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How would you make your table more engaging?
The title says it all. It could be storytelling, gimmicks, mechanics, simplicity or complications that intrigue your players interest.
For me, it's important to make a Fabletop simple and not too complicated. The point of having a dice system with only 3 base stats is to not overcomplicate things. If there's such a thing as "15 stats that's separate", people would get a headache trying to remember all this gimmicks and focus less on their character building or acting. All this would ultimately lead to them believing they're playing an offline RPG game. I would not recommend this, as playing an actual game is much quicker than an 8 hour session that lasts twenty minutes in-game.
In order to pick Fabletop over RPG, it has to have something engaging that balances out the long sessions they take.
What about you guys? How would you make your table more engaging? It's a good topic for new GM to reference from.
Look at what the players want by their actions. Lots of planning and strategizing? Maybe they like the strategy element, slowly increase it until its good. The players are murdering everything on sight? Either they're murder-hobos or they're feeling like a good ol' fashioned dungeon crawl experience, focus more on battle. Of course, the GM still needs to enjoy hosting the game. Are you into mystery-style games but your party wants battle? Incorporate one into the other! Do you want to have a plot-heavy game but your players just want to kill stuff? Work the plot into the battling, or include optional battles along the plot! Are you a self-proclaimed retard called Bustamark who has a busy schedule but still shoves hosting into every available orifice remaining in said schedule? Make an overly complicated plot with so many plot twists that your players give up trying to figure stuff out ahead of time halfway through and occasionally go on random hiatus'! In the end, the GM should aim for something that both sides find at least satisfactory.
Dec '20 / edited Dec '20
It doesn't matter which route your campaign is taking there is always time for character arcs and to make the players feel rewarded by the effort they placed on background creation.
Use this to tie them to the world and to give them a better perspective of what they can achieve in the long run.
It doesn't even have to be an entire session about a single PC, you can switch your boss for the session a tiny bit so it aligns with part of the backstory of a character.
Is your boss for this 3 session adventure of the campaign a dragon? Is there a character that got their life thrown around due to a dragon attack? Make it the same dragon, it might not seem much at first but these little things will add up slowly and make the world and your sessions more important for the characters themselves.
Stuff that I have attempted so far:
Moral/Ethical decisions - A woman's child was turned into a zombie due to plot reasons and were kicked out of the village. The woman wants to keep the child alive but the villagers want the child killed. The party comes across the unstable mother and child, unaware of the circumstances. The party would like to enter the village, but the gates will not open with the woman and child nearby. They could just outright murder the two, and be granted entry into the village, or they could attempt to negotiate with the village leader/mother. There are a number of solutions to the situation, and the players have the agency to decide what the outcome will be. One thing to be careful about providing such situations is to make it so that there is no clear answer to the situation, and that there are rewards AND consequences for whatever solution that the party decides to go with. Otherwise the party might feel like they're forced to make the 'morally correct' choice or be punished otherwise.
Optional puzzles - The party enters a cave, there is a battle, and they notice the exit. Along the way, they discover some symbols that could mean something. It is not integral that they solve the puzzle, but if they do, they obtain some cool loot and unlock a side quest. The party gets to decide whether or not they would like to engage in the content. They can also revisit it at a later time if they wish to.
Unexpected situations - I once had the party encounter a mimic that impersonated the player characters. They had to figure out how to identify who was the impostor through their own means. Naturally, if they decide to attack, make sure that they understand the damage they cause will not be shown in the player status bar until one of them gets K.Oed. Or else they'd figure out which is which just by hitting one and seeing if their life goes down in the status bar or it is a damage tag.
Ultimately, I think player agency is the most interesting mechanic, in contrast to video games where all dialogue/action choices still lead to the same result. Letting the players understand that their choices will have very tangible results and that there is no 'wrong answer', gives them the satisfaction of solving the problem in their own unique way. Of course, this comes at the cost of more planning time on the GM's part, so it's up to the GM's discretion.
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