I’ve offered ways to encourage roleplaying before, but because it enhances a game so much, I want to expand on it even further. So here are some more ways to instigate character (and player) interaction and roleplaying. These strategies help cultivate an atmosphere that’s about the collective storytelling experience and character growth.
Interactive Backstory Session
This one is a full post in itself, but here are the basics:
- Give players and yourself X tokens.
- GM shares a brief description of the world.
- A player shares their backstory.
- Once that player finishes, the GM and other players spend tokens to present elements and scenarios that happened in that character’s past.
- The next player shares their character’s backstory, and everyone spends tokens to introduce new events that happened to that character in the past.
- Once every player has shared, take some time to let everyone spend their remaining tokens on other players (if they have any).
- Start the game with each player having stronger connections to both the other characters and other players.
Sometimes, the right person for the task isn’t the best one. Create a scenario where advancement requires two characters working together, even if one isn’t the right fit for the job.
For example: The players are attempting to get some information from a local alchemist. However, while researching the alchemist, the players learn he’s much more willing to dispense information when he’s talking to another gnome. The problem: the only gnome in the party isn’t the player with the negotiation skills. So in order to get the information they want, the gnome player must work with the character who is good at negotiations, and the two of them can try and persuade the alchemist to give them what they want.
Interconnected Side Quests
Short side quests that focus on two or three characters can really work to build a greater mythology for the story and strengthen the connection between those characters and players). But personal character goals or story elements related to their backstories don’t always overlap, but they can interconnect.
Pick one goal from two characters’ backstories. Have both of those players come across something that interests each of them in different ways. While the other players are leveling up or doing something else, present a small story hook that both players can investigate together.
For example: Grigorgok- the barbarian cultist- wants to find something that can give him an out of body experience to grow closer to the Old One he worships. Savant -the half-honest thief- wants to find exotic and powerful poisons to better immobilize or kill her enemies. While strolling through a large city, Grigorgok and Savant learn of a black market dealer who sells an exotic extract. Low doses cause the user to experience hallucinations. Higher doses can cause the user to go completely unconscious in moments. Both characters want the extract for different reasons. You can even add a part where the characters must work together in order to reach the dealer.