Five Things You Should Never Say to Your D&D Party

Advertisement

A few months ago I wrote a post about things you should never say to your DM during a D&D—or any RPG–campaign. And while the DM wields the most power, you can’t underestimate the importance of good group rapport. Over the last two years I’ve absolutely lucked out with a fantastic group of players. We all have very different playing styles, but we have a great dynamic. And a huge part of our success has to do with mutual respect and a general understanding of our individual playing styles and preferences.

But until this fantastic group,  I hadn’t had the best luck with groupings in the past. Finding good party members is a balancing act at best, and can quickly spiral into ultimate fail—something about personal characters and competition that can just bring out the worst in people.

Yet, I think that many of the issues cropping up around the D&D table can be avoided with just a little etiquette. So, here’s some tips to bring peace to your D&D party, some general suggestions to keep in mind before you roll the dice.

“Man, looks like I’m going to take care of this boss all by myself the way I’m rolling!”
Don’t gloat.
It’s a game. We’re all at the mercy of the dice. But if the paladin next to you can’t seem to roll over a three, don’t rub it in that you’ve just rolled two crits and are on your way to destroying every last creature on the board single handedly. If your party member is in trouble, it’s your job—as a group—to help them out. Making them feel bad only adds to frustration and can lead to a boiling pot atmosphere. Instead of offering jibes pointing out the low rolls, how about thinking of ways your character can aid them. Or just offer some words of comfort. We all know how fickle the dice are, and pointing out someone’s bad day is just uncool.

“Do you really want to use that power? Right now? Don’t you think you might want to…”
Don’t tell other party members how to play their own characters.
This is really one of the most important lessons any player needs to learn. We all have varying experience with games, and it’s the group’s responsibility to help each other out. But being bossy, or telling other players what to do and how to play won’t win you over any friends. If you have suggestions for a player, tell them in private—don’t call them out in the middle of an encounter. Not only is it totally embarrassing to the player you’re singling out, but it makes you look like a control freak. If the player is doing something really unwise, it’s up to the DM to sort it out.

“So then she was all…”
Don’t talk during other players’ turns.
We know you had an awesome weekend.  But when someone in in the middle of deciding what their next move is going to be, up against the wall with a displacer beast, it’s not the best time. Sure, sometime there is a much more lax environment during a game—and that’s fine so long as everyone agrees to it. But taking control of the conversation at crucial points in the game serves no one. Chances are it’ll set back the game and take even longer until your next turn, or you’ll miss something really important. And then you’ll look like a doofus.

“Can’t you just talk like a normal person? You’re creeping me out.”
Don’t criticize other players for being too into/not enough into character.
So we all have different styles of play. Personally I like playing as my character, accent and all. But not everyone in my group does, and we’re all okay with that. You can’t expect anyone else at the table to approach the game the way you do. If you’re over the top with your character, consider helping fellow players come up with concepts. If you play as a thinly veiled version of yourself, don’t laugh at people who are getting deep into character. In fact, you might want to take some cues from them as how to make your character feel unique. No one says you have to wear a cape or play pipes to be a bard. Loosen up. Have fun. There’s no point in being self-conscious.

“Seriously? What’s the point? I might as well not even be here.”
Don’t sulk.
We all have bad days. As I said before, the dice are fickle. But being a spoil sport and tuning out everyone else while you play games on your iPhone and wait for your next turn is just about as passive aggressive as can be. A little bit of humor goes a very long way. If your dice are sucking the whole time, why not add a little extra flavor to your failed attacks? Maybe your character had a bad night nipped into the ale stores and ended up drunk at the encounter or something. Take the opportunity to bring a little creativity to the table rather than bring everyone down with you. I mean, that’s the great thing about a good party: chances are, they’ve all been in your shoes before and will be able to laugh along with you.

Remember, more than anything, it’s about having fun and helping your party members have fun, too. Keep that in mind and your campaign is bound to be a success.

[Image CC Will Merydith via Flickr]





Advertisement



21 Responses to Five Things You Should Never Say to Your D&D Party

  1. I love the list(even if i see myself a little in one).
    the only thing i would add is know your group. if you know someone in your group is agoraphobic dont go into detail if you want the splean of that huge centipede for a item to destract a guard. just saying “im getting the splean to throw at the wall behind the guard” is enough.

    P.S. yes my wife is agoraphobic and the player went way too far in detail for her comfort even after being asked to stop. it really made it hard to get her to keep coming back to play.

  2. "Do you really want to use that power? Right now? Don’t you think you might want to…"

    Yes just like you should not help your friends in any other situatuion you should never go, if you do like this in Excel you can optimize your rutine and save 50% of the time no sir, helping, nope, dont ever do it, if ppl dont fail because nobody helped em how should they ever improve…

    Are you serious ? do not help ? how did you get better at spelling? by no one correcting you ? how did you get better at chess by no one making suggestions to improve, and never ever discussing moves… ?

    being bossy about it, or arrogant, now that is something else !

    • He isn't saying don't help, he's saying don't take control of their character right out from under them at the gaming table.

    • The quote itself is implying that the person is being bossy, arrogant and condescending. Seriously, can you imagine anybody saying that nicely? I get someone talking to someone who's new and politely offering advice… especially if they actually ask permission first. Some people learn by doing more than by being told; gaming is less like spelling and more like an art form. You don't need someone sitting there going "Really? You want to use green? That's an awful idea." Even if they're right, you'll figure out on your own that it didn't work the way you wanted it to.

  3. “Do you really want to use that power? Right now? Don’t you think you might want to…”

    Yes just like you should not help your friends in any other situatuion you should never go, if you do like this in Excel you can optimize your rutine and save 50% of the time no sir, helping, nope, dont ever do it, if ppl dont fail because nobody helped em how should they ever improve…

    Are you serious ? do not help ? how did you get better at spelling? by no one correcting you ? how did you get better at chess by no one making suggestions to improve, and never ever discussing moves… ?

    being bossy about it, or arrogant, now that is something else !

  4. “Do you really want to use that power? Right now? Don’t you think you might want to…”

    Yes just like you should not help your friends in any other situatuion you should never go, if you do like this in Excel you can optimize your rutine and save 50% of the time no sir, helping, nope, dont ever do it, if ppl dont fail because nobody helped em how should they ever improve…

    Are you serious ? do not help ? how did you get better at spelling? by no one correcting you ? how did you get better at chess by no one making suggestions to improve, and never ever discussing moves… ?

    being bossy about it, or arrogant, now that is something else !

  5. “Do you really want to use that power? Right now? Don’t you think you might want to…”

    Yes just like you should not help your friends in any other situatuion you should never go, if you do like this in Excel you can optimize your rutine and save 50% of the time no sir, helping, nope, dont ever do it, if ppl dont fail because nobody helped em how should they ever improve…

    Are you serious ? do not help ? how did you get better at spelling? by no one correcting you ? how did you get better at chess by no one making suggestions to improve, and never ever discussing moves… ?

    being bossy about it, or arrogant, now that is something else !

  6. Several years ago during a 3E game, my friends were raving about EverQuest. I didn’t play EQ at the time. I picked up the game, started playing, and they quit shortly after that.

    While it’s hard sometimes, I always try to stop when I find myself breaking rule 3.

  7. Several years ago during a 3E game, my friends were raving about EverQuest. I didn’t play EQ at the time. I picked up the game, started playing, and they quit shortly after that.

    While it’s hard sometimes, I always try to stop when I find myself breaking rule 3.

  8. I was amazed to see that i was guilty of a few of those.To curb table talk, I try and invite my group out (or over to my house) for a meal before the game that way we can get the non-game talk out of our system.Great post. Keep up the great work.

  9. I was amazed to see that i was guilty of a few of those.To curb table talk, I try and invite my group out (or over to my house) for a meal before the game that way we can get the non-game talk out of our system.Great post. Keep up the great work.

  10. Whilst I agree with most of these, I have to disagree with two and four. There's no harm in pointing out potential mistakes to another player, especially if they're new to the game, and, really, do not be the weird voice guy. I have known the weird voice guy to break up long established gaming groups. It's difficult to roleplay when one of your party members is making you feel like you're trapped in a Monty Python skit.

    • For the 'weird voice' types, it really depends on the group. I've seen games where -everyone- was fully into character, and it can be a lot of fun. But you should get the okay from your group before you start doing heavy accents and the like.

      • It also depends on the situation… I was playing D&D with a pain in the butt "rules lawyer" he would argue the rules even when it would go against the party… so as a not so subtle way of telling him to seek another gaming group and have a lot of fun doing it… the rest of us choose new characters that we knew would irritate him… My character was a flaming gay half-elf paladin, did I mention that he was extremely homophobic. We were kind of upset that it only took two gaming sessions for him to leave so we kept the characters for the next few years and had a great time trying to outdo each other in the "crazy voice" catagory

  11. I'm compelety new to D&D, been playing 3.5 with mates but only had a few sessions so far. There's a guy in my group that really annoys me, and he is well known for power gaming, I played Dark Heresy with him too a while back. He is constantly breaking these rules by being an attention seeker, his characters just take the piss and he's such a gloater it makes me want to be violent lol. Because I'm new to the game he continues to give me "advice" on what I should and shouldn't do, which sounds ok but he is really patronising all the time, and shouldn't it be the DM who does that? He is always talking over the DM as well and one day he was rolling badly and just sat sulking in the corner the whole game refusing to get involved properly. Grr it's so frustrating!

    • Either find something with a minor wish or if you are a mage and wish to invest the time, talk to the DM, say you want to use the wish(word carefully) or you wish to create an illusion that can be invoked by you upon signal. When you signal the DM, the guys character gains the illusion that he is an over the top transvestite. Save it for those moments when the "Drama" should be highest.

      Believe me, if he is as annoying to others and he is to you, the DM will go along with this and provide months of entertainment. You and the DM should come up with a new signal from session to session.

  12. I've had one character die because the DM got bent out of shape and used "slippery slope" arguments to try and convince me to never excuse my fumbling in game again. When another player heard the DM say "…you burning down the forest like that…", another player had their character flip out (a druid, go figure) and attack mine. The DM even gave me negatives to dodge and AC because I said I was tired from carousing.

    Yeah, I know, I was in an atrocious group, but I'm just saying it's not always good to toss in extra RP material when the DM and group are mainly roll-players instead of roleplayers. It was like something from KotDT.