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10 tips to be a better dnd player

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1 10 tips to be a better dnd player on Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:58 pm

John-Paul

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Dungeon Master
Dungeon Master
1. Be Involved

My theory on fun in role-playing games is that there is a certain critical mass where people are bouncing jokes off each other, coming up with plans together, and celebrating together so that the excitement and fun becomes self-sustaining. That's why these games really hit their stride around 4 or 5 players - below that it is really difficult to hit that critical mass. The real difference between good and bad players is that good players do things that keep that chain reaction running, and bad players stop that chain reaction. Doing your part to sustain that reaction isn't all that difficult - just be involved. If you are on your phone when someone wants to say something to you or your character, not only are you not contributing to that critical mass, but you become a point where that chain reaction comes to a halt.

2. Argue and Complain in Character

Arguing and complaining is one of the quickest mood killers at the table. Thankfully, it is really easy to avoid needless personal negativity and hostility stemming from the game - argue in character. When player 1 yells at player 2 for not supporting him during battle its personal and breeds negativity. When GroK the Orc yells at Sniffler the Rogue for doing the same, its funny and interesting while still getting the point across. Same goes with complaining. When player 3 tells the DM that the police in New Paladinia are stupid and unfair it brings everyone out of the game, but when Villifar the Charlatan does the same, it helps build both the character and the world around him. DMs can do this as well. Instead of complaining about the players to their faces, having an NPC do it instead builds the world, reduces negativity at the table, and keeps the chain reaction going.

3. Show up Consistently (For Campaigns)

One shots are all about the objective and the NPCs and how the player characters shape this story, and aren't really hurt by no-shows or extra players. Campaigns on the other hand, are all about the player characters and how the story and NPCs shape them. A character randomly appearing or disappearing session to session really hurts the flow of the campaign and makes it nearly impossible for the DM to give your character a spotlight in the world. This problem can be easily solved by simply giving the DM and other players ample heads up as to when you can and can't come. I understand that this usually isn't possible, but even an hour heads up for the DM really helps them plan their session accordingly.

4. Talk to the DM out of game

Setting expectations for the DM really helps them give you what you want. Want your character to die an awesome death? Want to visit a particular part of the world? Want to shift the spotlight away from a problem player? Ask. Tell them what you are going for with your character and the DM can help shape the world to accommodate that. On the same note, doing these things in-game can sometimes really kill the mood. Declaring you want your character to die in front of everyone else can ruin your characters awesome sacrifice for the team. Telling your DM their mystery is boring and you just want to fight stuff is great feedback before and after the game, but during the game that sort of direct feedback doesn't really help and hurts the mood. Save it for when you aren't actively trying to slay goblins.

5. Have a Voice for Your Character

Talking in character really brings up the energy at the table. You don't have to do it all the time and it isn't a big requirement, but some acting be it silly or serious really helps other players get involved and interact with your character. When you don't have an in-character voice, it makes it difficult for other players to know when they are talking to you or your character, so they often revert to the former, bringing a lot of life and fun out of the game. The voice doesn't need to be over the top, but even a light accent or a slightly different affection can do wonders for other people at the table.

6. Take notes.

This piece of advice is pretty simple - you are a better player when you are keyed into what is going on in game, and taking notes helps you stay keyed in. It isn't that important in the grand scale of things, but its a small thing you can do to be a better player.

7. Understand Failure

This one is really hard. Failing a skill check or saving throw on something important sucks, but being able to take the hit without pouting or giving up completely makes you a good player in general - not just at D&D. If things are going badly for you, don't give up - double down and get more involved. Encourage other players to try to help you and groan when things get worse, but disconnecting yourself from the game doesn't make future failures hurt less - it just makes the eventual comeback less rewarding. This goes for DMs as well. Good DMs need to be a bit of a masochist because the quality of our work does not stem from how difficult we are to out-wit or beat, but how spectacularly we are able to lose. If a player can take up this ethos as well, they can make the game so much more fun for themselves and other players.

8. Know the tone of the game and whats acceptable

Don't be THAT GUY. Some groups find murder-hobo shenanigans and wacky debauchery funny and memorable, while others will think you are being a creep. Get a read on other players, ask them if you have to, but while deceiving a woman into having sex may be acceptable in a 3-musketeers style game, in most groups you're probably making other players uncomfortable.

9. Make a character you would want to be friends with.

I see so much focus on making an interesting character during character creation, but in my mind it is far more important to make a likable character. Good flaws are over-rated: you have enough of those already for them to show through in play. Backstory is over-rated: 20 words is really all you need for the interesting stuff to be involved in game. Motivation is not over-rated: having a driving goal for a character really helps you stay involved and make your character easier to understand. Over and above all, if you ever have to say: "But its what my character would do!", your character probably sucks. If you want to play the bad guys in the game, bring in the support of your friends first. Want to play shadowy loners who work behind the scenes to get things done? Try being the DM instead. Those sorts of NPCs are great antagonists.

10. Learn to redirect the spotlight

Going back to our first point, if you can bring in another character every time the story focuses on you, you become a catalyst for that chain reaction of fun. Your character becomes someone other players want to connect their characters to and to be friends with, and you can help get more uncomfortable players get involved. When you learn to be the mirror that constantly brings other characters into the spotlight when the spotlight shines on you, not only do you help continue that chain reaction of fun, but as the catalyst, you actually end up with more time in the spotlight - not less

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