Are you a DM or player and stuck in a situation you didn’t expect? Improvisation might be the key to get you out! Improvisation is an important skill in any form of performance, but it’s especially vital in role playing games. When you’re playing a character in an RPG, you never know what’s going to happen next. The most successful players are often those who are able to think on their feet and come up with solutions to problems that their characters face.
In this article, we’re going to explore the art of improvisation in role playing games. We’ll discuss what it is, why it’s important, and how you can use it to your advantage as a player or DM.
What is Improvisation and Why is it Important?
Improvisation is the act of making something up on the spot. It’s often used in theater, music, and other forms of performance where the outcome is not predetermined. In role playing games, improvisation is vital because it allows players and DMs to create solutions to problems that they didn’t anticipate.
Unless you’re writing your TTRPG stories with every turn and twist planned out, chances are that improvisation will be a key part of your game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing! Improvisation can lead to some of the most memorable moments in role playing games.
Players and DMs who are able to improvise well often find themselves with an advantage over those who don’t. If you can think on your feet and come up with creative solutions to problems, you’ll be able to keep your game moving forward even when things don’t go as planned.
One of the biggest challenges in role playing games is that they are unpredictable. You never know what’s going to happen next, and this can make it difficult to plan ahead. Improvisation allows you to react to the situation as it unfolds, making it an essential skill for both players and DMs.
There are many reasons why improvisation is important in RPGs. It can help you:
- Create believable and interesting characters
- Make the game more fun for everyone involved
- Handle unexpected events in a game
- Develop problem solving skills
How Can You Use Improvisation to Your Advantage as a Player or DM?
There are many ways that you can use improvisation to your advantage as a player or DM. Here are a few tips:
1. Be Prepared
The best way to use improvisation is to be prepared for it. This means having a general understanding of the game world and your character’s place in it. The more you know about the game, the easier it will be to come up with solutions to problems that arise.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
Improvisation is a skill that takes practice to perfect. The more you do it, the better you’ll become at thinking on your feet and coming up with creative solutions.
3. Be Creative
One of the best things about improvisation is that it allows you to be creative. There are no rules or limitations, so you can let your imagination run wild. This is a great way to come up with ideas for characters, storylines, and events in the game.
4. Listen to Your Fellow Players
Improvisation is not a solo activity. It’s important to listen to what other players are saying and doing, as this can give you clues about how to proceed. Pay attention to the non-verbal cues as well, such as body language and tone of voice.
5. Keep an Open Mind
It’s also important to keep an open mind when improvising. Be willing to try new things and go with the flow. This will help you come up with better ideas and make the game more enjoyable for everyone involved.
6. Have Fun
Above all, remember that improvisation is supposed to be fun. It’s a way to add excitement and creativity to the game. So don’t take it too seriously and enjoy the ride!
3 Things to Avoid When Improvising in a Game
While improvisation is a great tool to have in your toolbox, there are a few things that you should avoid when using it in a game. Here are three of the most important:
1. Don’t Metagame
Metagaming is the act of using out-of-character knowledge to make in-character decisions. This is often done in an attempt to gain an advantage over other players. For example, if you know that the dragon is weak to fire, you might have your character use a fireball spell even though it doesn’t make sense for them to know that…indeed, there are rules you should continue to follow. Improvisation requires sticking to rules while trying to find creative ways to explore, interact, and engage with unexpected problems and scenarios.
Metagaming can ruin the game for everyone involved, so it’s important to avoid it. The process of metagaming also detracts from the immersive experience and removes the original reason why anyone would really want to play a TTRPG.
2. Don’t God Mode
Entering God mode is similar to metagaming, but it’s done in an attempt to make your character or your NPCs invincible. For example, if you know that the enemy is going to attack your NPC, boss, or character, you might have them use a spell that makes them immune to all damage. God mode actions take away from the fun and challenge of the game, so they should be avoided. A lot of playing an open world, exploratory type TTRPG game well is knowing how to keep the game realistic and within the bounds of what “could happen”. Improvisation should maintain some sense of grounded reality that has already been established.
3. Don’t Power Game
Power gaming is the act of min-maxing your character in an attempt to make them as powerful as possible. This often results in characters that are one-dimensional and lack personality. For example, if you’re playing a fighter, you might choose to only take feats that increase your damage output and ignore everything else. You’re taking numbers and statistics, and placing that over and above narrative and in-game role play.
This robs you and your party of the best reason for playing a TTRPG… discovery, relationships (good or bad ones in-game), and the story that you’re traveling through. Power gaming can make the game less fun for everyone involved, because it steals the thunder of adventure and the unknown. A good DM or player will avoid power gaming because in a TTRPG winning isn’t necessarily being the best or most powerful. Really, victory comes in creating lasting memories and unique stories that you can share to others or carry with you when the dice stop rolling.
Improvisation is a great way to add creativity and excitement to your role-playing game. It is a skill and a method for overcoming unexpected challenges, while maintaining the sense of realism and immersion within an RPG. When I encounter situations in real life that require improvisation, I often find myself drawing upon that same agile approach I use when I’m faced with unique scenarios in my tabletop gaming sessions.
I hope you found this article useful and that it will help you in your next game. Thanks for reading!
Have questions? Do you improvise as part of your campaign? Let us know with a comment below!
so Power Gaming is badwrongfun? 😉
I have a player in my 5e group who’s rather on the casual side, but loves to min-max his character (a half orc druid/barbarian). And then, in the middle of a yuan-ti temple he leaves aside his axe and punches the snake priest straight in the face! That’s totally inefficient, Power Gaming wise, but it was just so cool in that scene 😀 And that’s the point: Power Gamer characters can still be lots of fun at the table 🙂
That’s awesome! I love this.
Hah there’s totally an exception for everything. But in your story you’re essentially making the point; you can min max for sure, but it’s how you improvise and play it all out that makes the event fun and memorable!
Thanks for the comment!!!