During your gaming sessions, everything you do – in character or out of character – can affect the entire group. So, here’s five quick tips to help you be a more courteous player.
#1. Reduce the time you spend out of character. If you are constantly slipping in and out of your character, you create a lot of confusion for your group and your DM. No one really knows for sure if it was Ceril the Barbarian or Jimmy that just said that. Should the other characters respond? How should the DM handle NCP reactions? It’s a complicated web that leads to frustration for everyone involved. So, avoid it by staying in character as much as possible.
#2. Be a conflict resolver. Groups of friends don’t always get along; it’s the same for a group of adventurers. Sometimes Ceril wants to smash the rocks blocking the most obvious entrance, while the rogue wants to scout out the other side of the fortress for an alternate entrance. When characters can’t reach a compromise, the whole session can come to a stand-still. Instead of standing by watching your familiar play in the dirt, see what you can do to help resolve the conflict. You don’t have to betray character’s persona; just take another look at the situation to see if your character could somehow help find a resolution. Maybe your character can’t help… it happens. If discussions get too heated, talk to the DM about taking a quick break so everyone can relax a bit; conflict resolution isn’t always about a diplomacy check.
#3. Don’t railroad. If you are so deeply connected to your character that you need extra game time for further character development… that’s great! Congratulations! But keep in mind, yours is not the only character in the party. Other people want to play too, and if you continually steal the spotlight for your own use, you will antagonize everyone else. Instead, try working with the DM to find some time you can work on your character development, maybe before your regularly-scheduled session or during the week through chats. You can feel free to share the results with the rest of the party; this is important to you, and it will be important them too. They just don’t necessarily have to watch it all play out while they are twiddling their real life thumbs waiting for you to finish.
#4. Leave your real life at the door. Sure, you may have just had the most horrible day ever, and the last thing you want to do is try to figure out how to get out of this impossible dungeon. Bringing your misery into the situation will make it difficult for everyone to have an enjoyable session; your emotions are not always appropriate for your character. Take a few moments to complete whatever ritual you use to re-establish your roleplaying connection, like reviewing last session’s notes or looking over your character sheet. Sometimes, it can be extremely difficult to just ignore whatever is happening in your life, especially because your game time is also a time of fellowship; these are your friends, and you want to talk to them about whatever is bothering you. Use your breaks to discuss what’s bothering you, and when the break is over, do your best to leave all those troubles behind you.
#5. Avoid arguing with the DM. Nothing ruins things faster than you getting into a shouting match the DM. Not only can it devastate group morale, you risk undermining the DM’s authority, leaving the door open for future arguments. You won’t always agree with the DM, but how you handle your disagreement makes all the difference in the world. If it’s something that can wait, let it wait until the end of the session; bring it up away from your gaming environment so you can discuss the issue as a level-headed individual instead of a rage-filled character. If it’s something that will prevent forward movement, ask for a break so you can present your argument. In order to keep things moving forward, your DM may make a temporary decision until further investigation during non-game time allows for a more permanent resolution. Things won’t always turn out the way you want, but have faith that your DM makes fair decisions for the greater good of the entire party.