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D&D Experiences

posted Mar 26, 2014, 6:41 PM by Christopher Ellison

Recently, I started up a new D&D campaign for the first time in a while. As I was writing up the concept outlines, I asked a couple of new players if they'd be interested in trying it out. A couple agreed to roll up characters, but through the process, they began having fundamental concerns. What feats should I choose? What class do I play? What weapon should I use? Am I doing the right thing? I saw what was going on, and I finally found a way to explain what I'd wanted to explain for a very long time: don't worry about it - that's not your job. You just go with what fits your character, or even just what you think is cool. Worrying about making everything fit and work out is my job.

So, to all of the players out there worried about whether or not you're doing the right thing during a session: don't, not really. Play your character, and try to do what you think your character would do, but don't second-guess yourself or stress out about it. Sure, I could say that because "it's just a game," but I think there's a more important reason even than that. See, D&D is a cooperative game, despite the fact that it sometimes seems you're playing against the gamemaster. Truly, though, you're not playing against one another; everyone is in it together. You play your character; the gamemaster worries about the rules. As a player, your only concern should be to share this experience with your fellow players by doing what your character thinks is right in a given situation. Let the gamemaster worry about the rules and repercussions; that's his job.

That's not to say that experienced players should never try to understand the skills and abilities of their characters. After all, the gamemaster has a lot on his plate, and anything you can do to offload some of that work will help make the sessions run more smoothly. But players don't need to know all the rules; they just need to understand their characters as best they can. Trust me, if you're playing, you'll learn what you need to learn as the campaign progresses.

And coming back to gamemasters, don't ever forget that helping the players is your job, particularly when playing with newer players who haven't yet internalized the myriad rules in the core books. Don't be a TPK dickweed. Encourage your players to explain what they think they should do and offer suggestions for what they have the ability to do when you see that they may be forgetting something. Keep copies of their sheets or notes about their characters close. Help them out. Everyone will have more fun that way, and isn't that the real goal of the game?