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Publisher: Azukail Games

RPGs combine so many different activities into a single experience. They include group storytelling, team sports, board games, writing exercises, a hangout session with friends and so much more. However, being a good player is about more than knowing which bonus abilities to add to your character as you level up, or being able to quote the rule book chapter and verse. While we learn a lot of how to be a good player from experience, and from watching the people we share our tables with (for good or for ill), sometimes you don’t need to make a mistake yourself in order to learn what pitfalls to watch out for.

The following tips are things that can help you become a better player, regardless of the RPG you’re part of. Some of them are little things you can do to make the game smoother and more enjoyable, and others are cautions for things you should avoid doing, but whether you’re brand new to the hobby or you’ve been part of it for decades there will still be tips and tricks in this list for you!

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Do not attempt to blame your bad behavior on your character; what’s often called the, “It’s what my character would do,” defense. You are the one who made them the way they are, and you are the one who decides what actions they do or don’t take. You also have the ability to create new motivations and desires to drive them in different directions. Whether it’s trying to steal treasure out from under the party’s nose, trying to bully those a character feels they can push around or even selling out the party to the villain, these are all decisions you choose to make… and you can choose to not make them just as easily.
Avoid using placeholder language whenever possible. Instead of an “adventurer,” ask what your character’s specific job title is. Whether it’s a mercenary, bounty hunter, archaeologist, chronicler or something else entirely, it provides more information and insight into who they are and what they do. Use the same strategy for the town they’re from, the organizations they’ve worked for and the NPCs they know. Removing placeholders helps you flesh out details, and tie your character more closely to the setting, which can get you deeper into the game.
If improvisation isn’t your strength, then take some time to write down a few good lines you can break out when it’s time to make social rolls in game. This is a particularly useful strategy when it comes to intimidating threats, which can be hard for a lot of us to just drop off the top of our heads. It’s equally useful for pickup lines, if you have a character and a game where those may become necessary.
Remember that unless the setting you’re playing in is expressly set on Earth that there’s no obligation for history, technology, culture etc. to mirror how things exist on Earth. We’ve all shared a table with someone who’s argued about when crucible steel became common in the Middle East, or what the social rules regarding what jobs women were allowed to hold in pre-revolution France, and they always seem to miss the point that settings which aren’t our world are not required to conform to the standards of our world. Especially when we throw magic, dragons and alchemy into the mix!
Confirm with your GM and fellow players that game is still on at least 24 hours before game day. This is generally a good practice for any group activity, but given how difficult it can be to wrangle a table, this little bit of effort can make your Game Master’s job that much easier.

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