Catering to your players, "The Thespian"
If you’ve listened to any of our other episodes, and I hope you have, we often speak on how well we know the players at our tables, and how we try to give them what they want in game play. When you’re just starting out as a Storyteller, it can take some time to figure out some of the play styles of your group. If luck is on your side and you have already been gaming with some or all of the people at the table, you may already have a pretty good idea of what they’re individual playing styles are. If not then check out episode #4 of our podcast, “5 play styles you may encounter”, I guarantee it will help. No matter what, don’t be discouraged. some styles will come to the forefront from the start. One of those play styles that will be quite evident is the “Thespian”.
Here is a true role-player and actor at heart. Showing up in dress, garb and outfits that mimic their character. They enjoy getting into character, and using dialects and accents every time they speak. So much so that they will find a reason to talk to everyone they meet, whether it be the party members, or the NPCs, and yes even the monsters. I’ve actually witnessed a 5-minute greeting and one-sided conversation with a horse. Whenever the player is asked anything about their character, they slip right into the role with the voice and all, for a full 2 minutes, just to answer something like “Hey does your character have a candle”?
So how do you as the Storyteller, fulfill the role-playing needs of this player? Simple, give them a stage. Figuratively and literally if necessary. These Player Characters are often the spokesperson for the group, although not always elected, selected or even wanted to do so. Give them something to talk about. If they are the party Spokesperson or Leader, give them the opportunity to explain the plan of attack or how the deception or diversion tactic is to unfold. If a fellow member of the group has gotten into trouble with the constabulary, then someone is going to have to champion his or her cause, as the accused representative, hopefully avoiding any unpleasantness.
Perhaps the party has caught a thief or rival informant, and actually managed to keep the fighter from outright killing the culprit (Very unlike our group). An intensive questioning is probably about to commence. who best to lead the fact-finding endeavor? Always best to give the good cop a try before the bad cop is set loose.
Like all good guys and bad guys alike in comic books, Tv shows and movies, the dramatic staging for an epic monologue can set the tone, and encourage or inspire the players at the table. Start the dialogue with your own monologue and goad the player character into a response. You’re not likely to be disappointed.
You can bring up a specific point that coincides with the Thespian's background. I find if you skew or bastardize the facts about the background, it can really set the player off. Just try not to smile as the PC does all they can to set things right and clear their good name, or maybe embellish on the rumor or inaccuracy to gain greater reputation. Showing that it is a ruse, will spoil the effect and mood of the encounter.
Corner them with a flaw or bond that is in jeopardy of being revealed to the party, or worse to the antagonist who can use the information against the Player character, and maybe even the other members of the group. Now let’s see how they try to diminish the facts or even explain it away.
Provide plenty of NPCs to converse with. Whether the NPC has information that furthers the plot or not. Have fun with the flirty bartender or the stingy owner of the apothecary. Confrontations with an NPC can always provide fodder to help or hinder the plot, and maybe even a separate story arch all together.
And the best of all. If the player character is a bard, then all bets and restraints are off as the storyteller. Have a stage ready to go and let’s see them entertain the masses. Even if the masses are only the party and an old man sleeping by the fire in the tavern. Don’t let them off the hook either. A simple “I’m going to go up on stage and sing or play a couple of songs, how much coin did I get?” will not do.
This is the group’s actor and entertainer, mouthpiece and diversion. Let’s see a show.