As you begin to enter the world of Dungeons & Dragons, there’s a lot to learn. Character stats, rolls, attacks, spells… the list goes on and on. At the end of the day though, D&D is a game – and one that you play with others. (Though you actually can play D&D solo!)
This means you need to be aware that there are rules of D&D etiquette, just as there are in all social situations. (D&D is actually a great way to learn about life, not the least because there are rules and ways of behaving that make us better people with one another…) To make sure everyone has a good time playing D&D, it’s important to follow certain etiquette rules. Here are some expanded D&D etiquette tips to keep in mind.
Tip #1. Be Respectful
This is the most important rule in D&D etiquette: be respectful to other players by avoiding behavior that might be offensive or hurtful. Don’t insult or belittle other players, and don’t use slurs or derogatory language. If you have a disagreement, try to resolve it peacefully, and avoid making personal attacks.
Honestly, most D&D players are very nice people and this is unlikely to happen – but as with all games where ‘life’ and ‘death’ are on the line – for our characters – it can get heated or stressful at times.
Tip #2. Arrive on Time
Showing up late to a D&D game can be disruptive, especially if the group has already started playing; once your schedule is set with your fellow players and DM, you should do your very best to arrive on time and be ready to get started.
Make sure to arrive on time or, better yet, a few minutes early to set up and chat with your fellow players before the game starts.
Tip #3. Come Prepared
Bring everything you need to play, such as your character sheet, dice, pencils, and any relevant books or notes. If you’re not sure what you need, ask the DM ahead of time, and check my list of the equipment you need to get started playing D&D.
Tip #4. Don’t Hog the Spotlight
D&D is a collaborative game, and everyone should have a chance to contribute. Don’t dominate the conversation or take over the game – even if your party elects your character as the leader. Instead, let other players have their moment to shine and contribute to the story… after all, a great leader understands that everyone has something to contribute and works to foster those opportunities (even when it’s all just characters in a game!).
Tip #5. Stay Engaged
Pay attention to what’s happening in the game, and participate actively. Don’t browse social media or play games on your phone while playing D&D. This can be distracting and disrespectful to other players. I’ll be honest, I struggle with this one sometimes as a player, especially when combat is taking a long time and I’m playing via D&D Beyond on my phone.
Tip #6. Don’t Cheat
I feel like this applies to all games, not just D&D – but it’s well worth saying anyway: cheating is not only unfair to other players, but it also ruins the fun of the game.
Don’t fudge your dice rolls, lie about your character’s abilities, or break the rules. If you’re not sure about something, ask the DM. As long as you’re doing things with good intentions, your fellow players and DM will always understand and try to help.
Tip #7. Keep the Game Moving
D&D games can sometimes get bogged down in discussions or debates; the more players you have in your campaign, the more likely this is to happen when important decisions need to be made.
If this happens, try to move the game forward by suggesting a course of action or making a decision. This can be especially fun if such behaviors are in line with your character’s behavior.
Also, always keep an eye on your DM when this happens in your campaign – the DM can always do something to get the plot moving, and those rolls of the dice rarely work out for the characters!
Tip #8. Avoid Metagaming
Metagaming is a special term you’ll hear used especially often with regard to Dungeons & Dragons – though it applies to all roleplaying games. It’s when you use knowledge or information that your character wouldn’t have in the game.
Metagaming can take many forms – for example, using information from a previous game, Googling information, or reading the DM’s notes. If you’re a brand new player, you may be tempted to Google things just to understand what’s going on; as a DM, I’m okay with that, as long as you don’t use the knowledge you gain to change how your character behaves.
In short, avoid metagaming to keep the game fair and fun for everyone.
Tip #9. Stay in Character
Role-playing is a big part of D&D. Try to stay in character as much as possible, and don’t break the immersion by talking about things that are outside of the game.
Admittedly, your own campaign might be a bit different; my first campaign as a player focused less on roleplaying and more on gameplay. Whenever I DM though, I always try to encourage roleplaying since it’s such a fun part of the game.
Speaking of DMs…
Tip #10. Don’t Argue with the DM
There’s one special D&D etiquette tip that’s specific to your interactions with the Dungeon Master: don’t argue with them.
The DM is responsible for creating the story and setting the rules of the game. If you disagree with a decision the DM has made, don’t argue with them. (This is actually just a good rule for life – arguing is never an effective way to change the mind of someone in power!)
That said, you can certainly try and make your case during the game; as a DM, I’m always open to hearing my players put forward a case for why something should be done a certain way. At the end of the day though, the DM is the final arbiter of all rules – and that means that once the ruling is made, it’s final.
By following these D&D etiquette tips, you can help create a positive and respectful gaming environment for everyone involved. Have any questions about my D&D etiquette tips, or have ones I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!