When you’re given the opportunity to play an RPG — there’s a GM at hand, the game has been selected and you have enough players for a group — what’s the single most important factor in deciding whether you say yes or no to that chance?

This sounds like a player-oriented question, but there are GMing issues at its heart. Knowing why your players are playing in your game helps you make that game fun for them, and honing your craft to the point that more people will choose to play in your games because you’re the GM is a worthy goal.

These are all of the major factors that I could think of:

  • The GM. “If Ellen’s running it, I know it’ll be fun.” It doesn’t matter what the game is — you know the GM is solid.
  • The RPG itself. “I love GURPS, so I’ll enjoy this campaign.” This can be true for multiple games, but it most often applies to your One True (RPG) Love.
  • The other players. “These are my friends — everything we play together is fun.” This is one of the main reasons why groups play RPGs that not everyone is wild about: because the other folks involved make it enjoyable.
  • The genre. “Nothing scratches my gaming itch quite like supers. I don’t care what system it is.” I default to fantasy, although I can’t think of a case where I said yes to a game solely because it was fantasy.
  • The setting. “It’s Star Wars — who cares what kind of dice we roll?” Licensed properties and long-running settings like the Forgotten Realms are the most likely candidates for this one.
  • The nature of the system. “I like rules-light games. If you can run it with one book, I’m good to go.” Realistic, crunchy/not crunchy, cinematic, dramatic — there are lots of ways to skin this cat.

Reader Contributions

From your comments:

  • Habit. “We get together every week, no matter what we play.” (Walt C.)
  • Something different. “I’ll try anything once.” (Walt C.)
  • Kewl artwork. “That elf chick is hot — I want to play this game!” (Walt C.)
  • Availability. “This was the only game I could find…” (Micah)
  • Scheduling. When and how often the group plays can be an important factor. (Burrowowl)

Personally, I’ve regularly said “Yes” to games because of the GM, my fellow players and the game itself. Which factor is most important changes based on the situation, and sometimes more than one ties for first place, as it were. I don’t think the latter three factors have ever taken the top spot for me.

How about you?