Preparing From The Player's Side Of The Screen
  • Preparing From The Player's Side Of The Screen


    So, you're playing a tabletop RPG for the first time. Congratulations! You're in for an adventure. However, you're probably also feeling a little overwhelmed. Even if you're familiar with other kinds of gaming, tabletop RPGs come with their own specific sets of challenges. With that in mind, let's talk about a few things that will make your gaming experience a critical success.

    photo by Diacritica

    Prepare for your first session. Your Game Master, or GM, is the person who's going to be running your game. They're a resource for your questions, but they're also responsible for the other players in your group and the game as a whole. Make life easier on everyone involved by preparing your own material. Have an idea of what kind of character you'd like to build, without getting bogged down in specifics. Make sure you understand the mechanics of your character. If you're playing a magic user, know which spells are available to you and how they work. If you're playing a fighter, know your attacks and what they do.

    The more information you have going into the game, the more specific you can be with your GM about anything that confuses you, and the more your GM will be able to help. Plus, the game is more fun when you don't have to stop every ten minutes to consult the rulebook.

    Decide how comfortable you are with the act of role-playing. RPG stands for role-playing game. How far into the role-playing part of the game that you want to go is up to you. You may be interested in developing a complex character with a fully-fleshed out backstory, or you may want a character who exists as nothing more than a mouthpiece for you, the player. Some players enjoy using character voices and accents, while some players cringe at the thought. Figure out what makes the game most enjoyable for you and your group, and don't be afraid to experiment.

    Be respectful of your GM and fellow players. Everyone in your gaming group, players and GM alike, are there because they want to have a good time. Part of your job as a player is to make sure that you're not the thing that's preventing that good time from happening. Being respectful in a tabletop game includes the usual rules of social interaction, of course: be polite to everyone at the table; refrain from using offensive language in or out of character unless it's something that your group has talked about and okayed; keep your phone and other distractions put away during the session.

    Being respectful also means being aware of your presence at the table. It's easy to get caught up in how much fun you personally are having, but make sure you're not talking over other players or the GM. If someone is nervous about playing, they may not speak up as quickly, in or out of character. Be conscious of when other players are trying to speak and share the spotlight with them. And if you feel like you're the one being talked over or disrespected, bring up with your GM after the session. Your game should be a place where you have fun, not one that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

    Have fun. Mike Mearls writes in the preface to the D&D 5th Edition Player's Handbook, "Read the rules of the game and the story of its worlds, but always remember that you are the one who brings them to life. They are nothing without the spark of life that you give them." So long as the rest of your group is okay with it, there really is no wrong way to play a tabletop RPG. The rules exist to guide you and give your gameplay structure, but at the end of the day the only rule that matters is this: have fun. What having fun means is up to you to figure out, with the help of your GM and fellow adventurers. Good luck!

    contributed by Rebecca Faber
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. Xavian Starsider's Avatar
      Xavian Starsider -
      It also wouldn't hurt to bring a pencil and some dice
    1. Koloth's Avatar
      Koloth -
      If you can, learn what character sheet the GM prefers and print a couple off before the game. A GM will often have blanks at the start of a new campaign. But if you are joining an established campaign, blank char sheets may be rare at the table. Especially if the GM is a guest at the game site. GMs don't have infinite carrying capacity.

      Ask if you should bring snacks or drinks.

      Don't worry about exact rule mechanics. It is OK to say something like "I want Fred(your char) to leap across the table and stab the ruffian attacking Sally(a barmaid)". The GM can figure out the proper rolls(if any) that need to be made and possible consequences of your attempted actions. You may learn later that one of the rolls was for an acrobatics roll to leap the table without going splat and the second roll was your attack attempt plus the roll the GM made was an attack of opportunity by the 2nd ruffian as you leapt over him.

      Have an alternative character concept in mind just in case your first choice won't work for some reason.
    1. Fandabidozi's Avatar
      Fandabidozi -
      Don’t arrive early, late or over stay your welcome.
    1. Les Moore's Avatar
      Les Moore -
      Help the DM out, whenever possible. Avoid rules lawyering, and Metagaming, at all costs. If you don't know what they are, find out.
      DMs have a hard enough play as it is, you don't want to make it harder on them than it already is. Be aware of and follow your
      DM's House Rules, play will flow much more easily.

      Be one of the ones who's prepared. Have a little extra gear, for somebody who may have run out, or is not as experienced as you.
      Save your old character sheets, when you progress a level or two, it may come in handy later, as you try to generate a new
      character, or NPC . Have a couple extra Character sheets, and mapping paper.

      As a player, I find all my gear fits into a nylon trapper keeper. Many times books are not allowed by the DM during gaming, there
      are a couple good reasons for this rule. But if you are allowed to peek at the books during breaks, the trapper keeper may hold one or
      two, for reference. Try to come prepared to the session, nobody wants to wait about while you are fumbling about, prepping a
      caster, or updating experience levels which should have been done beforehand.
    1. thzero -
      Wow.. I've never seen a more dressed up set of people.
    1. dragoner's Avatar
      dragoner -
      The whole article is nicely done, with good advice.

      Make life easier on everyone involved by preparing your own material. Have an idea of what kind of character you'd like to build, without getting bogged down in specifics. Make sure you understand the mechanics of your character. If you're playing a magic user, know which spells are available to you and how they work. If you're playing a fighter, know your attacks and what they do.
      If I would add anything to this, also make the character motivated for adventure, don't stop the group right before the party enters the dungeon and ask "why would my character do this?" The state of mind should be to be part of the group and ready for adventure.
    1. Jacob Lewis's Avatar
      Jacob Lewis -
      Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes.
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