Dear Kobold Oracle,
I’ve been invited to join in a roleplaying game with some friends next week that I met on summer break. I haven’t really decided if I’ll go or not, but if I do, what should I bring with me? Is there anything helpful I should know ahead of time?
Congratulations on new friends and a potential new game! Tabletop roleplaying games are a lot of fun, and I hope you not only go but enjoy yourself immensely. There are many things you could take to the event, most of them are optional, especially for first time players, but whatever you decide to bring, you should probably let them know soon if you will be attending. Planning for tabletop games can take quite a bit of time and knowing the number of players they will have in advance is a huge help to your host.
What to bring: Other than your manners, you should always plan to bring your own character sheet, dice, pencil, and any books you think you may need for the game. As this sounds like your first time gaming, it’s a safe bet that someone will lend you what you don’t have until you can get your own. Also, while it’s not a requirement, it is certainly well mannered to bring snacks to share around and your own drinks. The GM works hard putting the game together and often providing a space for it as well, she or he appreciates not being solely responsible for feeding the party every session.
What not to bring: While it’s unlikely you intend to bring unrequested alcohol or other non-game related items to the game, there is one thing many people do bring without consideration. Extra people. Sometimes, this is a perfectly acceptable practice, and if you have the hosts permission to bring new players or family members along, by all means proceed! But occasionally that best friend, significant other, or small child isn’t quite as welcome at the table as you might assume. Small children can be a disruptive force to adult games, playing with dice, digging through cabinets, and requiring large amounts of attention. While some game masters have no problem at all with this, many find it frustrating. For some, having your significant other there just to “watch you play” can be bothersome as well. While they may not be a disruptive force in the game, they can make others feel as if they need to provide alternative entertainment or your significant other may grow tired of enthusiastic gamers trying to convince them how awesome the game is. Whatever the circumstance, make sure you have the GM’s permission before you bring a guest.
Getting to the game: If you do commit to attend the game, please arrive on time. Most people prefer you also arrive having showered and in clothes. If you are a member of a gaming group that does not require clothing, I have no advice for you and suspect we are in fact playing totally different games.
Should you have an emergency, the respectable thing to do is contact your host as soon as possible to be sure they are aware you will be unable to attend. These things happen and most GMs will be understanding about the occasional illness or family commitment, but planning a game is a lot of hard work! Math, storytelling, and, on occasion, some in depth props are combined to ensure a balanced game, so having foreknowledge of the correct number of players is important!
And finally, bring your imagination, creativity is a huge part of roleplaying games and half the fun of playing is being almost anything you can imagine.
Best of luck!
The Kobold Oracle
Have a question for the Oracle about gaming? Not about the rules of a particular system but about how to actually start gaming, about scheduling, about social etiquette, about how to handle problems that arise at the gaming table, or anything really about how you and others can have the most fun possible? Let us know in the comments!