Monday, February 28, 2011

Etiquette at the Table: Tips to Acting Like a True Player

'Would you two just SHUT UP!!!'

In my honest opinion, there is nothing more annoying than players sitting at my table and the only thing they are not doing, is paying attention to the game.  When a player comes to the table unprepared for the game; it drives me nuts.

When you play any game, be it a board game, or an RPG, there is simple etiquette to follow.  I will list, what I think are the seven (7) most important factors to take into consideration for having a good game night with the boys.
Our whole lives we are taught to sit up staight, knees under the table.  We are told to take off our hats when we enter a building (varies with environment).  You say thank-you and please if you receive or want something.  Why can't we have the same thing at our gaming table?  I don't know about anyone else, but to have players do whatever they want whenever they want is not my favourite thing.  All regular session should have a code of conduct that is established from day one in order to ensure maximum fun in your environment.

Before you start a gaming group, all the players should sit down and discuss what they are looking for in a gaming session.  Unless you have a static DM, each player will be getting their turns in the hot seat.  They will see that it is not fun to DM a pack of wild monkeys.  As much as this game is about overcoming monsters and puzzles, it does not give the players the right to disrupt the game.

  1. Be on time:  Life is busy and things sometimes get out of hand;  It does not mean you can't make an effort for the times you do play.  If you are going to be late, it is only polite to give a courtesy call, text MSN message, which would probably be appreciated from the rest of the group members.  As much as you might think you are the only one who is busy, every person around the table has made a commitment to be there and to make them wait in limbo to see if you are going to show or not, kills the mood for the evening.  
  2. Do not stray away from the adventure: when it is not your turn, because your are going to have a turn to try again. The DM and the other players jobs are not to recap for you everytime it is your turn.  Pay attention!  The reason for most character deaths is that someone was not paying attention when the rogue is told to flank and attack the weakest monster.  The player may just go and attack another, leaving the party open to one more attack.
  3. Come prepared:  There is nothing more annoying than that player that comes to the game with the incorrectly levelled character.  These things should be done throughout the week, so when the time comes, all you have to do is sit down at the table with your dice in hand, ready to play.
  4. Unless your character is going to die, do not question the DM about his rulings:  The DMs job is to make a ruling and if you did not like the ruling, suck it up until the end of the evening or until the end of the encounter when players can take a pause to go over the questions that were brought up in the battle.  The DM has enough on their plate and adding the stress of having to look up rules mid battle, breaks the flow of the game, slows down play and makes it less fun for everyone.
  5. Do not be an ass:  This is the reason for 4th edition getting rid of most alignments.  Unless the whole party revels in disruptions caused by players, this will only create tension not only in the adventuring party, but with the players also.  If you cause character death due to your disruptive character, you will make many people very angry.  I have even asked players to leave and not come back because of situations such as this one.
  6. Know your character: When you start an adventure or a module with new characters, it is understood that you will need time to adjust to the new character.  When you reach a couple of levels, you should know your character by heart.  Know your powers, feats and how they interact with your character.  WotC has Charater builder and the compendium to help players know their characters.  Print off your sheet and take it with you to your sessions.  Fumbling around, looking for a power every time your turn comes up is extremely annoying!
  7. Don't yell:  I know that things can become heated sometimes for a variety of reasons.  Remember it is just a game and the players around you can habour resentment for a comment you made.  Arguing and yelling gets you nowhere in life.  Take your problems and present them to whoever you have a beef with in an orderly fashion with proof and example of how you do not appreciate their behaviour.  An argument can easily break up a group.  Do not get defensive if someone criticizes you about something.  Take everything with a grain of salt and remember to think about what you are going to say and how you will respond.  Remember that your reaction to certains things can be the breaking point between a good group and a broken group.  People will have more respect for you if you take it easy.
There will be times that tension levels will elevate at the table, but it is how your players react to that tension will be the deciding factor between a good game and a bad one.  D&D is a great game, no matter what edition you play, but many players have different styles and different interpretations of how it should be. When an argument arises and you can diplomatically satisfy both parties involved, then your game will improve.  If you only yell and get on like madmen then your group will fail and you are left with no game whatsoever.  Play smart and treat everyone with respect. YOU ARE IN THE NO YELLING ZONE!

Do you agree with my statements; or do you think I am just full of it?  Do you have anything you would like to add to this list? Then by all means feel free to leave a comment.