Gamemaster’s Guidepost: Being a Worthy Player

I talked about what makes a worthy GM here. Now it’s time to talk about what makes a player worthy. Yes. The GM must be worthy of their players, but so too should the players be worthy of their GM. I’m rarely a player myself (I prefer being a GM), but when I am there are a few rules that I follow to try and make the GM’s life easier. Here they are:

Be On Time to Be Worthy

Nothing is more annoying to a GM than a tardy player. The GM has taken time over the previous period after your last session to set up the game for the coming session. They’ve arrived early to set up the game. The other players have shown up on time. Now they need to wait for the late player. It’s a small thing that has a big impact. Be aware of your schedule and the time you’re supposed to be playing and then arrive early if possible. Set an alarm. Do whatever you need to do to be on time.

Be Kind to Be Worthy

This applies to GMs and players alike. Being a jerk to your GM and fellow players is a sure way to get ostracized from your gaming group. (And that is as it should be.) Just don’t. I’m not saying you can’t have had a bad day or be stressed, but recognize in yourself the warning signs where you might not be your best and then be an adult: cancel the game or be forthright with the other players. You can’t control what happens to your to make you miserable, but you can control how you act. Act appropriately.

Be Helpful to Be Worthy

The GM’s job is big. They are the world creator, the hanger of plots, the teller of stories, the righter of rules. They got a lot on their plates. Being a helpful player. Look up rules and give page references if they need it. Get the snacks for everyone when you get up. Help set up the minis. Basically, ask the GM if they need anything and then try and provide it. Small acts can make a difference.

Be Mindful of Your Self to Be Worthy

There is an important maxim I want you to remember as a player: “No gaming is better than bad gaming.” Say it with me now. Now say it again. Print it out and put under your pillow when you sleep at night. Crumple it up and consume it’s power with a splash of Mountain Dew. No gaming is better than bad gaming. Maybe you’re got a bad GM or maybe you’ve got a player or three you just can’t adjust to. Whatever the reason be mindful of yourself and how the game makes you feel. Do you leave seasons grumpy? Do you wonder why you’re even spending time doing something with a group of people you don’t actually like? If so you might be in an antagonistic gaming group. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can leave. You might not feel like you can because you do have people you like hanging out with or maybe you’ve been with them forever. But if gaming – a social, cooperative, fun hobby – is making you feel like crap you need to just move on. Recognizing this will allow you to be kinder to yourself and others. Be mindful.

Be Flexible to Be Worthy

The GM is going to make mistakes. They’re not perfect. They are going to mess up. Go with the flow. Help them if needed, but try your best to adjust and let it go. Sometimes it’ll be a misinterpreted rule, other times the rule of Cool/Drama takes over. Go with it. A good GM needs to know when to break the rules for the fun of all. A good player needs to know when to let the GM do exactly that. I’m not saying let the GM do whatever they want, there is a reason we have rules for RPGs. But at the same time, the rules shouldn’t rule the table 100% – that leads to constant look-ups even for experienced GMs, edge cases where the rules cause bizarreness, and similiar instances. This comes with corollary: If your GM is constantly making up the rules, forgetting them, etc. then it’s not your job to be flexible. It’s your job to bow out if you’re not having fun and it’s your job to tell the GM the truth of it. Sometimes they need to hear it. I know I did.

Be Proficient With the Rules to Be Worthy

In GURPS, a player who isn’t at least modestly aware of the rules can lead to slow downs, rules look ups, and other interruptions of gameplay. This happens. But it’s part of the players job to know the following: 1) What their character can do; 2) What rules might pertain to said character; 3) what optional rules and basic rules the GM is running. These are the least you can do as a player. You could do more and if you’ve the ability to do so you should. Extra things to be aware of might be other player characters and what rules apply to them, be aware of what rules might apply to NPC allies, and so on. These little things can help turn a decent game into a great one when properly applied.

Be Active to Be Worthy

Active is a bit of a loaded term especially as it pertains to Active vs. Passive Players. (The latter term is from my article “It’s a Quest!” from Pyramid #3/104: Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game, p. 18. That’s a useful article when designing plots for PCs and even though it’s my own work I highly recommend it to new and old hands at gamemastering.) In this instance being an active player means among other things knowing what you’re going to do ahead of time when the GM asks you. This can include actions during combat or dialogue to NPCs, it doesn’t matter. Be active in your intent on playing your character and you’ll never have an unhappy GM.

Picking Over the Bones

Being a good player is pretty easy for the most part, show up, be “there”, and be nice to your fellow players and GMs. It’s not hard, and yet the hobby practically teems with antisocial jerk players who want to make it everyone’s problem. This is one of the many reasons I so heavily screen my games. (I literally have a checklist I go down when I interview players to make sure they are not jerks.) Gaming in the end is a social cooperative hobby and if you can’t be those things you probably don’t need to be playing.

Posted in Gamemaster's Guidepost and tagged , , .


  1. “Be Proficient With the Rules to Be Worthy”
    So yes, I agree with this. Especially when you are going to be using a many, many more rules than just “Roll to Hit, Dude.”… Like Casting Magic vs Driving a Car.

    As for me, yeah, I had a **basic** handle on GURPS rules, but I was honestly overwhelmed by the shear scope of flexibility of the system; and I gave up trying to make my own Chars, Chris stepped in and Rules Manufactured *Every Single Idea* I had, if he could within the ruleset and just plain made it work. (GM Worthiness +50 on that!)

    And just because a GM tells you “No, that’s just not going to work…” doesn’t mean they don’t like the idea, it means that the Idea is the right kind of puzzle piece they need. When Chris hands a Character Sheet to you, *should* be able to look it over and have a good idea of what it can do.

    Don’t be Me…
    Don’t give up.
    Get together with your fellow players and The GM and discuss how the build was done. You might even collectively figure out a cool way to make your Shtick even more cool!

    Game on.

    -=DS=- OHMS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *