Player

meaning and definition

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    What is a player in an RPG?

    In the context of RPGs, a player is an individual who controls and brings to life a character within the game.

    Players make decisions for their characters, engage with the story, and interact with other players and the game master (if there is one).

    Players also help create and advance the game’s storyline through their actions, decisions, and interactions with the game world and other characters. They are responsible for understanding their characters’ motivations, backgrounds, and objectives, and they must navigate the game’s challenges accordingly.

    Outside of roleplaying, the term “player” can refer to anyone participating in any type of game, from board games to sports.


    Player FAQs

    How does a player contribute to a roleplaying game?

    A player contributes to a roleplaying game by controlling a character and making decisions that affect the game’s narrative and outcome.

    In a multiplayer game, they collaborate with other players and the game master to create a dynamic, evolving story. Players may take turns in the spotlight, accomplishing great feats through their characters’ unique skills and strengths.

    What’s the difference between a player and a game master?

    A player controls one or several characters and experiences the game from the perspective of those characters.

    A Game Master (GM), on the other hand, is responsible for creating the game’s setting, storyline, and challenges. The GM acts as the referee, narrator, and controller of all non-player characters (NPCs).

    Can a player have multiple characters?

    Yes, a player can usually have multiple characters, but this is typically more common in online roleplaying games or larger tabletop games. Managing multiple characters can be challenging, as each should have distinct personalities, backgrounds, and motivations.

    In text-based RPGs, players who control multiple characters at the same time are said to be multiplaying.

    In massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs), players who control multiple characters at the same time are said to be multiboxing.

    What are the responsibilities of a player in a roleplaying game?

    In a multiplayer RPG, the responsibilities of a player include understanding their character’s motivations, participating actively in the game, respecting the rules and other players, and contributing to the collective storytelling process.

    Players should also communicate effectively with the Game Master and other players to ensure a smooth and enjoyable game experience.

    Myths about players

    One common myth is that players are just passive participants in the game, following the Game Master’s lead without contributing to the story. In reality, players are essential to the roleplaying experience, actively shaping the narrative with their choices and creativity.

    Game masters will often have multiple paths that players can take and different ways the story could go based on their choices.

    Another misconception is that all players want to “win” the game. While some players may motivated by (and focused on) achieving their characters’ goals, many are more interested in exploring the story and developing their characters, even if that means losing or failing at times.

    Player examples

    • In a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, a player might control a dwarven warrior, deciding their actions, dialogue, and strategies during the adventure.
    • In a live-action roleplaying game (LARP), a player could take on the role of a vampire noble, interacting with other players in real time to pursue their character’s dark ambitions.
    • In an online text-based roleplaying game, a player might create a character who is a cunning space pirate, navigating interstellar politics and forming alliances with other players’ characters.

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."