Part the Second in my continued attempt to teach people how to be a better role player. These posts are a more detailed follow-up to my original post. Today’s topic continues the theme from yesterday, know the rules. As I said in that post, this is not about how to have more fun when role playing, it is about being a better player. If you can have fun without following my advice then more power to you.
There are certain things that drive me a little crazy. If I had to pick one thing that I see during sessions that bothered me more than any other thing it is when a player performs an action and has to stop to figure out how to do it. I am not talking about first time or learning players. I am talking about the person who has been playing for a while, with the same character and has to be reminded how things work.
I will use my Pathfinder game as an illustration. Pathfinder can be a very complex game. And when you get to a certain level there can be a lot of moving parts. A lot of additions and subtractions to a roll. I personally make full use of my handy little app that helps me track conditions like this. So I understand that there are a lot of things to keep track of.
None the less, when you are in a long, protracted combat, fighting the same creatures you were last turn (or several turns) and have to sit and figure out what the to hit roll is every time, and then what your damage bonuses are every time, I get annoyed. If it was a new combat, or fighting a new monster, sure take a second to figure it out, but every time? Or if you are a spell caster, and every time you go to cast a spell from your spell list you have to look up the effects again.
That drags the game down. Because every time a player has to stop and look up a rule during a combat a fairy dies. There can be limited exceptions for new players or the first time a new spell or ability is used, but after that, know what your character can do, please.
Often this issue gets compounded by one of my other pet peeves. When it is a player’s turn and they ask what is going on and what should they do. If you had been paying attention to the encounter and knew what your character is capable of doing, you would not have asked this question. Understand that here I am more focused on the ‘what should I do?’ part of the question. If you know what your character can do, you know the rules, and you have been paying attention to the combat, you should have a very good understanding of what is the best option in the encounter.
There are certain classes, and campaign groups, where a player’s action can often be dictated by a quick poll. But even then, this should not involve pulling out the rule book, looking over your spell list and deciding which spell is the best to cast. If you know what you are capable of, what your spells do, a quick ask does not slow things down. Our Pathfinder Cleric will often ask if he should channel for love or hate and then perform his action. No slowing down there.
To sum up. Know your modifiers for any actions you might consider. Know what everyone is doing or has done. And know what your actions will do in game terms. Following those guidelines will make you a much better role player.