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The D&D's of D&D

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

2022 is still fresh, and perhaps you've just started playing (or GMing) a new game! Be it Dungeons & Dragons or another TTRPG, we have a few Dos and Don'ts to help you get started!

The Dos

Bring snacks! Especially for longer sessions, it's great to have little stuff to nibble on so everyone can stay focused and not hungry. This is a great way to show appreciation for whoever is hosting game night, and you can even use candy as a fun alternative to miniatures! Each time you slay an enemy, you eat the piece of candy representing them

Prepare! Obviously the Game Master needs to have a good idea of what will happen in the session, but players should also make sure they are ready to engage with the game's mechanics. Look over your character sheet. Make notes of any questions you might have so you can get them answered before play starts. Build little cheat sheets to help you make decisions in tense moments. There's lots of things everyone can do to keep play smooth and exciting.

Build frontstory. Find ways to integrate your character into the story that is happening. Not every game or GM is going to be able to cater a story perfectly to your backstory, and some players don't even like building comprehensive backstories. Find opportunities in the present time for fleshing things out. Did you encounter an unusual monster and rolled high on a knowledge check about it? Maybe describe where your character learned that information in their past.

Have fun! This should be obvious, but sometimes it's hard to see the G in TTRPG. Don't get so in the weeds on backstory, mechanics, or even "the plot" that you forget this is a game and we should all be having fun! Take a week off and just have a tavern episode. Prank a fellow PC and see what silliness happens. Not every action you take needs to be plot important so long as it's increasing the net amount of fun at the table.

The Don'ts

Hog attention. Everyone wants to feel cool and have their character be the star now and again. But make sure you are sharing the spotlight with your other players, as well as the NPCs. It can be tough to stay focused when a scene doesn't involve your character, but try to pay attention. You might even notice a detail that you can build off of later on when it is your turn to shine!

Debate the rules. Most TTRPGs are complicated, and even the simple ones can leave room for interpretation. Advocating for your viewpoint on a rule is good, but don't be so focused on the rules that you grind the story to a halt. Pacing is important to keeping everyone engaged. If you really have a problem with how a ruling was made, make a note of it and discuss it after the game.

Crosstalk. Everyone is at the table to play the game. While it might be tempting to cut up or share an anecdote with someone nearby, even a whispered (or text) conversation can be a distraction. It also stinks when a GM has to repeat what they just said because a player wasn't paying attention, or when a GM makes an improper ruling because they weren't listening to what the player wanted to do.

Be distracted. Having the world at our fingertips can make it tough to stay involved, especially if you are playing a martial character and have to wait for the umpteen spellcasters to finish their insane turns. But try to avoid the temptation to flee to your phone whenever a slow moment occurs. Perhaps work with the GM to see if you can help with background tasks, or maybe help move pieces on the battle map for others that can't reach. At the very least, listen to your teammate's turns and be ready to enthusiastically applaud when things go well, or to yell in dismay when they go poorly. You can be your own party's biggest fan, which creates better energy at the table.

Keep Learning

The above is by no means an exhaustive list of Dos and Don'ts for successful TTRPGing, but they are enough to get anyone started. For more extensive information, go check out some of our other blog posts on Player and GM Advice! (You can use those categories in the main blog page.)

Here are some other resources to keep your games thriving!

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