I wouldn’t have pegged Horsepower for the magical child archetype. That must mean Fighter is his animal guide somehow. Friggin’ homebrew man…

Anywho, what I want to talk about today has less to do with everyone’s favorite equine vigilante and more to do with the mooks. Just look at ’em there, all wide-eyed and full of wonder. They can’t help but bask in the glow of an awesome character moment, and Horsepower gets to feel like a badass because of it. We should all aspire to such mookitude.

I submit that it takes more than a powerful character build, cool backstory, and convincing accent to be a good gamer. That’s because your role at the table doesn’t end when you pass the initiative. In that moment you go from active player to eager audience member, and it is an important role to play. Those moments of supreme awesomeness where everyone leans into the table, breaths collectively bated, watching the fates turn as the die drops… They only happen when everyone is engaged. You guys already know how I feel about cell phones at the gaming table, but diving into your data plan is just the most malignant form of poor audienceship.

It’s not easy staying engaged for the duration of a four-hour session, but there is an undeniable energy that forms when you do. When you cheer you buddies’ crits, groan at their botches, and laugh when the dude across the table comes up with an awesome stunt, a feeling of excitement and anticipation builds. Boring combats become communal events, and the other gamers at the table can draw upon that energy, eager to outdo one another and build upon the scene.

This applies to exploration and character interaction just as much as combat. Find a way to become interested in what the other players are doing. When it’s your turn to take the spotlight, remember to make it entertaining for the other party members as well as yourself. Games are better when we remember to entertain one another, and it’s a hell of a lot easier to get into that mindset when your audience is properly appreciative.

So what about the rest of you gusy? Do you struggle with issues of audienceship at your tables? Do you find it tough to maintain excitement through the initiative pass? Have you ever been dispirited to see your buddies buried in their cell phones during your talky scenes? How do you deal with it? Let’s hear it in the comments!