No one thinks he’s behaving poorly. The unfortunate truth is, at one time or another, all of us has behaved poorly. While there really is no concrete code of laws to govern behavior at the gaming table, there are some rules of polite society we should remember, and only break after thoughtful consideration. This is particularly true with new groups. As groups move through the forming and storming phases, and begin norming and performing, some of these rules will be irrelevant, while others will emerge.
1) Let the host know if you’re going to be late and don’t arrive excessively early. Often final preparations are being made during the hour or so before a gathering, and it can be a bit awkward for a host to have a guest to entertain while final preparations are being made. Fifteen minutes on either side is a good rule of thumb. If you are unexpectedly later than fifteen minutes, it’s polite to offer a brief, ‘Sorry I’m late’ to the rest of the group.
2) If there’s any doubt, ask before taking food or beverage that doesn’t belong to you. On the same note, don’t be afraid to ask: if someone brought food for all to share, it’s a burden for them to take it home at the end of the night. Naturally, remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you.’
3) Sharing works both ways. Bring chips and beer (or pretzels and soda or whatever…) yourself every once in awhile, even if it’s kind of a hassle. While it’s true that gamers tend to already haul a lot of stuff, and it’s difficult to carry one more thing, this does not absolve one from pitching in. Maybe that one time you drive is the opportunity to bring your share of the munchies for the next month or so. Just because someone is generous with their snacks doesn’t mean they enjoy feeding you or that you should expect them to. At the very least, he will appreciate when someone else pitches in occasionally.
4) Come prepared. If your characters have leveled in your absence, do the math ahead of time (especially for those 4th edition even levels). Bring a pencil and a set of dice. It’s also helpful if you review your notes or the session write-up from last time.
5) If you are the host, let everyone know how things work, and be prepared to gently remind them occasionally. Is your home a shoes off kind of place? Can folks help themselves to glasses for water, or would you prefer they use plastic cups?
6) If someone breaks a rule of polite society, don’t be a jerk about it. Time is at a premium for many gamers, and between work, kids, traffic and bus schedules, it can be harder than it seems to get to a game and be ready to go at the prescribed time. Be graceful.
What other rules of polite society should gamers remember? Do you have a questionable situation that you’d like input on?