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

  1. Bring issues you really care about to the character in ways you can deal with
  2. Connect emotionally with your character
  3. Keep the character true to its core concept
  4. Know when and how to be meaningfully still and silent
  5. Speak in Character
  6. 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)

Creative Skills

  1. Build a full-fledged person (character) from given parameters (background, stats, whatever).
  2. Build Relationship Maps -- attaching Characters to other things (other PCs, NPCs, organizations, etc)
  3. Develop Character
  4. Develop Setting
  5. Contribute ideas -- content and color
  6. Create Characters with Proactive Motivations
  7. Combine ideas from various sources (particularly when the sources are people who aren't you)
  8. Conflict: Creation
  9. Conflict: Development
  10. Conflict: Escalation
  11. Conflict: Resolution
  12. Conflict: Setting Up Later Conflicts
  13. Doing interesting things
  14. Extrapolate from the current state of the fiction to a future state.
  15. Identify potential conflict or transition in the fiction, even when they're not obvious.
  16. Identify what actions or events can make your desires concrete.
  17. Imagine your surroundings from limited source material (filling up the blanks when someone describes something).
  18. Invest Characters in the Situation
  19. Juggling multiple characters and plotlines within and without the current game
  20. Narrate Action
  21. Narrate Color
  22. Pacing -- ie, know when the story needs something more
  23. Frame Scenes
  24. Spend Character Resources Unstrategically (because it's in character)
  25. Set Stakes
  26. Work within premise (or other restrictions)

Cooperative Skills

  1. Compromise
  2. Expect other people to react
  3. Follow someone else who's driving the story
  4. Get others to emotionally connect with your character
  5. Help with rules
  6. Know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, Know when to run.
  7. Know when you've got something worth doing unilaterally and giving consensus the quick, raised middle finger and not being ashamed or backing down
  8. Lead the GM around by the nose
  9. Listen to other people
  10. Positively acknowledge other people's contributions (Cheering other players on)
  11. React to what the story drivers are doing
  12. Flags - Reading them
  13. Flags - Hitting them
  14. Read the mood of the room
  15. Resolve player disputes
  16. Screw the other players over in amusing ways (which sounds odd, but it's essential in Paranoia)
  17. Share your goals (selling)
  18. Share others' goals (buy-in)
  19. Step out of the spotlight if there's no reason for you to be in it.
  20. Theme - Identifying and Understanding it
  21. Theme - Participating in it
  22. Theme - Contributing to it
  23. Accept character development in unexpected directions

Reasoning Skills

  1. Abductive Reasoning
  2. Deductive Reasoning
  3. Inductive Reasoning
  4. Use different Reasonings together

Game Skills

  1. Buy Character Abilities (Traits, Powers, Stats, Whatever)
  2. Separate players from characters (both own and other players) after the game.
  3. Set Difficulty Levels
  4. Spend Character Resources Strategically
  5. 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!

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Joshua, I dropped my


I dropped my comments into your follow-up thread on SG, but expanded here: I would find a group of between three and five people who play significantly differently, then I would get each of them to write a short piece on each skill (even if they don't think that the skill is useful, they can just say that). I bet that would be a pretty dang compilation to read.

In other news: I don't know if you knew this, but your comments feed acts all funky for me. As far as I can tell, it only gets updated when the primary feed gets updated. This has two detrimental effects: 1) it means that it's not as easy as it could be to follow discussion on the blog and 2) since the feed is only 10 comments long, some people who read just through an aggregator are going to miss stuff if there's enough discussion between main posts. I was going to email you, but I couldn't find an email address for you anywhere...


I suppose it could be useful

I suppose it could be useful as a diagnostic, although I'd think you'd have to simplify it down a bit -- having everybody write 64 paragraphs and then collating them all seems like a huge headache. An interesting proposition, though: instead of the report card assessment, a sort of group interpretation and preference. Hm.

I have no idea what I've done to screw up my feeds. One of these days, when I have a free weekend (hah!) I'll backup my stylesheets and re-install to see if that beats them into submission.

I don't think I've ever

I don't think I've ever commented here before, Joshua, despite loving your blog and linking to you several times. So, long time listener, first time caller. ;)

Anyhoo, I'm not sure why the trackbacks didn't come through, but your post has prompted some interesting discussion on my blog, Treasure Tables, and my friend Don Mappin's blog, Abulia Savant.

TT: http://www.treasuretables.org/2006/05/what-do-you-expect-from-your-players
AS: http://www.donmappin.com/?p=175

I'll be posting again about it tomorrow, too -- this is a great list, and it makes my mind go in all sorts of directions. ;)

[...] In fact, I see three

[...] In fact, I see three angles on this issue (so far): Joshua’s original list, which is heavy on RPG theory; Don’s rant, which puts fun over theory; and yesterday’s TT post on player skills, which is somewhere in the middle. That’s fertile ground for discussion! [...]

I logged in to my server

I logged in to my server stats page and a full third of the referrals this weekend were from Treasure Tables. Looks like Martin's been linking to me, again.

I'm glad you found some use in the list -- I'm presently trying to puzzle out what it's good for, myself.

[...] Over on his

[...] Over on his always-engaging blog Ludanta Retero, Joshua BishopRoby has posted a list of 64 player skills — things that players are expected to be able to do at the gaming table. [...]

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