Lack of Involvement: Little Killer of Plans

So the situation in your current game calls for a Big Crazy Plan to end all Big Crazy Plans, and you’re ready to deliver. You know the other players and their PCs well enough to incorporate all of their capabilities, not just fitting the roles to the powers but making sure the parts they have to do themselves are things they consider themselves good at. You’ve consulted with all of them at least once to make sure they find it feasible, and may in fact have been working with at least one of them the entire time. Heck, you might even have pumped the GM for enough information to guarantee that what you’re doing fits some value of feasible. And as always, you’re pumped—but someone in the group, maybe even someone who was enthusiastic when first working with you or who usually provides her own momentum, isn’t, and it’s obvious if you listen (or in the case of a chat game, read). Or maybe you are the usually-enthusiastic one and have suddenly found yourself in the doldrums for reasons you can’t quite put a finger on. What’s going on here?

It’s quite possible that the issue is a lack of investment or involvement. This is a common thing when you’re dealing with someone who’s usually an active contributor and even an instigator, as they tend to take ownership of the plans in a way that people who usually wait for someone else to suggest an idea and then themselves implement it don’t. If all the wrinkles have been ironed out, all the little logic holes dealt with, and all that’s left is to fill in the parts of the template where x application of y skill is needed, the player might feel necessary, but not actively involved. It’s her segment, but it’s not her plan, and that makes a difference. So what do you do if this might be the case?

  • Don’t assume that having talked to them about the plan at one point means that lack of involvement can’t be the answer, even if they sounded pretty enthused at the time. The longer it’s been, and the more the plan has changed, since that talk, the more likely it is that they’ve lost whatever it was that connected them with the plan.
  • Likewise, don’t expect having worked with someone else to make it any better. If anything, she might have more difficulty with a plan that two members of a group of four, or three of a group of five, have worked on that she wasn’t particularly involved in. After all, if it was just you doing the planning, that’s more a matter of one person getting an idea than being left out of a group endeavor.
  • Find something important to the plan that still leaves wiggle room, even if it’s likely to change the entire plan if wiggled too much—and if the plan gets changed, don’t be afraid to let it. Who knows? It might even get better.
  • If the uninvolved player was at some point involved and enthusiastic, try to figure out which aspects were working for her. Was there something she found a particular challenge, or really wanted to do? Or something clever she came up with for someone else to do (particularly if she worked it out with said third party)? More importantly, how much has that something, or those somethings, changed since the last time you discussed it with her? If the parts she pushed for, or the ones she really wanted, were removed, particularly if she didn’t have much say in their removal, it might have had a disillusioning effect. Is there a way you can bring any of them back?
  • Ask for help, particularly if you can find a potential hole in the plan that plays to the missing person’s strengths. Sometimes, just taking that and running with it can be enough for her to reclaim part of the plan.
  • If you’re the uninvolved player, try to figure out where you lost interest, and what sorts of things you might be able to do to recover it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; most people realize that if not everyone’s gung-ho, the overall tone of the execution is going to suffer.

Even leaving aside its damage to player fun, uninvolvement can severely impair, if not downright destroy, a perfectly good plan. Know when it strikes, and be ready to deal with it.

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