Being an internationally renowned role-play guru, I am often approached by apostles wishing to bathe in the waters of the well of my RPG wisdom.

Or something

I received this email earlier today:

What do you do when you have a good group of characters that work well together and have a varied mix of skills that they keep using .. but there’s one who is usually left out for example : an ex military PTSD Sufferer who is now something of a Conspiracy theorist .. skills wise has a few bits all over The game I’m running is not generally combat led but there is inevitably conflict each week.. in this he takes part .. pulled out a fire extinguisher and started blinding the zombies this week which was cool ..

But I don’t get how to get him more involved in the social / mental side of things without leading him by the nose and railroading the adventure
I want them to make their own choices and then if there’ consequences .. gotta live with it .. have you any insights ?

My considered reply was:

Tough one. Maybe ask him straight out, how can I get your character more involved in the thinky/talky stuff? That way he feels as though he has input, and that his input matters.
Be sure to tell him that his character kicks add in fights, though, and keep saying its the character, not the player, that you’re struggling to engage.

You could ask the other players if they have any ideas how you or they can get the character involved.

You could stage some encounters that focus specifically on the character, maybe triggering a combat flashback or reminding him of a past combat encounter that traumatised him in the first place. He could then roleplay out his characters reactions and fears with the other players or some NPCs.

Other ideas could be to:
Split him off from everybody else, and give him a series of achievable goals that involve negotiating with NPCs. You could even let the other players play the NPCs in question. “You’re ex army, you go see if you can get them to lend us a pilot and chopper, and we’ll arrange the supplies.”

Have an NPC, a woman or child (Newt from Aliens?) attach themselves to the character and follow him around, interacting at every available opportunity.

There’s definitely a lot more that could be done to involve and engage this player. I think my friend puts a bit more stock in my GMing ability than I deserve, and I wish I could give him some better advice.


3 thoughts on “Can I use my gun stat? / Combat characters in talky encounters

  1. Suggest to your DM friend that he delve into the player characters back story. Maybe an old army friend or a realtive is in trouble. They need help, but don't quite know how to ask for it in case the PC thinks they're nuts, lying, taking the piss, or whatever.
    However, this guy from the past has a vital clue and the only person the NPC will open up to is your combat wombat PC.


  2. Hello again, Dangerous Brian.
    That could work. The game apparently centres around a zombie outbreak in the players home town, so it would make sense that there's someone they know still surviving in the rubble – especially an ex armed forces buddy.
    I'll suggest it.


  3. Apparently the woes of restricted site access from work computers plagues us all…

    Thanks Gents
    I have to add that (in case said player is an avid reader here) That it's no detriment to his ability .. as he is a far more experienced role-player. It's more my inability to engage his character that I was looking for insight and ideas
    He's actually the opposite of combat wombat and very thoughtful .. I just hope he is getting the same enjoyment out of the game I run ..

    It is quite far removed from ourt usual dungeon crawls where we belt seven shades of shee-hite out of the BBEG and then loot his still warm corpse for shinies and exp ..

    WoD is very different in having to think of “other” conflicts rather than violent ones.

    I'm not running dry .. it is challenging me trying to keep it fun for the SIX regulars and also to keep it relatively fast paced with equal involvement from them all


    I would be surprised (and delighted) to find out that some one in your gaming group is an avid reader of this blog.


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