Player Personas: The SleeperBy: Mavlock posted at Feb 28, 2011 6:33 pm
Your weekly(or monthly) gaming session has begun and you find yourself surrounded at the table by your fellow gamers. Perhaps you are the Game Master or a Player, it doesn’t matter. Either way the characteristics of your fellow gamers will affect your game from both perspectives. You will be best served learning how to work with these people, understanding their weaknesses and strengths.
Welcome to my new bi-monthly column, Player Personas. Here we go delve into the dungeons of the mind. Not so much a psychology course, but more of a glossy over view of the state of affairs at the average game session. No matter what game you play, what book you crack open, you will find the typical personalities waiting to game with you. So sit back, grit your teeth and get ready to meet the Sleeper.
He generally shows up to your games on time. As the GM you find he is a somewhat pleasant player and can at times be on top of his game. Fellow players generally have a good first impression of him during social time or the first hour of the game session. The Sleeper, while on time, may not always be prepared and seems to be a bit forgetful. He requires reminders and coaxing to accomplish down time tasks, such as leveling his character or bringing refreshments for the next session. When the Sleeper is given a vital clue towards solving a problem in game you may find that he suffers from a severe case of broken telephone. In the end other players come out of the information exchange either frustrated or utterly confused. (Sometimes both.)
As the hour wears on, and I do stress the time reference HOUR, he notice his lids have become heavy. Now most gamers have experience times when we suffer from real life lag, often a symptom of late night gaming and lack of sleep. Most gamers have a healthy, or unhealthy, habit of caffeine. Still no matter how many caffeinated beverages our Sleeper consumes his eye lids remain heavy. Eventually the Sleeper lives up to his name, falling asleep at the time. At first the others don’t seem to mind, but eventually they will come to a point where the Sleeper’s interaction is required and the game will come to a screaming halt.
In times like these the GM may elect to take on the role of the Sleeper’s character to keep pacing going. Unfortunately there are times when assuming someone else's character causes tension afterwards, oft time you hear word how their character would never do that. Perhaps even a, that situation is impossible for their character to fall into as they have a plus versus whatever the challenge was. Of course reviewing the player’s sheet nine times out of ten shows no such plus or bonus available. Still the whole ordeal is something most would prefer to avoid. So while there is the ability to assume another’s character to move things along, not everyone is always game for this solution.
Then you wake the Sleeper. There is a divergence in reaction between Sleepers. While some Sleepers may just smile and apologize, others may snap at the gamers. The happy Sleeper often explains how tired they are due to various reasons or awesome occurrences that week. One such example was an all night raid in an MMO or perhaps a late shift that only gave them a few hours to sleep before they showed up. The angry Sleeper lashes out, sometimes they will accuse others of being boring or having too monotone a voice. They will gripe about jobs, girlfriends, or a late night movie session. Generally if your sleeper is always the angry sort, perhaps your group is best off letting them know that perhaps they need more sleep and should start skipping the games. As the GM it is in your best interest to make sure your group is harmonious. After all you are not just running the game you are aiding group dynamics.
In my gaming life I’ve been relegated to the job of GM for longer than I can remember. The Sleeper has always been there for my groups, no matter what people come in and out, there is always a Sleeper. Sometimes the Sleeper is not as drastically handicapped as I’ve presented, other times they are far worse than one can imagine. My favorite version of the Sleeper has always been the happy one, just because it’s far easier to manage group dynamics with the wacky sleepy person than the angry snoozer. The Sleeper also lends itself to a bit of chaos, something I prefer to have in my games. It keeps players on their toes and even when they feel they know all possible outcomes, the Sleeper always manages to create a little havoc. Now he isn’t as bad as an obtuse player or the purposely-oblivious player, those are a class all their own and we’ll cover them later.
Sometimes, in those rare cases, you’ll find your Sleeper has awoken. Not the normal yawn and stretch, but with purpose, for they’ve had an epiphany. Deep in their slumber answers to some riddle, puzzle, or political intrigue has manifested. This is when the Sleeper takes lead and pushes forward, unfortunately this is also when most of your other players are ready to draw the game to a close. Still in these moments the Sleeper manages to save the group, the day, or even the kingdom.
Even in MMOs we can find these Sleepers. They fall out during raids, sometimes their light snore slipping over the mic. They grab aggro by continuing to walk forward in a dungeon with a small group, their finger permanently affixed to the keyboard. (Or perhaps there nose.) Then you have the moments when they call out for a bio break but never return. Our Sleepers are everywhere and we wish they’d wake up, but love or leave’em they are here to stay.
So what has your experience been when the Sleeper? Did you run across the angry sleeper and witness the outrage? How about the bi-polar Sleeper, one that is happy and angry depending on the days? Maybe you heard one angry Sleeper tell the GM, they were glad he hadn’t consider a career in books on tape because his voice was so boring? Better yet have you seen the elusive sleep walking/playing Sleeper?
Over the series I’ll be discussing more player personas. From the Rules Lawyer to his distant cousin the Min-Maxer, we’ll walk the grounds looking for the True Role Player and the Player Vs Group Player, in the end I hope you walk away informed and entertained.
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