New player decision paralysis


I’m introducing a new player to RPGs. She struggles to put herself in the mindset of her character and make the decisions the character would make, which is the essence of role-playing.

She can get by by going along with others’ prompting, but if she alone must decide what action to take, she stops and thinks until I get impatient and any sense of game flow is lost. I don’t expect all decisions to be made instantly, but I expect routine “what do you do next?” decisions to be made in under a minute and get faster with experience.

I tried prompting/pressuring for decisions, directly and by using game characters as a proxy. The feedback after the session was that she found it stressful and unhelpful, not motivational.

I haven’t been able to break down my own in-character decision-making process to pass on to her. I’m practiced enough to just do it somehow.

I strongly favour rules-light games that emphasise game-world focus rather than abstract mechanical focus, so all mechanics must really carry their weight, but this is such a burden that I will consider including mechanics that will help.

In summary, please share something to help with fast in-character decision-making:

  • A breakdown of the process that a new player could follow.
  • Game mechanics (from any game) which could help.
  • Advice in how to deal with this; for me or for her, I don’t mind.

(This is not a duplicate of How do I get my players to be more decisive and take the initiative? because that is about structured vs unstructured scenarios, whereas my question is about single decisions within any scene.)