It's the Etiquette Episode of ExemplaryDM Podcast! It's a bit of a spiritual successor and followup to the beloved Player Penetration episode from Season 2, Episode 7. This is also an extension from our Player Tip of the podcast from Season 3, Episode 6, Part Two.
In this podcast we open to discussion good and bad manners for DM's and players at the table, with some great ideas on how to improve and smooth out behavior at your gaming table. We briefly discussed such behavior in our previous podcast's Player Tip of the Podcast, but found so much more content, we decided to dedicate an entire episode to it.
First, a trio of emails to cover:
- "Effusive praise from Michael, monster design"... from Andy
- Do we fudge monster stats? Yes. Do we try to make it fun? Yes.
- Fast paced, dynamic combat is what most players tend to prefer. Higher damage, lower HP.
- Remember that combat is not just about monsters, but about environment, hazards, terrain, and plot.
- How tactically smart are your monsters supposed to be? Low intelligence creatures shouldn't necessarily be tactical warfare geniuses. You as the DM know better than to provoke that opportunity attack, but your monsters don't.
- A Michael Sponsored Email from Michael of Michaelton to be read in a British accent
- Foreshadowing to the gadgets...
- Exemplary Local Game Stores recommendations from Erns.
- A reminder that we mostly play D&D4e, but we try not to be system-specific, and we're big proponents of adding rules to your game that seem to be lacking, especially the ones we come up with. In conclusion, if you're not having fun playing D&D, it isn't the rules system.
Discussion Points for D&D Table Etiquette:
- The first rule of table etiquette for players: “Be ready”
- When in combat, when it is your turn, be ready to go.
- Umbrella term for the rest of these.
- BRING YOUR SHIT TO THE TABLE
- Dice and UP-TO-DATE character sheet.
- James, William's Pathfinder DM: I personally get very frustrated with people showing up to the game with a "Give me everything I need so that you can entertain me" Wastes so much time and really is just the wrong attitude for players to have. As a DM, make that known.
- Note about tangents: http://skarr.obsidianportal.com/wikis/house-rules this puts the whole table in charge of being responsible for a productive night, removing the DM vs players for attention span relationship.
- Everyone is responsible for keeping us on track, not just the DM. A sense of ownership makes people care.
- James: For me the biggest issue is being ready when your initiative comes around. I really dislike having to rouse someone from their phone because its their turn and they go "Okay, what's going on?" Or Twitter, Flappy Birds, FriendFace, etc. For me, if you are at the table, you should be paying attention. Have the courtesy to bow out temporarily if you need, but when you are there, be present.
- Especially if you're in a healing/buff mode in combat.
- Should the DM keep track of PC hit points?
- Veteran player on new player relationships - There is also a very fine line between suggesting good options to newer players, and browbeating them to perform the actions to set up your character in combat for example. It is very easy to be misunderstood there, as a veteran player. As a DM, you do want that veteran, experienced ally at the table, but be aware of his or her interactions with n00bs, because it is a reflection on you as the DM.
- Make sure your veteran players are using the phrase "one possible action" "you may want to consider" or not “the only smart move is to do this” or “you’d be an idiot not to…”.
- Make sure you or your veteran players are explaining why something would be good, but without “mansplaining” it or belittling new players. Just to emphasize that it is their decision... empower them
- This is also very relevant for the DM to player relationship. Don't be an overbearing or judgmental DM. Avoid the sarcastic "really." Make sure you're being kind, keep the choice in their hands.
- Be patient, and be more patient to someone who is trying, as opposed to caring.
- Body odor. If you’re going to have the hygiene of an old west prostitute, Give it a whore’s bath or a spritz of lemon water before stepping back out into the saloon between tricks. Seriously though, you will be sitting next to multiple other humans for a few hours, don’t be nose deaf.
- It is a very difficult conversation to have with a friend to tell them that they reek
- If for example you came to D&D right after performing analingus on an asparagus farmer, use some mouthwash first.
- Some foods and drinks are not table-friendly, some are.
- No messy BBQ.
- No corn nuts.
- No easily tippable cups.
- But also, keep in mind that if you’re planning on cooking during the early phase of a D&D session, that you are careful not to use blenders, slapchops, pressure cookers, food processors, deep fryers, espresso machines, live animals, or anything else that would be loud and fool the DM into thinking that you’re not listening to his carefully prepared environment descriptions. Smoothies are delicious, but not for making during D&D.
- Be aware of dietary restrictions, whether they be choices or allergies.
- Good Southern table etiquette things like slurping, gulping, chewing with mouth open... Be aware of the noises you create while masticating.
- As the host, make sure you have shit taken care of, get a sitter: a dog sitter, cat sitter, toddlersitter, grandma sitter, little brother/sister sitter, bird sitter, whatever it is that is co-habitating with your house that is determined to be a dick during your campaign.
- Good etiquette to meet each player as they enter, never been a fan of the "we're in the basement, just let yourself in", which is rather creepy and also the plot intro to several pornographic films. Greeting people at the door is a proper way to be like the guys on Cheers.
- Again, the #1 rule of D&D etiquette - be ready. Get your shit together, as a DM or Player.
Gadgets of This Very Night Podcast:
- Status markers - W: signature flags, C: bottle top rings, also: magnetic bases
- Turn keepers - W: notecards for initiative, C: dry erase
- DM Screen (for cheating!) Personalize this with landscape images of your terrain currently, etc.
- Camera (for interrupted sessions)
- Overland map
- NPC names list
- NPC profiles list
- Dwarven Forge dungeon sets, official D&D terrain things (for example the Underdark 3D set of stalagmites), handmade trees and shrubs (thanks Meg!), wet/dry erase markers on a battlemat.
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