Dungeons & Dragons Character Etiquette

Dungeons & Dragons Character EtiquetteRecently, I wrote about player etiquette in relation to playing Dungeons & Dragons (or Pathfinder, if you prefer). Unfortunately, your behavior out of character is only half of the story. Your companions still have to deal with the dynamics of whatever it is you’re playing with.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you should build your characters to meet the needs/wants of your team. Characters with conflicting interests and/or untraditional dynamics can add a lot to the game. Not knowing exactly how your team of druids and rangers can tackle a difficult challenge that would normally be handled fairly easily by tanks and clerics can provide a pleasant challenge for the players.

What I’m talking about here is a character dynamic that is out of sync with anything that could be considered of good sport. These characters either go far above and beyond the rest of the team in terms of power or have motives that do little to help the campaign progress.

Note: Every game is different. Some DMs encourage this type of interaction, and in many cases these characters play an important role in the progression of the campaign. These are not the cases of which I am speaking here.

Min Maxing

Min maxing is a term given to characters who have stats that throw massive support behind areas in which a particular class excels at the expense of stats that aren’t considered as important. For example, a warrior with 25 strength and five intelligence rolls amazingly during combat, but the character itself shouldn’t be able to do much more than dribble on itself and grunt basic words during conversation.

In most Dungeons & Dragons scenarios, 10 is the golden number — meaning average. 20 puts you at Einstein level in intelligence, or power lifter level in strength. A ninja would have a dexterity rating of around 20 while 10 would be your average person walking down the street and chewing gum at the same time.

Imagine someone with half of your intelligence, and consider how that person would interact with other players. That’s a person with an intelligence rank of five. At zero, their brain would be unable to tell their lungs to pump air or their heart to beat. If the character is role-played appropriately to take the disadvantages of low stats into consideration as well as the benefits of high stats, then a certain balance may be found (and a good DM will try to coax such a balance into being within the fabric of the campaign).

Betraying the Team

A lot of folks enjoy playing characters that turn on their team. It provides an interesting side story in some cases, but it can also undo a lot of effort put forth by the team over a long period of time. Before going this route and springing a surprise backstab on your wounded companions, consider discussing your thoughts with the DM.

Ideally, most campaigns work with a common interest shared between the companions. Even Raistlin did his part until the time was absolutely right.

Godlike Abilities

Godlike abilities happen sometimes. Dungeons & Dragons has a complex set of rules and, when you have a bunch of players all searching for ways to maximize their effectiveness given those rules, you can come across your occasional deity character.

It’s the DM’s responsibility to make sure the game is balanced. Every character deserves a time to shine, and if an enemy who is capable of wiping out the entire team with one hit can fall to a single team member in that same round, there’s a balance issue.

Is it wrong of you to take advantage of the rules set out before you? No, though if your character steps back now and then and lets the rest of the team deal the fatal damage, it couldn’t hurt.

Ultimately, a lot of the responsibility of keeping character issues in check falls on the DM. Your DM is (or should be) the best point of contact to discuss character balance or role hogging. Don’t be afraid to ask other players for tips as well during character leveling. They may know some tricks that will put you on an even ground with the godlike character in your team. It’s just a matter of finding the right skill set.

Double Six Dice by Joy Shrader

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • http://blog.m4ts.se Mats Rosenqvist

    Great post. I haven’t played AD&D for years but I remember it like yesterday. In fact it was a friend from Boston that introduced it to me here in Sweden. (In the 80’s) I think i still have the books somewhere…

  • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

    My only experiences with these types of RPGs have been limited. Wish I would have had more opportunities to explore them as a youngling.