soo ive seen a lot of posts on how to be a better dm, but do u happen to have any tips for how to be a better player? like tips on how to improvise/roleplay better or just things that you wish your players did more?
First off, Anon, I am so sorry it’s taken me a while to get to this. I wanted to do it justice, and with the wedding, I let the blog fall to the wayside. But though the answer is long overdue, I hope it helps.
SO YOU’RE PLAYING DND
We talk so so much about GMs needing to accommodate players and needing to make sure players are having fun and just How to Be a Good Storyteller/Improviser/Mechanical Genius/Memory Gremlin/Mediator/Babysitter/Friend/Person, but you’re right, we rarely touch on the other side of that equation. We expect a lot of our gamemasters, and they do carry a lot of responsibility when it comes to a DnD game. But we as players can definitely make that process easier, and we should! Everyone at the table should be having fun, including the GM. Here’s some ways that you, the player, can help facilitate that.
Before the Game:
Make a character that will fit in the world/campaign you’re playing in. GM’s should help accommodate you, but if you make a lone wolf dragonborn barbarian with a deep seated hatred of nobility in a game that’s mostly political intrigue, that’s kind of your bad, bro. Oddball concepts and characters that defy tropes of the setting can work, but don’t break the flavor/nature of the game before it’s even begun! I promise you the GM wants to make your concept work, but they also want the spirit of their setting to continue to work as intended. Player/GM relationships need to be about compromise.
Make a character that meshes with the party (or will in the future). I’m talking about this from a purely flavorful standpoint. If you make a loner vigilante who screws everyone over, not only is that taking enjoyment away from other players, it’s making more work for the GM. You don’t have to start out with a ‘we’re one big family’ attitude, but you should have a character who is open to working with others, or who will change and grow in that direction.
Talk to the GM about your character. Unless you’re playing a really impromptu session, or the GM specifically said not to, you should definitely discuss your concept and even mechanical build with the GM! It can help them seed story hooks for your character and build challenges that test your class. Obviously this is less of an option in Adventure League play, but we’re talking about private campaigns for now.
Come to the table with a positive and open-minded attitude. I hope that you are playing because you want to. Let the GM know you’re excited! Actively engage and participate in things at the table, both in and out of character. Be open to things not going your way, cause they can’t always, and try to be good-natured about obstacles and changes in the game.
This last one segues us into
At the Table:
Be distinct in the difference between in character and out of character. This is probably something your table needs to discuss, whether you’re using a hand sign and everything else is considered in character, or if you have to specify that you’re speaking in character, or what. But I love it when players use voices or otherwise signify that they are in character. General roleplay tips can be found here!
Be gracious about accepting when you’re wrong. Look, I’ve seen my share of arguments at the table. I’ve been in a few of them, and they suck. When you’re disputing something, take a second to step back and ask yourself if it matters in the long run before you push the issue. Don’t argue for the sake of being right - we’re all wrong sometimes! And while you shouldn’t let a GM make unfair rulings, you should also be open to house rules, even if you disagree. It’s not your table, and if you want to open the issue for further discussion, you should do so outside the game.
Be aware of your fellow players. There are going to be sessions where some players are more relevant than others, especially in story driven games. That’s okay! Recognize when it’s an opportunity for someone else to have the spotlight, and help them recognize those moments too! In an ideal world, everyone gets the spotlight every time, but the reality is that sometimes you gotta recognize when it’s your time to pull back a little bit and let other players take the lead. Being aware of other players and having an open dialogue about your characters can also help you bring them more into the game if they’re feeling out of it. I love when my players help each other in this way.
Be aware of the story. Look for story hooks, and go after them when you find them! I love it when my players make decisions that are narratively interesting, even if they’re not the smartest decisions or even if it pushes their character in a new/different direction. There’s nothing more frustrating as a GM than laying out a variety of story hooks and having the players ignore them. That being said, if you’re not interested in the story hooks, tell the GM what you would be into.
Be open to character change. This is a huge one. So often we talk about people who say, “It’s what my character would do.” This is fine, and in fact you should know your character’s ideals and traits. But you gotta acknowledge that people change, and if a character decision is gonna be narratively destructive or just in general going to cause a lot of unnecessary strife in or out of game, you should ask yourself if that’s the decision you want your character to make, rather than being less stubborn and making the character change a bit. Balance between what the character wants and what is good for the table is important.
Communicate. In general, I really like having feedback from players on how they enjoyed sessions, things that worked/didn’t work, what they’re excited for, theories about the plot, and what I like to call the character check, which is when they give me an update on the emotional and moral state of their character. Knowing these things can help me make sessions feel more personal, like they’re tailor-made for the party. Most importantly, though, I like to know if they’re having fun. I want them to come talk to me if there are issues, because I can’t resolve them if I’m not made aware of them!
I hope this helps! Happy gaming!