Help! The Ranger in my party is always terrified of death

Hey all, I need some help. I’m a first time GM with fist time Players. One of my players chose to play a Ranger, and instantly was scared of the character dying. She poured her highest stat into constitution, and her second into dexterity. She wanted to not die and fight from afar. The problem arises from the first combat session I put them in. Understandably, it took a while to get a hang of the moves, and a series of failed rolls ended up in her taking damage and her bowstring getting snapped. The enemy came in close, and she couldn’t volley and started panicking. Everytime I asked her “what do you do?” she panicked with ‘I don’t know.’

Any and all advice about helping her chill out, and tips on GMing for her character would be helpful. Should I talk to her privately and help her rebuild her character? should I make sure all enemies have a ranged monster? The other players are playing to the character’s strengths, and are getting the hang of it, but the Ranger is so caught up in what the rules let her do, that she doesn’t think about what the character would do in a situation. I fear that if something happens to her character, she’ll take it personally.

If I’m overreacting too soon, please kindly let me know. I’m brand new to all of this, and so are the players.
Thanks in advance. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I’ve GM’d dungeon world many times and I’d say a good way to go about this is to point out some things that she actually could do. Often players coming from more granular RPG’s like D&D or first time players feel frozen because of the openness of the options before them as there is no list of actions. It might take someone like that time to actually do what their characters would since it is a quite different style of play.

Giving her concrete options rather than asking her an open question like “What do you do?” is beneficial here. Things like “You could draw your sword and Hack and Slash them if you wanted.” or “You can run away and try to get some distance that would probably be a Defy Danger.” or “You don’t have your bow but you can still help your friends out by looking around that would be Discern Realties.” pointing out the rules in that way is often not a great way to run Dungeon World as a whole but it can get players more active. Once she is more comfortable you can reintroduce the open question.

In addition might be worth checking in with your group about how much combat they actually want and if they are enjoying that aspect of things. Dungenworld often benefits from combat scenes since they speed up advancement having players roll a lot in short span of time. However taking a few sessions to do some combat lighter stuff to get their feet more wet can help people acclimate.

Finally as a more general recommendation I would be very careful about consequences that get rid of what’s “cool” about a charecter. Things like taking a fighters weapon away or a rangers bow string can feel very cool and dangerous but they also hobble a lot of what the charecter can do when they approach situations. Which can very easily lead to freezing.

Talk privately: Perhaps have a conversation with the player outside of the game session and find out what is causing her stress and panic. Try to understand her expectations of the game and help her find ways to relax and enjoy the gameplay.
Explain the character mechanics: Tell the player about the ranger’s capabilities and abilities. Explain how her character can use her skills and advantages to fight effectively from a distance. Help her realize that she has the tools to successfully survive in combat.
Provide opportunities to show strengths: In the following sessions, create situations that allow the ranger to use her skills to the fullest. Make sure she has the ability to shoot from a distance and make successful attacks to gradually restore her confidence.
Diversify your enemies: Diversify enemies and include ranged monsters in combat situations so that the ranger can apply her skills effectively and feel useful in a group.
Encourage Creativity: Allow the player to use her imagination and creativity when solving problems in the game. Support and encourage her ideas and initiative. This can help her become more confident and active in the game world.

1 Like

I thought you wouldn’t approve the answer)