Players! Appreciate your DM vs DMs! Enforcing gaming etiquette
Ola, Heroes! I hope all your games were filled with intrigue and adventure this week. So, we’re here to talk about DM appreciation, but also about manners at the table. Don’t worry, as a regular DM I’m not going to be going on some self-serving rant about buying me cookies before every game (although….). This is more about the little things that make everyone’s game night a little better.
Players! Appreciate your DM
You know what your DM has to do to organise your game so I won’t bore you with it. Let’s just say there’s a lot of planning goes into those “random” encounters. Anyway, for the three or four hours that you play on a Friday night, there’s easily as much prep that goes in beforehand.
My current Players are actually the best damn group I’ve ever DM’d for. There are zero complaints from over here. But I thought I’d share with you the little things that they do, and the little things that I try to do when I play as well, that makes the DM feel like their effort is worth it.
Firstly, they never come empty handed. Not everyone can afford a crate of beers or fourteen pizzas (between the five of us…? The maths is weak with this one). But bringing a quartet of donuts or a box of brownie bites to nibble with one hand while you fence the Lich King with the other is always appreciated. Another thing is possibly only a thing at our table: where I sit, I’m kinda trapped. I also get through a stupid amount of water in a game because of all the talking/acting/laughing that I do. It’s always nice when one of my Players nips out for another beer that they ask if I need a top up. May Pelor bless their little faces.
It’s just good manners, and may seem obvious, but it’s worth noting because I know other groups that don’t bother. That goes for the last one on my little list of examples as well. After every game, they say thank you. Simple isn’t it? But I always ask them if the game went ok for them, I always ask for feedback, and I always thank them for playing. Because I enjoy running the campaign. I love having an excuse to make up stories, and they’re letting me do that for them. It’s like having the readers of my books right there in the room while I tell them the story. Petrifying and utterly rewarding.
Anyway, so there you go, Players. Remember your manners and your whole experience will remain fun until long after level 20.
DMs! Enforcing gaming etiquette
It isn’t always easy when you’re juggling the hp of fifteen kobolds, initiative order, the intense music soundtrack, and describing the outcomes of dice rolls and decisions, but DMs have one more responsibility to add to their list. Maintaining order. I don’t have this problem so much in my own game as the Players are all very good, but in another game that I play in, there is sometimes anarchy.
I was playing with a few new Players the other week. One was the partner of a regular Player who really wasn’t that bothered but had been cajoled to play. That usually leads to disaster and it almost did. You see, despite how awesome we think our favourite game is, some folks just aren’t that bothered. And some folks just aren’t that polite about it. However, for me in particular, it’s the highlight of my week. So it’s a shame when it’s easily ruined by bad manners.
In short, this new Player not only got a little drunk (nothing wrong with that) but loudly, constantly talking over the DM to the point that it actually messed up a pretty important engagement. The DM clearly didn’t want to say anything although the exasperation was clear, and so I had to step in. That Player had also, on every turn of combat or interaction they’d had, just slid their character sheet toward someone else and pretty much said “you do it”. Now, I know that you’re going to say “that’s easy to fix. That Player doesn’t come back”, and I agree. But it can also be tough for some DMs to do that to someone. But, it’s our job.
Our Players are sometimes excited, rowdy, a little squiffy, and having fun. There’s nothing wrong with that. But downright disruptive is a huge no-no. Every now and again, don’t forget to bring your fold back into the pen. And, if someone is being disruptive of everyone else’s fun, don’t feel bad about asking them to cool it. You don’t have to drop an Ettin on their head, but a little chill-out gesture on your part will go a long way.
Also, if you read the Player section above then you’ll know this already, don’t forget to thank your players for being awesome. Yes, you’ve put a lot of work in, but these people are also your friends, so thank them. They keep coming back for more of your story, and presumably you enjoy doing it, so the thanks need to go both ways. Be polite…and then crush them under the unrelenting hand of Orcus.
Thanks for reading, guys! Next time we’ll be talking about: So you’re about to die vs. So your Player is about to die.
Craig Hallam is an uber-geek and author of Speculative Fiction from Yorkshire, UK
Find him at www.facebook.com/craighallamauthor or on twitter @craighallam84.