“What qualities would your ideal group possess?”
Honestly, I think I’ve been blessed in this regard throughout almost all of my gaming ‘life’. When I was in high-school, my group suited me right down to the ground: lots of hack, lots of slash and the sort of group that found going through all fourteen Dragonlance modules to be an eye-opening venture into ‘real’ roleplaying.
In college, I went one very dry year without really playing anything, then got into a really great group where we alternated between a DnD game run by me and another one run by Lonnie Kruse — the first game where I went through an entire session without drawing a weapon or attacking anything.
(Actually, that was perhaps the first game I ever PLAYED, as opposed to GM, which was cool.)
I met a lot of gamers during college (due in no small part to starting up a collegiate-sanctioned student organization for role-playing gaming) and I enjoyed a lot of what we did back then immensely, although a few of the games still stand out in my mind. Back then what I was looking for was enthusiasm and a willingness to try anything that wasn’t DnD. This finally culminated in two of my favorite games: Mythus Fantasy and my first campaign of Amber Diceless (Keys to the Pattern, for those keeping track at home.) Two game systems more dissimilar you could not imagine, but I enjoyed both of them immensely.
These days, I look for group compatibility. If the players don’t seem like the kind of folks who could enjoy hanging out with each other in some other social situation, then I have to wonder if it’s a good idea to include them in the game. With very few exceptions, all the people I game with now are people I spend time with when I’m not gaming.
The other big one is creative commitment. I put a lot into the games I’m running, and I always respond better to a player who puts a lot of effort into their characters as well. Show me that you’re putting time into your character and I will reciprocate — if you aren’t, I’ll try a few things to get you into that active frame of mind, but if I still don’t get anything back, I disengage. The one problem I have with DnD is that it puts players into a Passive state of mind where they are merely responding to what’s happening — the vast history of the game itself encourages you to sit and wait for someone to hire you.
Bah, I say. Get out and do something — make up a personal project for yourself: start a school, build a monastery, buy an Inn. If you’re just showing up to roll some dice and kill whatever monsters I pull out of the book, then I’ll try to make you happy, but I guarantee that I won’t be.
The people that are writing up journals and plans… those are going to be the people that the story is going to be about… everyone else is going to come off as supporting cast. I try to work around that, but sometimes I’m simply wired that way.