Common D&D Newbie Mistakes: 7 Things You Shouldn’t Do

When you sit down with a group to take part in a game of D&D, whether it be in person or online, there are some things you should never do.

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Dungeons & Dragons is a game that’s all about cooperating with your fellow players (for the most part, at least).

Of course, you and your character have your own motivations—but for a good campaign, those motivations should line up with the rest of the party’s motivations.

When you sit down with a group to take part in a game of D&D, whether it be in person or online, there are some things you should never do if you want to ensure fun for everyone.

It’s all about etiquette. While D&D is certainly a game that’s designed for freeform exploration and collaborative storytelling, DMs and players should abide by certain expectations.

Here are some common D&D mistakes to avoid!

1. Solving Everything With Combat

Dungeons & Dragons is a role-playing game. A huge part of getting into a role is actually making decisions as your character.

Every encounter and interaction brought forth by the DM doesn’t need to end in bloodshed. Your character might be a battle-hardened barbarian, but that doesn’t mean they always want to fight, does it?

Try talking your way out of a situation. Negotiate for different outcomes that might result in better rewards. Use your words to convince enemies not to fight. All of this can be more fun than bashing things to death!

2. Playing a Disruptive Character

DMs and other players hate it when a player decides that their goal is simply to mess with the game for their own amusement.

Does D&D have ways for you to steal from other members of your party? Yes. Are you technically within the game’s boundaries if you attack a teammate or obstruct them from doing something? Yes.

But should you?

Unless it’s been clearly established at the start of the campaign and you’ve all agreed to play a player-versus-player type of D&D, you should assume that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

Similarly, you might think it’s funny to play a braindead character who ruins the moment all the time. But the next time you feel like running into a room of enemies and putting the group in peril, you may want to reconsider for their sake.

Any time you’re about to do something, just take a second to think about whether it impedes the other players’ fun. It can be interesting every once in a while, but not all the time.

3. Metagaming

Metagaming when you use the information you have as a player to influence the decisions of your character.

You may have figured out that the enemy has an armor class of 14, but does your character know that? As a player, you might want to back off and avoid them. Your character may not feel the same.

You might have memorized the D&D Monster Manual and you know that the monster you’re fighting is weak to fire. But does your character know that? Until the character finds out in-game, it wouldn’t make sense to blast fire—unless your character loves fire and uses it all the time.

You might have heard the DM say something to your party member who rolled a 20 on Perception. But that doesn’t mean your character knows what they know.

Remember: D&D is about role-playing, and role-playing is meant as a tool for collaborative storytelling. Metagaming breaks down the fundamental reason to play tabletop roleplaying games.

4. Arguing With the DM

You need to remember that DM is not only responsible for telling the story and moving the adventure forward, but they’re also the arbiter of the rules.

Can you point out a rule mistake the DM made? Sure, as long as you do it respectfully. The important thing is to avoid arguing with the DM’s decisions, especially over and over.

When it comes down to the rules, the DM makes the calls. If you aren’t happy with how a DM is running their game, you should consider finding another D&D group that’s better aligned.

5. Not Paying Attention

Whether you’re playing online or in-person, one of the most disrespectful things you can do while playing D&D is space out, browse your phone, or not pay attention to what’s happening.

The DM likely spent hours preparing the adventure that you’re playing, and if you aren’t paying attention to the story, you’re negating all the hard work your DM put in.

You signed up to play D&D, so have some respect and give it your full attention. Not only is it the right thing to you do, but you’ll have a lot more fun when you actually invest yourself in the lore, the backstories of characters, and the conflicts that happen.

6. Hogging the Spotlight

Dungeons & Dragons is a game where you step into the role of a character and act as that character.

You’ll spend a lot of time working on your character and you want as much time to develop that character as possible. The other players at the table are in the same boat.

That means you need to share the spotlight. Don’t take an excessively long time to make decisions on your turns. Don’t interrupt other players during their scenes.

You’ll get your time in the spotlight. Let other players have theirs.

7. Cheating

Metagaming (mentioned above) is a soft form of cheating. But there are more explicit ways to cheat that are worse.

For example, you might lie about your dice rolls to create a more favorable outcome. You might lie about your character’s stats to help yourself succeed in your goal.

The thing about D&D is that failing is often the most interesting part of the game. It can lead to unexpected scenarios and strange twists in the story that are super interesting.

If you cheat, you rob yourself of those opportunities. There’s no reason to “win” at D&D, so be honest and everyone will have a better time at the table—yourself included.

More D&D Tips for Players

Playing D&D soon? Check out our free cheat sheet with 12 essential tips for D&D beginners, complete with common mistakes and etiquette pointers to ensure you (and everyone else at the table) have the best D&D experience every time:

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