Wednesday, May 8, 2013

VPA-1: Be a Friend

Being a friend and gaming with friends...
(from Big Bang Theory)

Wil Wheaton says, "Don't be a dick."

I say, "Be a friend."

At first glance, both seem similar, when it comes down to it, "Don't be a dick" is passive. After all, if you're not going to be jerk at the gaming session, what are you going to be? Simple. Be a friend

Because the game really isn't about you--It's about the players around you. And you know what? They'd rather be playing with friends, too. Are you prepared to be a friend?

Victoria Praeparatio Amat (that's Latin for "Victory Loves Preparation") is a new series from d20 Dark Ages that explores what makes a gaming session great, and what makes them suck. This series focuses on players of RPGs, yet players of wargames and boardgames can benefit from this advice, too. Furthermore, while there's lots of advice for Game Masters out there, VPA addresses both GMs and Players. 

The whole "game with friends" has been passed around for years. I first read it way back in Dragon #216. Monte Cook himself  has said something like don't game with people you wouldn't invite to dinner. 

It's a good rule of thumb. My only problem with it is that I've had dinner with gamers who seem okay but end up being jerks at the tabletop.

When I say "be a friend," I mean approaching the game with the idea of helping the other players have a good time. Therefore, you'll have a great session, because everybody enjoyed themselves. Remember what I said last week: there are no mediocre sessions, either a session is great or it sucked for somebody.

"Be a friend" means going into a gaming session...
--establishing relationships with other members of the group.
--asking: "what can I contribute?" instead of "what can I get for myself?"
--making a great time happen, rather than passively letting the GM provide the entertainment.
--having the learned the rules so you can help the GM and newbies so the game can run smoothly.
--giving up a certain sense of entitlement for you and your character.
--helping everybody "win."

All of this, of course, begins with a certain mindset before the session starts. If you go into a session thinking only of what you and your character can get out of it, you'll likely have a bad time. Your desires will conflict with the other players. Even worse, if you have a great time, the other players will feel a certain kind of resentment.

Being a friend happens before, during, and after a session.

Being a friend can happen even in tournament play (though I admit, it can be difficult). 

All of this sounds like common sense, right? Yet I think we've all experienced so-called friends suddenly become jerks at the gaming table (and we've probably been that jerk at one time or another). It's the guy who plays a chaotic evil thief who tries to steal from the rest of the group. It's player who deliberately plays an outlier character with no meaningful skills. It's the player who shows up late, or not at all, and doesn't notify anybody. Its the mooch. Its the chronic rules lawyer. Its the cheater.

So "don't be a dick..." a friend.

 Being a jerk... see the difference?
(from Big Bang Theory)

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