Good Player Habits

I’ve spent the past few weeks focusing on GM tips and advice; I thought it was high time to dispense with some wisdom/requests to the players that read these articles as well. GMs have a pretty big job in store for them when they choose to run the games we enjoy; helping out by being a courteous player is something that will help them in their pursuit of a good story or exciting hack n’ slash and make your experience better as well. Here are a few things that will go a long way in doing so.

1. SHOW UP – No brainer. It seems a bit easy at first as generally playing an RPG is something you want to do anyway, but it’s more than simply being present. It means being ready to game and stay focused while you play. If your GM has to keep getting your attention on your turn or asking for your involvement you’re doing it wrong. Sure, we all have things in our life that may be distracting you, but if they are that bad think about bowing out of a session. Your party will understand if you have life things going on. If they don’t, find another group of people to play with.

2. COMMUNICATE – With your GM and party. Give them feedback about their game and characters. Let them know if you will be late or absent, preferably early. Coordinate what your character is looking at doing or how you plan to develop them. Let your GM know what choices you are making. A well informed GM is a GM that can shape the game accordingly. During the game, be clear with what you are doing. Don’t assume the GM will read your mind and extrapolate your finely crafted plan to assassinate the bad guy. If you don’t say it, it doesn’t happen.

3. PAPERWORK – Please, try your hardest to have all of the “clerical” work done on your character before your next session/game begins. It can be a pain if at the beginning of each game session, after XP was given or a level was gained, you spend an hour trying to figure out what you want to do. This is especially important if the advancement that you take requires more work from the GM, as in the case of the D&D/Pathfinder feat “Leadership”. I usually plan my characters out a few levels in advance so I can knock out the details as they arise. Keep an accurate record of what your character has on their person, it will lead to less tears when you reach for your wizard hat and robe just to find you didn’t note them and the GM calls bullshit on you.

4. MAKE A DETAILED CHARACTER – This one right here is my biggest pet peeve. Mainly because well fleshed out characters make my life easier. When one of my players hands me a character sheet without a background I usually hand it back and tell them, “It’s not done.” This oft leads to a look of bewilderment until I point out that I have a limit of one “Mystery Man/Woman from the East” per adventure. I want meat. I want a fleshed out character with motivations and reasons why they do what they do. I want my players to hand me a character that is dripping with the possibility of meaningful growth. It may take coaching some players through the process a few times but eventually they will think about their characters as more than a grouping of numbers and lists. Do this for your GM, provided they value a good story, and it will be a more rewarding experience.

5. SHOWER – This applies more to gaming in person, but it’s true. Please, don’t arrive smelling of last night’s pizza. Even if you play online. Give a damn about hygiene. Smelly players often don’t get invited back for another session. If you are coming fresh from work, think about packing some deodorant and a clean shirt. Expanding more on this, just don’t be offensive; not just in odor. If your group is relatively new, consider the words that come out of your mouth. I’ve excluded a few players as they just ended up being vile at the gaming table. There is a time and place for that kind of speech/thought, know when that is.

There you have it, a few quick guidelines for player habits. There is certainly more that can be on this list, but I feel I covered the biggies. If you have anything you want me to cover in a future article as a player or GM, please let me know in the comments.

Thank you for reading and happy rolling!

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