Merry Christmas everyone. In this time of good will and good will saves I’ve been thinking about how I can improve as a person and as a GM, but I hadn’t really given much thought to the other side of the GM screen. Probably due to the fact that I almost never end up on that side of the screen. Here are a few things you as a player can bring to the table to help make GMing a more rewarding experience and might make playing more fun for you.
Mtn. Dew and Doritos
Seriously nothing gets a GM happy faster than free food. You don’t need to do this all the time, but most GMs spend a bunch of time prepping for your game. Players can just show up and go. So next time you game bring something for the group. There will be less food breaks if everyone has something to snack on. If you can make something at home go for it. While store bought food is always appreciated a home cooked snack or meal will probably net you a level or two. A happy GM is more likely to shower your characters with loot and xp or in my groups case much less likely to kill everyone.
Try to remember to bring everything. If you need a pencil once in a great while no big deal, but when the whole group shows up and expects the GM to hand out pencils and dice it gets old quickly. It’s also not fun when a player shows up without his character sheet and other important things relating to their PC. This point is pretty self explanatory. The GM is there to run the game not babysit the players.
Have a Good Attitude
I realize that life happens. It’s been happening all over me for the last few years now. There were some weeks when life just showed up at my doorstep and kicked me in the junk. I could have easily been a huge grouch and bit off PC heads and spit out their partially chewed skulls. If you are having a bad day work out some of that before you start playing. Nothing good will come from being crabby and expecting gaming to make it all better. Usually your crabbiness will be carried into the game via your PC and crabbiness is infections. Soon your fellow PCs will get tired of dealing with you. Next the GM will get frustrated because of the inner party fighting. Soon enough you’re dealing with everyone being unhappy with you which will just increase the overall crabbiness.
Having a good attitude doesn’t mean just not having a bad attitude. You should go out of your way to have a good attitude. Even if your not feeling it, fake a good attitude. Eventually you’ll start having a good time and next thing you know your attitude will be genuine. One way of having a good attitude would be to be a fan of your fellow players and GM. Granted your PC is the coolest, but when you are a fan of your fellow adventurers it causes the other players to want to play more/better. Most people don’t realize it but saying a few kind words can make a world of difference in someones day. The next time your parties fighter cleaves through three goblins, tell him how awesome it was. When the wizard fireballs the troglodyte shaman to a withered husk give him a high five. It may not seem like much but to the person receiving the praise it really makes their day.
Plan to Work Together
If you’ve been gaming for at least a few months you’ve probably run into this. The thief is stealing from the paladin, the paladin takes offense to the constant larceny from the thief, then finally someone asks why these two would adventure together and that’s a great point. Why would they? The paladin wouldn’t choose to work with some thief that goes against everything the paladin stands for. This is a problem that needs to be addressed before the game starts. When the party is working on putting the PCs together be sure to talk to each other. If someone really wants to play a goody two shoes they should let the group know so the player who is planning on playing the chaotic kleptomaniac thief can put that out there so the group can decide if they need to address this.
A good rule of thumb is that your PC should want to work with everyone in the group. Making a character that goes against another character constantly is not going to be fun for everyone. It’s ok to have the occasional spat. Those can be really great role playing moments, but do it too much and you become a pain that everyone has to stop and deal with. Stopping the action because you and another player can’t agree on something is not cool. The rule of thumb also applies to personalities and not just beliefs. DO NOT MAKE A LONER. If you want to play a character that works alone then write a book and stop playing a RPG. You are playing a group game so make a PC that works well with others.
Know When to be Passive and Proactive
Something that most people don’t realize they might be doing is stepping on the GMs toes. Nothing bums a GM out more when he’s going into a description and players start telling/asking him things. Let the GM finish describing the room. Heck it might even answer some of your questions. There are times when it’s ok to be quiet and passive and just listen to the GM. Trust that they know what they are doing. Once the GM is done talking then jump in. If the GM is looking at the group waiting for something, volunteer what you do. Don’t make the GM pull teeth. If you have an idea then go for it, or at least put it out there for the group to discuss.
Now a place that can get you in trouble is the villain monologue. Some GMs love to do this. It’s part of the reason they GM, just so they can gloat. One thing players love to do is shoot the villain as he monologues. Is this ok? It’s up to the GM. For me I’m mostly ok with it, but my players have learned that if you let a bad guy talk he’ll probably give you some bit of information that could come in handy. This is a moment I’d talk to your GM about before you do it. On the rare occasion you can probably get away with it and not irk your GM, but do it all the time and you are taking the spot light away from the GM.
Offer to Help
If you’re playing a very rules heavy game the GM might have to work out a bunch of different things. There’s initiative, what the monsters are going to do, and dice rolling and keeping track of status affects. It can help the GM a lot if someone else takes care of initiative or tracking status affects. In games that are more story driven, maybe make a map, or keep a wiki of what’s going on. Maybe you can print off character sheets. Cleaning up is always nice to the GM and the host. Help coordinate rides and times. If you are in a group where you don’t need to worry about anything odds are your GM could probably use some help. Obviously there will be somethings that you can’t help with but offer to pitch in when you can.
Want your GM to be happier? Do the following
Be prepared to play.
Have a good attitude.
Work together with your fellow players.
Know when to shut up when the GM is talking.
Offer to help the GM with some menial tasks to allow him to GM.
Thanks for reading and I hope your games run smoother. Have a Merry Christmas.