Pel Speaks.. Roleplaying Games: Player Types and How to Handle Them as a GM.

Here we have the first in a series of articles by Pel Pearcey.  Pel is an old friend of mine that I have known since my GW days. We have done plenty of gaming, of all kinds, and plenty of drinking together, which usually leads to discussions about games amongst other things.

Pel now lives in Manchester and has a regular Ropleplaying Group that he games with, currently they are playing Dark Heresy, and Pel is the GM. We have been talking about his game back and forth for a while, and i said ” you should write some articles for the blog on your games”…

So without any further ado, here is Pel’s first article. Look out for the others as they appear!

Andy @ DMB

Identifying your players needs and play styles in a game is very important. It’s tough to tailor every scene to every character – probably impossible – but it’s much easier if you can identify your players.

Dark Heresy was the first game I’d ever GM’d so I’ve found it really useful in teaching me some tricks so…18 months later and a hardened group of kick ass acolytes has taught me a few things.

I’ll be referencing our own campaign heavily I suspect, and the players involved but I’m sure you’ll all be able to relate them to someone in your group.

Also, while specifically aimed at Dark Heresy I’m sure you can apply this to any game that you’re running.

So, here are the character / player types that I’ve found our group has and other the course of a couple of articles I’ll be aiming to expand a bit upon the strengths and weaknesses of the type of character / player, how you can keep them interested and how they can bounce off each other, and ultimately how you as a GM can tie together your rag tag bunch of acolytes who will inevitably end up at each others throats at some point, with some sneaky planning and some in-game benefits.

So, here are the 5 characters that have been in out game since the start. The assassin has since retired her character and is no longer player but I’ll be covering it anyway.

Hastus “Haymaker” Grymm – Guardsman – “The Action Hero”

Fenria Heiralis – Adept – ” The Knowledge Hoarder”

Nihilus Epsion-VI – Tech Priest – “The Support”

Inez “Inza” Vorpoli – Scum – “The Comic Relief”

Jarra Molpadia – Assassin – “The Hair Trigger”

“The Action Hero”

This type of player is incredibly useful for ramping up the action in your games. This is the guy who will mow down a horde of cultists with a heavy bolter, punch out a scummer who just tried to pick his pocket or drive the burning jeep through a gate, flip it like Ace Ventura and light a cigar on the flaming husk of the tech-zombie he just flattened.

This is the guy that you can turn to do a lot of the work for you in a scene. With a bit of encouragement you can really get a lot from this guy, make him explain in detail how he’s attacking that psyker.

“Ok, I leap at the pysker,, drawing my chainsword as I do so, and yell ‘I am the Emperor’s fist, heretic, and I am your ultimate sanction’ then I swing for his head” is far more interesting that “ok I attack that guy.”

The benefit of this kind of player is that he will do a lot of the work in keeping the other players entertained.

If you big up his actions a bit more, your other acolytes will be inspired by his heroics, often this will make up for their own characters’ misgivings in a scene.

As an example, James – our resident Guardsman – once leapt onto a combat bike, chased after a bunch of fleeing Logicians who were in the back of a van shooting at him, cigar in his mouth and bolt pistol in hand as he was the only one who had ever bothered to pick up the drive skill.

The scene was ultimately about him and the bad guys, the other 4 looking on. However, with him delivering the odd iconic line – the most notable being in response to the scum, Inez, who said

“Hastus, look I want to serve the Emperor but I don’t want to die doing it”…to which he coolly replied “To die for the Emperor IS to serve” , lit a cigar then leapt onto his bike and roared after the bad guys….it meant that the other guys were suitably impressed, they were interested in the scene and it kept them all entertained.

He unashamedly admits he just wants to play a mixture of Arnie, Stallone and Chuck Norris and a religious zealot. It works. Well.

The downside to this kind of player is twofold; they often get a bit lost in amongst all the plot – these guys usually want to solve it with fists.

It’s worth encouraging them to branch out a bit – take some social skills, maybe the odd investigation skill.

I’ve allowed my Guardsman to take the Malfian Bloodsworn package so he has access to some useful stuff, also now they’re rank 6 he’s taken the “Officer” path of the advance tree  so that he gets some Command, Fellowship and Social skills etc.

He’ll never out-talk the scum and he’ll never out-sneak the assassin, but he has other things besides fists and a bolter.

Secondly if you don’t carefully manage them they can tend to overshadow the other players a bit.

This is where your job comes in as a GM – make sure you keep them inspiring and fun for other player to be with, not overpowering and in control of every scene.

It’s easy enough to turn these guys into the starring role – in fact I promote it – just make sure that the other guys get a look in elsewhere.

Ultimately, you’re director of this film – but your players are the ad-libbing awesome stars of it. Make sure the “Action Hero” is kept interesting by describing his actions in detail – often making it overly cinematic because who doesn’t enjoy that? After that the co-stars
will fall in to place nicely.

They’ll be inspired by him leaping into a ornithopter from an 8th storey window and when they have to drag his beat up carcass from a brawl-gone-wrong and fit him a bionic eye because he took on the cult on his own…he’ll owe ‘em one !


  1. Paul Gayner on Facebook Sunday, Jul 15 2012 1:30PM

    Great stuff Pel, keep em coming!

  2. Simon Baker on Facebook Sunday, Jul 15 2012 7:39PM

    Nicely done. Can’t wait for the next installment.

  3. Pel Pearcey on Facebook Sunday, Jul 15 2012 10:46PM

    I’ve sent over Andy part 2, with the “Knowledge Hoarder” character up, hopefully be uploaded soon.

  4. Andrew Lawrence on Facebook Sunday, Jul 15 2012 10:48PM

    Tomorrow or tuesday 🙂

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