Why Proactive Roleplaying

The term “proactive roleplaying” is a new word for an old idea: that tabletop role playing games are most fun when the game is a conversation between everyone at the table. The ideal game is one where the players and the game master are both bringing ideas and excitement to the table. A proactive roleplaying TTRPG is one that emerges out of the interactions between the party and the shared game world at the table, not one that’s scripted out ahead of time.

Who is responsible for the fun?

In most tabletop role playing games, the Game Master is responsible for providing the fun. Most games involve the GM bringing an adventure or campaign to their group so the players can absorb it an be entertained. But this means many Game Masters feel responsible for entertaining their players, rather than playing a game together with them.

Even Game Masters who run published adventures and campaign settings have a lot of work to do to run games this way. When you are solely responsible for making the game fun, it only helps a little to use official and 3rd party game content: you still need to adapt it for your table and your players.

Proactive Role Playing

We’re both long-time game masters in many systems. After spending combined decades and thousands of hours prepping for and running tabletop games, we decided we wanted to change the balance of responsibility at our tables. Working together over the winter of 2021, we developed a framework called “proactive role playing”, which shifts some of the narrative responsibility onto the players.

The idea is for Game Masters to design their encounters and adventures in a way that makes players more active participants in the game instead of passive absorbers of the story. By structuring your game around the character’s goals and ambitions, you position the players as the drivers of conflict, action, and drama at your table.

Free 5e Encounters Designed for Proactive Play

If you want to bring proactive role playing to your table, it’s easy to do! We add new 5e encounters each week. Each one is designed to be as easy-to-run as possible and can fit into most games. These 5e encounters are framed in a way that allows player preferences and character goals to shape the structure and narrative of the encounter. We have suggestions on which version to use, how to open it, and crunchy details for running it. Each one includes custom maps, monsters, random tables, and more.

If you sign up for our free weekly newsletter, you’ll be notified when a new encounter releases, and you’ll receive additional details and resources for running that encounter, directly in your inbox.

Get Free Weekly Encounters

If you sign up for our free weekly newsletter, you’ll be notified when a new encounter releases, and you’ll receive additional details and resources for running that encounter, directly in your inbox.

Transform Your Table

All you need to start running great encounters with minimal prep is in the archive of proactive roleplaying DnD 5e encounters. Use these as an archive of easy-to-use encounters that encourage proactive play. You can drop them into your game easily by following the setup instructions and thinking about how each encounter might fit your game and unfolding story. The proactive roleplaying part is how you tweak the encounter to be in response to your table’s goals and desires, instead of them responding to you.

Try it yourself and see how shifting some of the narratives responsibility to your players changes your game. We hope that you, like us, feel like your table is exciting and new again, and like you’re playing a game with your friends instead of just entertaining them.

The Game Master’s Handbook of Proactive Roleplaying – Out Now!

The book is finally here! As the newest entry in the popular Game Master’s series from Media Lab Books, it focuses on usable advice and memorable encounters. If you like the character-driven encounters and ideas on this site, you’ll enjoy the book.

The book is available at most major bookstores and retailers, but you can also order online at this link.