This came up on a post in a Facebook group, and it seems like people are always asking, “What is your #1 best bit of Player Advice?”.
So here is mine… GO WITH IT.
When the scene turns against your character, GO WITH IT. If you are supposed to flee or take another course of action your GM (Game Master / Referee) should be hinting at that. But if they use phrases like “there seems to be no escape” then GO WITH IT. They probably have something awesome planned and they aren’t trying to kill your character. YOUR CHARACTERS ARE THE HEROES and when bad things happen to them, it doesn’t mean that you “lost at the game” or that you are “being punished”. Most times the GM is just trying to create dramatic tension and make the game awesome. GO WITH IT!
The GM may be trying to capture (not kill) your characters to run a “jail break” mission. GO WITH IT. Maybe they are going to have the floor collapse just as the swarm of enemies close in on you and now you have to explore the deep earth. Maybe they are trying to run a session where you crash land on a planet. GO WITH IT, don’t worry that the GM is trying to “take away your ship”, you will be able to fix it later or maybe even get a better one. If your character is infected with an incurable condition, don’t spend time arguing that it couldn’t happen. Just GO WITH IT, and the quest to find a cure will be awesome!
The same is true of things that other players add to the story. GO WITH IT. Don’t ever say “No no, your character would….”. Let them decide what their character would do, and play along with them to craft the story. There is a term for it in improve when you block something that someone else is trying to add to the story. I don’t know that term, but I know it’s a terrible thing to do, especially at the game table. Once something has been added and everyone is thinking about it, GO WITH IT or you will just be making it harder to remember what “really” happened in that scene.
This is especially true of rules lawyering. If you think something isn’t being handled properly it’s okay to ask about it, but try to do it without citing the rules or examples. People are there to play a game and you are ruining their immersion in the story. If the GM seems to understand what you are saying but still doesn’t change anything, then GO WITH IT. They may be planning on looking into later when there is more time, or they may not want to handle that way for story reasons. Every RPG rule book has a section on how it is the GM’s job to interpret the rules, decide which ones to use, and which ones to change. You could be sitting there arguing about a spell effect, only to find out the villain was using a magic item that worked differently than the spell. Meanwhile everyone is just waiting for the game to resume, and now the GM is trying to rethink the plot because you forced them to reveal something that was supposed to be a surprise reveal later on. If things don’t seem right state your case briefly, and then whatever the ruling, just GO WITH IT and keep the game moving. Everyone is there to have fun.
As a side note – some GMs actually ARE trying to kill your character, and will gloat and laugh about the TPK (Total Party Kill) they “won” over their players. Don’t try to protect yourself against these GMs. Don’t play sessions with a wall up and all your defenses bolstered. Just have fun and GO WITH IT, and if the GM turns out to be one of those types, stop gaming with them. Or better yet, talk to them about it. Let them know that you aren’t into gaming with an adversarial Referee, and that you intend to stop gaming with them if it continues. There are plenty of good GMs out there who want to tell rewarding stories in which YOUR CHARACTERS ARE THE HEROES. You will find one if you let your guard down and just enjoy the games you play, and don’t settle for crappy games.
Be good to each other, and GAME ON!
For a full list of best gaming practices check out 11 Ways To Be A Better Roleplayer by Grant over at Look, Robot