Over on Story Games, some folks helped me do some brainstorming to compile a list of Player Skills. Much like GM Tasks, these are things that players are commonly asked to do in different games. Also like GM Tasks, though, players are not always expected to always do the same things the same ways in the same proportions. So while they have wide applicability, no skill is universal to all games, and no one means of exercising a skill is universal to all games.
Here's the list:
Acting / Immersion Skills
- Bring issues you really care about to the character in ways you can deal with
- Connect emotionally with your character
- Keep the character true to its core concept
- Know when and how to be meaningfully still and silent
- Speak in Character
- Think in Character -- modeling other minds (e.g. both what are my fellow players thinking, and what are these fictional people thinking, in order to predict behaviour; this may be particularly relevant to playing with young kids when this ability is still emerging)
- Build a full-fledged person (character) from given parameters (background, stats, whatever).
- Build Relationship Maps -- attaching Characters to other things (other PCs, NPCs, organizations, etc)
- Develop Character
- Develop Setting
- Contribute ideas -- content and color
- Create Characters with Proactive Motivations
- Combine ideas from various sources (particularly when the sources are people who aren't you)
- Conflict: Creation
- Conflict: Development
- Conflict: Escalation
- Conflict: Resolution
- Conflict: Setting Up Later Conflicts
- Doing interesting things
- Extrapolate from the current state of the fiction to a future state.
- Identify potential conflict or transition in the fiction, even when they're not obvious.
- Identify what actions or events can make your desires concrete.
- Imagine your surroundings from limited source material (filling up the blanks when someone describes something).
- Invest Characters in the Situation
- Juggling multiple characters and plotlines within and without the current game
- Narrate Action
- Narrate Color
- Pacing -- ie, know when the story needs something more
- Frame Scenes
- Spend Character Resources Unstrategically (because it's in character)
- Set Stakes
- Work within premise (or other restrictions)
- Expect other people to react
- Follow someone else who's driving the story
- Get others to emotionally connect with your character
- Help with rules
- Know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, Know when to run.
- Know when you've got something worth doing unilaterally and giving consensus the quick, raised middle finger and not being ashamed or backing down
- Lead the GM around by the nose
- Listen to other people
- Positively acknowledge other people's contributions (Cheering other players on)
- React to what the story drivers are doing
- Flags - Reading them
- Flags - Hitting them
- Read the mood of the room
- Resolve player disputes
- Screw the other players over in amusing ways (which sounds odd, but it's essential in Paranoia)
- Share your goals (selling)
- Share others' goals (buy-in)
- Step out of the spotlight if there's no reason for you to be in it.
- Theme - Identifying and Understanding it
- Theme - Participating in it
- Theme - Contributing to it
- Accept character development in unexpected directions
- Abductive Reasoning
- Deductive Reasoning
- Inductive Reasoning
- Use different Reasonings together
- Buy Character Abilities (Traits, Powers, Stats, Whatever)
- Separate players from characters (both own and other players) after the game.
- Set Difficulty Levels
- Spend Character Resources Strategically
- Spend XP and have a sense of future XP Spends
However, now that I've got this very handy list, I'm not sure what to do with it. Because each skill is used in a different way in almost every game out there, it's difficult to impossible to talk about any of these skills in isolation, and I'm not sure there's much use in that to begin with. I fear the list is too long to be very useful as a design tool (The Player Skills 64!), and I'm not sure what you'd do with it if you used it in that way. This might be useful fodder for designing drills, but even then how a custom-created drill teaches a skill might differ greatly from how another game might use it.
So right now I'm going to archive this bad boy, put it away for a bit and maybe come back to it later. Additionally, if anybody's got some bright ideas of how this might be useful, I'd be happy to hear them!