It is a cliche but there is an interesting dynamic behind it #RPG #Teams

When I was young and just discovering D&D I was also a terrible athlete (which honestly has not really changed that much.) And being a terrible athlete there was nothing I hated worse than being forced to participate in team sports. At the time, I laid it on the very concept of ‘team’ sports. Looking back there is a certain amount of irony to the time that my 2 friends and I got into trouble for playing D&D when we should have been in gym class, and my complaint was about being forced to participate in a team activity. And if the above makes me sound like the ‘geek’ cliche that inhabits movies and TV shows to this day, then I am fully guilty of living that life.

Later on, I did discover the joy of team sports (even if I was still not a great athlete.) And I became a sports geek, loving watching team sports, really enjoying those great moments of teamwork.

But here is where the interesting dynamic comes in. Are there people who play sports and also participate in the ‘geek’ activities like D&D? Yes, of course, there are. But those are not the people I am talking about. Instead, I am talking about how many of those who end up in the hobby are those who did not spend a lot of time involved in team sports. And I have noticed that this has an interesting effect. Specifically, the result is people who have not developed the concept of how a team of people can accomplish something that a group of individuals cannot.

One of the biggest problems the boys have is that they are a group of individuals, they do not understand how to work together as a team to accomplish their goals. Even the Denver group, which is a very experienced group of role players, is more often a group of individuals trying to defeat the bad guys, rather than an experienced team where everyone knows their place.

One of the other players and I have been going back and forth about this. Now that the groups characters have pretty much established their personalities, it would be good to start adding things that they can use to help out the team. I even created a little form for us to fill out for each character:

Ranged attacks:
Close Combat:
Main Spells:
Best Skills:
That way we can look at this and know what each character really brings to the table. Who do we need to shield? Who should be up front? Are there spells we want each character to cast? All of this is a way to encourage better teamwork amongst the party.
An example of the kind of teamwork I am referring to I will use the Avengers movies. In the first movie, everyone is acting as an individual, and they don’t really figure out how to maximize their abilities until they start working as a team. By the second movie, it is clear that the teamwork is there. Thor knows how to deflect his hammer off Cap’s Shield, things like that.
At a certain point, a good role playing group develops that teamwork. The spellcaster knows what spells are needed and when to cast them. The ground fighters know where to best position themselves. The skirmishers know where it is best for them to move around.
But I think that one of the reasons this does not always come easily to role playing groups is that the players often lack that time in a team setting where the importance of learning your position and sticking to your role is hammered into them. Jimmy made the point once that I tend to always play the support roles, and the reason why is because I know that every good team needs a point guard.
(As an aside, yes I do know that there are other forms of great teamwork outside of sports. A band functions as a team. There are work teams, a drama troupe, a choir. The military, emergency services are also cases where teamwork is important and can be developed. My point is that for most young people the place where they develop the skills of team play is in team sports.)

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