I was playing in the Reign of Winter Adventure Path for Pathfinder awhile ago and an encounter got really rough. Our party was wounded, half of them were down, our resources were depleted, and we're still facing overwhelming odds. The few of us who were still on our feet didn't give up, nor did we run and abandon our incapacitated allies to be eaten by zombies. Instead, we ratcheted up our courage, started really thinking, making suggestions to help each other, rescued the downed party members, as well as the noble we were sent to rescue all without a single casualty. Well the grandson of the elf rogue died, but he was a low-life dirty bandit who was originally helping the bad guys and changed sides to save his own life. That is not a loss in the opinion of my character.
Many times making suggestions can be frowned upon by other players or even the player the suggestion is aimed at. That is kind of sad as not everybody has the same grasp of the rules as everybody else. Not every player is as capable of visualizing the action as well as some other players. Sometimes you just had a lot of stuff going on that week and you just might not be on your game and some things might just slip your mind. I hope a player makes a suggestion to help me out. There are just a few things to keep in mind when doing so.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that if you can make the suggestion in character it will go over a lot better most of the time. For example, saying “Julie use your wand of fireballs” is kind of boring, but having your barbarian say, “methinks this would be a glorious time to unleash the wand you took from the corpse of the evoker Blastoris” can spice up the game a lot. The suggestion will probably be better received. This is also one of the ways you can make combat more about role-playing and not just about rolling dice. Something I think gets forgotten all too often.
The way you present something has a lot to do with how it's received. Keep in mind that just because you suggest it doesn't mean that it will always be heeded. Sometimes a player might think that their character would do something different in a particular situation. Other times a player might think that they have a better idea in mind. Who knows what the correct answer is. If you only offer a suggestion that will benefit your character or save your character’s hide, then other players will not be as receptive. If you offer a suggestion on what a player should be doing every time another player is taking their turn, don’t be surprised if nobody listens to your suggestions after a short time.
If it's a rule thing then remember to be patient and use a decent tone. Sneers, whining, and exasperated breathing will not endear you to anyone at the table. Remember how you like people to suggest things to you and do the same. Even though geek culture is the new hot thing there is still not enough players to chase the new and experienced away from the table. This is something that I see a lot and it really isn't good for growing the popularity of the hobby. It is a cooperative storytelling game and as an experienced player you are an ambassador of the hobby and should conduct yourself as such.
Keep in mind that from time to time you might be the one who forgets a rule or misinterprets a rule. The way you act when another player points it out will be reflected when you are the one offering a suggestion or advice. Even the most experienced player can sometimes not see every angle and if you build a great rapport with the people you play with than your games will benefit from it, and be a lot more fun for everyone.
I have never really had a problem with table talk as a DM or a player as long as it is about what is happening in the game, and is kept to what a character would or should actually know. I don’t want any character dying or looking ridiculous because somebody was unaware of a rule. I like the characters in a game I'm running to look heroic and awesome. It makes the players enjoy the game more. I also like a character I'm playing to look like an action hero, so I don’t mind somebody making a suggestion to me. Sometimes I don't see every angle, even after playing for more than thirty years.
My last thought on players giving other players suggestions is the most important. Do not talk over the DM. This is bad form and slows the game down. Inevitably it will be the player giving combat suggestions that says they were unaware of something that the DM had already explained. It's a tough job being a DM and players should silence themselves until the Dungeon Master has stopped talking. A simple thing but unfortunately it seems to elude some players. Your character may be a savage barbarian but that doesn't mean you as a player shouldn't have any manners. I want to hear what you think about some table talk and players making suggestions to other players. Do you have a great story about when this was really helpful, or even better really ridiculous? Use the comments section to speak your mind, and until next time, Roll Hard!
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