What is the Best Way to Thank Your GM?

During the month of August, I’m participating in RPG a Day 2017. Each day I’ll answer a question, or my interpretation of a question, about tabletop roleplaying games. For those who have wanted your beloved UncleBear to get back into RPG blogging, this is the closest you’re going to get.

What is the Best Way to Thank Your GM?

While some gamemasters enjoy doing it all, running a game can be a lot of work. Even if they’re running a published adventure, they have to take the time to read it and make notes. If they’re creating adventures from scratch, that requires even more preparation. Gamemasters often shoulder a disproportionate amount of the expense as well, buying sourcebooks, adventure paths, and miniatures. A lot of players understand this, and appreciate it. Somehow, others don’t. Here are some ways I think you can properly thank your gamemaster.

Show Up

Honestly, after character creation is over with all most players need to do is show up. Periodically they’ll need to crack a book in order to level up or otherwise advance their character. That’s it. They don’t need to do anything else outside of the game session.

So don’t skip out on a game session. Show up on time. When you’re there, be present. Fully present, as in don’t get sucked into table talk, don’t browse through sourcebooks, other games, and comics, and definitely stop fiddling with your phone. Your attendance and undivided attention is the absolute least you can do to show you respect the work the gamemaster has put into the game.

Know Your Character

You created the character, you picked their abilities, so you are responsible for knowing how those abilities work. The gamemaster has all of the villains and supporting characters to manage. They shouldn’t have to figure out what your character can do as well. It’s annoying and rude when the GM has to stop to look up how a spell or feat or superpower or skill works.

You have one character to manage. Be on top of it. You don’t have to memorize everything, but you should maybe bookmark some things, or jot page numbers on the character sheet to help look things up quickly, or perhaps take some notes to refer to. Don’t leave it up to the gamemaster.

Share Responsibilities

Offer to host. Provide transportation. Bring snacks. Help clean up. Run the phone tree, social media group, or email chain that the group uses to keep in touch between sessions. Assist with the non-game chores that come with organizing and maintaining any sort of regular group.

I know gamemasters who spend all day getting ready for a game. That means cleaning their house, preparing some food, and rearranging the furniture. Afterward, it means gathering trash, doing the dishes, and putting the furniture back the way it was. This is on top of preparing the adventure, making handouts, and setting up miniatures. Even small things mean a lot, and taking anything off the GM’s plate is meaningful.

Literally Say Thank You

Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for helping me create my character. Thank you for buying those books, miniatures, whatever that make the game cool. Thank you for the time you spend preparing things. Thank you for letting my character find that magic item they wanted. Thank you for helping me to level up. Thank you for running the game for us.

This should go without saying. Employ basic manners and the bare minimum of civilized etiquette. Take a few seconds to be polite and show fundamental gratitude and appreciation. I have run games for groups that just got up and left at the end of the session with barely a “goodbye” let alone any sort of “thank you”. Those groups didn’t last very long, because I was always left wondering why I bothered. Eventually, I stopped bothering, and my threshold of “screw it” has gotten shorter as I’ve gotten older. If you want to play, it is in your own best interests to make sure the gamemaster gets thanked at every possible opportunity.

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