How to be a Great Player

Published January 6, 2014 by in For Players


I’ve done a fair amount of GMing with Numenera over the last few months and here are few pieces of advice I have for players looking to be the best they can be.  I’m going to focus here on advice that particularly applies to Numenera players.  Obviously, the more general advice of being a nice person who learns the rules, shares loot, and brings snacks is applicable here as well, but I’ll assume you’re aware of those kinds of social graces and move on.

Roll Like You Know What You’re Doing

  • When rolling on a skill or attack roll, don’t just call out your die roll, forcing the GM to math for you.  Tell the GM and the rest of the table how many Levels of Difficulty you could beat.  “I beat a Difficulty 8 and got a Minor Effect!”  is a good way to put things, not: “I rolled a 19 and I have two in the skill!”
  • If you know the Difficulty of the test and your Effort + Assets + Skill reduces the Difficulty to zero, don’t roll.  This is the rule and I’m basically just telling you to follow it, but it can be a bit annoying that people don’t often follow this rule.  Slows down the game for no reason.

Suggest GM Intrusions

I’ve said this before: it’s a ton of fun when the GM is not the only one coming up with bad stuff that happens.  Opening yourself up to complications and plot twists by embracing the Intrusion can enhance the collective storytelling element of roleplaying.  Intrusions are an amazing tool for doing this, so get involved, be proactive, and negotiate for the best-worst thing to happen to you.

Don’t Advance in Tier Too Fast

If all you do is advance towards new Tiers, so will everybody else at the table and the game will hit 6th Tier before you know it.  Savor the lower and middle Tiers.

  • Buy short and long term benefits whenever you can.  Spend XP on rerolling once in a while.  You’ll flesh out your character and succeed a little more.  What’s wrong with that?
  • Talk with the other players about how fast you want to be moving through the game and stick to your plan.  Maybe half your XP should go to advancement.  Maybe a little more.  Make a budget and help the other players keep to it.

Learn to Help

  • Study up on the rules for helping others on skills and working together on attacks and use them when you can to help other PC’s shine in the spotlight for a moment.
  • If you really want to be a hero, spend XP to give your friends rerolls when they need them.

Thoughtfully Give Away XP

When giving away the second XP from a GM Intrusion, make sure you’re giving it to people for the right reasons.  Many groups simply give it to the person with the least XP and there’s nothing wrong with this.  Another choice might be to give to players who shine in their RP, or who thought of something brilliant earlier.  You should consider this your moment to act as the GM and perhaps reward the kind of play you like to see.

Keep it Weird

Did you think GM’s where the only people who had to worry about keeping it weird?  Numenera is a weird game about strange technologies and creatures.  Make sure your story, powers, and actions represent a character in this world.  Make sure you’re weird, or react accordingly to the weird you see.  Maybe your character has a nanovirus that causes you to change shape uncontrollably.  Maybe you’re a privileged noble who’s grossed out by anything strangely biological you encounter.   Either way you’re embracing and addressing the weird in the world, not just passively experiencing it.   “Be the weird you want to see in the world.”

If you’ve got more advice for your fellow players out there, leave them below in the comments!