Getting Players to Buy In to Asking Questions
When we’re worldbuilding in games, GMs tend to add a lot of background details and histories about the world. Maybe the villain has a killer backstory, the town has a strange past that people fear, or this particular landscape was formed by a cosmic event. In games like Mass Effect, anytime you touch on a new word, it gets added to your Codex with paragraphs of information, available for your consumption if you’re interested. In a TTRPG though, it can feel disappointing if your players miss some of these details, and it feels even worse when you thrust this information on them.
Role-play focused players are often looking to be immersed in the game that you’re running. However, I’ve found that players tend to be hesitant on asking for more details about the world. I would think that its because they don’t want to disrupt the flow of the game, or there’s a worry they’re going to ask a question that throws the GM off balance. I’m not for certain, but I would imagine that the reasons would boil down to these two thoughts.
With how the human brain works, the more details and connections we make, the more “real” those learnings become. Psychologically speaking, you literally build an immersive reality when you’re able to feed players information, even if its not relevant to the current campaign events of your game. That’s why getting them to ask questions is important. To enrich their experience with the game, and to fulfill the details of your world. If you can get your players to buy into asking questions, everyone will have fun discovering your world. Building this culture will take time, but it’s well worth it for your worldbuilding endeavors, and the quality of your game.
If you can get your players to buy into asking questions, everyone will have fun discovering your world.
Buying into asking questions is surprisingly easy from what I’ve found. Before your new campaign, or before your next game, chat with your players for a few minutes about feeling free to ask questions. If you’re playing 5E and all of your party members have low INT stats, drop them a headband of intellect ASAP to increase someone’s INT score to 19. If you have ways to give bonuses in other systems, give social / combat bonuses if they have additional details about the world. If the players end up missing the check for more details, still give them some background information.
-“Player: I rolled a 5 on my Arcana check.”
“DM: You’re not able to identify the type of magic this seal was created with. Because the spell has an aura of many years of age and archaic power, you’re not able to put your finger to what the spell is.”-
Even if you get asked a question and you’re unsure of the answer, you can work with your table to create an answer that sounds consistent with your world.
Give asking questions a shot next time you’re running your game!
Stay tuned for more writing from the WorldCraft Club as we explore worldbuilding and the crafting of fictional settings to inspire your creativity.
Jonathan Bell is a hobbiest and aspiring creative. He has taken part in writing several worlds, and running D&D games for friends and organizations for the last 5 years. Currently, aside from editing, writing, and appearing on Worldcraft Club, Jon is co-writing a supplement called Riverwalk based on wilderness adventures.
We’re happy to host guest blogs on here whenever we can, it gives James a break and let’s other people contribute their ideas. Let us know if you have a worldbuilding concept or strategy to get off your chest, we’d love to hear it.