How to Build Trust at the Table
If you’re just not feeling it with your gaming group, or you’re finding pick up games just aren’t as awesome as you want, it’s probably not the game. The game is just the engine. It needs premium fuel to kick ass. If you want it supercharged pour in some trust.
Trust building is a process and not one that can be cut short. There isn’t a single surefire process for doing it, and all parties have to be involved. It requires paying attention to others and being willing to take little risks yourself.
Building trust is not an inevitability of spending time with a group. Each choice you make is either building or destroying confidence and sense of safety. Relationships with a great deal of trust are resilient and can hold up under explorations of intense themes, and through individuals having cranky days. A new relationship can be broken by a single judgemental raised eyebrow.
The See-saw: Mythic and Deadly
Imagine a see-saw, a teeter-totter. They aren’t allowed on playgrounds anymore because too many children have gotten injured on them.
They are a good metaphor for building trust in roleplaying games. First, the only reason to use them is to have fun. If you’re getting on a see-saw for some other reason you’re missing the point. Second, they are social: they require more than one person. A child alone on a see-saw is a sad picture. Third, they have an element of risk. Just as you give your whole table a chance to judge you when you introduce your new character, you are always giving the other person on the seesaw the chance to jump off and leave you with a broken tailbone.
Before you get on the see-saw with a new person you ask yourself “Do I want to risk playing with this person? Will they be careful? Wild? Considerate? Will they hurt me?” You don’t have answers to those questions yet, at least not that you’re confident in.
To start playing someone has to make the first jump, the first offer. You bend your knees, introduce your character and leap up into the air.