The Ten Commandments Of Priceless Players
On this site and elsewhere, tens of thousands of words have been devoted to the art of being a good GM. Tips, tricks, ideas, and strategies for improving your game abound, some valid, some not. But I sometimes feel as though in all that talk about running a better game, an equally (if not more) important part of the gaming experience is neglected. It's true the way in which a GM runs a game contributes a lot to its success or failure, but in the end it's the behavior of the players that really makes or breaks a game.
On this site and elsewhere, tens of thousands of words have been devoted to the art of being a good GM. Tips, tricks, ideas, and strategies for improving your game abound, some valid, some not. But I sometimes feel as though in all that talk about running a better game, an equally (if not more) important part of the gaming experience is neglected. It's true the way in which a GM runs a game contributes a lot to its success or failure, but in the end it's the behavior of the players that really makes or breaks a game. The more I game, the more amazed I am when I see other gamers (some of them very experienced) failing to abide by rules of basic, common courtesy. Perhaps it's not that they're ignorant of these rules, but just that they need to be reminded of them. With that, I bring you my own list of ten simple rules that you, the player, can and should follow to make your games more pleasant for everyone involved. (Feel free to add your own at the end of this article.)
- I WILL RESPECT THE AUTHORITY AND THE DECISIONS OF THE GM. I will honor her knowledge of the system and plans for the campaign by understanding when it comes down to it, what she says goes, even if it goes against the way I've done things in the past. If I have a significant problem with any of her decisions, I will wait until the end of the game session to discuss it rather than bringing the game to a screeching halt the moment the transgression occurs. (See Rule #7 for more on this.)
- I WILL ALSO RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF MY FELLOW PLAYERS. I will look at gaming as a group venture and will treat my fellow PCs in a way that upholds this goal. Though some intra-party conflict can lend a real sense of urgency and danger to a game, I will not take it to the extreme where the intra-party conflict becomes the game. I will observe the Golden Rule and not fold, spindle, or mutilate my fellow PCs in-game without their players' express permission to do so. Also, I will leave in-game conflict at the table and not allow it to bleed over into real life or affect the way I treat my fellow gamers.
- I WILL WORK WITH THE GM TO MAKE A CHARACTER WHO FITS WITH AND CONTRIBUTES TO THE GAME. I will ask about issues of game balance and party composition, as well as any no-nos or recommended character components, before approaching the GM with a fully completed character. Under no circumstances will I create a character whose only function is to sow discord and distrust and create conflict within the party, unless the entire group wants me to play this role.
- I WILL WORK WITH THE GM'S PLOT RATHER THAN AGAINST IT. When I see something that greatly resembles a plot hook, I will not immediately turn tail and run in the opposite direction, all the while giving the lame excuse that "it's what my character would do." Instead, I will come up with reasons to at the very least approach and consider the plot that the GM has planned, even if this means betraying my character a little bit.
- I WILL NOT HOG THE SPOTLIGHT. I will respect the precious time of my GM and my fellow players by keeping them involved in as much of the game as possible. As mentioned in Rule #2, I will realize I am not the only person in my gaming group and will not behave as though I am. I will not split the party unnecessarily, nor will I monopolize the GM's time with private conferences or long conversations with NPCs; if I find it absolutely necessary to do this, I will ask for a one-on-one or bluebooking session in which I can accomplish these goals when the other players are not present. Also, I will not ruin the mood with snide comments when the GM is speaking in-character or describing scenes, and I will gladly allow other players to have their moments in the sun.
- I WILL BE A GOOD SPORT. This goes hand in hand with Rule #1. I will not engage in needless rules lawyering or argumentation with the GM or the other players. If I mess up a roll or my character's plans don't work out, I will not pout or throw a fit. Instead, I will complain just a little and then set about making a new plan. I will not whine or gloat unnecessarily about the events of a game session, but accept what has happened, for better or worse.
- IF I HAVE A PROBLEM, I WILL DISCUSS IT WITH THE GM IN A CALM AND REASONABLE FASHION. If the GM does something I absolutely cannot abide, I will sit down with him and clearly explain why I disagree with his decision, without yelling at him or insulting him. I will be constructive and offer suggestions, and I will also listen to the GM and accept a reasonable compromise. I will try to be understanding of his needs and not hold out to have all my demands met, settling instead for a mutually acceptable solution. Under no circumstances will I bad-mouth him behind his back or allow all the other players to know about my problem with him before he does. I will wait to do this until after the session has ended or it has reached a breaking point, and I will do it in private with the GM.
- I WILL NOT BE A JERK WHEN IT COMES TO NON-GAMING-RELATED MATTERS. I will arrive on time to sessions and stay until the end. If this is not possible, I will inform the GM beforehand. I will respect the space in which the game takes place and abide by any rules that come with it. I will not mooch dice, books, pencils, or other materials for longer than necessary, buying my own when I need them. I will share these supplies with newer gamers until they, too, buy their own. Out of character, I will be polite and respectful. I will pay my fair share for pizza and gas, bring my own beverages unless told to do otherwise, and maybe even bring snacks to share from time to time.
- BEFORE I TAKE ANY MAJOR ACTION AS A PLAYER (that is, an action with the potential to change the game dramatically, such as switching sides to work for the enemy), I WILL ASK MYSELF THREE QUESTIONS. Those three questions are: Does it make the game more fun? Does it improve the story? Do these benefits apply to everyone? If I cannot answer "yes" to all three of these questions, it does not matter how much I like the idea or how cool I think "my" subplot would be - I will keep silent and not go through with it.
- I WILL REMEMBER THE FIRST AND FOREMOST OBJECT OF THE GAME IS TO HAVE FUN. I will act as though all other rules are irrelevant compared to this one. If I follow this rule above all else, I should be in the clear.