As I said in my last post, the Game Master is the most pivotal person at the table, but the collection of players looking to the GM for fun are more potent than the man (or woman) running the world. Even the best GM with the most preparation can have a game derailed by players (or even a single player) if the players try hard enough, or, perhaps, not hard enough.
I’ve already outlined what the GM is responsible for, and I’ve stated that each player is taking care of a single character. However, it goes further than that. It’s not just a focus on what one character is doing in the here and now. A good player at the table should do:
- Pay attention at all times. You never know when an action of another may affect your character.
- When the GM speaks, listen up. The GM is probably saying something important.
- Be prepared with a plan of action when your turn comes around.
- Know the rules as best you can. (Players new to a game system are understandably excused.)
- Know the skills, powers, abilities, spells, special equipment, and other pertinent details of your character.
- Know the larger story and how your character fits into that story.
- Speak up. Even if new to a group or game system, your fellow players really want to know what you think.
- Don’t be overbearing. Allow time and energy for others to speak their mind.
- If you disagree with a GM’s adjudication, politely bring it up after the game is over. Don’t interrupt the game or destroy its flow by arguing at the table.
- Likewise, if you disagree with another player, handle it maturely and don’t get into a screaming fit.
- Allow the other players to run their own characters. Don’t tell them the best strategies or how to use their abilities.
- The exception to this is if a new player is at the table learning the system. Feel free to guide and advise, but don’t give commands.
- Stay in character as much as is possible. If you, the player, knows something your character doesn’t, don’t leverage that special information.
- Be prepared to join the table. Level up your character before you arrive. Bring your own dice, pencil(s) and note paper.
- Show up on time. Heck, try to be a little early to help setup, but not so early that you’re barging in on your host’s private time.
- When the game is over for the night, help clean up, throw away trash, put away snacks/food. However, don’t linger too long and intrude on your host’s generosity.
- Don’t expect the host to feed you. While this is common at home-based games, it should not be required.
- If playing in a public location (such as at a game store), watch your language and attitude.
- No slurs or jokes that might offend people at the table. Each group is different, though. Learn what’s acceptable at the table before you spout off.
- Most importantly, have fun!
As you can see, there’s more to being a player than just knowing when to roll the dice and what numbers to look for. Most of it involves simply being a good human being.
If you have any further hints, tips or suggestions on how to be a good player at the game table, I’d love to see them in the comments!