The (Second) Five Denizens of Tabletop

So many dice

Once more unto the breach, dear friends! I have returned to continue my efforts at cataloging the various species of tabletop gamer, as though I am some mad ludo-anthropologist looking for kicks in all the wrong places.

If you would care to revisit the previous installation of The Denizens of Tabletop, feel free to click right here!

I won’t bother you with a lot of high-minded drivel this time around. STRAIGHT TO THE LIST

6) The New One

There are all manner of subspecies of this kind of gamer. Shy ones, natural fits, baffled ones, bored ones, and all manner of others. I could make a list as long as my arm, and then some, because I am a small man with short arms.

What all these people have in common—what makes them subspecies rather than species all their own—is the fact that they are, every one, brand new to the idea of tabletop gaming. Maybe a friend invited them, or their significant other, or a sibling. Maybe they stumbled across D&D Adventurer’s League at their friendly local game store, or got a kick out of watching the folks on Tabletop play Jason Morningstar’s hilarious Cohen Brothers-esque masterpiece Fiasco. Maybe their mom is sharing her favorite hobby with them, or they found an old copy of Shadowrun at Half Price Books and were like, “What the hell is this.”

Some of The New Ones will stick around. Some won’t. But that’s been true of basically everything human beings do since the dawn of time.

We were all The New One once. And if you have not yet been, you may yet be. And I hope you are, someday. Tabletop is a helluva drug.

7) The Perma-GM

The place of The GM is oft-maligned, mainly by people who don’t care for GMing in the first place. And that’s totally legit—maintaining the invisible clockwork of an entire universe in your brain on the reg can get pretty tiresome. It’s not for everybody. You have to be in possession of a special kind of obsessive-compulsive god complex to want to be a GM, and if you don’t got it, you’ll likely be happier as a player. You may GM every once in a while, and that’s cool.

Where The Perma-GM comes from is when one person, regardless of whether they enjoy GMing or not, gets saddled with all GMing duties for one or more tabletop groups. This almost universally never ends well. Even if The Perma-GM loves GMing, there is such a thing as burnout. Too much of a good thing’ll kill ya dead.

I, your humble wordmonger, appear to be one of the rare exceptions. I tend to be more comfortable at the helm of an adventure than participating in one. But that’s about as nonstandard a phenomenon as, say, an anatomically-correct Marshmallow Peep. So if you know a Perma-GM, maybe find one of the dozens of GMless games out there and, even though they’re not really divested of their responsibilities, the care of the game world will at least be shared among many shoulders for a while.

8) The Doppelganger

This is easily the most bizarre person on this list. In point of fact, I wasn’t even aware this WAS a thing until a few short months ago.

Every once in a while you’ll wind up in a group where one of the people there is uncannily like you. They’ve got the same sense of humor, the same taste in movies. You laugh at their esoteric jokes, they laugh at your esoteric jokes. You start a quote from a movie you love. They finish it. Eventually, you begin to wonder, regardless of any differences in apparent age or appearance, whether you may have been a pair of weird siblings separated at birth, or maybe the result of some shadowy government agency’s first clumsy forays into human cloning.

Congratulations! You have encountered The Doppelganger. Depending on who you are, this person may be the coolest individual to ever grace the planet, or they may be a distended sphincter of a human being. Enjoy or despair at your leisure.

9) The Theater Major

Everyone’s met this one. This is the strange, disheveled person who will willingly opt out of optimal character choices in the name of a Concept. They can come across as either jovial or haunted, depending on their personal temperament, and they may create a character who’s handy in a fight. But this person is not there for the combat.

This person is there for the role-playing.

Sure, a nice knock-down, drag-out fight is great, especially if it’s suitably dramatic. But The Theater Major has an iron grip on their character’s character, and they’ll engage NPCs in conversation at the drop of a hat. If there’s someone doing funny voices at the table, it’s probably The Theater Major. If someone is about to make a really bad but incredibly entertaining choice because they know, deep down, that it’s what their character would do?

That’s The Theater Major.

The Theater Major walks a dangerous path. Taken to extremes, they can become The Useless One or The Douchebag. But if they manage the middle path, The Theater Major can be incredible fun.

I am, naturally, The Theater Major at my D&D table. For other examples of The Theater Major, you can look to the entire cast of Critical Role, which is literally nothing but voice actors playing D&D.

10) The Douchebag

Finally, rounding out this list, we have the dreaded, the abominable, and the unholy: The Douchebag.

This person thinks that it is possible to win at role-playing games, and they make absolutely certain that everyone at the table knows that they are the one in first place. They may or may not believe that their aptitude at playing pretend-but-with-rules correlates directly to the size of their penis and/or penis analogue. Most of the time, it sure seems like they do.

The Douchebag makes poor character decisions that are neither entertaining nor interesting—instead, they just screw up everyone else’s good time. Remember that guy who was going to gun down the campaign’s main villain in full view of a room packed with three dozen of said villain’s henchmen? Remember how he insisted that he was just “playing his character” after the entire party got obliterated by said henchmen? Yeah. That’s The Douchebag.

The Douchebag can have a lot of overlap with other archetypes in these lists, though the most obvious candidates are likely The Edgy One and The Walking Rulebook. On occasion, you might get a The Douchebag/The Useless One hybrid, particularly if the character’s uselessness is a passive-aggressive maneuver against a member of the group or the group as a whole. If The Theater Major’s character choices are reducing the fun factor of the game, they can also be The Douchebag.

All this being said I would suggest that it’s an insult to douche to refer to this archetype as The Douchebag, but I’m pretty sure that douche has been proven to muck up poontang pH, and those are some sacred numbers. Douche done got a bad rap on its own. And anyway, it’s not like the Von Douchington PR Department is going to call me up and be like, “SIR, YOU ARE DISGRACING OUR FINE LINE OF VAGINAL IRRIGATION PRODUCTS BY ASSOCIATING IT WITH THESE ODIOUS INDIVIDUALS.”

Long story short, I won’t lose any sleep over the comparison.

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So! Who have I missed? I know there must be at least a few archetypes left, if not vastly more. I mean, Carl Jung posited that ludicrous numbers of archetypes are present in humanity’s collective unconscious.

If you’ve got any ideas for further archetypes, put ’em in the comments. Could be this particular blog post ball could roll back around at some point if I can pin down another five bastards tabletop gamers!

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