22 October 2014
In all those places, what we expect from our fellow gamers is a matter of constant debate. What classes they play, whether they buy into PvP or not, whether one can play evil in a good party or good in an evil party, whether people should conform their expectations or proudly dissent. "Murderhoboing," niche protection, how "paladins" or priests ought to behave, we're vitally concerned with how the other character acts, and we drone on at startling length and persistence on the subject.
We're far less concerned with how the player acts, oddly enough. But that's as much of a make-and-break as anything else, wouldn't you think? What I want from my players is ...
* Regular attendance. Someone who misses as many as a quarter of my sessions is teetering on the edge. I do not run one of those drop-in games where it's okay to blow us all off if there's a baseball game you'd rather watch on TV or you just don't feel like shaving.
* Buying in. By virtue of showing up, you're telling me you're willing to play the system I play, in the milieu and genre I'm using, in my homebrew setting, and that you intend to conform to the group you're joining.
* Good behavior. We're all adults here. If you're going to be terribly late, you call. If you can't make it, you call or e-mail. You pay attention to my game, not to your Words With Friends app on your cellphone. You leave your cigarettes and alcohol at home, and you don't jeer at my cats, kick people in the head or spit in the snacks. (These last three were not cited at random.)
* Good neighbors. Everyone brings some kind of light snack, and everyone takes turns buying/cooking a meal, since we do eight hour sessions and that's a long time to go without a bite. Chronically arriving a half hour late so you don't have to deal with the pre-game socializing is unfriendly. (That isn't cited at random either.)
* Knowledge. After a certain point, I don't want to have to keep teaching you the rules. Learn enough of them to pull your weight, or else reconcile yourself to the fact that your tactical options are going to be limited to "I attack him with my weapon." I want people invested enough in my gameworld to learn about it, and while I don't quiz people on the handouts, I see no reason why more interested players have to keep coaching the slackers on the basics. As in any other field of human endeavor, you get out of it when you put into it.
* Trust. I am not an adversarial GM. I am here to provide the setting with which you interact, not to provide an omniscient, omnipotent, malevolent force Out To Screw You. If you can't trust me to do that, to be fair, judicious and reasonable, we ought not be playing together. Whoever did you dirt in the past, I'm not that guy.
* Motivation. Shouldn't you be here to play the game, not simply be a passive spectator for my storytelling? That being said, adventures are -- usually -- about conflict. Accept this. Your backstory isn’t immune to being mined for plotlines, the people you know and meet aren’t immune to being mined for plotlines. Someone who deliberately refuses to give me any handles concedes that adventures will never be about you; only about someone else. I’m not terribly interested in that kind of player.
* Honesty. If you've got a problem or an issue, I'd like to know it. If you can't hack any of the rules above, I'd like to know that too. Passive-aggressive sullenness does not impress me; I believe that mature adults should be able to have open, honest and civil discussion of their grievances like, well, mature adults ought to do. Problems never go away on their own. And if any of the above is too much for you -- or isn’t the game you want to play -- I hope you're honest enough to give my campaign a miss and not waste anyone's time, your own included. (Don’t worry. I won’t be offended. Should I be offended if you’re not into any of the other things I’m into, from hockey to singing classical music to walking in forests to writing nautical folk songs?)