Sunday 9 December 2012

Fifteen Secrets to Being a Successful RPG Player

Image Courtesy of: Sarah Newton and

So you’re a smart player and you think you know all the tricks. You can exploit rules, you’ve read everything, and you’ve even checked out websites on how to optimize your characters. What’s missing? Only the gaming secrets most official books will never tell you about. These are the ‘laws’ of the RPG Matrix. As Morpheus once said, “Some can be bent…others broken.”

1.  Encumbrance: heroes can carry as much as they want.

2. Flank: everything. 

3. Charge: to the high ground so you can flank it. 

4. Ammunition: never runs out.

5. Sleep, Water, Food, and Air: unnecessary to survival.

6. Sleep: to gain back all your spells, hit points, and special powers.

7. Bandages: cure hit points.

8. Loot: absolutely everything.

9. Haggle: for all magic items.

10. Traps and Secret Doors: “I check for x” should be your ‘go to’ line.

11. Henchmen: trap detector, monster distraction, loot carrier, and scapegoat extraordinaire.

12. In Game or Out of Game?: did it get you into trouble or not?

13. Death: not permanent. Coming back to life is tricky at first, like riding a bicycle. After that, you can do it over and over and over again.

14. Aid Allies: +2 to combined checks and votes vs. the GM.

15. Always Carry: oil, holy water, stakes, and silvered weapons.

16. Suggest: things to the GM when he’s stuck. You never know.

17. Listen: to the ‘amount’ the GM says, not what he says.

18. Backgrounds: your parents died so villains couldn’t use them against you.

19. Cast Spells: blindly into rooms. “You can only target what you can see” is hokey.

An Example of Superior Game-Play


Doug: Okay, are you guys finished making duplicate Rangers so we can start play?

Players: No.

3,432,432 minutes later…

Player 1: Okay.

Doug: *Snort* What?

Player 2: He’s asleep. Steal his notes.

Doug: Prepare to turn chaotic evil and lose ten million experience points.

Player 2: Never-mind.

Doug: You’ve come to the giant Dungeon of Mega-Death. Inside are all sorts of horrible demons and dragons just waiting to rip your guts out.

Player 1: So why are we here?

Player 2: Beats me. This is where my mom drops me off from school.

Doug: Well, uh, just because—okay?

Player 1: Well, see you guys next week.

Doug: Fine. There’s one million gold in it.

Player 1: Is it fake?

Doug: No.

Player 1: Is it trapped?

Doug: No.

Player 1: Is it impossible to get?

Doug: …..No.

Player 2: Bad pause there.

Dough: Shut up.

Player 1: Assuming we succeed, is there a likely chance we can get the gold and then not lose it to random thieves before we can spend it on stuff that’s useful to us which in turn won’t be stolen?

Doug: Um, your character doesn’t know all that stuff. Can you just go in the freaking dungeon? I worked like ten hours on it, guys.

Player 1: Fine. Walking up to the door and going inside.

Doug: Ha ha ha, a fireball shoots from the door and kills you! End of adventure! So sweet. TPK in the first 15 seconds!

Player 2: I was checking for traps. Also, our henchman always goes first.

Doug: Okay, Ralphie the henchman dies.

Player 2: He was checking for traps, too.

Doug: Okay. He failed his roll and died.

Player 1: …He says without rolling.

Doug: Shut up.

Player 2: Using Aid Another on Find Traps.

Player 1: Me too.

Doug: Still dies.

Player 2: My two pet bloodhounds Aid him as well.

Doug: Dang it.

Player 2: From this point on, everyone in the group is checking for traps and secret doors every fifteen seconds on an alternating pattern.

Doug: That’ll take forever.

Player 2: Well, we’ve got a few more hours of daylight before the next workday officially begins.

Doug: Fifteen hours later you’ve moved 60 ft. down the hallway and a band of ten wandering Demon-cyclops-medusa round the bend.

Player 1: Shoot them with my crossbow!

Doug: Haven’t you run out of bolts yet? Besides, they’re medusa so you turn to stone.

Player 1: *shows character sheet* Still got the twenty I bought at first level. Also, I was saying that out of game so I haven’t done anything yet.

Player 2: I pull out my mirror.

Doug: In game or out of game?

Player 2: Shut up!

Doug: Ralphie makes a Wisdom check and looks at the Cyclops-medusa-demons. Poof, he turns to stone!

Player 2: Aid Another ‘Wisdom’ from everyone including my two pet blood hounds.

Doug: Dang it.

Player 1: Charge to high ground, flank, loot everything, use bandages, cast resurrection on Ralphie.

Player 2: Anything else in here?

Doug: You see a door.

Player 2: Shoot 15 fireballs and lightning bolts through the keyhole. Then we camp in the bush to regain spells and come back to open the door.

Doug: You guys are weird. Thieves attack in the night and steal your bags of holding.

Player 2: Ralphie was on watch.

Doug: He’s dead.

Player 1: Not anymore.

Doug: You run out of food and water and then a dragon steals your parents to force you back into my adventure.

Player 1: *shows background* Sorry, both of my character’s parents are dead. His village was also burned to the ground and he has no relatives.

Doug: Well, you starve then.

Player 2: *shows equipment*.

Doug: It’s impossible to carry 76 weeks of food and water.

Player 2: Which is why we have: henchmen, bags of holding, and very big equipment boxes to write our loot in. Case in point, we took everything off of those Cyclops-medusa-demons, right?

Doug: There’s a bush next to your camp. It’s pretty big and moves in the breeze.

Player 1: What the—?

Player 2: Check it for monsters.

Doug: How did you know? There’s a vampire in there. Ha, take that!

Player 1: I’ve got stakes.

Doug: And his buddy…a werewolf.

Player 1: …and silvered weapons.

Doug: Plus a load of zombies.

Player 2: Break out the holy water, Jim.

Doug: Any suggestions, guys?

Player 2: Well, since you asked…

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