23 January 2012

Thoughts on the Player Driven Campaign

Al over at Beyond the Black Gate has an interesting post today about The Player Driven Campaign.  There, he posits that most players aren't as involved in a game's development as the DM.  He also wonders if there is a way to quantify what makes the best sort of players.  There's also the question of if, through any attempt at quantification, one might stifle a player's creativity or turn a player off the game.

As a DM, I want player involvement, but often it's hard to get beyond the minimal involvement a player has during his turn while fighting some monsters.

Maybe there are three levels of player interactivity:
1.  The character level -- where the player makes up some personality and background for her character.
2.  The campaign level -- where the player actively engages in making choices that drive the game forward, advancing her character's agenda within the game world.
3.  The world level -- where the player actively participates in world-building (often through #1 and #2).

In my experience, #1 is fairly easy to come by, even if it's just a few sentences about their character.  2 & 3 are harder, because they require a bit larger scope.  The player may also wonder about stepping on the DM's toes.

I also think I am a better player than DM.  Here are some semi-random thoughts about what makes a good player:

  • Honesty
  • A minimal familiarity with the rule set
  • Creativity
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
I am sure there are more, but that's what immediately comes to mind.

Thanks, Al, for the interesting post.


  1. I agree with your assessment. I would add to your list of "good player" skills to say a willingness to give things a try. If a person's creativity, but to reticent to actually "get into it" then it doesn't serve them or the game very well.

  2. @Trey. Definitely. Enthusiasm goes a long way.

  3. I agree with your "good player" skills list. Likewise, I think they can also apply to a "good DM".

    For me, honesty is a must-have trait for a player. Your character can be the most unscrupulous PC in history, but a dishonest player quickly drags a game into player vs player conflict. When the players and DM trust each other, they can tell a cooperative story and not fear that they will be left behind or overshadowed unless then "fudge" a little bit.

    Unfortunately, I'm dealing with that in my current game right now.