How to be a good player


#1

So, later this year I’m going to be playing in my very first tabletop campaign and I was wondering if anybody had any advice on rookie mistakes to avoid.

DMs, what do you wish your players had done differently when they first started and what kind of things do new players do that drive you kind of crazy?

I’m basically trying to make my DMs job as easy as possible, haha.


#2

I can’t swear to extensive experience, having only played a handful of sessions in various games and GMed a few dozen sessions of one campaign, but I think this question can really move in a couple different directions. Ultimately things come down to clear communication, your GM’s style of play, not being rude or inconsiderate to other players… and if you feel out of your depth, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your group!

On a personal level, what I like to see in a player is somebody who is in touch with the character they are playing: what motivates them, who else in the world they know or have a prior relationship with, what sort of interesting actions and reactions they would make in sticky situations, how they regard the other characters in the party (and that’s allowed to be negatively–as long as you make it clear out-of-character that that’s your character at their character, not you at the other player!), etc. Some people like to do that through giving their character a voice, others by having a backstory, others like to feel out the character as they go and see how things develop… there’s no “wrong” way, and practicing trying different things is kind of the whole point of roleplaying!

An important element of that is to be active, not reactive. Use tools and your environment in interesting ways. Don’t be afraid to spark up in-character dialogue and inter-party discussion of the group’s goals and methods. Put yourself out there! Obviously you don’t want to be the only one talking over everything else and the DM, but someone coming in tentatively to a session or campaign and not speaking up or making themselves felt in the group feels like a way to miss out on a lot of the fun and engagement. Learn what works through the process of doing, as a player in the group and as a character in the world both!

edit: Ultimately, I think the most important benchmark is, well, why is everyone there playing together if not to have fun together? Bear that in mind with how you interact with other players: is this gruesome torture description you’re getting really into making another player visibly uncomfortable? Does you attacking this npc unprompted mess things up for that other person’s planned character arc? And this is a two-way street: if something makes you uncomfortable or things unenjoyable for you, don’t be afraid to say it. Perhaps say it privately to the GM or the player behaving in that way, if it’s something that can wait and you don’t want to make a scene, but have respect for your own boundaries and preferences in addition to those of your fellow roleplayers.

So yeah, enjoy yourself, lean into your character, and make sure everyone’s having fun!


#3

Be present. Which, seems obvious on the most basic level, but like… if you’re super into it, not checking your phone, or if online, watching twitter, listening to music, etc. you’re going to have a better time, and the DM isn’t going to have to explain stuff multiple times, or drop more hints than they wanted to steer you towards something. (If that’s their goal.)

Get into it, but don’t hog time. You’re here to act, essentially. Don’t worry at ALL about “oh, my voice isn’t good.” or “I don’t want to come off as some mega nerd, so I’m gunna be quiet.” This stuff is a ton of fun, and not everybody is going to be some rockstar voice actor. (The one downside to Critical Role getting a ton of people into it has to have been the self-doubt about acting it gives some people who aren’t as secure.) Just have fun.

Try to play the character, don’t metagame the best result for future adventures, or “winning” by some learned definition. Being somebody else is the win state. Maybe that’ll mean getting into trouble, and dying, maybe it won’t. (You can also ask your DM/GM out of character if you should reel it in if you’re worried you’re going too far off track.)

Oh, that’s another good starting point. Talk to your GM beforehand. Ask them what they’re expecting/hoping for from you. That’ll generally give them a chance to tell you “Okay, this is a good aligned campaign, you don’t have to do a voice for your character, but it’s fun, helps with clarity of who is talking in or out of world, but if you’re uncomfortable that’s fine…” etc. - Also, you can ask a few questions, which they may not think of which can help you determine some potentially critically important things. “Hey, there’s some subject matter I’d kinda like to avoid, Is this going to be a problem?” “Hey, I’d like to play an evil character, is that okay, or is that going to mess with this campaign?” (Sometimes it just will, and it’s better to find a campaign that it won’t mess up, for everybody at the tables sake.) But… often time just… being sure you sit down with the DM/GM and your other party members before the game starts, possibly before character creation, and asking questions, can give you a HUGE leg up on understanding expectations, where everyone is coming from, etc.

Have fun, ultimately is what the game master will want you to be doing. My tip as a player, towards that end, is, abandon your comfort zone as much as you can make yourself if you’re usually shy/quiet/etc. Worry about being your character, that’s the win state, not money or experience acquired. (But again, don’t be there shouting, acting out every single thing you do and hogging the mic to to speak, there’s a lot of people at the table, and if you’re talking half the time and aren’t the GM, you’ll want to check in with others. (Or, if you see someone not engaging, you can sometimes ask them about what they’re doing, what skills they can bring to the situation to get them involved,etc.))