This post will present useful tips for anyone playing in a RPG. It does not matter what the RPG system is, or what the genre of the campaign is. Keep the following in mind.
Intelligence is your weapon
Scout the problem, research it, watch it. Then go out and talk to the locals, to witnesses, to bums and weirdos and druggies and anybody human. You really can’t learn about your enemy from books alone, so don’t try.
Don’t kick in the door
Not the front door, anyway. Make your own entry point. This rule applies to much more than entering buildings. In the worst case, burn down the building and ambush them when they flee.
The minimum size of a team is two
Do nothing alone. Your enemy might replace you, take over your mind, assassinate you, or simply remove you from existence and memory. Don’t give them the opportunity. If you need to approach a contact solo, bring a partner for backup and overwatch.
Don’t wait for the whites of their eyes
Too many of your enemies don’t die when you shoot them. Don’t wait until close combat to find that out. (Absolutely do wait until you have confirmed that they are targets, not bystanders.) Similarly, give no warning shots, or warnings of any kind. Surprise is your only advantage.
A successful retreat is a victory
When the opposition attacks you, you are part of their plan and they have the initiative. Don’t be part of their plan: break contact and retreat to the rally point. (You did select a predetermined rally point, right?) Then analyze their attack and plan your counterstrike at their weak point, for a time and place where you have the initiative. Never go in without a line of retreat. Always know where the exit is.
Trust your gut
If it feels wrong, it is wrong. Back off and get more information. If it feels really, really wrong, back way off and call for reinforcements.
Keep an eye on that map
Opening paths creates loops you can retreat down. Bad guys roam from room to room. Noticing a blank spot on a map allows you to infer the location of a secret room. Answers to a puzzle or passcode are found in a different room. Alternate entrances could be hidden underground, on the roof, in a well, next door, underwater and into a river, or through a mountain cave. Think globally, rather than locally.
Everyone has wants and fears you can exploit
Beasts chase after food. Criminals are lured by easy money. There are no rigid responses – enemies can become friends and friends might turn on you, depending on how you treat them. Consider asking them what they want, then work with that. Even a lie can be a clue to the truth.