How Jay Does... RPG Secrets


“I talk to my players one-on-one about their character.”

“Sometimes, I’ll talk with a player before the game about the hidden agenda they’re working on.”

This is really a PSA about talking to your players. I’m still hearing folks on panels and at workshops give advice about how they don’t talk to their players together. In my humble time playing roleplaying games, not talking to your players is the start of problems. Once I have a group of interested players — if we haven’t set the schedule of sessions then as a group we nail that down.

  • When and what are we playing?
  • How long is a session?
  • How many sessions?
  • Where are we playing?

Lucky for me, my home crew plays every Weds at 18:00M until 22:00ish at Tabletop Game and Hobby. I can expect the same 5 faces. We even do an email roll-call Monday or Tuesday. Logistics nailed down. Ideally we’ve agreed on what game. Now we’re talking tone, and expectations. Covering what everyone wants to play, or do or see in the game. Negotiating the differences until we’re all on the same page. We make characters together. From D&D, Shadowrun to Dungeon World, we make characters together. We do this to share what we as players are thinking for the characters we’re making. Other players can riff, interact off those thoughts. That’s where the magic is! There are also no secrets! All the players are in on the idea that your thief works for the assassin’s guild and has a contract on the groups current client. The character’s may not be aware, but we the players are. As adults we can separate the two and play in good faith. No secret notes, no side-room talks. This lets us be the audience and all be in on the ‘punch line’ the drama, when things are happening in the fictional world. Try it, it’s awesome!

The atmosphere and rules-use can be a bit like free jazz: loose, occasionally pushing the envelope, always reaching for the best, tolerant of missteps. -Ron Edwards, Champions Now

Between games, talk to your players about what’s good, what’s not good. Where they want to take the game. I will prompt for a recap at the start of session from players. Listen to them, you’ll likely hear what they’ve focused in on. Session Zero. The session before we start playing the game is where we have much of this discussion and make characters. Together. My games are more engaging and on point for it. And if your GM isn’t talking to the players…well, they’re players too and YOU can start the conversation. TL;DR: Talk. Talk. Talk to your players.

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash