I am going to start with an anecdote before I answer this as it will give my answer a little more context.
In the world of horseback archery there is a brilliant and very popular french coach. Here in the UK we tend to try and be all inclusive and use supportive language. When I was training to be a coach it was emphasised that you shouldn’t structure your feedback to students in a positive BUT negative format such as “That was much better BUT try and not drop your hand after the shot.”. We would turn the feedback around so that you end on a positive. At a training camp in France on of the best British youth horseback archers did a run down the track and then turned the coach and got this feedback…”Do that again but be less shit.”
So my answer to Day 6 is that the players should be less shit.
What the French coach meant was that there were obvious things that the archer had done wrong and we all knew they could much better and normally would be much better but sod’s law says that when the coach is watching you for the very first time everything goes wrong.
As it is with players. They can create brilliant characters with great back stories that entwine with the setting and campaign histories. They hand craft their cultural background and influences and carefully pick their character race and profession to bring this concept to life. Then you start play and what you get is not Forgin the Dwarven apprentice safe cracker from the slums of Waterdeep but Bill from Sales playing the same thief he has played for 20 years in all your games but with different stats and name.
At the end of the day if everyone is having fun it doesn’t matter if Bill plays exactly the same thief with the same attitudes and personality (probably Bill’s personality) in every game. The flip of that though is that if the players really do weave their characters into the world then the world will seem more real for everyone. If when I am playing my character I turn and speak to Forgin and I get Forgin’s opinions on the plan that will be more fun than if I am talking to Bill and getting Bill’s opinions.
To try and keep people ‘in character’ more I have each player write just a single post-it note do describe their characters personality and it lives on the front of the character record in dayglo colours. There are no stats or skills for personality and no numbers or bonuses but they are vitally important to actual role playing and a tiny box labelled “Demeanour” and space for a one word answer is not sufficient.
So there you are… be less shit.