The rules of socialization during a game are as essential to learn as the rules of any RPG. Most importantly, however, is showing respect not just to your fellow players but to the person who is hosting. By using this guide you can level up your skills in social etiquette.
We may be crazy, chaotic, or rowdy people on the field of battle, but that shouldn’t excuse us from acting that way in a person’s home.
How does one show respect towards the host? Think back to your younger years where you would spend the day at a friend’s place. You were probably told at one time or, maybe, a lot of times to “mind your manners.” Well now you can bring back those days and use the same manners towards respecting your game host.
Why should you care? Because the host has the power to bar you from their home, if not the game itself. If you’re worried you might be of the disrespectful variety don’t worry. We’re here to help transform you from a messy ogre into an honorable knight (or at least a Rogue with a heart of gold).
Here are a few ground rules to consider:
Make sure you arrive on time for each gaming session. Sure there may be the occasional day where you may miss a session or are running late. Although it probably wouldn’t hurt to let the host know when that happens. Players can only devote a specific allotment of time to participate. “This should go without saying, but the amount of time you waste by being late is multiplied by every player in the group!” (Hero Sheets). We all have a life outside of the gaming realm such as school, work, family, or taking over the world. Whatever we happen to do outside of those hours is their time, not your time to squander away.
Believe it or not, you are no longer five years old! The only person who should be cleaning up your mess is YOURSELF. There is no excuse to make your guest’s home a pig sty. Messes do happen. Just be careful and clean up the messes up make. That’s all we ask for. Respecting the host also means respecting the host’s property.
Don’t take this as an insult, but if the host says you smell like an ogre, then you probably do. This should be an easy given. The host shouldn’t have to feel like they need to wash everything you touch. Message boards on gaming sites such as Paizo and gamer blogs that have mentioned this topic when regarding being decent in a host’s home.
“Just because nobody tells you, ‘You stink!’ doesn’t mean that you don’t. Often they want to tell you so, but are TOO polite to do so. Perhaps they don’t know how to tactfully tell you you’re acting like a jerk, need a shower and clean shirt, have breath that will drop a rhino because you don’t brush your teeth, etc.” (RuneCarver Blog, Duane VanderPol).
If the host is charitable enough to offer you some delicious fare, then it is fine to accept. Still, you shouldn’t raid them of their entire storage of food and drink. You are a guest. Save the plundering for the game. One helpful tidbit is you and other members of the group could offer to contribute. “Bring food and drink to go around if you’re not hosting or storytelling. The latter 2 take a considerable amount of work, the least that can be done as a guest is bringing some snacks and refreshments. Don’t stick it all to your host to provide” (Grey, Pen and the Sword). When you partake you should give back too. I’m sure you’ll earn bonus points with the group the tastier the food you bring.
If a fellow gamer is disrespecting the host and the host is too polite to say anything, don’t be afraid to speak up about it. I understand people are worried that they might insult the person by telling them to change their ways. Just remember though: by allowing a guest to be rude or disrespectful to the host, you are not respecting the host either. If the person keeps leaving a mess for the host to clean up then you tell them about it. Don’t be too shy or nervous to say anything. By speaking up you are not only helping the host, but you are helping the group out as a whole.
Most hosts will have a certain set of rules to follow for guests. There are hosts who prefer no shoes on their newly cleaned carpet, or require the use of coasters on their grandmother’s beautiful dining table. If the host is hospitable enough to allow access to their place to play, then you need to abide by those rules. Don’t tarnish a good companionship over a few rules.
As long as you remember to respect your host by following those steps, you will be fine. Good games need good people to host them.
Were there any rules we left out or feel we should mention? Ever have to deal with someone who broke one of these rules? What did you do? Perhaps you can throw in a funny story or two about crazy guests or a nice action your guest performed for your group.
Don’t be shy. Help a fellow gamer or future host out. We welcome any additional input on respecting a host.
Photos by Aigars Mahinovs, Justin Sewell, and mrwynd via Flickr.