Kenneth gives us an example of how to use The KB3 Traveller Task System to keep your players involved in the game.
I try to keep the players involved as much as I can without giving them information they shouldn't get. For example, if there is a situation - such as a bar fight - where the PCs decide to just sit there and watch, I'll let the players run the NPCs for a couple of rounds, playing out the fight.
I find this works exceptionally well in keeping players interested and involved in the game. The players, too, find it fun to be involved in aspects of the game that players don't normally touch upon.
I remember this one game we had where a player took his PC off on his own. The other PCs were in a starport bar, while this lone PC was back at the ship. He decided to walk, by himself, from the ship berth to the bar where the other PCs were (you may recognise this example from the KB3 discussion on Static Target Numbers).
The PCs at the bar had been overheard talking by a bunch of bad guys, who then radioed their compadres outside to go get the guy who was coming from the ship.
Well, when this one PC came be-boppin' down the street by himself, I had the bad guys outside roll (in secret) to see if they recognised the PC from the description radioed to them by their buddies at the bar. They did, and then all of a sudden I had this totally impromptu encounter going on. I had to ad-lib it, because I had nothing pre-mapped or prepared for this encounter - it just sprang up because of the roleplay in the bar.
Now the PC walking was alone, and I was going to have the bad guys try to take him captive. We rolled to see how close the PC was to the rest of the party (important to the PC), and then we rolled to see if there were any other people about.
There were, but there was only one close enough to affect the outcome of the encounter. Notice how I usually let the players' dice decide their characters' fate? My players really, really like this; because they do the rolling, they like it much better than if I just arbitrarily came up with something. They are a part of the encounter in a way that makes them feel they have a hand in the PC's fate.
Three quick 2D6 rolls gave us STR/DEX/END for this neutral pedestrian NPC, and we rolled a quick reaction roll when the PC in trouble yelled at the guy and said, "Hey! They're coming to kill me! Help me!"
I skewed the reaction roll to make the new NPC run from the encounter (a typical reaction, I would think), but the player rolling for the NPC rolled very, very well... so I allowed this to be a "brave" but otherwise regular, everyday person you would meet on the street.
I gotta tell you - We Had A Blast With This Encounter!
It was what roleplaying is all about. It was totally on the fly, generated as a direct result of the actions of the PCs in the bar... and you can BETTER BELIEVE that the guy running the single walking PC was scared to death that his character was going to get killed or captured.
The new NPC swung the odds (the player running him also rolled very, very well during the fight), and the encounter turned in the PC's favour. The bad guys ran off.
And the new NPC became friends with the PC. I even bring him back from time to time for "guest-starring" roles (having fully fleshed-out the character with skills and such), and when the PCs are on that planet, they stop by to see their "old friend".
I even use that dude to get the PCs involved in the adventures I want them to go after.
And I couldn't have executed that better if I had planned it!!
Extended Example 2: Keeping The Players Involved, copyright © 2001 Kenneth Bearden.
Compiled and edited by David "Hyphen" Jaques-Watson.
Used by permission.