D&D table rules: 5 tips for playing nicely as a new player

A couple of months ago, we started up a new game of Dungeons and Dragons in the form of a unique campaign Shane had been working on. So far, it’s been a lot of fun—and not least because we finally managed to convince my sister to play.

As the type of person who likes to know everything before she gets involved in something, she’s naturally had a lot of questions. One that stuck out to me early on was what she should know about being at the table. What should she expect from everyone else, and what would everyone else expect from her?

I’d never really thought about it, but even still, I shared with her a few of the things I’ve learned being the newest player at different tables over the years.

The Girly Geek's rules for friendly tableplay

1. Consider your fellow players.

Because D&D is a collaborative game, it’s important to remember to treat everyone respectfully. It sounds a little basic, but you’d be surprised how quickly it can devolve in a table fight!

Remember to listen, give people space to share ideas, and be open to different playstyles.

2. Separate in-game and IRL conflict.

Remember those table fights I mentioned? It’s extremely easy for players to let conflicts between characters—or even just disagreements over how a particular situation was handled—become conflicts between the players themselves.

It’s sad to say, but we have lost friends over this inability to distinguish between the two before.

Keep in mind that disagreements between characters need to stay as disagreements between characters, and to leave game-talk in game if you need to.

3. Keep conversations to the right times.

Imagine this. The DM’s set up for the epic, final battle, the one you’ve been working toward for the better part of six months. You’re on the edge of your seat because you’ve been taking careful notes every time this villain shows up and monologues to your party.

But you can’t focus—and neither can your DM—because someone had a sidebar that they just had to say right then, and several people started joking about it.

There’s no good way to get back into the game when someone interrupts important moments, and it can cause your DM a lot of frustration, or even make them stop wanting to put in effort. So just be mindful of when you start your conversations!

4. Play your character—but remember you're not the protagonist.

In a collaborative game like D&D, where everyone has a backstory and character development separate from everyone else, there’s really no such thing as a protagonist. But that doesn’t stop some players from acting like they are.

Remember that everyone’s story matters, and as much as you might enjoy your time in the spotlight, everyone else needs their chance to shine too.

5. Embrace your table's differences.

One of the most wonderful things about D&D is that it brings all kinds together, and that often turns into your party’s biggest strength when you’re not expecting it. After all, there’s no one way to play D&D, and you never know what someone else might think of.

Case in point, my sister’s constant research into the things you didn’t know you could do with druids.

Be open to new character concepts, differences in roleplaying, unique playstyles, and problem solving!


Have any D&D tips—or experiences—to share?

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