Things to Remember when gaming with Your Friends
A Little Background on What Gaming Is
I am what you would term as gamer. What does that mean? It means that I play roleplaying games as a hobby. I have done this now for nearly 25 years. And I am not taking about games like World of Warcraft, Everquest, or Star Wars: The Old Republic (of course as a Star Wars Geek, I do own and still play from time to time). I am talking about tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs) live Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars d20, Legend of Five Rings and my current system: Pathfinder (what I believe D&D 4th Edition should have been).
Roleplaying games involve actual human contact. Amazing concept, I know. To do it, all you need is a set of polyhedral dice (a few d6s, a d10, a percentile d10, a d8, possibly a d12, and the mighty d20), some pencils, character sheets or at least some lined or graph paper, someone with a rulebook (or your own), 4-6 friends that share your interest, and last (but never least)....your IMAGINATION!
Each person, except one, rolls up a character (various games will have various rules for this). The great thing about RPGs is that you can be anyone that you want to be. A mighty warrior, a powerful wizard, a sly thief, a pious cleric or whatever combination that you can come up with. This is where gamers put a part of themselves into the game. The characters become living, breathing entities that you care for and bring into situations that are run by the one person that did not roll up a character: The DM or Dungeon Master (or Game Master if you prefer). His job is to create the world around us (or use a previously created world) and bring it to life. He runs all the characters that your character will interact with, from the barmaid that flirted a bit with you when she brought your drink, to the incredible dragon that has put serious thought into roasting your adventuring party and having dinner. He or she has a very tough job, and the good ones make sure that you are having as much fun playing their game as they are running it. Each of these sessions of gaming take about 4-6 hours and can be continuous from session to session or be separate adventures of their own. As the characters adventure, they gain experience. This experience allows them to level up and become more powerful and then able to take on more and more powerful challenges, whether they are roleplaying based, combat based or both.
This is the basic idea of what gaming is.
My Gaming Group
If you are lucky, you can find a group of friends that share your interest in RPGs and will get along well enough to be a regular group. The people that I started gaming with two and half decades ago have all moved on to other areas of the country and some have left gaming behind them entirely. The group that I play with now, I have had the pleasure (mostly) of being with them for a little over 10 years. Some of them even longer when I include the fact that I have known (and gamed) with them in college as well, so nearly 15 years with them. Each of us come from a different walk of life and share interests other than just gaming. We are all professionals in sales, marketing, IT, medical and at our ages (the youngest of us being 33), most of us are married with children. This means that we have very demanding schedules and if we are all carving out 5 hours every Monday night, then you should know how important this activity is to us. We love the interaction with like-minded people that we can just let the Geek Flag fly and be ourselves. It is something that I look forward to every week...I get edgy otherwise.
When Gaming With You Friends
1. We are all adults. True, we are adults pretending to be Elven Rangers, Dwarven Wizards, Human Warriors or Halfling Theives, but we are all adults.
2. Everyone probably had a long work day, too. Most all of us work full-time jobs and after a short Sunday night, an early morning of an 8-10 hour shift with a bit of break before game time, cut the guy who nods off when he is not involved in a scene some slack. This goes for forgiving bad temperament as well.
3. It is just a game. REPEAT: IT. IS. JUST. A. GAME. Take nothing personal when disagreements happen. They are going to. Strategy is part of the game and not everyone will agree with everyone's ideas of how to best enter the cavern and attempt to kill all the goblins who just raided their village (This is a level 1 or 2 encounter, by the way.).
4. Be helpful to other players that want to try something, but have no idea how. With this in mind, however, only one person needs to be helpful at a time. Confusing the new guy with several different directions to go with a character or rule only leads to argument. Don't be that guy!
5. Keep in mind that everyone's seriousness level is going to be different. So you have memorized the entire collection of books for the game? Great! Be patient with those that do not have that kind of spare time.
6. Game will seldom run smoothly. We are all human and game can get derailed very easily. Just be patient and gently try to nudge the game forward. It helps if your GM is authoritative as well, but the players need to know how to focus as well.
7. Thank your host for the use of their home during the game. They let you into their sanctuary for the evening. Be respectful and thankful.
8. Thank your GM and tell them that you had fun even if you didn't. Reason being, is that you want them to further gain experience in running a game properly. Talk to them privately if you have a tip or concern. Never do it during game if it can be helped. GMing is a tough gig, give your friend a break and a shot of confidence.