Collaboration and Participation Gone Wrong

During my session last night, we ran into the age old problem of characters spewing out endless streams of new plans without any of them being acted on.  In light of last night (and perhaps some of your roleplaying experiences too), this passage from a post by Levi Kornelsen on Story Games seemed worthy of reflection:

“Where collaboration can go south is when it becomes “shallow” and starts to override participation. When I stop really listening to your cool stuff, and start just waiting for my turn to speak, and add my own ideas, then I (and likely others) aren’t actually exploring the ideas already on the table. We’re just making up shit and piling it up. If nobody actually uses those ideas and takes them further, enjoys them, and participates in their exploration, then they are devalued.”

This problem seems to occur both in the planning phase of an adventure, and with the cool stuff contained in character backgrounds that never gets used.  This leads me to ask myself questions like:

  • How can I explore the ideas already on the table more fully than I currently do?
  • How can I encourage others to do the same?
  • What sort of concepts from a character background are most likely to be explored by the rest of the group?
  • Does it make more sense for me to rely on the GM to link the concepts important to my character into the story, or for me to do it myself?  Which one will result in group exploration more often?  Which has a higher chance of producing enjoyable, fulfilling, or rewarding play experiences?
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