10 Toxic Behaviors That Derail A Dungeons & Dragons Game
Antagonize the DM
Look at them, so smug behind their big, fancy DM screen. Typing away on their little laptop, statting out goblins or orcs or gods know what to kill your precious character. Those Dungeon Masters have had it too good for too long. It’s time to take those pretentious bastards down a peg or two. If this is how you feel playing D&D, you are definitely disrupting the play session.
Hog the spotlight
Your character is special. Maybe even the chosen one. So are all the other members of your party. Hogging the spotlight is missing the fundamental gimmick of D&D, collaborative story telling. If you are spending a ton of the session monologuing, that’s probably not going to be fun for the other players. Another way players ‘oink the brights’ is by constantly changing their backstory. Oh you inherited a magic dagger from your grandfather? Cool. So anywa- Oh you also want a magical mount? That is also a prince that’s been transformed but is the heir to the kingdom that we’ve got to save… Ok cool. Can we get back to playing now?
Stopped caring, still playing
You know the end of Girl With A Dragon Tattoo where Stellan Skaarsgaard is gonna kill Daniel Craig and gives him that big speech about how people put themselves in unwanted situations because they’re too polite to potentially offend someone else? Yeah, this is like that but much lower stakes. If you’ve stopped caring about your game, and instead of feeling the wind of adventure on your face you only feel the slow, slow creep of the clock, this is your sign to stop playing. Showing up to an ongoing game only because you’re afraid to hurt you GM’s feelings, and then being on your phone the whole time is doing everyone a disservice. The game is at its most fun when people are invested.
Argue the rules
Who cares if your DM has lovingly crafted a world of epic fantasy filled by fully realized characters? What does it matter that dozens of professionals worked hundreds of hours to make a delicately balanced system that flawlessly blends game design with emergent narrative? You thought Tasha’s Hideous Laughter did something else and goddamn it this is the hill you will die on. Most D&D players have been at a table where one person spends way too much time debating the DM. It wastes time and is a major vibe slayer.
Go rogue (and not in a good way)
Many campaigns will have a few times when the party splits up. But when your brooding (probably an emo bard smh) character decides to go solo for some made up reason, that’s not really great for the rest of the table. While you wander around taking your sweet time like Russell Crowe in a field of wheat, your party members are wasting away. It’s not only inconsiderate to your other party members to take a totally unplanned solo detour, it basically makes double the work for your GM.
Nothing breaks the illusion of a realistic world like a character randomly going on a murder rampage. Why you gotta kill those guards my guy? It’s hard to maintain the fantasy that you and your adventuring party live in a vast, mystical place when you keep going around stabbing townsfolk just because you want the XP. For example, if there was a menacing looking but ultimately kindly orc shop keeper you found in a mountain cave system, if you murdered him and stole all the merch from his store, everyone would be mad at you. Especially when you find out later that your DM crafted him to be a helper with a very touching backstory. Trust me on this.
Cancel last minute//chronic lateness
Everyone’s busy ok? We all carved out 5 hours to go to Taylor’s house on a Saturday afternoon, even though we’re missing my nieces 1st birthday party, and you can’t even show up on time? Even worse is canceling entirely. You know your party doesn’t have 2 rogues bro. You know that. So why you gotta cancel last minute when you also know that this session we’re breaking into the Goblin treasury. Not cool.
If you want to win a game with no demonstrable prize or end goal badly enough to cheat, then you need to go home and rethink your life. Maybe your love for your PC has grown to an unhealthy level, maybe you’re trying to impress a busty dwarf who’s caught your fancy, whatever your reasons for turning to the path of evil, it’s not too late to stop. In a game of make believe, the rules are the only thing holding the fantasy together. If you’re going to break them by lying about your d20 role or using a spell when you know you’re out of slots, you might as well just not play.
Not playing by the sacred improv rule of “Yes, And…”
When another player, be they a party member or the GM, makes a story move, just go along with it. Nothing is more tiresome than someone making wet blanket plays. If a character in your party says they’re a mighty warrior and you immediately point out in character how scrawny and weak they are, that’s not fun for anybody. It’s especially frustrating for DMs when they’re trying to build an atmosphere and players are constantly dunking on their dramatic efforts. C’mon guys, you know the real magic was the friends we made along the way, so just go with that.
Related: So You Want to Take an Improv Class?
A character which is still doing the same dumb sh*t they did at level 10 that they did at level 1 is just poor imagination. No matter how low your characters intelligence is, let them grow, let them learn. Change is at the heart of every story, so don’t deny your PC or your playgroup that catharsis.