I’ve done a lot of articles on DMing, of course, and as I know that I have a lot of players that are Readers as well. As such, I’ve thought about this post for some time, and wanted to right it to address some things that many DMs have said that they wish their players knew were actually the player’s jobs in playing tabletop games.
1) Take Notes
At any given time the dungeon master is keeping track of no less then 10 things. And that’s just for immediate things: plots, maps, monster stats, rules, status ailments and buffs, player attention, player engagement, monster and NPC motivations, are just a few.
On top of all of this, they are coming up with and writing down the names of any NPCs the players are likely to encounter, and adjusting encounters on the fly to fit the players’ actions. It’s a lot of work.
So, players, take notes. Good notes! What was that tavern you stayed at last week? Who was that NPC that talked to us about the Baron? What color was the glowing crystal in the Targana estate? What town did the “Witch” from Borest flee to? You should have anything important that your character would want to remember in your notes. This goes also for helping the DM to come up with the summary from the last game.
2) Be Prepared
Pay attention to what’s going on in the game. Yes the DM is keeping track of a lot, so when the DM calls out things like initiative, make sure you know your place and initiative and be prepared to know what your character is doing so that the game does not get bogged down with your looking up a spell or trying to read through what an action does. If you have questions about that, wait your turn and ask when your turn comes up.
Even better? Have pre-made cards for each of your spells or abilities for you to reference while in-game, so time isn’t spent slogging through rule books to look it up (and not to put too much a fine point on this, but dndbeyond.com is great for this as it does just that).
Speeding up combat, which is arguably one of the slowest parts of most tabletop games, here is a pro tip: roll your damage die with your attack roll. That way you can ignore the damage dye if you don’t need it and you have it already when you do.
3) Pay Attention
This goes along with number two, but it is really important that you pay attention. It is very easy to miss crucial details as to what’s going on if you are having side conversations.
It’s one thing if you’re looking up or reading through an ability that you’re planning on using while waiting on your turn, but when you are in the middle of a role-play encounter or some other action is going on or conversation with an NPC, you don’t want to miss out on what’s happening. If your character isn’t there, be respectful and wait until that action is done, so your DM can discuss with you what you are doing during that particular action.
4) Be Respectful of Other Players and Your DM
In general, I can honestly say I never had too many problems with this in my life. That said, I know a lot of people who do. People that walk all over their DM and walk all over the other players.
Each of the players and the DM come to play a game. It’s supposed to be a collaborative storytelling game. Tensions sometimes run high and emotions do, too. Just remember that everyone there is there to play a game and that everyone is trying to have fun.
As such, make sure everybody is given the dignity and respect due to being fellow players and human beings.
What do you think? Have I missed out on anything? Do you think that there are any other player responsibilities that I haven’t touched on? Leave them in the comment section below.
Until next time, Dear Readers…