Ask A Gm – 001: Top 5 tips for new Players

Hello friends, I’m Cam Wiens. GM, Chef and lover of things geeky. Im a Gryffindor, Chaotic Good, and my favorite ninja turtle is Leonardo.

I can write an encounter for a roleplaying game. Dozens of them in a night even when crunch time calls for it. Being asked to contribute a traditional article with my thoughts about tabletop roleplaying games, and despite playing them for over 20 years now with them being arguably my favorite hobby. I have honestly racked my brain trying to put my words together into a cogent essay for days now. I’ve started this article several times now. 

My conclusion: I’m not a great independent writer. I need collaboration, and to be prompted. So I asked people for their Q’s and here are some A’s. With any luck maybe I can help inspire some games, and help people looking at the hobby.

Question: “What are your Top 5 tips for new player?”

1. Get to know your character

Why are they adventuring? Are they in it for fame, fortune, or revenge? Character motivations drive plot hooks, and player interactions. How do they feel about others? How are you (your character) going to react if you see someone stealing? I used to have a DM pass out a in depth questionnaire about backgrounds for his use and to have us really think about and flesh out our characters. While not necessary, I think it does help a lot for building a more in depth campaign.

2. Stay in the moment

Put the phone away, nothing kills game immersion more than checking your phone. I’m guilty of this for sure. You’ll have a better time if you can put yourself in your character’s boots. Try to ask questions from your character’s perspective. Fancy voices aren’t near as important as getting the message across in an in character way. Try to avoid asking things like “what would happen if my character does this” and “my character says….” and just try to speak and act your character’s truth.

3. Party Cohesion over anything else

The most fun I’ve ever had playing a character was playing a neutral evil character in an evil campaign. The reason we didn’t fall into disarray and party infighting is we followed the simplest rule of all: the party comes first. You can do selfish things, and steal, stab, and trick whoever you want, so long as they aren’t a player character. As a DM I’ll never say no to a reasonable request. But if you ask me to steal from another player at the table, I’m going to take you aside we’re going to have a quick talk about party cohesion.

4. Questions are always welcome

If you are feeling lost, all the text in the Player’s Handbook  is just overwhelming you. WHAT DOES THAC0 MEAN!?

I’m not sure of the accuracy of this statistic, but there’s a 99% chance you’re playing with people who have played before, especially the DM. They can answer, or find the answer. Guaranteed. Try not to let your social fear keep you from enjoying yourself at the table. We all had questions at some point. Eventually, you’ll be the person answering the questions, and welcoming new people to the hobby with the same fears you overcame.

5. The Rule of Cool

This is more of a mantra than a hard and fast rule. Which is kind of the definition of the rule of cool. Using the same attacks over and over gets boring. Want to swing on the chandelier? That’s not an option they give on the character sheet. But it’s so cool! Try to think outside the box. Your future self will thank you for the cool stories you get to tell about that time you rode a shield like a surfboard down the stairs while shooting orcs dead. Showpiece encounters and stories are made by imagination and thinking outside the box. Keep your GM on their toes, and use your surroundings. The game will be genuinely richer for it.

Well, hopefully that helps. Have any questions for “Ask a GM?” send them to and put “Ask A GM” in the Subject line.

Until then, happy dice rolling.


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