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D&D Ideas — Being a Better Player

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Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is Being a Better Player, which we discussed in our live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST on Nerdarchy Live to talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. Out of the Box has arrived! The shipment of the hardcover edition was delivered to our fulfillment center and packages have already begun to go out for delivery. We are sending copies to Kickstarter supporters and late backers first, followed by preorders received through Nerdarchy the Website. There’s still plenty of work to be done shipping books and making sure everyone receives them along with the other accessories like custom Nerdarchy dice and art prints and we’re incredibly excited to reach this point! If you missed the Kickstarter campaign and late backer options never fear — we ordered plenty of extra copies. Now it’s up to you to conjure arcane energy and make them all vanish. Visit Nerdarchy the Website and check out Out of the Box: Encounters for Fifth Edition here. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates, info on how to game with Nerdarchy and ways to save money on RPG stuff by signing up here.

RPG game master player being a better player
Whether you’re the Game Master or a player, play more games! [Art by Olie Boldador]

Nerdy News

Explore the week that was and discover the secrets of Eberron through new character options, predict the future, learn what it means to be the weakest link and more plus new live chats with creative folks and industry pros and actual plays round out this week’s Nerdy News. Check it out here.

Delving Dave’s Dungeon

Dungeons & Dragons and other roleplaying games are cooperative games. It takes everyone at the table working together to create an enjoyable experience for all. Oftentimes the look to the Dungeon Master as responsible for the game but it’s important to realize they are just one player at the table. Just as you can work at being a better DM you can work at being a better player. I’m going to give three quick tips to help you become a better player.

Tip No. 1

Engage other players at the table to give them the spotlight.
I’ve recently seen one of the best examples of this in one of our very own games on the Nerdarchy Live YouTube channel. Those Bastards! is a fifth edition D&D live play game we just wrapped up. Watch those sessions and see how author and Nerdarchy staff writer Steven Partridge played Prudence.

Steven was masterful at interacting with the other players in the game. He did it in a way that made it about the other characters in the game. I felt like every time Steven engaged another player he used it as a way to spotlight them and pull more roleplaying out of his fellow gamers. This kind of player is a gem especially if you’ve got introverted or shy players.

Tip No. 2

Just simply be considerate to the other players. Another way to be a good player is simply be prepared to play. Have what you need. Make sure your character is leveled up. Show up on time. Avoid distracting behaviors like playing on your phone or goofing around. We all live busy lives and it can be hard for adults to carve time out of their schedules to game. Be aware of that so you aren’t wasting any time.

Tip No. 3

Fun first! We play D&D and other RPGs to have fun. This one seems simple and self explanatory but here is the thing — we find different parts of the game to be fun. The key is to not have your fun supersede anyone else’s and vice versa.

Some people love the mechanics and optimizing characters. For others it’s all about the narrative and telling a story. Another person may only care about coming up with and executing complex strategies in combat. These are all valid ways to play the game.

The key is to find your joy in the game you are playing while allowing others to also have theirs. A skilled DM navigates through these different aspects of the game to help everyone find their bliss at the table. But it shouldn’t be their responsibility alone.

Maybe you are all about combat and there has been a lot of it lately. Why not engage the roleplayer at the table with what battle means to your character? If you are a roleplay heavy player with a total min/maxer in the group reach out character to character and praise them about the thing they do really well in the game. Find out why their character is good at doing what they do. Just maybe you’ll make a roleplayer out of them yet. Or maybe their in game take on it will lure you to explore more optimized builds in the future.

From Ted’s Head

Being a better player in any roleplaying game can be looked at from two different sides. You can look at the “at the table factor” and you can look at the “character factor.” There is plenty of great advice on being a better roleplayer or creating a fun, thematic or powerful character to play.

I want to talk about being a better player at the table. This boils down to respect but you might not see all the ways it applies to the game so let me offer up some tips. These are not in any particular order.

You want to be respectful of people’s time. You never know what kind of sacrifice individuals make to come to the gaming table, either real or virtual. Between family, work and other commitments players have to arrange time to spend with friends at the gaming table.

You want to be respectful of people’s beliefs. There are all manner of people and beliefs in the world and either as player or Dungeon Master we have to respect religious, personal and cultural beliefs. When we are at the table the things we say and do as player and character alike can offend others at the table.

Communication is key. Talk to your fellow players and observe their reactions to what you do and say. Alter anything you are doing that bothers them. In the famous words from a movie that got a long overdue sequel, “Be excellent to each other.”

From the Nerditor’s desk

If you’re looking for ways to broaden your perspective as a player or explore what else you can get from your experiences playing Dungeons & Dragons or any other roleplaying game I’ve got a few ideas to share. Just earlier today I was chatting with a great friend, author and Nerdarchy staff writer Steven Partridge about how differently I approach RPGs these days and I’d like to think I’m being a better player now myself because of them.

The most important tip I can share is to be interested in the other players and their characters. You will find this enriches the experience for everyone including you. When your character starts making connections with their companions they start to develop into real people and this makes all the exciting action and danger much more impactful in the game and memorable for the players outside of the game. Taking the lead and expressing interest in other characters also leads by example for the other players and you’ll find them reciprocating. Now you’re really roleplaying!

Putting yourself into your character’s shoes also helps you be a better player. This is especially true when you consider the incredible powers D&D characters wield. Think about your character’s relationship to the multiverse, the skills and abilities they possess and then think about how a person like that exists day to day. I am willing to bet if you let yourself become more immersed in your character and the setting you’ll enrich the entire experience.

One of the absolute best ways to focus on being a better player is to run a game. I know, it’s scary and intimidating and gives you anxiety just thinking about it. I’ll let you in on the big secret. All of us feel this way no matter how many games we’ve run. All the big names you know in the hobby all the way down to groups of friends who’ve been gaming together privately for decades go through this. Running games provides an opportunity to observe other players in a new way and get a fresh perspective on game dynamics. Also it lets the Dungeon Master do the same from the other side of the screen. You might even offer to just run a combat scenario to test the waters. However you approach it, just jump in feet first.

Lastly, think about what you want from a game and what you want to give to the game in a broad sense. Do you enjoy the social aspect of getting together with friends? Does the emerging story of a campaign the lure drawing you back to the table again and again? Is the thrill of precision combat your juice? Whatever it is you enjoy about RPGs, try to express it in an inclusive way for the other players. At the same time keep an open mind about the others in your group and what they give and get from your games. Once you understand this part you can blend everything together. Now everyone in the group is being a better player and creating great memories to last a lifetime.

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