DO’s and DON’T’s for Players and GM’s Alike

DO know the rules.  It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure the game runs smoothly.  If you are a player, know what is applicable to your character.  This goes double for a new system.  Make note of important source-book pages, or type the rules up and keep them with your character sheet, so you aren’t constantly wasting time delving into the books for the information you need.  If you are the GM, know the rules that apply to your players, and others besides, but don’t be afraid to alter rules that don’t make sense, or don’t suit the game.  The most important thing is, if you alter rules, be consistent.

DON’T argue.  If you are a player, and you feel the GM has made an error in a ruling, bring it up only once.  If the GM does not change his ruling, let it go and roll with it.  If you are the GM, don’t get drawn into an argument with your players.  Make a ruling, and stick to it.  Don’t allow yourself to get bullied into changing your ruling because of a player’s whining.

DO take notes.  Not pages and pages of them, but write down important names, places, and events.  It is difficult to get immersed in a game if a player is giving an impassioned speech to “What’s-his-nuts,” or the GM forgets the name of an NPC he invented on the spot.  Taking notes also eliminates questions like “Wait, what’s this place called again?” and phrases like, “That guy from that one time.”

DON’T be an attention-whore.  This covers a lot of kinds of behavior.  Don’t be a comedian.  This is not to say that you can’t say funny things, but hunting constantly for a punch line (which usually isn’t funny) makes you look like you can’t be happy unless people are looking at you and laughing.  Don’t be overbearing in your role-playing.  If you are in a leadership position, fine, but you don’t always have to have the last word, the witty comeback, the big speech, the loudest battle-cry, or all of the screen time.  Don’t discard people’s ideas because you didn’t think of them first.  If you are the GM, remember that this is their story as well as yours, and make sure to strike an enjoyable balance between a plot-driven and character-driven story.

DO know your group.  If you are the GM, understand that some systems and some settings just don’t appeal to everyone.  If you have a fairly rowdy group, running a gritty horror game will be frustrating for both GM and players.  Know how much your players like to lead and be led.  You are there to run a fun game, and you don’t do that by running something your players actively hate.  As a player, know your GM, and be ready to try something new.  If you’ve been playing D&D 3.5 for the past year, and the GM wants to run a short arc of Feng Shui for something different, make an honest effort to work with the style and atmosphere the GM is going for.  Odds are, you’ll enjoy yourselves once you get into the groove of a new game.

DO comment, and stay tuned for more articles.

[tags]Role Playing Games,Advice,rpg[/tags]

2 thoughts on “DO’s and DON’T’s for Players and GM’s Alike

Add yours

  1. When I made a few tweaks and added reference tables to a popular digital sheet on BYOND, I made a point of adding Rule Zero among those references. I have to agree with Take Notes though, we sometimes don’t use a gameboard, and even though we RP everything down to wiping our backsides, the DM always seems to ask “Okay, who’s standing outside?” when it’s about to rain death on us.


  2. One of my favorite things to do, even though I like to note player stats, order, etc is as follows:

    Me: You come to a closed door.

    Party Leader: I open it.

    Me: Okay everyone, how many hit points do you all have?

    The Party: (exchanging glances) 22, 18, 9, 15

    Me: Right. The room’s empty. Now what do you do?

    Keeps everyone on their toes.


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