The relationship between DMs and players must ultimately go both ways, and in order to have the best experience from your DM you have to give back a little as players. So in a slight offshoot from my regular series, I offer some tips and warnings for you murderous band of heavily armed hobos.
For those of you not familiar, here is a brief summation of Wheaton’s Law. You’d think it’d be easy enough to follow in any game, but there are certain nuances and specifications that must be made when Roleplaying.
- No Minmaxing: Unless of course you’re in a group where such things are acceptable and your DM is ready for a few weeks of merciless dungeon-crawling and power-gaming. A minmaxed character doesn’t function in regular society, so won’t work in a fantasy or sci-fi society either. Stop it, you look ridiculous and nobody likes you in combat situations!
- Play your character: If you’ve written the backstory, be ready to play it. This means that if you’ve written an essay or an epic novel based around your characters origin story, you’d better know every detail inside and out and be ready to act accordingly, because a good DM will have read it all at the cost of a great deal of necessary sleep, and will have something prepared for when you least expect it. If you break character, be ready to face some creative consequences.
- Don’t back-seat DM: Thus spake the hypocrite! Yes, I’m terrible for this, and while it’s handy to have a player who can help out with the rules and note taking and so forth, Mr. Knowitall at the opposite end of the table will inevitably get a slap if he starts spouting memorized monster stats and predicting what certain mysterious magical items will be.
When putting together your character, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking at when you sit at the table. If the DM asks for a certain check to be made, or if you’re readying your turn to do something elaborate (like grapple) it will help everyone at the table, and the flow of the game if you’ve got a firm grasp on what you’re doing.
New players: obviously no one expects miraculous feats of understanding straight away, and everyone will be prepared to wait while you get to grips with the new game, your new character, and what dice you’re supposed to be rolling. But once you’ve demonstrated competence be prepared to bring it with you to the table every time.
With regards backstory, more often than not, less is more. Before the game has even begun the DM is likely to have the beginnings of a narrative to get everything started, and while having a few awesome facts about your characters’ history handy will help them be more involved in the campaign, shoehorning every last detail into every moment of every game will turn you into an insufferable Mary-Sue and make the game revolve around you.
Remember that ultimately the campaign is the biggest story your characters’ life, and if you’ve already woven some great epic about them before the game begins, you may find your dice rolls let your legend down.
At The Table
Mostly gaming with a group is about remembering the people around you. Try and encourage everyone to get involved and have a good time, perhaps the DM most of all. Don’t forget the amount of work that we put in daily into making sure that adventures are the best they can possibly be, so try your best to keep everyone engaged in the story, even if it’s going wildly off the tracks.
I’d encourage practically anyone who has played in an RP to have a try at running one if they feel confident, or have an idea that they want to try. It gives a new perspective on gaming and encourages better gameplay from everyone. New DMs will often find that their players are a little more forgiving, a little more engaged and have a lot more fun because of it, so if you think you have what it takes, sit in the big chair one week and have a go.
And if you need any advice on how to run a game, I happen to know a blog that’s been doing a series lately on how to run roleplaying games. The name escapes me right now though….