This is Part One of a series and subsection of my DND Player’s Handbook where I will offer you a list of things, and reasons why you need to stop doing the things you are doing. Some of these are based on my style, while others are just tips on how to not be “that person” in the group. Whether it’s my opinion or not, you need to follow it, because it’s annoying me and others around you. Thanks in advance.
A lot of people want to figure out how to improve their role play and other aspects of tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. I’m here to tell you that you have it within you to be great. But, first, you need to stop doing some annoying things that are ruining the experience for other people. If you get rid of those bad habits and then focus on some new better ones – you’ll be one of the players at the table that people don’t make Reddit posts about and green text horror stories.
People will shower you with gifts, dice, and platinum coins. What follows is a list, in no particular order, that you must commit to memory and zap yourself every time you catch yourself doing this. Also, as a community that is committed to better play, you must take it upon yourself to let others know when they violate these laws, these absurdities, these… SINS OF PLAYERS!
*Disclaimer: Any similarities in behavior or name represented here are purely fictional and in no way meant to represent anyone in particular. Especially you, Mike.
To break a bad habit, you need to first be aware that you’re guilty of it. Sometimes, it’s not something you’re aware of, like complaining too much. You may not be aware that your behavior is disruptive to not only others but yourself as well.
I’ll Start Easy
These are just some common annoying things that some people are guilty of and shouldn’t hurt any feelings.
If someone is talking, don’t interrupt them without good reason. Even then, do so politely. This is just good manners. In online gaming, it’s harder to avoid this because of the delay between people in addition to not being able to see that the first speaker is about to talk. However, it’s still easy to fix by shutting your mouth when you realize what’s going on. It’s rude, and it takes away some of the spotlight or game time that the person talking might be enjoying, especially if they get very little of it.
Need to interrupt? Here. Have nine ways to do it better than you’re doing it now.
I often see the more charismatic and loud players interrupting and talking over the more introverted, shy, or new players. Stop it. Give them their turn to speak, you talk enough as it is. I’ve had the pleasure to game with a lot of players over the years, and Dungeons and Dragons has been a great way for them to overcome some of their shyness. Playing online, especially, has been a great way for people with social anxiety to learn to speak better in public. When you interrupt someone like that, you’re potentially delaying their social development and instead confirming their fears. Just shut up and wait your turn.
Interrupting The Dungeon Master
An even worse sin, though, is when a player interrupts ME, the Dungeon Master. I will grant you that sometimes it is appropriate such as during a conversation between a player and an NPC. I often interrupt players when I speak as an NPC to show how crass and rude that NPC is. Do NOT interrupt me when I am describing a scene. Even worse, though, DO NOT INTERRUPT ME TO ASK ME WHAT’S GOING ON, BOWEN, while I’m literally telling you what is going on.
Finally, if my big bad evil guy is monologuing, don’t think that if you interrupt my monologue “to cast fireball on the dude” that you’re going to get a surprise round. That might happen once when the three moons align, but most villains are smart enough to see you doing that stuff and will act appropriately.
Drunk and Disorderly
This has only been an issue a couple of times at my table. Thankfully it only resulted in some awkward silences as everyone else was trying to figure out what it was the drunk person was talking about. Everyone handles their alcohol differently, though. I understand that this is a social game and alcohol can “help” or “make the experience better.” But come on, Frank, we’re here to play a game as a group and not watch you pray to the porcelain god for 3 hours.
Roleplaying with someone who’s crossed the line of being tipsy into drunk makes things awkward and/or annoying. This is exacerbated if the other people at the table don’t know you’re drunk. Play and communication slow, scenarios need to be repeatedly explained, people will be shouting over one another (especially if there are multiple Drunkards), there are more disagreements and arguing with the DM, and you’ll make a lot of reckless choices that can punish the party. The worst part is that you’ll break the illusion of reality you have tried to create as a group.
I’ve been known to have a few drinks during a session, but I’ve cut way back since I realized it was affecting my style. You know what they say… “Everything in moderation.” (Except moderation. Give me a LOT of that.)
This is often very similar to “Checking Out,” which I’ll explain right after this. This type of behavior is disruptive and includes many things.
- Table chatter (talking about your plans tomorrow while the bad guy is telling you how long you have until his evil plan is complete)
- Constantly checking your phone (we get it – you like Grindr)
- Constantly playing on your laptop (we get it, you like PornHub)
- Making jokes during a serious moment
- Sending/showing memes to others in the middle of the session
- Playing with your parakeet on your shoulder for like 3 hours straight, Mario, even though your character doesn’t have a familiar and that bird is like obnoxious AF
- Drawing on my muddafukkin maps and other images (during online play and a HUGE pet peeve of mine)
Are all of these inappropriate all the time, no. Making jokes and saying stupid stuff is part of the fun and appeal that D&D has to a lot of people. But don’t do it all the time. I’ve put a lot of effort into moments before that took hours to prepare for and I’ve been building up to them for weeks. All of a sudden, Chris over here throws up a meme on his phone that sends the party in a completely different direction and ruining the suspense I was trying to go for.
You may not believe or understand this, but other players picking up on behavioral clues from you while you’re all sitting around the table. If you or someone else starts getting up and wandering around, playing loudly with the cat, screaming from the other room if anyone wants a soda, sharing memes, or whatever… then you tacitly encourage them to do the same with your behavior. Shortly after, the session falls apart. This might be appropriate if the session is terrible. [No D&D Is Better Than Bad D&D quote]
So long as everyone is having fun, then great. But the DM has to have fun, too; if you ruin the fun for them, you might have to step up and be the DM. Follow the spirit of this, not the letter. Some of my fondest memories are inside jokes and one-liners that someone said during an unexpected moment.
The party has arrived! They stare into the darkest corner where waiteth the most heinous of foes: Von Edgelord. The session is running like clockwork, we’ve started the big boss battle, tension is high… then it’s THAT PLAYER’S turn.
“Whut?” they say, as they look up from their phone, visions of SpongeBob memes and Grindr dance in their head. “Is it my turn? What’d everyone else do?”
or even the simple
“Oh, is it my turn already?” – Yes, Bean, IF YOU HAD BEEN PAYING ATTENTION you’d know that.
The effort you put into a session, the more you’ll get out of it. Your mindset also determines this, but I’ll talk about that at some other time. What I mean by checking out is quite common at a lot of tables, and in a lot of conversations, due to all of the distractions available. If you go back to playing on your phone or daydreaming or in any way not focusing on the scenario at hand just as soon as you close your mouth and someone else open theirs, you’re diminishing your enjoyment. You and your friends are here to do a thing for like three to twelve hours or whatever you all committed to. COMMIT TO IT.
It Affects Everyone
It doesn’t just affect you, it influences those around you. Sure, you just managed to build the most epic dice tower, but you pulled the attention of the other players away from the game while you were doing so. Don’t think so? I said it was epic. People looked. Instead, why don’t you try a mental exercise of actually submersing yourself in one activity with a group of people and discover what it’s like to go an entire session completely in character?
It’s hard enough for a Dungeon Master to get some form of atmosphere with Karen over there on the phone trying to speak with a manager and you causing dice to come crashing down all over the table and floor. So what if you aren’t the one talking. That means THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO LISTEN and react. Support your fellow player, and they will be uplifted and do the same.
Don’t just talk at the Dungeon Master, talk at the other players. Ask them for their opinion instead of waiting for it.
Are you bored because combat seems slow? Talk to the player(s) slowing it down, or brainstorm with the group ways to improve the pace. Is role play just not your thing? Go play Diablo then and get out of my house.
This is something that gets under my skin quickly. This is something that should hold your interest, even if your character “isn’t in the scene.” You might hear a clue or remember something that the other players won’t. Then you have an opportunity to somehow bring it up later when the others tell your character what they learned. If the Dungeon Master isn’t making things interesting enough, let them know, or do some introspection: Is this the right group/game for me?
This is one of the most disrespectful things you can do to your fellow players, and the Dungeon Master especially, because they often put in a lot of time and effort between sessions. One of the great things about D&D is that it gets you away from all of those electronic distractions. So put the phone down.
It’s harder to tell when a player has “checked out” online because I can’t see them. I don’t stream with cameras. I hope I never do. I’ve been doing this long enough, though, that I’m pretty good at determining if you’re paying attention or not.
And So Concludes Part One
Rest assured: there is plenty more to come. I have a significant list of things I want you to stop doing. I hope you’re now on the path to correction.
For now, have some finger guns. *pew pew*
What are some of your pet peeves with other players?
Share with us! Make others aware of their disgusting habits.