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.)

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Gamerchick, you rock!

This is one of those articles that makes people say, "Well, I coulda told them that." But the thing is, nobody did. Thanks for reminding us that the players are just as responsible for making or breaking a game as a GM.



I think that every gaming group should have a photocopy of rule #10 ENLARGED in whatever room they game in as a reminder of why we are all playing this game. Excellent article Gamerchick.

Let me get my stone tablets and I'll start carving those for my gaming groups.

Until then I'll just print 'em for tonight's game, thanks GC.

: )

Hasta la proxima "La chika que juga"

I've added a link to this essay for the Yahoo! group I maintain for a LARP. Well done.

Excellent as always Gamerchick. I am going to have to print these out and hang them whenever my group gets together. Thanks.

Allow me to add a hearty "hear, hear" to the round of "yea"s chorusing through these replies - well done, Gamerchick, well done indeed.

I actually feel very fortunate that my group of players generally follows these commandments to a T, without needing to be reminded of them. That said, I'd like to add a few corollaries:

#5 - In games as character-focused as mine, I feel it's inevitable that certain sessions will focus on one character... not to the exclusion of the others, but certain moreso than usual. As a GM, it's my job to ensure that the spotlight does not remain on one character for the entire campaign, even if one character IS noticably more important than the others; as players, it's their job to recognize the presence of the spotlight and respect it, with the understanding that their characters will each have a turn in the spotlight. To that end, no one should deliberately attempt to STEAL the spotlight away from a character upon whom one has been affixed.

(Note the word deliberate - accidental borrowings of the spotlight are inevitable in any game where random chance plays a factor. It's also sometimes difficult for strong players to avoid standing in the limelight when there's a weaker player in the forefront; I myself have that problem, and I'm still working on settling into the background when necessary.)

#9 - Following an affirmative to those three questions, I as a GM would appreciate that any player about to introduce one of these plot twists consult with me first, at least in brief. I have no objection to player input in my games, but I'd prefer to know ahead of time about any forthcoming wrenches, so that I can adapt my plotline around them.

Once again, thanks Gamerchick. Well done. ^_^

Very good common-sense commandments, for the most part. However, #9 might benefit from a slight adjustment: reduce the list of questions to "Would my character take this action?" Monks and clerics looting the goblins, for example, never made much sense to me. In the case of major campaign-altering actions, obviously this is something the PC needs to work with the GM on (in the case of turning against the party, the character might revert to NPC status and become a villain under the GM's control--not that it can't be fun to have a fellow player controlling a bad guy in the party if done properly).
Obviously, playing an evil cannibal who stabs his/her fellows in the back (with a fork!) is a poor idea, and some tweaking might be necessary, but I think the primary commandment should be for the character to be played as fully as possible. This tends to increase the depth of the experience for everyone involved, and make adventures both more fun and more enjoyable.

Gee, I find myself making sure everyone knows about rule 10, and that goes for the GM as well. I try and make sure that everyone is having fun at the game.

Sure, there will be times when someone isn't having fun due to some kind of conflict, real or imagined. But if the fun doesn't come back, someone needs to look at what they're doing and make a change. After all, isn't that the point of gaming, having fun?

Great article!

Great Stuff!!!

Every member of my group has recieved a laminated copy of your commandments. They are now on the path to gamer enlightment (AKA not getting their butts kicked for acting like jerks), so thanks, Gamerchick.

My fave article of yours so far gamerchick. Well said on all counts, in particular working with the GM's plot rather than against the GM. I've never understood why I've seen so many players try to turn tail and run when faced with danger, or players who immediately look at their options on the table, and then try as hard as they can to push the GM to catch up - like leaving the whole country or something.

I'm probably somewhat unpopular here in that - with D&D anyway, I no longer hold rule #1 to be a sacred cow. With a tight rules system - it's quite possible for a GM to be wrong, and for his or her error to affect the game in an unfair way. As a DM, I tend to appreciate players pointing out an oversight on my part, or on each other's parts, and I expect them to speak up - at least on a matter of rules. There's a lot of rules there, and I don't expect anyone to be infallible that way.

That said, if the GM does not respect the rules of the game, the same rules everyone plays by, and if that proves to be not fun, I'd more likely withdraw from that game ASAP, rather than putting up a spirited defense.

I used to agree with you, Nephandus, about lightening up on rule 1.


The problem I've had with letting players correct me on rules issues is that I inevitably get some player who thinks they know the rules well, but actually has some misconceptions. Allowing them to pipe up when they think an error has been made has resulted in countless delays as they protest the accuracy of my rules calls on issues where I am actually correct, and they are the ones remembering incorrectly.

With one player, I counted 9 instances within a single nights gaming where I was "corrected" on a rule that I had right. I talked to him about it, he continued to do it anyways, and I will no longer DM for that player. It might have been different if I had made certain that he entered the game with the assumption that any and all rules calls would be handled by me, with no discussion. My leniency opened the floodgates.

Ah yes. You'd think that after 9 counts that he'd let a few slide. I'd probably dump a player like that as well. If you are going to correct someone, you'd better be right!

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!

Thanks for this. I am going to make sure all of my fellow players see it.