Greetings everyone! Karthas here and today I wanted to talk about Dungeons and Dragons. Recently I went over the mistakes that every new Dungeon Master makes, but today I’d like to talk about the mistakes that I see a lot of new players make. I’ve introduced a lot of people to Dungeons and Dragons over the years and I’ve seem some common mistakes that many of them make. So I thought I could help out new players to avoid these mistakes! If you are a veteran player, please let me know the mistakes you see most new players make below in the comments! And if you are looking to get into Dungeons and Dragons you can pick up the books, a good place to start is the Player’s Handbook.
Bragging About How Well You Are Doing
I’ve found that newer players tend to do this a lot and it drives me crazy. Sometimes you have good days and it just seems like the die are rolling in your favor, other days not so much. I can tell you from experience, the dice giveth and the dice taketh away. So don’t let it go to your head, celebrate your success but let it stop there. Don’t brag about it to your party, that does nothing but cause friction within the group. Not to mention you are literally rolling a die, there is no skill involved. It is all luck. And please, PLEASE don’t put the others in your party down when they fail a check or miss an attack. I once had a group who was constantly competing with each other over their kills. They even kept track and would brag to the others about how well they were doing and how bad everyone else was doing. It was quite annoying. Friendly banter is fine, but don’t let it go beyond that.
Trying To Do Everything By Yourself
Dungeons and Dragons is very much a team game. Every player & character will bring different strengths to the table. Utilizing those strengths is important if you want to be successful in your games. Not to mention allowing everyone to contribute prevents players from losing interest. Trying to do everything by yourself will typically annoy other players. For example, your Fighter may have a pretty high stealth, but so does the Rogue. Its a good idea to let the Rogue sneak up to spy on the bad guys. Why? Well because the person playing the Rogue probably picked them because they like to sneak. But if you do it yourself you will probably make them feel like they are useless. And soon your teammate will loose interest. Not to mention you have other roles to fill, your party could get attacked while the rogue is sneaking. Wouldn’t it be bad if their tank was away when the party needed him?
Thinking The Dungeon Master Is Your Enemy
As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve introduced a lot of people to Dungeons and Dragons over the years. Something I’ve had to do whenever I have new players is explain to them that I am not their enemy. I am not trying to kill them. Yes I will be controlling the monsters, and yes I will be the voice of the bad guy who mocks you, but I’m not out to kill you. My goal is to make sure that everyone is having fun, and to tell a great story along the way. Its important to remember that the Dungeon Master is your friend. Most of us started doing this because we love facilitating fun! So ask us questions, joke with us, we want to have fun too. Believe me, being a Dungeon Master is not a walk in the park.
Splitting The Party
There is a saying that many veteran Dungeons and Dragons players live by: “Don’t split the party!” Yes we veteran Dungeons and Dragons players can appear grumpy sometimes but there is a reason! Chances are most players have been burned by splitting the party. And while it may make sense at times to split the party, know that it is never a good idea.
So why is splitting the party such a bad idea? Well there are a few things that it does. First you lose skills that you would have otherwise. Chances are two characters are not going to have all of the bases covered when it comes to skill checks. So there is the possibility that you could miss something important. Second, you’re losing a lot of firepower. When a Dungeon Master creates an encounter they take the number of players into consideration. So if you split the party you may encounter a group of enemies that we’re designed to fight 4 players instead of 2. Third and finally, you never know what may happen. You could wander down a hallway and fall through a trap in the floor. The rest of the party won’t have any idea what has happened to you.
Don’t Split The Party!
So let me give an example. Let’s say you and your party are exploring a Dungeon and you come across a fork in the road. But there is a disagreement as to which way to go. Someone suggests “why don’t you guys go that way and we will go this way!” you figure “hey that’s a good idea, we will be able to cover more ground that way!” so your party proceeds to split. As you make your way down the hall the floor beneath you falls away. You tumble down a shaft and soon find yourself facing a group of Zombies!
As you regain your composure you will begin to notice a few things. If the Paladin was with you, he’d have a hayday with these undead, but now its just you and the Rogue. Next you’ll probably notice that there are quite a few zombies shambling toward you. More than you and the wizard can handle. Finally your party has no idea where you went, so you are all alone. See the problem? So don’t split the party.
Being A Rules Lawyer
So you’ve read up on all of the rules, watched every YouTube video, and listened to every podcast. That’s great! Its good to come prepared. But there is something you should know…sometimes we Dungeon Masters bend the rules. Surprised, you shouldn’t be. I’ve bent the rules countless times. Maybe a player did something that I loved and I want to reward them. Or maybe the game takes an unexpected turn and I need to salvage it. We all do it, and there is nothing wrong with that. The rule books don’t have an answer for everything, and that was intentional. A lot of the times we have to come up with an answer on the spot. Otherwise we’d be spending most of our time thumbing through the books to find the answer, and that’s no fun! So lighten up, have fun, and certainly don’t be someone who spends the game…
Arguing With The Dungeon Master
I’ve had this happen before and let me just tell you, it is NEVER a good idea. Aside from it being rude and disrespectful, to the person who has spent hours preparing the session, you are playing with fire. You see most Dungeon Masters want everyone to have fun, that’s why we get into it in the first place. But when you start arguing about every decision, and second guessing every detail we begin to get frustrated. So it’s possible that the enemies in the next encounter will be drawn to you, or maybe your skills checks will be a bit more difficult to accomplish. This isn’t to say we are cheating, oh no! Maybe your luck is just beginning to run out.
Ignoring The Dungeon Master’s Warnings
As I’ve said before Dungeon Masters get started because they love facilitating fun, and while some may think we are a heartless bunch we are actually capable of compassion. So if you are about to do something that will have terrible repercussions, we may try to help. We may ask “so you want to wake the sleeping bear?” or “what did you say you wanted to do again?” when a Dungeon Master says something like this, chances are you should rethink what you are about to do.
Power Struggle Within The Group
Most people can work well together, but this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes people just won’t work together, that is when you will have a power struggle. I’ve only had this happen in one game I’ve played, and it was a nightmare. It was partly my fault, I was new to being a Dungeon Master and I had too big of a group. During the game, the party was split into two separate parties. Not for gameplay reasons or even role playing reasons, it was because two players were disagreeing! Everyone took sides, and eventually they were competing and even sabotaging the other group. Now, I would never allow this, but I was new at the time.
So as a new player, work together. Swallow your pride and don’t fight. Because I can tell you, it will not be an enjoyable experience for anybody. Dungeons and Dragons is about having fun with friends. So don’t let your head get in the way of having a good time.
Not Thinking You Can Die
The death of a player character is certainly something that we want to avoid. Nobody is happy when their character dies. That is a lot of time and effort gone in an instant. But sometimes players have this notion that they cannot die. Let me tell you this, you can die. You may have actually been closer to death more than you know. Most Dungeon Masters will try to help you out, though not all will. For those that do try to help out, there is only so much we can do. If you really want to do something that will lead to your death, we can’t stop you. And when your character dies, and you look to the Dungeon Master hopeful that they provide some divine intervention to save you, don’t be surprised when they shrug their shoulders.
Ignoring The Implications Of Time
Time is an aspect that a lot of people don’t think about when playing Dungeons and Dragons, but let me tell you, it plays a factor. For example, I was running a game for some friends. Most of them were brand new to the game. They were sent off to rescue some girls that had been kidnapped by a vengeful spirit. The spirit was stealing their life force and needed to be stopped quickly.
After making their way through the spirit’s lair they decided to take a rest. But not just a short rest, no…they decided to take a long rest! That is 8 hours! I even tried to help them realize this was a bad idea (see ignoring the Dungeon Master’s warning above). But they chose to rest. Meanwhile the bad guy stole the life out of the little girls and took off. The players failed and nobody was happy, but they still had fun. So remember, time plays a factor into the game!
Remember, its okay to make mistakes, otherwise how would you ever learn anything. We’ve all been there, the important thing is you recognize your mistakes and work to not make them again! But I think that wraps up this post for today. As I mentioned earlier, please let me know your thoughts below. I’m sure I missed some, so let me know in the comments below. And if you haven’t had a chance to subscribe, be sure to do so!
What mistakes have you seen most new players make? How do you help them not make those mistakes?