Gamemaster’s Guidepost: What I Think a Good Player Is

Because I have such high standards for myself as a gamemaster I also have high standards for my prospective players. I’ve talked about this before but I feel it bears another post to look over what I consider the bare minimum for me to invest in a player as a GM. And I do invest. It’s nothing for me to spend 2-3 hours outside of the game to talk with players about their characters, how they feel about the game, and so on. This turns off some players because I can totally be a time sink and you just want to play games with people you like – and while that is ALSO something I do, I kind of take my games seriously.

7. Proficiency (With the Rules)

Whatever game you’re playing you should know the basics. You don’t need system mastery with the right GM and a lot of GMs don’t require that anyways – I know I don’t. I don’t care if the only thing you know about GURPS is “Roll 3d6, roll low.” That is fine. This is only on the list because there is something I do like the players to be proficient with: the rules as they pertain to their character. Everything else can rot for all I care.

6. Preparedness

This is another one of those that should go without saying…but never does. You know what you need to be ready for a game whether it’s virtual or in-person. You need dice, a character sheet, some snacks/drink, and maybe the notes you took last session to be ready this session. You also need whatever books are important for the game session as well as your character. If you’re a rules gopher for the GM you’ll need the books they’re using too.

5. Punctuality

If you are not on time you cannot play. Worse. Everyone else who arrived on time can’t play. The bare minimum for gaming is to be there to game. And if you can’t do that don’t play with me. I have a pretty simple three strikes policy: if you can’t be on time and there for games you’re done. This is mostly for a “no call/no show” absence from the table. If you have a situation we can deal with that off the table because things do happen. Be punctual. Be 5-10 minutes early. It won’t hurt and your GM will appreciate it. If you’re playing in person this is even more important because people are meeting up somewhere and you probably have limited time. Online it’s less of an issue, but still important. Be on time. Be early if you can. It’s that simple.

4. Pays Attention (to the Game)

Thou shalt give thine game the attention it deserves. Seriously. Pay attention. Even if it’s not your turn or you’re not in the spotlight. Just do it.

3. Heed the GM

If the GM says something is so then for that instance in the session then it is so. Argue about it after the game. If the GM asks for your opinion on it – then by all means help them. They are literally asking for it. Otherwise, grit your teeth and leave it alone. The GM probably forgot something and that’s okay as long as everyone is having fun. Game before rules, rules before dice, dice before fiat. The other way – constantly interjecting unsolicited “help” with the rules is the Path of the Rules Lawyer and once you start down that path forever will it dominant your gaming.

2. Investment

Are you invested? No, really. Are. You. Invested? You should be. If the GM is doing their job right you should care about what’s going on. Nothing else to say here. Investment is a two-way street for me and if you’re not as invested as I am in the game then what the hell am I doing here?

1. Fun-Loving

Above all. Above everything I previously said do you want to have fun or do you want to “win”? If you want to win then…I’m unlikely to be the sort of GM you want anyways and I know you’re not the kind of player I’m looking for. (If we’re playing something where the GM and players are supposedly to be adversarial then this kind of goes out of the window as fun is winning.) Fun is ignoring rules goofs in place of everyone having a good time. It’s enjoying the moment. It’s chewing the scenery and spitting out good dialogue. It’s all of that and more.

Picking Over the Bones

I think overall that’s not too much to ask. Seven things that seem like they should be good common are not really all that common. Well, not all of them in the same player anyways. If you do find a player like this hold onto them for dear life. They are treasures to the group they belong to.

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