Being Your GM’s Best Player

by | Oct 23, 2015 | Notes From the Dungeon Master

A lot of people talk about what it means to be a good Game Master and how to make your players happy. Well, I’m going to tell you players that it’s not all about you. If your GM is not happy with the party, then he is going to make things difficult – if not downright impossible – for you and the entire table. When the game breaks down to one side trying to make the other more pissed off than they are, things can quickly spiral into the fifth circle of Hell. Maybe even the Seventh. So just as a GM has certain criteria in order to make a game work smoothly, the player must reach a number of goals as well to accomplish this cohesion.

First thing a player needs to do is show up on time. Hell, you can even show up early and help the GM set up (Bonus XP for anyone who can find the mini for the death knight he just dropped behind the armoire)! When the party is ready to go at the same time or even before the GM, then it sets a positive attitude for the session and lets the group know that everyone is serious about the commitment that you have all made. And when everyone is on time, then you can get started rolling as scheduled and your GM has more time to accomplish everything that he has planned for the evening. Nothing makes a GM more happy than checking off all of his boxes.

You know what else would help to get things on a positive start and help the session flow? Being ready. Having all of your materials and tools with you and ready to go will make sure that the game, especially combat, will go smoothly. Make sure that you have a complete and clean character sheet, a pencil (just in case), a game and combat strategy, and your dice. And for the love of Ehlonna get your dice ready. You won’t need all 30 dice from your bag, so make sure you load up just the essentials and keep the rest in storage. I’m sure the GM will give you time to search through your 5 gallon zip-lock freezer bag for that d3 if you ever loot a sap off of that halfling rogue.

The number one thing that pisses off a GM more than anything is players talking when he’s trying to describe each individual tile in his corridor of imminent death (Read them. It could save your life, or at least postpone your doom). While a Game Master oftentimes prides himself on their multitasking abilities – keeping tack of character placement, enemy placement, enemy strategy, ongoing damage, temporary ability modifiers, when to run to the kitchen for another gin, and all while remembering to do that stupid voice that he made up on the fly and is now regretting for the ogre ranger – his task is exponentially more difficult while having to talk over two people discussing last week’s episode of Pretty Little Liars (it’s the off season, your chat can wait).

Little side comments are fine, especially when the GM isn’t talking, but keep it to a minimum and make sure that you take the GM cues when he tells you to shut the hell up before your player is sucked through a rift to the Astral Plane, doomed to spend the rest of your existence in grayscale.

Just make sure that you respect your GM and the other players around you. If there is a disagreement over something someone did or said then be polite. If it’s a mechanic issue then ask for a time out so that the GM can research the rules and make sure that you are all on the same page (or better yet, just make something up on the fly and fact-check later). If it’s a character issue and you don’t agree with what another player has done with his half-elf bard, then shut up. It’s not your character and ultimately it’s the Game Master’s job to keep the players in line, and not the other players.

A player should think about themselves first and foremost; this doesn’t mean that you are the most important thing at the table, but means that you need to make sure that you are doing what you need to be doing, and that’s hard enough without worrying about everybody else as well.  If you were capable of performing this balancing act, then you’d be a GM.

Ultimately, if you do everything you can to make your GM happy then you’ll only be improving your own experience at the table, along with everyone else’s around you.  Everything that you can do to ensure your GM has a better experience also allows you to have a more enjoyable and stress-free (aside from what the story throws at you) session.