Table rules and guidelines
- Enjoy Yourselves,
The game is meant to be fun. Let everyone enjoy the game in their own unique way. There is no one right way to play.
Try not to spend your time between turns chatting with other players, reading, texting or daydreaming. Pay attention to the game. Consider what you will be doing when your turn comes up. Look for where you can contribute. Be ready for your turn. If you can’t be present for the better part of 4 hours, at least do not distract others on their turn, and be fully present for your own.
- Encourage participation.
Allow everyone time to participate and share. Some people are not assertive, and take time to come out of their shell. Some people are new to the hobby, and need time to know the rules and how they should be. Give them that space, and do not hog the attention at the table. Give everyone space to contribute. Remember how cool it was when you discovered your first RPG. Allow everyone to unleash their inner gamer.
- One conversation at a time.
Things can get hectic, and sometimes you feel the need to cut in to get a word in edgeways! However, please be sensitive to the speaking of others. The GM (and each of us) can only pay attention to one person at a time.
- Be inclusive.
The hobby needs more players, not less. Women, LGBTQ folk, the disabled, people of all ethnicities and beliefs may all be at your table, whether you know it or not. Jokes that would be perceived as offensive or insensitive to anyone will be counterproductive – such people face enough discrimination in other aspects of their daily lives, they don’t need it in their “play time”.
- Know your character.
Read up on your class abilities. Know your principle weapon attacks and damages. Read up on your spells. Learn the rules as they pertain to your character as best you can. People will be willing to help you if you help yourself. We are all willing to help the newbie, but we tire of telling the same person how their spells work for the umpteenth time.
- Move the plot forward.
It might be fun to hold forth on whatever backstory elements you have devised, but if you are not moving the game forward, you are holding back everyone else’s enjoyment.
- Roll your dice on the table.
Simple. And if a dice is tilted against something, roll it again. And don’t scoop up the dice so quickly that no one else can read them. I am not assuming everyone cheats, and I hate laying up a brilliant plan and then rolling a miss as much as anyone else. However, leaving no doubt in people’s minds is far preferable to having them wonder if you were really that lucky.
- No food at the table.
The University of Toronto has a no food or drink policy. By all means bring bottled water.
- Keep it clean.
Clean up after yourself. Leave the room in the state you found it, or better.
- Don’t be obstructionist.
Do not use your character’s traits or motivations to spoil the fun for other players. If your character wouldn’t do X then don’t do X. But don’t stop other people from doing it. In real life, you probably don’t go around forcibly stopping others from doing what they want. By all means, react (in character) to what others do.
- Don’t argue the rules.
By all means, make one short, calm representation of your case. Then let the GM decide. That is their job. If you still are not OK with the decision, take it up after the game. Don’t ruin it for everyone else.
- No sexual violence.
We are all adults here, and if it moves the plot forwards, “off camera” mention of sexual violence may occur. By characters towards NPCs in unacceptable. Between characters is right out.
- No gratuitous sex.
Absolutely no “charming the waitress” or whatever sophomoric jollies you may think are amusing. Keep all conduct above board.
- No foul language.
Please keep language clean, consistent with being in an educational establishment. Inside of role play, you can be creative with archaisms that are not presently regarded as foul language. “Odds bodkins, gadzooks, zounds, or bloody hell” will all serve, as well as “may your liver rot and your blood be infected with filthy diseases”, which to me sounds much more colourful than “F you”.
- Do not be a boor.
Do not prolong behaviour that someone has indicated causes them discomfort. If for any reason, a player has indicated that a certain topic causes them discomfort, do not continue. Do not start a discussion on why you think you should be allowed to continue. Do not discuss the reason with the person. Just accept it and drop it.
- Electronic devices.
Tablets, smartphones and laptops are a part of everyday life, and are often used at the game table. Please keep your table footprint to a minimum. Be aware that a large screen in front of you can distance you from your fellow players. Please do not use these devices for distracting activities that do not forward the game. If you can’t be present for the better part of 4 hours, it may be time to reconsider whether you should be playing a tabletop RPG.
- Personal hygiene.
My wife asked that I put this in, so it must still be a problem in some circles. Please shower. Also keep scent (perfume, aftershave etc) to a minimum. Some of us are allergic to these things.
- None of us are perfect.
We all break some of these “rules” from time to time. Cut each other a little slack in the name of fun. These are guidelines intended to promote shared enjoyment, not straightjackets to constrain our self expression. If everyone is having fun, and no-one is hurt or offended, then we are “doing it right”.