November 24, 2020

Tabletop RPG Group Problem Solving for New Players

Group problem solving is a core element of the tabletop role-playing game experience. Social situations, puzzles, and even combat oftentimes require a degree of creative problem solving amongst the group of players.

So today’s Newbie Tuesday post is all about how to approach tabletop RPG problem solving with the right mindset…having fun!

It’s About Fun, Not About Pressure

I’ve spoken with many new players who claim they’re “not creative.” And others who are intimidated by the fact that their choices may have significant consequences on the story world. When you’re having this anxiety, take a step back. Try and approach these dilemmas with an absence of expectation.

That way, you’re not putting any pressure on yourself. And you’re better able to just be in those situations. Reflecting on the dilemma itself – and not its unknown consequences – is your ideal starting point. What additional information would help make your choice? What is giving weight to each of the various options in front of you? And what insight do your fellow players have?

If you’re feeling the pressure, take a moment for yourself. Forget what could be; and instead, focus on what’s right in front of you. Engage with the GM/DM – and your fellow players – and really delve into the dilemma at hand. Always keep in mind that each challenge put in front of you is just another opportunity for players to have fun!

Working With Experienced Players

Oftentimes as new players, you’ll be at a table with one or more experienced players. And they’re a great resource: they know the rules, flow, and things to consider at a fairly high level. So especially during these dilemmas and challenges that require group problem solving, take advantage of their expertise.

The banter between new and experienced players is crucial to working together as a group. As the new player, absolutely throw your two cents out there to get the ball rolling. The experienced player(s) will be able to react and go with the flow in real time. And vice versa, if they kick things off when you’re tackling a challenge, focus on what’s fun in the scene, not what gives you anxiety! There’s no pressure to be anything you’re not – it’s just people playing stories together, after all.

You don’t have to be this maestro or creative force or master of strategy in order to work with your fellow players. You just have to be you. Be kind to yourself and understand that, just like anything else, you’ll get better and better, and more and more comfortable, with the experience the more you play. So go out there and have fun!