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I have an ongoing game of Mage: the Ascension. While everything is going quite OK and I am pretty happy about what is going on around the table, I noticed that one of my players is a bit quiet and prefers to observe discussion and chip in when relevant.

The player is active when his PC is doing something or talking to an NPC, so it's not a problem of complete disengagement. However, especially if there is more players around, he would let others "drive" the game, while himself staying out of the limelight most of the time. I am not saying that other players completely overshadow him, but that he is not seizing opportunities to get more "face time" in the game.

The players is new to the genre and inexperienced in tabletop RPing in general. Since the game is quite heavy on in-game knowledge that the characters slowly explore, I understand that sometimes a feeling of inadequacy might creep from the PC to the player. I would like to see an answer, regarding these circumstances to the following question:

How to ensure the quieter player has equal amount of fun?

I tried to talk to him, but because of his personality he just says that he's fine and chill about it and the game is OK, going in the right direction. I'm not personally sure if that's the case, but ultimately I worry that he gets the short end of the stick, which is not fine to me.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you worried that the player isn't enjoying themselves and doesn't want to tell you? Because it sounds like the player is already having an equal amount of fun, which would mean there's no problem at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Mar 30 '15 at 15:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ A very good read on what not to do ;) How to piss off an introvert. Link deals with traveling but the points are still the same. \$\endgroup\$ – DoubleDouble Mar 30 '15 at 19:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DoubleDouble Oh my goodness a thousand times yes. Thank you for the link, as a oft-misunderstood introvert myself! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 31 '15 at 21:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ See also: Strategies for dealing with turtle or roach players? \$\endgroup\$ – Eric Apr 1 '15 at 12:08
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You've already covered it, let him contribute the level he wants to, even if that's less than other players.

Different players want different things out of a game. Don't drive your player away by forcing him to RP if he isn't up for it in every scene. I myself love to roleplay, but this is not a constant from session to session and my energy and emotional investment can vary largely from scene to scene. I may take the limelight for a session while I try to lead the party with a plan I've come up with as a player, but I also frequently take a back seat if there's nothing pressing to my character and I am okay with the general progression of events and party decisions being made. Ultimately your player having a good time is something only they can gauge, if he/she says they are having fun and are okay with things then respect their self-knowledge and let things be.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yep. I have had a player like this for years. You can't force someone to be more outgoing that they are. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 30 '15 at 16:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ This. I'd only see it as a problem if you(eimyr) have reasons to believe he's lying about it being fine, if the other players have problem with it or if the other players take the spotlight when his character (not the player) should have it. For example, if his character's personal storyline is diverted or if his character is the face of the party but isn't doing it. \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Mar 30 '15 at 17:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sometimes being quiet is role-playing. Role-playing is not only talking. \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Fisher Mar 30 '15 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have greatly annoyed a player by repeatedly trying to make sure he's enjoying the game. +1 to this answer; let the person find their own level of fun. Don't make it an issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Longspeak Mar 31 '15 at 1:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sometimes being in the theatre of the mind means thinking and not talking. \$\endgroup\$ – schroeder Mar 31 '15 at 23:00
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I'm this kind of person quite often - A quiet, inexperienced RPer, who is happy to sit back and let the other players/characters 'drive the game' as you put it, while still interacting with NPCs and engaging with the story when necessary.

I believe I have just as much fun as everybody else at the table, in any case I have as much fun as I'd like to. I was a little worried recently when I was playing a bard with (necesarily) high charisma, but I gave them a really low wisdom score to explain their being 'absent minded' and therefore not trying to take the limelight all the time.

I've also been playing in a World of Darkness game (Vampire: the Masquerade) recently where perhaps the GM is trying to get me to behave less like this - by making my character a pretty huge part of the story of the game. I'm OK with that, I'm having just as much fun with it - but I don't feel like I'm having 'more fun' by 'doing more'. Just hanging out with my friends playing with our imaginations is what I find fun.

Given that you've asked your player if they're having fun and got a positive response, and they keep coming back for more, seems to me like they're very happy with the situation. Don't worry about it.

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A friend of mine is the epitome of silence. It's absolutely normal for him to speak about 5 sentences in a whole evening. Wasting three perfect sentences on greetings, ordering pizza and goodbye; you barely notice him being around, if not for a very small group. Yet he's always around and seems to enjoy the company. For him roleplaying seems to be a lot more "social" than watching TV, simply by watching his friends and contributing as much as absolutely necessary.

If he's fine with it. Who are we to judge?

However I remember him going quite out of his usual way, when I had a crypto puzzle in one of my campaigns. While everyone else gave up on it (it wasn't intended to be solved by the players without further help) he got excited and focussed like I rarely seen him in all the years I know him. After the session he wanted to know how the code works and all. He didn't seem disappointed not being able to solve it (unlike the other players), but even more excited. In the end the players cheated the crypto puzzle by giving it to an NPC, which I accepted as cutting short the frustration of the other players.

So maybe you can find something that plays right into one of the interests of your quiet player. But in the end I think this is a solution in search for a problem.

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I'm an introvert, but not shy by any means.

My struggles in RPGing is when I DO want to say something, and I can't get a word in because the other players forget I'm there, or are just being their boisterous selves. Both of the guys who GM our games have noticed this.

GM 1 is less diplomatic about it - and sometimes I'm bothered by how he deals with it. If he notices me trying to get a word in unsuccessfully, he will cut someone off and turn all attention to me. While I appreciate being heard, that can be embarrassing for me (he does this when he's a PC too, which bothers me more).

GM 2 uses my preferred method - when he naturally has the group's attention, he will specifically ask me for my contribution/comments/questions (assuming he noticed I was trying to be heard). And if I have been quiet, he will sometimes just ask directly if I have anything to say, but he doesn't push me if I say no.

The other thing GM 2 does that I appreciate is he checks in with me from time to time, out of game, just to see if I'm having fun or if I am frustrated with anything. It's low key and he doesn't push me to have a problem, or act like he's concerned and worried about me. He just provides me with a safe forum to chat.

Introverts to socialize a little differently, but I think it actually helps with RPGing in the sense that they naturally fill the gaps. I've played in a number of different group dynamics thanks to Pathfinder Society games, and one thing that introverts do is we people watch. We observe those around us and usually figure out where we fit in the current group rather quickly. Sometimes I've played with people who can't make choices and end up stalling the story, so I step up and be the choice maker to push it forward. Sometimes I've played with a group that just charges ahead, so I play a little quieter and just go with the flow. One isn't better than the other, I still have fun in either setting. I've just determined what the dynamic is and adjusted my play to fit the need.

Ultimately, I guess it's important to trust the introverted player, and to give them safe forums to air concerns. If he says he's having fun - believe him!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I like this GM 2 :) \$\endgroup\$ – Mauricio Pasquier Juan Mar 31 '15 at 22:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess this only works when you're all at the table. Been participating in online sessions recently and there it's really hard to differentiate whether someone just feels like they don't have anything to contribute at the moment or if they just don't know how to jump into the conversation. \$\endgroup\$ – milgner Apr 2 '15 at 21:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah I can see that posing a significant barrier. \$\endgroup\$ – Faye Apr 6 '15 at 15:55
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Get him to try and incorporate that into the character's personality. The first game I played, I had a character that was highly paranoid due to him secretly being a political refugee. He had a fake name and didn't talk a lot because he was afraid that people would ask too many questions about his origins.

I also set his alignment to true neutral so he couldn't be able to care less to what was going on in the story and gave him antisocial flaws and traits.

By adjusting the character to the player you can ensure that the player bonds a bit more to the character and gets more involved in the roleplaying.

Another thing that helps a lot is to add sidequests based on each character's backstories.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Personally I also enjoy doing just the opposite: play someone very different from my real self and try filling the shoes of (e.g.) an extraverted person for a few hours. \$\endgroup\$ – milgner Apr 2 '15 at 21:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's kind of hard for new players to roleplay someone who is not an aspect of themselves. I know this from personal experience. \$\endgroup\$ – Jean-Luc Nacif Coelho Apr 2 '15 at 23:40
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  1. As the other answers said, he's probably getting what he wants out of the game, don't push too hard!
  2. But also, if he's not sure how to join in, make there be opportunities. If there's anything he enjoys doing, make sure there's enough of it he gets some time to do his thing. Suggest players have some specific connections to people in the setting, establish NPCs as friends, and then if something happens and they care about it, he has something to roleplaying about.
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