For most of the years I’ve spent gaming, I’ve been the DM. The last time I played in an extended campaign was almost thirty years ago. I’ve played in a few games since then, but nothing more than 2-3 game sessions. I’m not finding the transition as easy as I might have hoped! Thirty years of being the expert of everything, the god of a world, tends to make one a little ego-mad. So here’s my guidelines to fellow sufferers trying to make that transition back to player. It is worth it!
1. It is not your world
Listen to the DM and follow the dictates of the world he/she shapes. Don’t impose your beliefs about what a game should be, or how the world should work. If you’ve been DMing a long time, you may know more about gaming than your current DM. Don’t offer your knowledge unless someone asks for it, and expect that they won’t ask at all. Instead, use the world and rules the DM offers as an exercise in creativity. How can you fit yourself to it? How can you improve upon it? How can you build a story you (and others) will enjoy?
2. Have Fun
The game is supposed to be fun. Enjoy yourself, but help the other players and the DM enjoy it as well. Use your knowledge for niceness, not just for your own ends.
3. Play Your Character
Play the character with the information you are given. Don’t read the scenarios that the DM is using, and if you have already read it, don’t demonstrate your knowledge or use it to your benefit or for the party’s. Instead, concentrate on playing the character, just as you would normally play an interesting NPC. Be sure the DM knows what you have run yourself, and help him/her find adventures that you haven’t read.
4. All Players want to be Heroes
If you’ve been gaming a lot longer than everyone else, show some leadership. I don’t mean take over the party, because you could probably do that. What I mean is to give the other players their time in the sun, and give them the opportunity to build golden memories of gaming as you’ve already done. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunities for your character to shine!
5. The Rules keep you Honest
Remember how much you disliked the rules lawyers in your own campaigns? So don’t be one yourself! Instead, follow the rules and take some of the pressure off the DM. He/she has enough work already!
6. Learn from Every Session
After every session, make a couple notes to yourself about what went well and what didn’t. Why didn’t that part go well? Try to improve. Be open to change.