Sunday, August 7, 2011

Be a Better Player 9 - Remember the rules.

GM – The black guardians slowly step out of the woodline around the campfire. They are on all sides effectively surrounding your group. The familiar sound of their blades being drawn, that high pitched scrape almost like screaming fills the air. It's very clear they aren't here to talk.

Player 1 – Oh hell here we go. I told you they would catch up to us.

Player 2 – Okay you were right. Arm yourselves guys it's time for a fight.

GM – I need some initiative rolls all around.

(sounds of dice rolling)

Player 3 – Um... how do I roll that again?

Player 1 – sigh... the same as last time.

Player 3 – I forgot. Tell me how it works again.

GM – Roll a ten sider, add in your initiative bonus. Don't worry about any negatives since your armor wouldn't give you any.

Player 3 – Ah okay. Where's the bonus at on the sheet?

Player 4 – We've been playing this for weeks now and you do this all the time.

Player 1 – Yeah man come on.

Player 3 – Relax, it's just a game. Chill out already.

Now we all know that the games we play have rules and at times they can become pretty essential. Especially for events like combat which can come up often. So learning at least the basics of rules can become a necessity to keep things rolling along. Nothing is worse than stopping every time to refresh somebody on how to roll to hit.

Before anybody gets riled up over this I'm not talking addressing people brand new to gaming or when you just start a new system for the first time. People new to the hobby usually take a bit of time getting the hang of the rules especially when, in the process of playing, you tend to go suddenly from amateur theater around the table to randomized mathematics at the drop of a hat. Nobody shouldn't expect a veteran player to suddenly know the rules for a system they never played before.

What I am talking about is when you've been playing games for a while and have been using a specific system for a while also. You should at least commit enough to remember how to roll for initiative, to hit, make a saving throw or a simple skill check. This alone will help save a lot of time and keep the game flowing along nicely.

If it's a system that is rather complex or you just have trouble remembering things then ask for, or make, a cheat sheet. Right down the basics of what you need to do on a spare sheet of paper and in a description that you can understand. Keep it right beside your character sheet during play for that fast reference. Hell I still have a couple of cheat sheets for some games I used to play, one even covered character generation so I could speed through it quickly. Personally I think a photocopy friendly cheat sheet in the back of core game books should be included right beside the character sheet. But that's just my opinion.


  1. I've met people like that. They reach a certain age and decide they never want to learn anything ever again. Unless they absolutely have to, for work or something. Anything else just goes whoosh over their head. You explain it to them, they say "Oh, got it." then the next 12 times it's the same thing. I work at Subway, and there are some customers who won't learn the names of their favorite subs. You have to figure it out each time.

  2. ok - am I that person - my maths is weak and I have a bad memory for numbers - so I struggle a bit with the AD&D based games which involve a lot of number crunching - it's not always because we can't be arsed you know.

    1. There is a difference between somebody who has an actual problem remembering the rules and somebody who doesn't bother to try.

  3. My most common hang up as a GM is when a player doesn't know their spells or they have to continually look up their abilities. That will stop a game in it's tracks.