That’s something we hear a lot when people give player advice. Don’t be a dick. Don’t be a jerk.
But what does that mean?
Here’s a few tips for players (and GMs) on how not to be a dick with your group.
Firstly, don’t engage in ad hominen attacks or bullying. We all have different standards for what that means, but here’s the best rule of thumb: until you know a person, steer clear of jokes about their…well, anything…until you know they’re cool with it.
This is especially hard for me, and others who grew up with “Celtic Love”, where busting someone’s balls means you like them; you’re polite to those you don’t know or like. Don’t insult them. Don’t comment on something they might find touchy — like if they’re homosexual or a ginger. (See..?)
Extend that to, don’t insult their character and/or play style. Not everyone gaming is an aspiring actor, and they don’t have to be. Not everyone is annoyed by the attention-seeker who has to dress their part and play like they’re getting paid for it. A lot of people see their characters as an idealized version of themselves, so attacking that character leads to the above issues…
Second, recognize that some of these people have lives outside of the game. Conversely, recognize that the game might be the only social or creative outlet for some of the players and is important to them. Some people are going to miss game because or work or family pressures. that really can’t be avoided. Some folks figure they can traipse in and out whenever they please ’cause “it’s just a game” and don’t note that this makes it hard for the GM to plot for you (I’ve had whole sessions have to be scrubbed, last minute. It’s fucking rude.) and makes it hard for the other players to care about your character and involvement. There also might be other issues — I have a kid. Her bedtime is usually during game. Having to switch nights on a regular basis isn’t just a hassle for me and other gamers, it screws with the kid and wife’s schedules.
This is specifically for players: Just note that some GMs actually put a tremendous amount of effort into have a good, enjoyable game really. You kind of screw them when you decide not to show up for a few weeks or a month. If you can’t be consistent, tell them and either drop out, or agree to play a bit character. You’re not getting married to the group, so no one expects total commitment, but they don’t also expect to wait an hour for you not to show up, then they get under way.
So third: CALL OUT. Don’t not show up without warning. Don’t be two hours late without letting them know. Half the people on this planet can’t have lunch without a tweet, text, or Instagram — keep people apprised. Conversely, if you never show up, but think you will for a few weeks, let them know (if you can.)
Lastly, don’t leave the place a mess when you leave. Pick up your glasses, your plates, your mess. Offer to help out with the clean up or pitch in a few bucks for meals. If you get a ride from one of the other players, pitch in for gas.
These are just the few ways you can not be a jerk when you are part of an RPG game.