Blog · DM Tips and Tricks

The Do’s and Don’ts of D&D – Part One

Role playing games are experiences that require the cooperation of all the players at the table. This can be a lot for people to navigate, especially new players. To this end, I decided to put together a set of Do’s and Don’ts of Dungeons and Dragons for players and dungeon masters alike. I made a list of my own, then I asked for the input of many internet strangers. I ended up with list of over 70, which seemed like a bit much for one post. So this will be the first in an ongoing series.

A banner over top of "D&D" that says "dos and don'ts" with three different spellings. Representing the Do's and Don'ts of Dungeons and Dragons.

For the first of these posts I decided to focus on the fundamentals. The things that came up frequently in people’s responses and the ones that I felt really highlighted important aspects of the game. The basic Do’s and Don’ts of Dungeons and Dragons are something every player should be aware of.

Do’s


DO: Have Fun!

I mean that’s what it’s all about right? At the end of the day the goal is for everyone at the table to have fun. If for some reason you are not enjoying the game, then you should definitely talk to your fellow players or dungeon master, which leads to…

DO: Communicate

With both other players, and the dungeon master. Communication is key to a healthy, and functioning gaming group. If you have any concerns, questions, frustrations, ideas, whatever! Disagree with something a character is doing? Talk about it. Uncomfortable with something happening in game? Talk to the dungeon master. Whatever the issue, communicate with the people you play with.

DO: Work Together

Everyone at the table is trying to weave their story. While your character’s story and will are important, it is not the focus of the game, but a part of the whole. Working with the other players, and the dungeon master, is the key to making the game successful and enjoyable for everyone.

DO: Be respectful

In a game that is about cooperation and communication, respect is of the utmost importance. Respect the other players, respect their characters and respect the dungeon master. It is through mutual respect that the game can flow and everyone can work together.

DO: Be Creative

While there are rules and structure to D&D, it is primarily a game of imagination. Within the rules, your characters actions are limited only by your creativity. Not everything you attempt will be successful, and sometimes you may ask to do something outside of your character’s abilities, that’s okay. Experiment, try things, use spells and abilities in ways that aren’t strictly written on the page. Have an idea? Ask your dungeon master, the worst they can do is say no.

Don’ts


DON’T: Hog the spotlight

It’s easy to get excited and want to get your ideas out, but remember that the game is about everyone at the table. Let the other players and the dungeon master speak their turn. Everyone should have equal opportunity to play their character and be heard.

DON’T: tune out other’s turns

Whether it is a social interaction you are not a part of, or someone else’s turn in combat, sometimes your character will not be a part of the action. Picking up your phone when you aren’t directly involved is a good way to miss out on the action. Instead, pay attention to what’s happening. Consider your character’s reaction to what’s happening or what they will do next.

DON’T: Argue Rules at the table

It’s absolutely okay to dispute the rules. No one is perfect, and sometimes there will be uncertainty or debate. However, once the dungeon master has made a ruling, accept it and move on. If it is something that requires further discussion, it should take place after the game rather than interrupting the session.

DON’T: Criticize others

You wont always agree with what others do, or the way that they play their characters. It’s okay to offer friendly advice, but there is no need to criticize others. Players and dungeon masters are constantly learning. Criticizing the way someone plays, or the choices they make will not improve the game. It will very likely lead to frustration or animosity.

DON’T: “It’s what my character would do”

This phrase is a pet peeve among many in the D&D community. It is typically used when a player is role playing their character and the character’s actions would be against the interest of the group. While it is important to play your character as you envision them, remember that the game is cooperative. Sometimes the specific interests of your character must play second fiddle to the group.

While this list is far from comprehensive, it is an excellent starting point for anyone playing a role playing game. Be sure to check out my Tips for New Players and Dungeon Master Tips and Tricks. Feel free to add any of your Do’s and Don’ts in the comments!

4 thoughts on “The Do’s and Don’ts of D&D – Part One

  1. Hi James O’Brien,

    I am Farez Najid from Singapore. We recently opened an events studio (www.tableminis.com) for TTTRPG and have been brainstorming ways to keep the community safe. We came across your blog post ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of D&D’ and was wondering if we could use this as part of our tenets at TableMinis? Your list has been helpful during our internal team discussions. It gave us a map/compass of sorts to help navigate our games and sessions. It would be an honor to be able to adopt what you have come up with for our studio.

    Thank You
    Farez Najid
    A Minor Illusion

    1. Hello Farez,

      Thanks for checking out my little blog! It would be my absolute pleasure for you to use my post at TableMinis, I am delighted that you and your team found the post so useful. I hope the covid-19 restrictions haven’t been too hard on your new studio. I was looking at your website, it looks like you have some awesome events coming up!

      Have a great day,

      James

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.