Dec 21

Tabletop RPGs: On Sportsmanship

One often overlooked aspect of play, especially competitive play, is Sportsmanship.  Role-Playing Games in general have a dubious relationship with Sportsmanship, as certain games emphasize an adversarial relationship between players, or between the players and the Game Master.  However, the mark of a truly great Role-Player is the abilty to Role-Play their character to the hilt, while still helping new players, bringing out shy players, and taking an appropriate share of the GM’s time.  This article discusses why good players fall short of great becuase of poor Sportsmanship.

But what is Sportsmanship in this context?

  • Share the table with your fellow players.  Even if your characters are at odds, you should not be.
  • Share the GM’s time.  Do not dominate the GM’s time – share!
  • Help newer players or shy players.  You should be working hard to bring out each other character’s relationship with your own.  A lot of great players spend more time talking to the other PCs than to the GM.
  • Help the GM.  Rules arguments, mustering arguments, and so forth don’t show good Sportsmanship.
  • Positive Attitude.  Excessive complaining, throwing things in anger, and so forth are not appropriate.
  • Go with the feel of the event.  If the event is Role-Playing focused, lay off the problem solving.  If the event is combat focused, lay off the unfocused Role-Playing.
  • Let people play. Let other players talk in character if they wish.  Out-Of-Character requests to “hurry up” are not appropriate.
  • If you sign up for an event, stay until the end.  We had one player show up for an event, even though he knew he would have to leave 20 minutes after it started.  Wha?
  • Focus on having a good time.  Some people get so focused on winning that they forget that they are there to have fun.  Continually ask yourself, “What could make this moment more fun?”
  • Play your character as written.  If your character says that you are indecisive and rely on others to advise you, don’t make all the decisions yourself.

I believe that players that focus on Fun and Sportsmanship will find themselves in the winner’s circle more often, and will engender much goodwill and great experiences.