Gaming is epic. You get together with your friends, slay dragons (hopefully) and have a great time. At least that’s the theory, anyway…
How many times have you been at a gaming session, though, and one of the players seems focused on their own fun above all else? You know the kind of person I mean: he doesn’t let anyone else anywhere near the limelight and sulks if the party doesn’t follow his “advice”.
Gaming is a social activity and—if done right—is governed by an unspoken social contract made between friends. Sometimes in our rush to have fun, we can lose sight of this fact. After all, I’ve got a stressful life and need to unwind by killing goblins—right? Of course, the problem with that narrow point of view is that (probably) everyone else at the table has their own stresses and tribulations. They’ve come to the game for the same reason—to relax and forget their stressful day.
The internet is awash with GMing advice about how to run good sessions and how to make sure all the players are having fun. However, comparatively little has been written about how players can help ensure their fellow players have fun.
That’s a bit bizarre—the social contract applies to everyone at the table, after all—as there are far more players than GMs at almost any given table.
So, without further ado, here are some hints and tips to help YOU help your friends have more fun at the table.
Sadly (for you) you are not the most important person at the table and you don’t have a monopoly on having fun. Everyone at the table has an equal right to have fun.
Don’t be an arse and make a character at odds with one or more of the party. As an example from my own campaign: don’t make a chaotic neutral rogue in a party which already contains two paladins and a lawful good cleric and then spend all your time moaning, “Why are we here, my character wouldn’t do this,” or ”I don’t understand why we turned down the reward for this.”
Also, don’t deliberately make important choices that are going to annoy or irritate your fellow players even if it’s “what your character would do”. If someone is playing a wizard in the party, don’t sunder the enemy wizard’s spellbook because you hate books. (For once, this isn’t an example from my own campaign.)
Appreciate Different Play Styles
Everyone has their own play style. You may love combat and hate roleplaying while your chum loves using stealth and guile over combat to win the day. Be patient; let your friends explore their play style. Of course, some adventures don’t support constant violence and some have no real option for diplomacy (it’s hard to negotiate with zombies, for example) but generally speaking a well designed adventure has opportunities for all play styles.
Remember, just because you would prefer to resolve the situation in some other way, not everyone will agree. Sometimes, you won’t get your own way. Bravely, suck it up.
Share the Spotlight
Would it kill you to let a friend role-play his character just a little bit more or to let someone else take the lead in slaughtering the Evil Giants of Doom? The GM’s focus is limited in a session—he’s probably out-numbered by players. Be generous with the spotlight and patient with your fellow players.
Everyone deserves a go in the spotlight. Stealthy rogues—for example—probably don’t need “help” scouting from the platemail-clad fighter and in most parties the bard should handle the negotiations; he doesn’t need “help” from the cranky, hungover dwarf.
Don’t contest the spotlight with your friends, and when it’s your turn to shine they won’t contest it with you.
- The Good Gaming Habits You Should Have
- The Main Causes of Gaming Arguments
- What’s the Point (in Gaming)?
The Final Word
Remember roleplaying—except Paranoia, of course—is a cooperative team pursuit. You win when your friends win. If you struggle to grasp this fact, perhaps you would be better off playing a wargame.
(And finally—of course—don’t touch another player’s dice without permission!)