Just last week during our usual D&D session, my group received a new player to fill a hole in our party left by a player who had moved away. She’s enthusiastic but completely green to D&D. As one of the more knowledgeable people in our group, it was decided that I would mentor her on the ways of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition and help her create her adventurer. So, in honor of her and all the other newbies out there, here’s a few basic tips for being a better role player.
Respect the Dungeon Master
The Dungeon Master (Game Master in other tabletop RPGs) is god. Their word is law. DMs put a lot of effort into building the story and world as well as managing both PCs & NPCs (often having to improvise when the party decides to go in the exact opposite direction of where the DM was leading them). Listen to your DM and don’t argue with their rulings in the game. An annoyed DM can make an adventurer’s life very, VERY difficult if they so choose.
Know Your Role
While 5th edition is simpler than previous editions, D&D has a lot of rules which can be overwhelming to new players. Learning as you go is fine, but I recommend doing some research on the character you plan to play before jumping in. Learn what your class’s strengths and weaknesses are. Study your race and its unique features. Find what your role will be in the group such as scout, tank, or healer. Write out your character’s motivations, backstory, and personality to remain consistent from session to session. Keeping these things in mind will help bring out your adventurer’s full potential in the game.
Stay in Character
Being “in character” is putting aside all thoughts of yourself to take on the persona of your character. While in character, be aware of what is happening in the game world and avoid “breaking character” by bringing up real world chatter like some funny post on Snapchat. These distractions disrupt the flow of the story and can turn game play into a drag. Everyone has set aside this time to play the game, so don’t be rude and waste it by forcing the DM to repeat things because you weren’t paying attention. Keep your personal feelings about the other players separate from your character’s feelings. Conflict made in game can interesting or exciting. Conflict made out of game is not.
I’m all about playing well-rounded characters, but no race or class can do it all. That’s why there’s an adventuring party. Talk to the other members of your group if you are stuck in a situation that seems unsolvable. Maybe you can’t bust down a door through brute force, but another player can pick the lock. Work together and pull upon the skills of every PC. Communicate. Don’t withhold information just because your character is “untrusting.” Everyone trust each other enough to be travelling and fighting together. Unless completely necessary, avoid splitting up or trying to be a lone wolf. You will always be able to accomplish more as a group than alone.
Roll with it
Remember, D&D is just a game. Everyone comes together to have fun and bond. Don’t get ultra nitpicky on rules. If your character dies (which can happen, sometimes very easily), don’t sweat it. Roll up a new one and keep playing. Don’t let role playing intimidate you. Odds are no one there is a professional actor so play out as much as you are comfortable. Be free to be silly or stupid. Laugh at yourself when you get that natural 1 (a critical failure) and whatever you were trying to do goes hilariously wrong. Have fun!
For more tips, check out a few of these sites (all of which helped inspire my list!):
- Highprogrammer.com – a good place for out of game rules and tips
- GeekandSundry.com – home to one of the most legendary D&D groups, Critical Role, they have all around good advice with plenty of wit
- Nerdsourced.com – a good place to learn more about building up a good character
- Five Ways to Be a Better D&D Player – a very informative video I believe all D&D players should watch, especially newbies