It’s 11:00 on a Saturday night and you and your boys are headed into the club.  You shove your way through the crowd of people and order a couple of mojitos to take the edge off and to wet your whistles. This is a dance club, but it appears that nobody is dancing.  You’ve got a choice to make.  You can sit down and stare at the empty dance floor while you sip on your Mojito, or you can stop being a lame idiot and tear that dance floor up yourself.  Nobody is judging you for having fun, so get out there and have a good time.

Dungeons & Dragons is a dance club.  The average patron might be fatter, hairier and uglier, but we’re all here to have a good time.  If you’re going to play don’t just sit on the sidelines and watch – dance!  That is your job as a player.  Consider your dungeon master the DJ, manager, bartender, bouncers and the occasional hot broad sitting alone at the bar waiting on someone to ask her to dance.  He can’t do all of that and also be the life of the party.  That’s where you, the player, come in.  Your job is to get into the groove and bust some sick moves.  Let me show you an example of what I’m talking about.

Take a look at that old man.  The moment he threw those canes to the floor he was thinking “This is my motherfucking jam and I’m Gene Kelly.”  He’s the guy in DnD who forsakes using weapons in favor of suplexing every enemy he encounters .  Bitches love this guy.  Just look at how those two dames came waltzing over to join him because they were inspired by his “if your friends don’t dance then they ain’t no friends of mine” attitude.  Most people would feel embarrassed to be this guy, but it’s plain to see that this guy is awesome, so why the hesitation?  Nobody is judging you negatively for having fun.  They’re admiring you.  With the idea of having fun in mind, I’ve got 11 more tips to help you become a better player in any pen and paper roleplaying game.

1. Get involved.  If you’re someone who thinks the idea of the brooding, mysterious stranger who sulks in the shadows and only speaks when he has something edgy to say is cool, then you are very similar to the handful of other people who think that this type of character is cool, who everyone else thinks is not cool.  If you don’t act or speak then you are in no way contributing toward making role-playing a fun and memorable experience.  You’re just… there.  “Hey, remember that time I sat in the corner and grunted?” No.  Nobody remembers that, you wet blanket.

2. Don’t reject plot hooks without clever alternatives in mind.  You will often encounter moments in the story where you have a choice to make.  Do you accept the wizard’s quest, or do you deny it?  You are free to do either, but never simply deny it without having something else in mind.  It’s easy to get carried away with the idea that you’re in an open, infinite universe where anything can happen and you can do whatever your heart desires.  While true, you should also realize that your DM has only prepared so much content.  Once you go off the rails, you are putting a lot of pressure on him to improvise.  It’s safe to assume that his improvised content will usually be less interesting than stuff he’s planned for.  Don’t work against your DM if he’s not working against you.  You’re a team in creating a fun, memorable adventure.

3. Work with the tools you are given.  Think of the show “Who’s Line is it Anyway?”  Remember that episode where Drew Carey gave Wayne Brady a traffic cone, and Wayne Brady told Drew to go fuck himself with it before sitting back down and doing nothing?  Me neither.  When your GM throws something your way, work with it.  Wayne Brady doesn’t tell Drew to fuck off, because Wayne understands good improv and is not a total asshole.  He takes the traffic cone and he turns it into a hat, or pretends it’s a telescope, or a big Madonna boob.  The point is, he takes the material he is given and applies his creativity toward making it fun.

4. The world around you is more expansive than the minimal detail your DM is able to describe to you.  It’s safe to assume there are people, places and things that the DM hasn’t thought of or just hasn’t told you.  Feel free to inject those things into the story yourself.  You see a ragged old man with an eye patch smiling at you and beckoning you forward with his finger?  Alright, let’s roll with it.  You see a shelf full of old dusty books?  Sure, those are probably all over the place.  Your DM already has a lot on his plate.  I’m sure he will appreciate it if you take some creative liberties.

5. Don’t obsess over the rules.  This one is important.  It might depend on who you’re playing with, but fun people use the rules as a guideline and not an absolute law.  Imagine watching Lord of the Rings.  Now imagine watching Lord of the Rings where every two minutes an angry nerd interrupts and rants about improper set design, plot holes and poor acting.  Fuck that guy.  Nobody wants to watch any movie with that guy and nobody wants to play DnD with that guy.  Most things that people argue about in DnD simply aren’t worth arguing about.  They are typically trivial details.  More harm then good is done in arguing over trivial details.  If you’re character is in a life or death situation and your DM claims anything lower than a 20 is a failed death save, sure, remind him of the rules, but otherwise please keep it to yourself.

6. Don’t split the party. If you disagree with your party, and you will disagree with your party, talk it out in character and find a compromise.  I don’t care how lawful your paladin is.  If your entire group wants to break into the bakery to steal all of their cinnamon buns, find a way to join them.  Even if that means changing your character and your character’s values, it’s what you should do.  You also have the option to be stubborn and say “forget this, I’m leaving” and then your character can never come back.  Now reroll a character that has more synergy with your party. Make every sacrifice necessary in order to avoid splitting the party.

7. Create goals.  You should always have something that is motivating your character to stay in the company of your party and you should always have a long term goal your character wants to achieve.  If your goal is finding your lost son and you find him at level 5, you’re going to need another goal to strive for to keep yourself going.  This is all an extension of involving yourself and contributing to the story.  Always be looking for a way to continue toward achieving your goal.  These goals don’t always have to be long term goals, either.  You can have short term goals too, like “I want to try every different type of chili in the kingdom!”.  Even little things like that give your character a reason to keep moving.  You don’t have to wait for your DM to shove you in a direction.  If things are feeling boring you’ve got the power to advance the plot and change the setting.

8. Don’t meta-game, but also don’t be clueless.  Your character, as an adventurer, has a certain amount of assumed knowledge.  In a high magic setting you’ll have heard of dragons, demons, angels and owlbears.  You might have even seen one yourself depending on who you are.  You also probably have some knowledge of certain cities or towns.  “Thoicia is famous for its clowns and street performers!” you might exclaim to your party.  If your DM isn’t a complete dick he’ll roll with that and be happy that you’re helping create the world.  You should know some facts about places, people and things.  Feel free to share them.  Of course, you can’t know everything either.  This may seem a bit confusing and it might be something you need to talk to your DM about, but a cool DM will allow you a lot of liberties.

9. Don’t stop your party members from doing things.  If the barbarian in your party goes to punch the bartender in the face, don’t try to say “Wait!  I grab her fist and stop her!”  Congratulations, you’ve just stopped another player from being able to play the game while at the same time accomplishing literally nothing.  Instead, let the barbarian follow through with her swing and pop the bartender in the nose and react accordingly.  Maybe you need to talk her down and stop a fight from breaking out, or maybe a brawl breaks out and you get thrown out.  Either scenario is more fun than nothing.  Stopping things from happening is doing nothing.

10. Learn the rules  Take some time to learn the rules, or at the very least what your own class is capable of.  Know how your abilities work and how your spells work.  It’s understandable to not have a full grasp on these things right away, but make an effort to remember them.  It should only take a few sessions.  Once you’ve learned what you’re capable of, start thinking more quickly on and before your turn.  There isn’t a whole lot that can change from your last turn to your next, so you should a rough idea of what you might want to do.  If you’ve taken 3 minutes deliberating your turn and you aren’t using some super cool illusion magic and instead finish with “I guess I’ll just use eldritch blast”, you can be certain your DM wants to slam your head into the table.  Making your turn quick and efficient is important to keeping the game moving.

11. Don’t be a shitter.  Show up and show up on time.  Your DM puts a lot of work and preparation into making DnD possible.  If you’ve agreed to participate on a certain day at a certain time, then don’t miss it.  Someone has just spent hours planning a party for you.  It’d be really rude to show up late or not show up at all.  When you do show up, show up prepared to play.  Don’t diddle around on your cell phone or with other things.  Pay attention to the game and participate in it.  Basic manners, really, but everyone could use a reminder.

Most importantly, have fun.  Look at everything that happens as an opportunity to do something memorable that you can talk about with your friends in the future.  You could enter a tavern and have a few drinks and then leave.  That’s absolutely something you could do.  Nobody will remember it, nobody will talk about it and nobody will care, but you could do it.  Or, you can enter a tavern to get incredibly drunk, light the place on fire, drag the bartender out back to bury him alive and then show up at his house to shake his wife down for some coinage. I don’t speak for everyone, but if your intent is to have fun you probably want to be part of the group burying people alive.

 

About The Author

Luke

I'm into massive multiplayer online gaming communities. My online alter ego is 18 feet tall and has wings like an angels, but also like a demons. His name is Yogzula. Yogzula can fuck anything and he will and has. Women. Devils. Angels. Animals. If you meet me online by Grub's tavern, I will show you where the treasure is hidden.

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