I'm GMing Star Wars, and one of my players just sits back and goes with the flow. He rarely takes the initiative and when he describes his actions he's usually just describing the mechanics rather than actions in the scene:"I roll this skill or that ability".

I believe that I have failed to engage him, even though I throw a lot at him that his character is good at doing on paper.

So how do I motivate him? How can I engage his attention? He claims to enjoy the game, but I don't see it at all.

Whilst playing D&D previously, my player was very enthusiastic, and appeared to love every minute of it. Then he took over as GM and he loves doing that more than playing. (I believe I may have answered my own question with this: Setting and Role. It could just be that he wants to GM D&D and that's it.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Possibly related: How to deal with a quiet player? \$\endgroup\$
    – eimyr
    Sep 17, 2015 at 9:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Splaticus Would you please share the actual resolution? \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Oct 8, 2015 at 12:10

2 Answers 2


Identify if there is a problem

Some players are there to watch the story. This is a normal play-style. These players often interact only when interacted with. Sometimes, the world they are imagining they are more active than they actually are at the table. This isn't necessarily a problem. If they are not being disruptive and they are having fun, roll with it.

If this is how the player always plays, and they still come back, you can stop reading now, and just be happy to have entertained your friend.

If this player does not always play like this - i.e. they are engaged with other GM's, then you need to have a sit down with the player and ask them what they want in a game; what they get from other game masters, and what they are not getting from you. It might be that your game is fun, but not exactly engaging him the same way other games do. Talking to him about this can help you add whatever that is to your game.

If your player is lying about your game being fun, you need to have a good long talk about this. You need to let them know that it will not hurt your feelings if they are not having fun with your game.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ He always comes back, we've been rp'ing together for over a year. Now the reason that I am concerned is that he was completely different whilst playing D&D. We are now playing Star Wars. After reading through your comment I'm starting to wonder if actually, it may just be the setting that he's not enjoying. \$\endgroup\$
    – Splaticus
    Sep 17, 2015 at 13:21
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Splaticus Have a talk with him about it. that sounds entirely plausible. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tritium21
    Sep 17, 2015 at 13:22
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Potential addition from personal experience: I've found when player's don't know the universe they're gaming in very well they tend to be more quiet because they're observing and learning everything they can so that they can do things in accordance with how said universe works. If you feel like adding that to your answer, it's a potential issue that may be worthy of consideration. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 17, 2015 at 22:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LinoFrankCiaralli This is covered by "talk to the player" \$\endgroup\$
    – Tritium21
    Sep 17, 2015 at 22:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you everyone, as usually happens, by typing out my issue and gaining other people's perspective, I have, I beleive, the answer to this question. Thank you so much for taking the time to help me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Splaticus
    Sep 18, 2015 at 17:44

Sounds like they want to part of the group (great), don't want to rock the boat (good on them but they should probably say something) but doesn't enjoy the current game much (not so great).

You could ask the players if they are enjoying the game?

We do a round robin of games where we play two or three campaigns at the same time, with short "one-offs too", each GM'ed by different people. We do a scenario in one campaign and towards the end we decide which campaign we want to play next. Each scenario can be a one off, or five or six weeks depending on what people want to do.

This offers real diversity, means that everyone gets a go if they want and no one is "stuck" with one thing for too long if they don't enjoy it.


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