Player Responsibilities

 Posted by on October 25, 2010  Filed as: Better Gameplay?  Add comments
Oct 252010

GMs aren’t the only ones with responsibilities. The players are co-creators with the GM and that gives them certain responsibilities.

Below are lists of player do’s and don’ts:

Game Preparation

  • Be on time. If possible, try to be a little early. That will give you some time to get settled and ready to play.  If you can’t be on time or have to miss a session entirely, call your GM.
  • Be prepared for the game session. Have your character sheet, dice, or whatever else you need to play.
  • Try to create a character that will fit in the rest of the group. If everyone else in your group is playing good characters, leave your anti-paladin at home, unless the GM and group say otherwise.
  • Recognize that your GM may have to cancel a game session occasionally.  The GM has a real life, too.

During the Game

  • Be honest with the GM and other players. Your character doesn’t have to be honest (unless that would severely disrupt the game), but you, as the player, should be completely honest about die results and other game-related information.
  • Share the limelight. Don’t hog all the GM’s attention.
  • Stay focused on the game. Keep conversations about the latest movies, etc. to before, after and during breaks in the game session. Don’t play on your computer during the session. Even when your character isn’t currently involved in the action, you can be updating your sheet, taking notes, planning strategy, etc.
  • Find out your group’s policies on notes to the GM and/or pulling the GM aside for individual conferences. In my games it’s not only allowed, but is actively encouraged as long as they’re kept short; other groups absolutely hate them. Find out your group’s preferences and stick to them.
  • Don’t talk about how you could run this game better or how things would be different if you were running this game. You’re there to play, not to GM.
  • If you have a suggestion on how the GM could improve the game, bring it up to him outside of the game session. Also, be willing to accept your GM’s decision on the suggestion; he usually has valid reasons for declining your idea.
  • Similarly, accept your GM’s ruling. If you disagree with her interpretation of a rule or with an event that happened, discuss it with your GM after the game session.
  • Look for ways to involve your character in the game without trying to monopolize it. Don’t leave it completely up to the GM to tell you what to do. However, if you’re lost and don’t know what to do with your character, ask the GM and the other players. They’ll usually be happy to help.
  • Keep game events in the game; try not to take them personally.
  • Leave personal issues outside the game.
  • Don’t look at the GM’s notes/adventure/other game stuff.
  • Trust your GM or be willing to leave the game. Often the GM will have reason for something happening in the game, but may not be able to reveal that reason until several game sessions down the road.

As a Guest

  • Be a courteous and respectful guest in your host’s home.
  • Clean up after yourself.
  • Unless your host says otherwise, confine yourself to the game room, the bathroom and (with the host’s okay), the kitchen of your host’s home. Don’t go wandering into other rooms of the house and, above all, try not to disturb non-playing members of the host’s family.
  • If a member of your group is violently allergic to something, don’t bring it, unless the individual gives the okay. For example, in my group, our GM has a severe allergy to pork. Even accidental contact with pork grease on his hands can send him to the emergency room. Any pork item is barred from our gaming table. On the other hand, I’m allergic to dairy, but only if I actually eat it.  I don’t mind if other people in the group bring dairy products.
  • Asking if anyone in the group has severe allergies and then being careful of them is a great way to make yourself a player who gets invited to many games.
  • Don’t hang around the host’s home long after the game session has ended. Unless you’re invited to stay by the host, thank her for hosting and leave when the other players do or when the host asks everyone to.
  • Don’t pick up or touch things in your host’s home without his permission.

And Above All:

  • Be willing to gracefully leave a gaming group that you don’t fit in with. Don’t flame the GM or other players; recognize that everyone has different play styles. You can be friends with people you don’t like to play with.
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I’ve been gaming since August of 1980 when I crashed a D&D game at summer camp. Two weeks after that, I DM’ed a game for the first time. Since then, I’ve GM’ed everything from D&D to World of Darkness to Toon. Basically, if I can get my hands on it, I’ll try to run it. I’m a web designer and freelance writer by trade, and I’ve written articles for Inphobia (originally called White Wolf Magazine), Challenge, and Ars Magica’s supplement Medieval Tapestry. I also write two other blogs: Evil Machinations and On My Own Two Feet.

  18 Responses to “Player Responsibilities”

  1. Great article, Jade. Advice that more folks should attend to.

  2. Fantastic advice. I think a lot of players could do with looking this over and abiding by it.

  3. Thanks for the feedback, guys. I always hated when people leave social rules up to “common sense”–I’ve always felt it’s much better to spell out expectations.

  4. Wow! Fantastic site!

    I just followed a link from some Sucky blog (all he does is talk shit because he’s mad at the world, i guess. I don’t even know why I read any of his crap). Anyway, because he needed material to rant about, he ranted about Stuffer Shack. Well, i’m glad he did, because now i have a new favorite site!

  5. There’s quite a lot of excellent stuff here, but the one that hit home for me was, “Don’t hang around the host’s home…” Man, that’s a pow-zing for me. I’m not a hanger-arounder, but I’m always powerfully tempted, and I force myself to say effusive thank yous and then GET OUT.

    Of course, what I want to do is sit down and talk about how amazing my character is, was, and will be, but no, no, no, just “thank you” and disappear.

  6. I’m all for setting some expectations.

    I’m in my thirties, and I’ve seen some bad gamers with worse gaming etiquette. Well guess what? I don’t want to waste my time with people that just don’t get it. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to game, so for the time that I have left, I want it to count.

    I’ve wasted a lot time in the past with unfun gaming, but now I have no problem telling someone that they need to get their crap together, or that they need to get out.

    I don’t have to go into specifics, but if you’re the guy that’s making it not fun for me, I’m done. Either you’re gone, or I’m gone. But that crap is just not going to fly with me, not anymore.

    Now who wants some cookies?!

  7. Wow, either someone has a set of balls, or they woke up on the wrong side of the bed…

  8. Actually, I always wake up on the wrong side of the bed, because my wife took them from me! 🙂

    Nah, it has taken a while, but I recently decided that I’m going to get out of gaming what I want to get out of gaming. I’m just not going to waste my time – wasting my time. You know?

    Good write-up, Jade.

  9. @Dillon:

    I’ve had the experience of taking myself out of groups that just “didn’t get it” because the DM didn’t have a set of balls and I couldn’t stand the social graces of other players. I’m currently part of a group in which the DM threw a player out on the spot because his habits were intruding on everyone else’s enjoyment of the game. The DM could have handled it a little more gracefully, but he (and the other player’s) had already tried polite and subtle. Once the DM made his stand clear, I believe the other players appreciated his decisive action and felt valued as players to still be sitting at a table with raised standards… but I could be mistaken.

    John, Tourq; agree or disagree?

  10. @Colin. Agreed. In the past I sat at way too many tables where I really wasn’t enjoying myself because of the company. I think we sometimes tolerate things that we normally wouldn’t just because we want to play in a game. As I’ve gotten older I just can’t do that. I want a good game and good company and I’m willing to do the work to make that happen.

  11. Well, to be honest, me being the FNG… I was a little worried.

  12. Thanks for the comments everyone.

    Unfortunately, this entire list something I’ve had to deal with at the gaming table at one time or another. Now that I’m in my mid 40’s and my play time is extremely limited, I find (like pretty much everyone else who’s commented) that I just don’t have the patience for bad games or bad gamers. I don’t expect Miss Manners at my table, but I do expect some basic courtesy for both myself and the other players.

    @Dixie. I’m sure your host appreciates your resolve. We had one regular player who had a real problem with hanging around afterward sessions. Nice guy, but completely clueless on the social front. We finally got to the point where my roommate and I would say “We love you, Kelly. Go home.” But we knew him well enough to know that he actually appreciated these reminders.

    @Colin. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been the GM who’s had to can players. It’s not fun. It downright stinks. But each time I’ve done it, I’ve had the other players come to me and say that they supported my decision completely and just wish I’d done it sooner.

    Oh, and one more I forgot to add: Don’t show up drunk or stoned. I don’t mind a beer or two (as long as it’s okay with the other players), but if you’re visibly intoxicated, you will be booted from my table and never invited back.

  13. @ Jade: Side note to drinking; if any of you ever have the opportunity to play Call of the Cthulhu with Ken Hite, by all means buy the first round of Sake, trust me…

  14. Like you said, a lot of this is common sense; however, that’s not as common as it used to be. Over the summer we played with a different bunch of people. My character ended up dying. Twice. I didn’t mind that. What really boiled my blood was that I was the one who died when two of the other people at the table were playing something online and not even paying attention. We had to say their names two or three times to let them know it was their turns in combat every time. I wanted to jump across the table and throttle them both.

  15. I hate to have to mention this but there is also the subject of personal hygiene. I am offended by people who don’t understand that they stink not only from an inconvenience standpoint but also that it perpetuates the gamer stereotype. Thoughts?

  16. Don’t hang around the host’s home long after the game session has ended. Unless you’re invited to stay by the host, thank her for hosting and leave when the other players do or when the host asks everyone to.

    This one, I had an ex-player of mine, ex because we kicked him out, because of the many things he did wrong one was that he wouldn’t leave. Eventually my wife had to tell him to leave or we were going to lose two of the other players.

  17. There was this one time where a fellow player decided to DM his own campaign. My group always tries to let everyone have their shot at it. While this fellow was planning the campaign, I worked closely with him as I was making my character. I created by character weeks ahead of the campaign. The day of the campaign, he told me my character was descriminated against by the other characters, and that I’d have to find a way to get on their good side. Normally, one of the jobs of a DM and the players is to work towards team cohesion. This action of his disrupted that. What made it such a bad move was that I’d planned the character out way in advance, and at no time did the fellow tell me I shouldn’t use it. The day of the campaign, after all was ready, I was then told of the descrimination, and advised I should make another character. That course of action would have delayed the session considerably. But I went with the character I created weeks before, since I’d worked on it so long with the DMs acceptance(at least until that day). We played through 3 sessions(one day a week), and during that time, the fellow encouraged the other players to work against my character. Some of them began stealing from my character, using him as a scape goat, basically a throw away character. Eventually one of the other characters murders mine while he was unconcious from saving the party from an ambush. This occurred within the first hour of the 4th gaming session(basically making the last 3 weeks pointless). I had no character made to replace it, so I was out of the gaming session for the rest of the night. I informed this fellow that since the party was all good characters, several having good Deities, that their actions were blatantly evil actions in opposition to thier alignments. He disagreed stating they were acting on their descriminations. I began to suspect this fellow of not having the skills needed to be a DM, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt, created another character for the next session(3 levels lower than the rest of the party). This character ended up also being descriminated against. The gaming session only lasted 2 sessions after that, and the campaign fell apart.

    What’s the moral of the story?

    Not everyone can DM. And if you’re going to DM, your job is to work towards team cohesion, or you’ll sabotage your own campaign. Additionally, if you’re going to allow people to break their alignments freely, why even have them? A good DM would have had the deities punish the “good” characters for doing blatantly evil actions.

    So really, if you find your choice of DM is falling short, let him know, and kick him down a notch. And don’t wait until the session is over as was suggested. There is a difference between enjoying a session/campaign, and feeling like it’s torture.

  18. @ Meiliken

    That’s a disheartening tale. I hope, at least, that everyone at the table walked away lesson learned.

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