DM’s: Incentivize Your Players!

Getting the Ball Rolling

So I’ve been running games using Obsidian Portal for a while now, and in the past year I’ve discovered a thing or two about players – they are lazy. Bear in mind that I’m generalizing here but, really, let’s be honest.

Obsidian Portal is this haven for creativity and sometimes implores us DM’s to pour hour after hour of work into our campaign pages, meticulously tweaking every detail until it looks just right on the page and leaving no stones unturned when it comes to adventure logs and wiki pages.

Then you say to your players “Did you check out XYZ on our campaign page” and nine times out of ten you get “Nope, not yet. Been meaning to” or something to that effect.

See for players, the site might seem less of a dreamy wonderland of potential RPG greatness and just another thing keep bugging them to do. Maybe update their character sheets, participate in a discussion, plan your next session or maybe just update their damned character sheet or at least give it a portrait! I’ve gotten pretty crafty in the past when it comes to trying to get my players to participate more on Obsidian Portal. Here’s a few suggestions I have that have worked for me in the past and (most) are still working for me to this day.

Garnering Participation

Share the Workload: Have everyone alternate (yourself included) writing up adventure log posts, that way everyone gets a chance to put their two cents in, your campaign stays relatively well documented and there’s not one person who is constantly bearing the workload. Let your players create wiki pages if they like and go wild with the formatting and perspective of things.  A campaign with adventure log posts in 3rd person, first and meta perspectives or just a set of bulleted items for points of note beats a blank one!

Lore shaping: Allow your players to leave their mark on the game world, tell them that you’ll name a landmark, NPC, or otherwise memorable piece of game content if all they do is log in and make an adventure log post or wiki entry. My players long neglected to come up with an adventuring party name, so I threatened them with allowing their one and only active Obsidian Portal member to name it – and so it was! My group of vampire ass kicking adventurers are now named “Igor’s Traveling Troubadours” courtesy of their most likely clinically insane gnome rogue who is always trying to create potions but winds up making poison inadvertantly and rendering himself unconscious for hours at a time from ingesting the wrong concoction.

Squash those pet peeves: One of mine is the silhouette graphic that all users have until they give themselves an avatar. It’s not just an OP thing for me either, I can’t stand head & shoulder shaped silhouettes no matter where they reside! Tell your players if they oblige you by doing something to get the anal retentive monkey off your back, you might just provide them something in return – a get out of death free card, or an item, bonus xp or even something unique like a card full of  “DM points”

And then there’s other methods…

Bribery: Ah one of the most tried and true ways to garner results from a person – giving them stuff. The two big basics are loot and XP in the case of RPG’s, and if you’re going to offer XP make it something worthwhile, offering the same amount of XP for running errands or killing a few minions will likely be overlooked or deemed not worth their time. When it’s enough XP to gain half a level they’ll pay attention. I’ve noticed that most players don’t like it when one person gets too far ahead of them in XP so this has a domino effect wherein when one person does it, they usually all follow suit. However use with caution depending on your group, I suppose it could be polarizing too.

Ah loot, didn’t someone once say that in a nutshell “Playing RPG’s is about killing things and taking their loot”? Without getting too philisophical on you, yeah it is so why not offer up some more of the good stuff if you can get your players online and helping out with campaign management and progression? Offer them items, I once asked my players to give me a list of their top 3 most wanted items within a certain level range and rarity and if they got on OP and contributed I’d make sure at least one item from every PC’s list showed up in the next big loot cache in game. Not only did it help them, but it helped me as a DM to design encounters around things where such items might be accquired. You didn’t think I wasn’t going to make them work for it did you!?

If in game loot isn’t really something that works for your group what about metagame loot? Offer to buy the pizza next time, provide the gas money, buy them a mini or a book or whatever else might drive them.

Threaten and Berate: Ok not really but, there’s no other way to put this into words, honestly just be persistent and try and sound convincing. You can teeter on ‘annoying’ if need be. We all know how great Obsidian Portal is great for our campaigns, there’s no reason all your players shouldn’t drop by even if it’s just once a week for 5 minutes.

Always room for more

All that being said, what are your ways for getting your players onto Obsidian Portal? Have tips for everyone? Leave em’ in the comments and also be on the lookout for your chance to win some ascendant time if things like this come up on Tip Tuesday!

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