10 Ways to Be a Better Role-Playing Game Player

There has been a lot of follow up recently over on The RPG Site about the article 11 Ways to Be a Better Role-Player. I am only going to commit to 10, but Ill do my best. This specifically covers what I see are best practices in being a good player of the game – so they all involve playing within a social environment as well as interacting with the specific system of the game.

  1. Clearly Differentiate your Character Voice. If you talk in character, make sure you do so in a way that makes it clear you are talking in character. Sometimes you can’t tell if its a flatulent Dwarven warrior arguing with you or some dude named Tim – who may or may also be flatulent.
  2. Don’t Create an Anti-Party Character. There is the in-game world, then there is the social element of gathering to play a game. It is possible to play a character with different views than many other party members without doing so in a way that disrupts the social element of the game.
  3. Understand Your Own Character. You need to take the time to understand what your character can do, what they would know they know how to do, and how they would change over time. Your character can and should evolve over time, just like real people do.
  4. Look Up Your Own Look Ups Before You Do it. If you are using a power, feat, skill or whatever, understand first what it does – plus have a good idea where to find the rule if you need it. It isn’t cool to slow down the entire group for it.
  5. Don’t Distract from the Action. Some GM’s will come up with creative punishments for players that consistently aren’t ready when its their turn or, worse, go off on digressive conversations with other players during the game or are constantly messing with their smart phone. You are taking away from others pleasure and breaking immersion. There is probably a break time for that.
  6. Embrace Disasters. Sometimes, things go terribly wrong during the in-game action. Your character loses an eye, a loved one or they come home to find their spouse in bed with head of the Beggar’s Guild. Improvise, integrate and respond in character. This goes along with #3 – except that disasters often come about during randomized game action.
  7. Understand the GM Approach to the Game. Is it a true Simulationist style of play, or is there a story game lurking there? Are you free to pretty much decide your own fate with the role of the dice, or are you really tracked into some pre-destined story? Some GMs don’t know the difference. Its okay to let the GM know if you think is one and not the other, but if they want to run it the way they are running it, remember its their decision.
  8. Leave the Real World Behind with In-Game Relationships. You may not like Bob as a player, but if all of your characters hate Bob’s characters then you aren’t really role playing, are you?
  9. Be Ready with Your Own Actions – Only. If your character isn’t there, its probably okay to give rule advice if needed – but that’s it. Don’t give a load of commentary on others actions. Along the same lines, nobody likes a nag. Chastising other players for their decisions is not only a distraction (#3), its also a basic social faux pas too.
  10. If You Can’t Dance, Learn. If You Don’t Want to Learn, Leave the Party. Tabletop RPGs happen within a social environment. The GM runs the game and is the final arbiter of the rules. There is a lot of negotiation that can go on between players and the GM in order to make the game more fun, and that’s not necessarily a part of the rules. If you find that you aren’t having fun, make a best effort to work it out. If it isn’t working out – quit the game. Sulky players who aren’t having fun bring everyone down.


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