I’ve been kicking around this article for a bit and felt it was important to write this, not only for players at the table, but because I feel some of it can and should be carried over into real life. It’s easy to just keep writing technical articles about D&D, diving into spells, what the best races for the rogue is, or how having a War Elephant is awesome The world is a crazy place right now, and while I look forward to our weekly sessions to escape for awhile, we all have to go back to the real world eventually. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m balancing the need to stay informed and the need not go insane.
Before we go any further, please know this is not supposed to be a statement on what’s right and wrong in the world today. Your opinions are yours and who am I to say any differently. Sure, I may find some people’s beliefs abhorrent, and others may say mine are unrealistc and stupid. That’s fine. (One caveat - anything that hurts another person Is bullshit.) Because neither of us is probably right. I’m going to work towards making my beliefs become a reality in this world, just like people who having differing opinions are working on the same thing. Hopefully we can meet somewhere in the middle. We are all in this together (so cliche) and going too far to one side or the other doesn’t usually work for the majority.
Play how you want means exactly that.
Want to be a Champion Fighter who just wants to hit things and not think too much? Fine, do it. A sneaky bastard of a rogue who the party needs to keep one eye on? Go for it. Maybe a crazy old wizard who thinks the fireball should be used at every opportunity? If that works for you, great. It’s your character. Play it how you want.
Some people play their personalities, other play so far out of who they are in real life, they may be outside their comfort zone. Right now, I’m playing a devout Cleric who takes a ton of shit from the other players at the table. In real life, the Jesuits at the catholic high school I went to beat the Jesus right out of me, and I’ve never looked back. Sure, the Cleric is way different than I am in in real life, but isn’t that the point of role playing? For me, playing a character that is just like me in real life seems awfully boring. But that’s just me. Play how you want.
But remember, how you play can have consequences. I don’t just mean how your character acts, but how you act at the table. Act like a jerk, people will treat you like a jerk. Treat people with respect and be actively engaged, people could still treat you like a jerk. Hopefully they won’t.
I have a couple simple rules I try to follow. Now these are my rules. Play how you want.
Don’t be a dick - The catch phrase these days is “Be Kind”. Being kind in D&D can quickly get you killed. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk either. I won’t play an evil character. I try to look out for the good of the party. I respect the other people at the table. All simple things. Some people may not want to play that way. But that’s how they want to play and that’s fine. Just remember there are consequences to how you play.
Listen - I try to actively listen to the DM. He put a great deal of effort into creating the campaign The least I can do is listen to him as he describes the surroundings and/or has the NPC’s interact with us. I also pay attention to what the other people at the table have to say. This doesn’t mean I have to agree with what they are saying. But I believe I should at least hear them out. Maybe their argument can convince me that attacking that Ancient Red Dragon is a good idea.
Push for what I want to do - I refuse to let the table run roughshod over me. DND involves compromising, but this doesn’t mean I don’t get to do what I want to. If I have a quest line I want to follow, I will present reasons why I want to and show how it will benefit me and the party as a whole. People may not agree, but I will stick to my guns and at least get it on the schedule of quests we are planning on. But as you talk through it, refer to point 1. No one wants to listen to a dick.
Have Fun - I play cause I want to have a good time with people I like. Isn’t that the whole point of playing?
So, play how you want. In doing so, you must live with the consequences of doing so. It’s a team game and therefore is made up of constant compromises. If playing how you want doesn’t allow for this, well, then it’s on you. My experience as a whole is the D&D community is made of a diverse group of personalities who all make it somehow work every session, every week. We respect each other and have fun.
Maybe if people took some of how they play the game and put it into their everyday life, some small little things in the real world could slowly get better.