How can I be a better player?

I came to the realization that I want to become a better player. I noticed that in some games I am too reactive, or too focused on my character’s goals, rather than wanting a nice story to emerge, and sometimes I am out of ideas or unsure on the way forward for my character.

I also thought about games where at some point the energy lulls a bit and it is easy to blame this on the GM. What if I, as a player, with my limited autorship that comes from controlling my character, can help bringing energy back to the table?

So, what are your tips and tricks to become a better player and have more fun? What are the easiest to remember and to apply at the table?

I also have some ideas, but I would like to hear yours first!

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I think there are some foundational premises:

  • You are a good person, sympathetic to others, and always trying to better yourself. (“Don’t be an asshole.”)
  • You are highly enthusiastic about the game, premise, and/or content, and you bring that with you.
  • You know how to listen, letting others have the spotlight.

Having said that, I’d say the most important “tip” or “trick” is:

  • You understand and recognize that every game and every group is different. You become a “good player” by being able to adjust to that and to get the most out of it.

Do NOT play every game, or with every group, assuming it’s going to be the same. The high-quality player is aware of this and makes efforts to adjust instead of bringing old assumptions with them. In the process, they figure out what THIS particular game/group combination needs and they do their best to bring that out.


I think the best players are game masters. So…

  • Know the rules.
  • Build on other participant’s ideas.
  • Bring your own ideas. Build hooks and explanations.
  • Bring a good and positive energy to the table.
  • Don’t only listen to the others; create an environment where everybody gets a chance to speak. You got two ears, but only one mouth.

I think Viola Spolin have some good ideas when it comes to directing her actors (or “players”, as she called them):

  • Am I giving enough energy?
  • Am I staying overlong on mechanics?
  • Which players need individual attention?
  • Do they need more workshops?
  • Are rehearsals to drawn out?
  • Am I nagging the players?
  • Am I attacking them?
  • Are the actors working at odds with me?
  • Is the problem physical or psychological?
  • Am I just being a traffic manager?
  • Is it necessary to stimulate more spontaneity?
  • Am I overanxious?
  • Am I asking them for more than they can give me at this time?
  • Am I reaching the intuitive?

I think the basic idea is to write a list of questions that you want from your players during a session, and make sure other game masters gets that from you. Just a few questions, and then you check yourself every hour or so during the session to see if you’re living up to the questions.


Maybe have an out of game discussion with your DM and fellow players about encouraging more player involvement. Traditional ttrpgs have rigid allocation of who gets to describe the world, but it can help ease the DM’s burden and involve the players more when they get to add color.

Things like,
“you arrive at a village. Player A, what is the villages primary export?”
“you find random guard 153, Player B, give me one or two words that describe them”

This kind of stuff can take place in session zero “my character is from this region, they have customs A,B, and C” or during any session. It requires a conscious mental check to switch to, but I find it makes DMing less work and makes players excited about finding new things.


There are a couple of old threads with some useful advice. Not to necro them, but they have some smart things I like to review. Here’s the one I go back and look at from time to time.


Yes! This thread is really worth reading. Thanks for linking to it!

A panel from a GauntletCon a few years ago (recorded before that linked-to thread, so I’d say most of the aspects are covered already)


I think it’s covered in some of the resources linked, but I think it’s worth repeating that (imo) you should play with a “yes and…” approach (or “no, but…”). I’m always looking for ways to call other players into the scene and looking for complications for my character.

I would be wary of “limited authorship” as a player—imo you have full authorship of your character and shared authorship of the overall story. Think collaboratively in that space. It’s also okay, as a player, to pause and ask “what are we doing here?” which sounds a bit harsh, it I mean to ask what everyone’s goals are to make sure everyone is on the same page thematically, tonally, etc.

Screw up. Screw up in ways that specifically relate to your character’s flaws. Flaws create conflict and conflict is where plot happens. Don’t go sabotaging play for other people but make bad decisions based on the kind of bad decisions your character would make. Take one turn too many looking for treasure, punch that guard because he called you chicken, brag a little too much about your latest adventure when the wrong people are listening. Cause trouble that wouldn’t happen if your character was a different person.