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Getting Players to Roleplay (GM Tips w/ Matt Mercer)

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Matthew Mercer teaches us how to get your group to roleplay, because sometimes it doesn't come naturally. Character background stories, engaging conversation comfortably, and leaving your comfort zone are just a few ways to get started. Subscribe to Geek and Sundry: http://goo.gl/B62jl Join our community at: http://geekandsundry.com/community Twitter: http://twitter.com/geekandsundry Facebook: http://facebook.com/geekandsundry Instagram: http://instagram.com/geekandsundry Google+: http://plus.google.com/+GeekandSundry
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Text Comments (606)
Christian Price (1 day ago)
Tonio (8 days ago)
This is a problem i’ve learned to overcome in multiple campaigns, I mostly DM for beginners, so i like to think its good to help them getting into RPing for if they get into more developed campaigns. With my current 2 year campaign, my players started off with only talking ooc and asking questions like that, then i started getting them int describing their replies, then that flowed into actually playing the characters. I’ve found that almost absolutely n o n e w p l a y e r s will start off as roleplayers. Ive found my way of beating this is to roleplay the npcs as much as possible, even with very small movements and comments. If the DM is acting as a character, people tend to catch on and join in, from there it should be your goal to make sure that they’re enjoying playing this character, from then on in develops. My absolute favourite parts about being a DM is when my players can have conversation and interaction as their characters without even needing me to direct or control anything.
Keith Wiggins (11 days ago)
D&D only gives back what you put in; role-playing is a content creator's game. "Some may not be into heavy RP...totally fine, totally great!" No it's not, not at all. Enough capitulation, tabletop-roleplaying is a ROLE-PLAYING game. You let something off, it loses focus, the culture becomes subverted into that "diablo clone" crap. It's the very reason why murderhobos and munchkins exist. Why? Because role-playing takes practice, skill, growth. One-dimensional dungeon crawlers do not. I understand it seems forceful, but this game will always have one heavy RP player; the Game/Dungeon Master. They HAVE to do it. Guess where the GM gets their motivation? Guess, also, how they lose it? Look, players, this IS the game and you better get to work because one of you already has been. The GM has been busting their ass carefully crafting dialogue, narration, descriptions, level design, encounters, game balance, predicting player investment, and a ton of other crap for you. Your backstory/appearance/motivations are not just for other players, but also for the GM. Half of the campaign's narrative comes from the players. Session 0 always involves blank-slate character sheets, but you're supposed to at least have something based on the NOTES you should have been taking during the campaign. The entire other half of this game is to craft a narrative which becomes the wager that you gamble in combat. If you have no narrative, you are gambling with no wager; your rolls, victories and defeats, are vapid. Get some initiative, stop this "bu-bu-but I can't write!" crap. Course you can, you speak a language right? You form sentences? Nobody is born with the gift of writing, it comes with experience. Guess where most people not only learned to write, but learned content creation in general? That's right, D&D. If we have grown ass adults this incapable of original thinking, we really need to do something about our school system. How do you even keep up a job? So I'd prefer it continue to have some demand for growth. That's what made it more than just some other board-game. It's just how all cultures are; they take work to have anything of value. Otherwise we all continue to have people, with their freedom of choice, going to the default; apathy and vapidity. Someone who is capable of creating content, even reading books, is someone on their first steps toward being an original-thinker. It's a skill, not a gift.
Sausage Cat (11 days ago)
AndroxineVortex (12 days ago)
Friend: That's not what I meant by role play Me: *walks into room dressed as a French maid
Fred Rodriguez (15 days ago)
When i ran my niece and nephew thru one of their first ever campaigns there was a moment when they had to confront a local crime lord of a towns poverty district. I did a high pitched whiney voice for the skinny slinky lookout who was keeping an eye on the door. Then when they met with the crime lord, he had a typical rough and tough new yorker accent. It was cliche, i know. But to my surprise thats what my nephew and niece remembered most about the game session. They didnt tell stories of "oh remember how I cut that guy in half in this fight or that fight". Weeks later they were actually talking to a friend telling them "Then we had to confront a crime boss" and they imitated the accent. Its really cool how roleplay is what they remembered, not the combat.
JemDragons (15 days ago)
It's really difficult to RP in our group because we're in a room of, like, 100 other people and we need to shout just to be heard.
Vale der Recke (17 days ago)
Does anybody know fantasy music which sounds like the intro of GM Tips?
weckar (19 days ago)
Roleplaying and acting are SO not the same thing... Third person descriptions are fine roleplaying.
TheBlackSoul (21 days ago)
“That’s totally fine, it’s totally great, _a little worrying_ but totally great!” thank you based matt mercer
Davin Stott (22 days ago)
I wish so badly that i had a group of friends to play d&d with... But the area i live in very, very few people seem to have any interest in it at all. I have tried roll 20 but i never get written back to about joining campaigns.
The Cult of the Jim (23 days ago)
Oh, we had the other thing happen. DM was prepped for heavy combat, and we decided to attempt more subterfuge, open up a business, try to play all sides against each other. I got about 42 converts to Time Cube, the vampire slayer is the guy on the couch who adventures when he's sober enough, the werewolf thief is constantly casing joints and picking pockets... We're just now readying our move to the next town after killing the first vampire noble, and attempt opening shop on a trade road between them to expand the franchise.
A-A-RON (25 days ago)
I think I need to stop getting so high before I DM
The Not So VIPs (26 days ago)
I recently DM'd a home brew story in my world, and one of the two players (although it applied to both of them) was a lightning elemental, balanced for gameplay, and had a chaotic good alignment and a good backstory, and one of his traits was that he always helps those in need, like he had been before. I had set up an encounter where they were traveling with a caravan running basically errands for a city of mages on the cliff tops nearby. They were returning from a nearby major city when they found a carriage stuck on the side of the road, with three men beside it. Following their natures, they stopped the caravan. From what they saw, the wheel had broken off the axel. The two of them big walked over to investigate the wheel and see if they could at least try to fix it. Rolling super high on investigation, they saw that the wheel was actually unscrewed, and not broken. Immediately make a dex save, which they did, to dodge two of the men's swords from slashing each of their necks. I thought, not to brag, that this was a clever encounter to trick the players based on their characteristics and personalities
Samantha Jacobs (29 days ago)
Our DM is so fun - he’s so thoughtful on his npcs and how he rps them, and it’s so easy for me to just go along with it. Me and the bard of our group just go crazy in rping and idk how many times we’ve made the whole group almost die from laughing at our antics.
TheTacoMan (29 days ago)
I have this one, super casual 'campaign' (quotes because it's so casual that we don't even have a designated DM) that to start was my first experience in verbally portraying a character that I was roleplaying as. I'm well versed in doing so in a chatroom or whatever where I can type it out, but actually speaking out a character was really stressing me out. In these sessions, I'm playing a Kobold paladin, who, as I was really apprehensive about playing the character, didn't do too much aside from keeping quiet and doing actions. But then, at one point, I made a comment after our first major combat scene where I, in character, made a sarcastic remark about my friend's character (who was a pirate/sailor, I don't quite remember which right now), and calling them "Barnacles". After that, I steadily started acting more as our characters developed this relationship that involved them coming up with increasingly annoying nicknames for each other. At one point, I even developed the guts to give my character an accent, and gradually started working it into their lines. (I can do a pretty spectacular Canadian accent) I experienced the stress of being new to verbally roleplaying just like any new player too, and my advice for other newbies is to find some kind of interaction that makes you and at least one of the other players laugh. Makes the stress melt right off.
LahaveNS (1 month ago)
In my 30s with a wife n newborn and full time job, wishing I had time to find these ppl in my area to get back into it after a 20 yr hiatus
John Harrison (1 month ago)
Wait I don't need a multi page backstory??? Ten years of world building wasted....
Eric Nash (1 month ago)
Hey, I have that shirt!
Akbar 7g (1 month ago)
I want to know is the game master screen can be homemade or bought only?
Omninaut (1 month ago)
The outro song is epic, what's it called
Steiner El Magnifico (1 month ago)
Yare Yare daze
ThorfinBorgen (1 month ago)
Kill shit and TAKE LOOT. \o/
Henrique Erzinger (1 month ago)
tip 1: Run your game for a group of actors hahaha
Michael Walsh (1 month ago)
Is it just me or does that table make it look like he has no legs and is just resting on the floor?
The Tealeafs (1 month ago)
This was really really cool and helpfull but I could not stop wondering what that music in the BG was xD
Kade Gainey (1 month ago)
I enjoy running characters that are kinda on the verge on insanity.
Steven Bowser (1 month ago)
I'd love you to connect with Hankerin from Runehammer in any capacity
"I'm very lazy" that is the biggest lie that Matt has ever told.
Isaacqntn (2 months ago)
My players think they’re too cool to do voices
Emily Johns (2 months ago)
I haven't gotten the chance to play D&D. I've played LARPS, forum based RPing, and more casual, talking based roleplaying. I love losing myself in a character. I love following a plotline and going "Okay how will my character react to this?" Only problem I have is in the talking based campaigns I do with a group of friends I can get very anxious. Generally speaking stuff goes by really fast and I tend to want to think my stuff through which can cause the game to slow down, so I'll make terrible decisions cause I don't want to hold up everyone which can hurt my own enjoyment. Thankfully my friends, who I have played with for many years, understand that sometimes I need a bit more time and are willing to give that to me.
The Lich (2 months ago)
In the game that I run a dwarf padliden a dragon born barbarian and a dragon born bard all took a drow slave outpost on an astroid on that edge of there territory and after that the dwarf contorted his order which came in and I got to give a wonderfully ridiculous NPC called Crazie Gunpowder a dwaven rifle man general with a unit of rifle man that fortified the place
irving jacome (2 months ago)
SANTI ANCA (2 months ago)
Where did you get your list of npc names from? I am new to dnd
Reudig (2 months ago)
I reward my players with a Special Card, we call them "Aces". Whenever someone does something that fits his character perfectly, I'll award him the Ace. Every player can only have one Ace at a time and they can use it to bend the rules of the game and come up with movie-like sequences. e.g.: Once the party was trapped. They have been fighting on a City fortification wall and enemies were pouring in from left and right. When suddenly the Rogue picks up his Ace and says "In desperation I look about and there I see it. A cartwagon is approaching the wall. I take Ledania by the hand and pull her to me and together we jump down to land the cartwagons haystack." Another time my players tracked an informant, but he was getting away. While his body guards block the way and keep the party enganged he runs off. Our Ranger picks up his Ace and says "With my eagle eye precision I fire a shot between the body guards and pierce the informants left knee." For the use of such an Ace there is no skill roll required, and that's the beauty of it. After they have used their Ace, the players have to return it to the GM, but through good and memorable roleplay they can get it back and use a second time, or a third, or ... :D
Oxxtheundead 666 (2 months ago)
Matthew Mercer is one of my heroes!
giannis delis (2 months ago)
have u ever thought of singing in a power metal band?
Ayden Payne (2 months ago)
Speed o' Sound Sonic (2 months ago)
While GMing I always have one or two Swords on me and when the Paladin says "Nice, natural 20" and rolls damage, I take my sword and narrate while fighting. It looks like this: "Geraldyn takes his great bastard sword that he owned from his uncle and avanges him with a mighty slash with the sword. You scream while you lift your weapon above your head and you decapitate the Archmage with the strongest hit you could have ever done." And now imagine this with me holding a LARP Longsword and screaming in the living room.
Trelaras Leontas (2 months ago)
When I see videos like this, it makes me wonder, are all dungeon master braindead? I mean, I did everything in every video tips I saw until now without watching it, for me it was common sence. I saw a top 10 mistakes new dungeon master make, and I though that making those mistakes was just stupid and nobody actually do them. Anyway great video
Callum Walsh-Pardey (2 months ago)
I need that Chrono Trigger t-shirt!!!
SpamtheTree34 (3 months ago)
Being a fairly new DM who's taken multiple acting and improv classes who's DMing for four new players, only one of which has ever taken an acting class I needed this. Those of us who've acted before often come off very strongly to non-actors
Wilhelm_iron (3 months ago)
We had the most annoying character in terms of separating a character from their player. His character had his voice and even had his name. So every time we addressed him we had to say which one we were talking to: the player or the character
Luca Whitfimc (3 months ago)
I'm not a very outgoing person, so role playing can be kinda "hard". However, when I partook in a one-shot adventure as goblins (based on the one-shot Matt himself did) I found it easier to role play when everyone (including the DM) spoke with a goblin voice.
Bo Giberson (3 months ago)
Thanks, McCree
Mikey Houser (3 months ago)
I like how when it comes to Youtube comments as pertaining to Dnd Videos, they're actually helpful and fun. Not so much on some gaming channels lol
MakeYouFeelBetterNow (3 months ago)
If you're worried your players aren't roleplaying enough, as GM you're probably not doing enough yourself.
insano41 (3 months ago)
I've been watching Dice, Camera, Action lately. And I wanna say, Nate is a great example of this and it is has been an actually interesting and enjoyable journey seeing him slowly open up and get more involved in the RP aspect of D&D. At the beginning Nate is very quiet, somewhat nervous and reserved (in his defense, I believe it's mentioned in episode 1 that this is his first ever tabletop RPG). And he actually stays that way for awhile. I'll admit, at first I started to grow a little unfond of him as member of the party. But he started slowly opening up a bit, and their DM, Chris Perkins, even give him small nudges by giving him a little silent companion that he grew extremely attached to almost immediately and giving him a small solo adventure where he was separated from the party and had to escape and deal with things on his own. I'm 80 episodes in and he's really into it at this point. Overtime, I grew to enjoy that slow evolution in his roleplay and I think it goes to show that anyone, givin time and patience, can grow to enjoy the roleplay aspect of D&D and really engage with the party and the story.
AksentNetharia (3 months ago)
Sidecam Matt is my favorite Matt
David Loria (3 months ago)
Hi. New sub here. I've seen you on the celebrity game videos, didn't know you had your own tips show. I love the design aspect of being a DM/GM. Creating custom maps, characters lore etc. But I've always been envious of people like you who have the acting skills to immerse the players via roll playing. Any tips on how to get over shyness when it comes to being more expressive and engaging when addressing your players.
Ivey Pale (3 months ago)
You should do a video of hair tips haha jk but these are such helpful video's Thanks matt
Kamilla Karsai (3 months ago)
ChronoRebel_GreatGryffon (3 months ago)
Since I learned that Matt voiced Chrom from Fire Emblem, now I can only hear him
Sam Smith (3 months ago)
Ohey look! Making backstory helps. Maybe I should tell that to the suicidal dwarf barbarian who's only backstory, personality traits, bonds, flaws, and ideals, is "alcohol".
Gond (3 months ago)
That's ritch , an "evil DM " encouraging players to make background stories for characters that won't live long.
508hunter (4 months ago)
mizukichan30 (4 months ago)
I LOVE rping my character, successes or failures, and most GMs ive played with love it too cause it doesnt put them under the pressure of coming up with something, no one knows better how your character would respond more then you do
TheMuffinMan (4 months ago)
goddamn i want to meet him so bad.
Sabine Vissers (4 months ago)
this is something I've been struggling with as I am trying to start a campaign with friends and only one has ever played
No Life No Gamers HQ (4 months ago)
We play D&D over a Skype call so
No Life No Gamers HQ (4 months ago)
Much of this stuff does not apply
gaming monkey (4 months ago)
Pumbaa856 (4 months ago)
" Ah find tha' when playin't ae dwarven character, it be in yer best int'rest tae workit ae accent. Tae makit ae bonny threat aboot smashin't someone inna gob wit' a table, it be'it best tae frame in yer mind thae image o' a scot soccer hooligan aboot three pints in."
omega311888 (4 months ago)
... why bleep out the second "shit" and not the first?
Alucard NoLifeKing (4 months ago)
Hey Mccree.
we dont care crew Rip (5 months ago)
It took me a YEAR to get one of my players to start RP
rhinopanda37 (5 months ago)
It's hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh noon
ChaoticEnigma (5 months ago)
As someone who was fairly recently introduced to D&D, I really wish I could get into the RP stuff easier, and could be as good at describing things in game as Matt is.
Turbine360 (5 months ago)
I was playing as a character who was a mousefolk (homebrew) and my friend was a dragonborn. He failed a persuasion check and I reacted by saying "I don't like this one... he's got a tail" for the rest of the game they roleplayed a bit more.
Jessica Lee (5 months ago)
Problem I'm having is that I'm autistic (Asperger), so I naturally tend to be withdrawn, even among friends. This also makes it difficult to properly role-play, especially since my character has a CHA score of 20. How am I supposed to role-play someone charismatic if I keep pissing people off and not knowing? Frustrating. But I still love the game :-)
prashant verma (5 months ago)
I like your LEON S KENNEDY so better character
Arctic cesspool (5 months ago)
i find heavy roleplaying makes it cringy, but if you describe how your doing stuff you still get the roleplay feeling, Like yodeling in a freindly manner. Thats what i do when i try to approach an "npc".
Joshua McGee (5 months ago)
Dude, I've got that same gigantic dragon on your table and its awesome.
Calad22Deviantart (6 months ago)
This guys is good
TIG2MAN0 (6 months ago)
what do you think about drug use n dnd
Josh Hust (6 months ago)
the critical role crew is so lucky to have a DM like this. i love a good RP campaign!
N Slater (6 months ago)
"Hello! My name is Matthew Mercer. Some of you might need to clean yourself after hearing my silky smooth voice. Feel free to go ahead and do so. I'll be right here."
Sophia Bogard (6 months ago)
I recall a time when I played a mage that was an attorney/ contract negotiator for the realm we played in. I went too far. I was willing to negotiate everything the NPC's brought my way. It slowed down the game too much. And don't even try to get magic items I wanted.
Sophia Bogard (6 months ago)
I always encourage them all having some flaw which also allows them some other benefit ( Skills and Powers had this as optional rules). I also did my best to make things personal to those characters. Especially ones who were less comfortable getting into the spirit of RP.
Enoro (6 months ago)
Aside from Darude Sandstorm, what is that background music called?
chy03001 (6 months ago)
Thanks Matt! This one was especially inspiring :-)
Bryan Blain (6 months ago)
lmao he makes these so funny but so informative i cant wait to play our first D&D game monday
Marvin Hubregtse (6 months ago)
I dont change my voice (that I know of) but I stop speaking my native language and swith to english (im.dutch trust me you notice) my friends do to
Garrett Szilard (6 months ago)
My all time favorite GM moment was when my cousin said the following to me: "You don't know that!" I was baffled at the time, but I laughed because I was the GM, I knew everything that goes on in the world and pertains to it.
CaffeineInjected (6 months ago)
Great Video! Thanks Matt!
Kris The Deviant (6 months ago)
I'd love to get a group together one day so I can go back to playing D&D and maybe DM a few games of my own. It's been so long since I last played.
Reonlasbard (6 months ago)
As a player, I have a hard time roleplaying. I don't have as hard a time in my head coming up with different ideas. So is it stage-fright? Or do I have too weak of a grasp of what I "can" and "can't" do within the D&D mechanics?
TheRaggadazar (7 months ago)
Lost Ones soul (7 months ago)
My character called fog between the mountains. If you ever played fire emblem scared stones think Gerik mixed another character...but as a monk.
Benjamin McGowen (7 months ago)
So the Diablo reference is good with HS level players. Sometimes the revolving door of bad guys work well. Again I do agree "Have fun" no point in any hobby if it is taxing.
Danilo Giorgio (7 months ago)
Being an actor really helps with RPing, vice versa
Demetri Frost (7 months ago)
Oh matt, just talk at us about anything. you could legit just read a book to us and we'd be happy~ Atleast I would lol
bears 4 days (7 months ago)
I have one person who no matter what will play a human Rogue who simply makes his backstory either a vigilante or on the Run and refuses to think about what his character would do but rather thinks as a player he's disruptive refuses to learn any of the rules or content and always puts himself before any of the other players at the table and couldn't give a rat's ass about the world the story or other people's backstories the majority of the players at my table or asking me to tell him to stop coming but he's been playing for roughly 5 months now in my campaign what should I do. Also as a side note I'm trying to scale things not to be extremely difficult but to have combat at a reasonable level to engage the other players. But the problem player's lack of knowledge has led to him dying on six different occasions so nearly once a month despite the fact no one else in the party of 6 has died yet. This is mostly due to him recklessly killing City Guards randomly yelling at people when he is trying to be a sneaky Rogue. He refuses to extend the slightest bit of effort to learn the game. It's not really a problem but he also names every single character after a Clone Commander leading to each character slowly becoming the same thing
Mr Arca9 (7 months ago)
37 seconds and i'm laughing my ass off already
Don Mangrubang (7 months ago)
i started playing d&d and i am enjoy play this game
Mook (7 months ago)
When helping my players write their backstories, I like having three paragraphs. One for early life, another for mid life, and a last one for right before adventuring.
Jesse McCree (7 months ago)
I love this man XD
David Griffin (7 months ago)
I love the tips videos, however as far as backgrounds I have one player who doesn't believe in half pages. I usually get a short story of several pages which I love.
Aaron Rodriguez (8 months ago)
All I can see is " The Field Captain" from MHW hahaha
Bryan Wilmarth (8 months ago)
Great episode, Matt. Role playing for some, especially new players, can be difficult. I DO award extra xp for role playing. I've been playing/DMing (mostly DMing) since I was 12...which was in 1982 DR! Shyness is a big factor. I don't push my players to role play but I do it in hopes they will emulate me. They may not adopt and accent but more often than not, once they have a "feel" for their character, they'll learn the difference between what Steve said and what his Bard Elorik said. That's key. Role play does add an extra layer of fun to any campaign/session. Backstories? Yes!!!!
Dragonfredy The immortal (8 months ago)
It's high noon

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