Good Players vs Star Players

Like every time I attend any gaming convention of any quality, I always come home feeling so grateful for the thing we’ve built here. And being reminded once again of the big gap between Good Players and Star Players, and how they’re totally not the same thing.

Good Players:

* Are aware of the temperature of the table. That means respecting tone, pace, and energy. Simple awareness of those things is its own skill. Basically it’s the ability to get out of one’s own head.

* Work with the other players to help them be awesome. This isn’t about providing procedural assistance to help pass important tests. This is about helping other players really show off their thing, whatever it may be. I think that includes encouraging quieter players into the spotlight, at the table as well as diegetically (!).

* Understand the rules at an intentional level, not just a procedural level. Being a rules lawyer doesn’t make you a Good Player, understanding why rules work the way they do does.

* Integrate their efforts with the GM’s intent, if there’s a facilitator type person involved. In nearly every implementation of the GM role, one of the most important functions is continuity and pacing. They aim the camera and necessarily decide what is and isn’t important. How they come to that decision is different from person to person and game to game, but however it’s done, Good Players will work with the GM to help them be awesome, too.

Star Players:

* Put on a great show. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch someone be dramatic, use an accent, exude charisma?

* Pick up the slack and create momentum. I think Star Players are easily motivated by boredom avoidance. It is so useful for someone to make bold play choices, to come up with challenging, strong new directions for the GM to adapt to.

* Demand and frequently receive more than their fair share of spotlight time. This is the crossroads of boredom avoidance and stagecraft, yeah?

Tables need both, but they’re frequently mistaken for each other. They’re two roles. Players who embody both aren’t unicorns but they’re pretty rare.