What type of player are you?

I recently found this article about different types of dnd players. I think it’s a really interesting topic and i was wondering what type of players you are, what experiences you made and what your opinion is on the topic.

imo it focuses too much on rules knowledge and combat to categorize players and even goes as far as to blame players for an uninteresting game. it kinda makes it sound like not knowing all the rules is a bad thing, since it does not acknowledge other aspects of the game as equally valid. it also kinda focuses on d&d (and similar games) exclusively, so it does not apply at all to games that are not as, or even not at all, combat focused. and what does “winning” even mean in an rpg?

i’ve read “Robin’s Laws of Good Game Mastering” a while ago, and it gives a lot more nuanced approach to player types (storyteller, specialist, butt-kicker, method actor, tactician, power gamer). it also gives a lot of great advice how to GM these kind of player types.

to be fair, d&d at its core is a combat focused game, and storyteller players might be better suited for a more narratively focused game. but i wouldn’t go as far to tell those that they’re playing d&d wrong, because in the end, the saying “if you’re having fun, you’re doing it right” is a good one.

personally, i’m GMing a game for a tactician and a storyteller, among others, and of course it’s a challenge. but having all the same kinds of players would be boring anyways tbh. it’s a game among friends and you compromise into something that works for everyone.

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I think the point is valid that there are different players coming to the table with different motivations but that it is finer-grained than stage/combat/war.

One of the better recent expressions of gamer typing I think is Matt Colville’s one - summarised here by someone on Reddit:

  1. “I want to make the most awesome, powerful character possible.” (Power Gamer)
  2. “If I got to kill stuff, I had fun.” (Butt-Kicker)
  3. “I make a lot of plans to make the mechanically perfect choice, and I want to help the team make the mechanically perfect choice.” (Tactician)
  4. “I love playing the same character in every game, and I specialize in that one character” (Specialist)
  5. “I think a lot about who my character is. I love getting in the headspace of my character. If the dice don’t come out for an entire session, so much the better.” (Actor)
  6. “I win by making sure someone else loses.” (Wangrod)
  7. “The better the story is, the more fun I have” (Storyteller)
  8. “I just want to kick back, relax, and enjoy the show. Having fun shouldn’t be hard work” (Casual Gamer)
  9. “I love shaking things up, poking things with a stick, and laughing at the result” (Mad Scientist)

And the key bit of this is that folk sitting to your table may be more than one of these things. As a DM I think the most useful thing to recall is that folk at your table are likely to have different motivations, different things they get fun from and by having a list like this in mind you can try and spot what makes people sit up and get involved and try and lean into those.

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oh yeah definitely. it’s also very similar to the point robin laws is making (players can be multiple types, lean into what they like, etc). he also mentions the casual gamer, i just forgot to list it.

I think this article and all the others like it are asking the wrong question.

Instead of asking “Is the game sport, war, stage, etc.,” we should really be asking:

Is the game a game?

Because not everything we do when we break out the D&D books is actually playing a game. And that’s not some kind of value judgment - I think it’s neat that RPGs can be used in different ways. But it’s helpful to be clear about what we’re doing when we sit down at the table together.

Once you answer that question, everything else follows. All the other issues in the article have clear answers. Should character optimization by means of system mastery be frowned upon? If it’s a game, then no. That’s a game issue, not a player problem. (All the more so in modern D&D, in which system mastery is a stated design goal.) What about adjusting encounter difficulties on the fly? If we’re playing a game, then no, DMs shouldn’t do that (with certain specific exceptions). And so on.

We spend a lot of time trying to categorize games and players. Creative agendas, player archetypes and all the other murky taxonomies. But the basic question that separates tables and players and leads to more unfulfilled expectations than anything else - yet never gets asked - is simply whether we’re playing a game or doing something else.


Can you add in your definition of ‘game’?

xaosseed going straight for the hard questions. :slight_smile:

I probably can’t, at least not in any airtight fashion that will include every single RPG. Definitely something with rules, even if the rules aren’t comprehensive. And goals or victory conditions, even if those may vary and shift. And uncertain outcomes. And including puzzles. Let’s ask google!

No, too broad … too broad … too weird … here we go:

“A game is an activity or sport usually involving skill, knowledge, or chance, in which you follow fixed rules and try to win against an opponent or to solve a puzzle.” [from Collins]

Or something like that.

I think the article is more focused on “why” you play the game and what you expect from it, instead of your “style” of playing.

Also i don’t feel like the article is disregarding the “stage” player (It’s a bit biased tho, i mean they are a optimisation blog after all😅)

It’s just so wild to me, that two players sitting on the same table, are actually playing completely different games.

imo the “why” and the “style” is two sides of the same coin. the tactician is there to overcome obstacles and do clever stuff (and is fine or even very happy with an “anticlimactic” end where the boss is dead in 1 round), the storyteller wants to play through a well crafted story (and might be disappointed, that the end boss fight fell flat because the players optimized their strategy).

same for all the other types. the power gamer wants to have cool abilities and play to the power fantasy. the butt-kicker is there to cause some emotionally satifiying mayhem. the specialist want to play into a specific fantasy (e.g. being a cool ninja). the actor is there for the rp and to mull over the choices of their character.

imo the definition of game is at least just as, if not more, hard to pin down than the definition of player types :sweat_smile:

You’re right, it is wild.

The reason is that RPGs like D&D spend a lot of time on rules minutiae, but never deal with the big questions that define most games, such as “How do you win?” or “What kind of game is this?” That’s why you can have one table playing a tactical miniatures game while the next is playing a press-your-luck game, with something completely different going on across the room, all with the same set of rules.

And I think that ties in with the different player types mentioned above. A big part of these preferences is: “What type of game do you want to play?”

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(This is also, just as an aside for my good friend @Darthbinks, why System Matters falls flat. In most RPGs, the system doesn’t even tell you what category of game you’re supposed to be playing. :slight_smile: )

Definitely! RPGs might be even worse. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one where you don’t immediately think to yourself: “But what about …”

I think there’s a certain amount of know-it-when-you-see-it involved, at least for me. Or know-it-when-you-don’t. Improv, for example: I don’t think most of us would call improv a game, even if there are rules. Same with pure story-telling. On the other end, we wouldn’t call an impassive simulation a game, either.

Tricky business.

i dunno. i think tabletop roleplaying games are inherently a little different to other games in that sense. i’ve had players, even tactician players, tell me they’re fine with or even want me to fudge some rolls if it means making the game better, they usually just don’t want to know that i do it. these were usually conversions after narratively unsatisfying combats. would it still be a game? i’d say yes, even if it breaks some of those fixed rules.

and there are definitely a bunch of people who play d&d that way. it’s also basic session 0 stuff, to somewhat gauge what kind of game the players (and GM!) are looking for.

you could say, it’s a difference between playing a “tabletop roleplaying game” (emphasis on tabletop) or a “tabletop roleplaying game” (emphasis on roleplaying).

but @H despised session 0s … so ^^

in general:

categorizing “player/game-archetypes” helps us organize and talk about stuff
although it always is and will be a simplification, because no gamer and no game are alike

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(and i also see the point of fudging rolls means making the optimization of power gamers pointless, so this is a whoooole other conversation if you should do this or not)

yeah I really strongly dislike fudging rolls … from a player’s as well as from a DM’s perspetive

yeah i don’t really do it, but sometimes a combat sucks because my own homebrew stat block sucks, soooo :woman_shrugging: it’s also why i like pathfinder more than d&d, harder to botch a stat block and easier to trust a stat block there.

I’d … probably say no? At least for this aspect of the game.

If the die rolls don’t matter and the DM is determining the narrative, what exactly makes this a game?

And just to be clear: again, game vs. not-a-game isn’t a value judgment. I play with a delightful DM who fudges like crazy and basically tells his own story. I don’t think you could call it a game, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

(The problems often start when the DM pretends to be running a game, but isn’t.)