the mechanic and rules lawyers without trying to force them into other roles.

    Very great post!


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