Ask A Gm – 005: Rules of D&D Etiquette

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’ve very recently been stood up by a couple players online. So I’m writing from a place of righteous indignation. (also the name of bucky o’hare’s ship), So I’ve written a few thoughts on the topic of simply attending a game. As a veteran of many a D&D game, be it a one shot in a comic book store, or  a long running campaign at various people’s houses, to dungeon master and dinner party host, I’ve noticed certain trends, and rough guidelines for playing a social  game of imagination and dice. Here be those rules as I see them.

Hosting in person

  • Have a large table or gaming area set up that everyone can be seated comfortably. Try to have enough of the same style of chairs for your guests.
  • A tidy house is always appreciated. This doesn’t need to be the whole house of course, but The room in which you are playing, the kitchen (optional), and the bathroom the guests are going to use, should be presentable.
  • If you are providing food, make sure you find out your guests allergies and intolerance, pre-discuss what the food/drink plans are, so that players aren’t all stuck drinking luke warm tap water out of a novelty cup.

Attending in Person

  • You are a guest in someone’s house, act accordingly! Being a guest is way easier than being a host, so show some gratitude. Pony up for a 12pk and coordinate with the other players, who’s bringing what so you don’t end up with 5 cases of mt. dew. I played in a very long running campaign and we would take turns providing a meal, and everyone else was responsible for their own beverages. So one week we would have 2 pre-made frozen lasagnas from the grocery store, the next we would each get a couple value menu cheeseburgers. Pizza is always on the table, for $8ish each you can have quite the feast.

Playing in a Comic Shop (or other business)

  • BUY SOMETHING! Be it a couple pops, and chips, or better yet, a shiny new sourcebook! And try not to be too loud. Don’t bug other patrons if you can avoid it.

General Rules (online or in person)

  • Try to be 10-15 minutes early, don’t be that guy who is habitually 30 minutes late. If you will be late, or cannot attend, Let everyone know as early as possible. Some people play a player down, some refuse to play without a full crew. Nothing worse than finding out 20 minutes after you were meant to start playing that someone isn’t coming and the game is cancelled.
  • Try to keep table talk in game, I’m personally bad for this, but it really derails a game when people cant keep their heads in the game.
  • PUT YOUR DAMN PHONE ON SILENT, in your pocket. Away.  avoid keeping your character details on your phone if possible. The temptation is too great, believe me I know.

It really boils down to one solid rule; Be considerate: Of people’s time, and effort. With some luck you’ll be invited back, and the epic tales you will tell.

Well I’m going to get off my soapbox now. 

Until then, happy dice rolling.

– CAM

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