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Beg, Borrow, and Steal - Player Archetypes

Nearly every RPG blog, podcast, and author has their own take on different "archetypes" of players, and for good reason. Different players come to the table looking for different things. Depending on their play styles, you can adjust your game to better engage disparate styles of play. Combining different play styles can often be challenging, but a better understanding will allow you to be more adaptive as a game master.

Player Archetypes will be addressed as follows:

The Actor

The actor wants to be their character instead of just playing them. Perhaps the most dedicated role-player, the Actor is interested in personality, background, and interaction. Many Actors find the mechanics of a game too restrictive, and prefer systems with a more rule-light feel.

Engaging

Contributions

Problems

Complementary Archetypes

Conflicting Archetypes

The Explorer

Explorers love to see new things. The Explorer enjoys interesting places, objects, cultures, and people, but they often suffer from wanderlust. Lord of the Rings is an excellent example of a campagin written for explorers.

Engaging

Contributions

Problems

Complementary Archetypes

Conflicting Archetypes

The Instigator

A man of action, the Instigator likes to get things done. While the rest of the party might be stopping to search for traps, he is kicking in doors and opening dubious chests. They take great and often obvious risks for the sake of advancement. Depending on the style of your game, the Instigator can be a major asset of an enormous burden. Leroy Jenkins. Enough said.

Engaging

Contributions

Problems

Complementary Archetypes

Conflicting Archetypes

The Observer

The Observer is often new to the game or new to the gaming group. They may not know how the game works, or they may simply be shy or quiet by nature. The Observer's contributions are often subtle or unnoticed, but they can still bring a lot to the game.

Engaging

Contributions

Problems

Complementary Archetypes

Conflicting Archetypes

The Power Gamer

Power Gamers enjoy mechanical rewards: new levels, new gear, experience points, etc. The Power Gamer often has an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules, and uses them to great effect. Their presence can make or break the party in combat, but they can also bog down the game with mechanical concerns. They typically prefer combat to social encounters so that they can enjoy their big shiny toys.

Engaging

Contributions

Problems

Complementary Archetypes

Conflicting Archetypes

The Thinker

Perhaps the opposite of the Instigator, the Thinker likes to think and plan. He or she makes careful tactical plans, approaches threats logically, and handles puzzles and logical problems well. They love it when a plan comes together, and tend to have backup plans for when things go poorly.

Engaging

Contributions

Problems

Complementary Archetypes

Conflicting Archetypes