One question I would like to be able to ask the majority of the players I've had in my game, from the dawn of time until now, is, "Why the hell are you here?"
If you are here to be entertained by the DM, I don't want you in my game.
If you are here to somehow win at everyone else's expense, I don't want you in my game.
If you are here to run a character that is the greatest in the world, I don't want you in my game.
If you are here to hang out and not really participate, I don't want you in my game.
That may be one of the things I miss the most about my Basic/Expert D&D gaming days: Participation.
Some of you have heard me bitch about this in the past...but, this is my blog and you're gonna hear it again. Why? Because it is damned important.
My job as the DM is to present a fun and engaging gaming environment where the players can make decisions that lead to some sort of heroic adventure. But that is only one half of the covenant. The other half involves having players that are invested in the progress and success of the game to the point where everyone learns at least the rules that apply to their own PC - and where everyone is having fun.
The DM is not responsible for all the fun and involvement of the game. There is one DM - there tends to be four or more players. The DM is not responsible for pushing the game forward all the time. The players should be invested somewhat in the progress of the game. They should have goals beyond attaining next level and accumulating prerequisites for their desired prestige class. Oh - whoops...wrong edition. Sorry.
Why are you here? Are you here to sit and watch the DM tell you what's going on for an afternoon? Are you here to act like a goof and do goofy things regardless of how appropriate or useful they are? Are you here to be the center of attention and ruin the game for everyone else? Go play a MMORPG and leave me alone. I am not running THAT game.
Here's a secret: The DM wants to have fun too.
I am not here to amuse you at my own expense. I am not a performer. I am not getting paid for this. I do this because I enjoy it...most of the time. It is also my belief that everyone should be enjoying the game. Every. One. A good D&D game is a collaboration. If you don't want to learn the rules of the game you're playing - don't play the game. Don't join a Chess Club if you don't want to learn how to castle. If you don't want to learn the rules for arcane spellcasting, don't play a Wizard. No one is being asked to memorize the rulebook from cover to cover - but they are being asked to know when to roll the dice, which dice to roll, and what modifiers to add.
Why do I tend to be the DM? Maybe because I tend to be the only one that wants the job. It is the most difficult role in the game. It is demanding. It is stressful. It is often thankless. Being a player is a breeze. You have ONE character to keep track of. You get to sit and listen to the DM tell you what's going on. You are a member of an adventuring group with other people supposedly there to support you. There is no reason for you to not be paying attention or to not be invested. What else are you there for? No - seriously...what else?
Speak up. Say something. Communicate. Is the game not giving you what you think you want? Tell the DM. Is the adventuring party not working for you? Talk to your fellow players. But, do it outside of the game. When you're running your character, you really need to be running your character. Is your character a wallflower with nothing to contribute? Don't expect to get what you think you want. How is anyone supposed to know? The DM is not there to read your mind.
The DM is not there to kill you. Seriously. There are monsters and traps to take care of that little detail. Pretend otherwise all you want - but I am not that DM. The least you can do is not kill my game in return. Anyone can tell if the game is going well. Anyone can tell if one or more players are unhappy with the game. It isn't hard to consider the other people in the room now and then.
D&D is not a diva hobby. It is not a "dig me" kind of game. It is cooperative. It is participatory. It is a shared experience. If that's not your thing - go find another game. There are a few others out there.
So, I wanna know...why are you here?