Gaming Etiquette

12 Aug

As a Dungeon Master presenting the game is just one aspect of being a good DM in essence if you’re inviting the gamers into your home it’s usually good practice to make sure everyone understands and appreciates the rules of your house which I like to refer as to the house rules.

House rules differ from DM to DM if you have a family with small children consider a noise rule as not to wake up your children particularly if you are playing late into the night early morning, if the location you are playing in is a non smoking house or the majority of the party are non smokers consider smoking outside or away from the group just out of politeness.

Couple this with the general other niceties such as whether to offer food to your players (I stretch to Tea and Coffee etc) and you have a general guide of how the players should behave in your own home. Even things like language play an important part in a session excessive swearing and rude jokes are fine if the rest of your party likes them personally I try to keep swearing and rudeness to a minimum because of my children.

Secondly there is the factor of what the Players should bring with them to a gaming session some DM’s insist that players bring their own die, character sheets and pencils etc, whereas others prefer to keep the character sheets with them, (I’m fairly relaxed allowing players to borrow die if needs be as I often forget to bring mine when playing). Have you ever played with a group where there is only one reference book? It’s not very conclusive to a fast flowing game particularly if one player is using the book to find out what their character could potentially do next whilst its somebody elses turn. I know of some DM’s who print out reference sheets for players who do not have copies of players handbooks etc these are good for new players as it gives them a place to turn to without having to refer to the book all the time. We havent yet got started with the die rolling rules yet as a DM do you insist on all rolls being made in front of you or only occasional rolls also do you insist on rolling your die for the players to see?  The rolling dice in front of your players doesn’t allow very easily for you to “fluff” an encounter should you be wishing to keep players alive. also consider die that roll off the table do you re-roll them or keep the initial result?

If possible try to avoid going to the toilet when its coming up to your turn there’s nothing worse than waiting to kill a dragon because the player playing Jennson the barbarian has gone for a crap.

Finally we come to the initiative and ending process

do you use initiatives out of combat? some DM’s do so it helps them organise whose turn it is after all there is nothing worse than not being able to hear the person who has the quietest voice.

I like to use initiatives in combat only and outside combat use a system of what the players are doing next? this works out great for me because I can gauge what each player is getting their character to do next.

After the gaming session it is usually good practice to thank the host of the evening I like to round-up with a quick summary of the events that happened in that session, finding out what the players enjoyed most and didn’t like.

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2 Responses to “Gaming Etiquette”

  1. vobeskhan August 13, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    As the DM for the Loudwater campaign refreshments has never been an issue (playing in a pub has benefits lol) but in past campaigns I have ran them from either my home or at friends houses and the noise rules are definately something you need to agree beforehand.

    Another good point is time. If you have scheduled your sessions for a particular amount of time its best to try to stick to it where possible. In the case of playing in public areas, it may be that the area is needed for other people afterwards, in homes its possible that other people in the building need to use the area but usually they have planned their day/evening around your game finishing at a certain time.

    With the advent of the D&D Encounters program for 4E it has become apparent that most 4E in game encounters take between 1-2 hours each dependant on the size of the group, and their familiarity with their characters and the relevant rules. Using the Loudwater campaign as an example again, we schedule to play between 12:00 and 17:00 every other Saturday afternoon. Sessions usually get underway between 12:30-13:00 with late arrivals, and recaps etc and I usually try to finish an encounter between 16:30-17:00 so that it is easier to continue from their next session. On a few occassions though (as with all best laid plans) we have overan the 17:00 and/or have had to stop mid encounter, when this happens I try to make sure we complete the current round of actions and take a photograph of the current situation to remind myself who’s where for next time (these also make great comment items in various forums – remember the fey panther diam bars or the Undead Zhentarim and their “Stop hitting yourself” power?).

    Another good reason for sticking to your time limit is DM preparation. If you know how long your going to play for you and prepare “x” amount of encounters to suit, unless of course your running a “sandbox” campaign where its done totally on the fly and the pc’s can just go wherever they feel like. Personally I like to prepare 3-4 encounters in advance but also have rough notes on other locales nearby that the party may well decide to investigate.

    There is only one real rule that a DM has to remember – Players will always do whatever you least expect – what this means is that no matter how well you prepare there’s always something you didn’t think off but one of your players will probably come up with.

    And on that note I think this “comment” has rambled on long enough.

    • dnddad August 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

      From a players perspective I love heavy periods of storylines in a campaign not so concerned with a “slayer” type campaign where you kill pretty much every npc you meet in regards to the DM having to frig a campaign on the spur of a moment the best example I have seen has to have been at Spirit games when a session that should have taken 15 minutes took 2 hours due to our group wanting to role play our characters getting a full feel of their abilities and characteristics. Personally as a DM if the player does something I haven’t prepared for then the oh shit rule comes into play take Casdin wanting to jump on a goblin from the top of a tree it was a simple ranged attack from an improvised weapon against the goblins dexterity.

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