Much has been written online about ‘the Matt Mercer’ effect and the pressure on DMs to perform to a high standard. What is often missed in these conversations is the importance of having good players. Matt Mercer isn’t just a fantastic DM: he also has a fantastic group of friends at his table who make every session great.
Rather than asking ourselves how we compare to professional Dungeon Masters, perhaps, as players, we should ask ourselves: what can I do to make the game more fun for everyone else, including the DM?
To that end, here is a little quiz I cooked up to find out how good a player you are. What does an ‘S tier’ player look like? What about ‘F tier’?
A few disclaimers:
- It’s meant to be a bit of fun. Don’t take it too seriously.
- It’s highly subjective. Obviously.
- It is weighted towards the social side of gaming. Why? Because ‘not being a dick’ is more important than roleplaying, storytelling, rules knowledge – everything, really.
For each question, answer a, b, c, or d. As you go along, add up how many ‘a’s, ‘b’s, ‘c’s, and ‘d’s you have. When you get to the end, check your totals, and you will find your tier!
Finally, if you are someone I game with in real life, please don’t assume any of this is aimed at you. I love you all.
Strap in – here we go!
- Rules knowledge
- a) My rules knowledge is excellent.
- b) I generally have a good understanding of the Player’s Handbook and most secondary sources where relevant.
- c) I know how to play my own character, but I might make mistakes with other rules in the Player’s Handbook or elsewhere.
- d) I often don’t know the rules. In fact, if I’m honest, I don’t always know how to play my own character.
- On my turn
- a) I am always ready on my turn, and if other players don’t know what to do, I try to help them out.
- b) I am always ready on my turn, but I don’t really help other players.
- c) I am generally ready on my turn, but sometimes need to look things up.
- d) I am often not ready on my turn and stop play to look things up.
- Character creation
- a) I actively engage with the campaign pitch and the party concept. I am open to different character ideas and will create my character with game mechanics and the wider story in mind.
- b) I try to be flexible when creating my character, but I might occasionally create a character that is ‘sub optimal’ or doesn’t fit in with the campaign concept.
- c) I tend to have a particular character in mind before we start playing. I’ll bear in mind the campaign pitch and the party concept, but only if it doesn’t get in the way of my own character.
- d) I play the character I want to play. I’m not really interested in the campaign pitch or what the rest of the party is doing.
- Helping the DM
- a) I always thank the DM. I want them to have fun and feel energized!
- b) I almost always thank the DM and let them know what I enjoyed.
- c) I usually thank the DM after the session, but sometimes forget.
- d) I don’t really think to thank the DM after the session.
- a) My word is my bond. If I say I’ll be there, I’ll be there, and on time.
- b) I’m rarely late and rarely cancel. If I can’t attend, I give as much notice as I can.
- c) I’m generally on time to sessions, but sometimes I’m late or have to cancel with little notice.
- d) I am often late to sessions, and if I have to cancel, it’s usually at the last minute.
- a) I always listen to other players.
- b) I really try not to talk over other players, but I occasionally zone out.
- c) If I’m honest, I do zone out now and then during a session. I might have other tabs open if I’m playing online.
- d) I often zone out during a session, even when the DM is talking. If playing online, I definitely have other tabs open.
- Including others
- a) I try to include other players as much as I can. I actively welcome new players.
- b) I try to include other players now and then, and I try to be welcoming to new players.
- c) I sometimes include other players, but I tend to focus on what my own character is doing. I could probably be more welcoming to new players.
- d) I don’t tend to interact with other players during the game. I don’t really say anything to new players, either.
- DM rulings.
- a) I never challenge the DM on a ruling in front of the group. If I wish to raise something with the DM, I do so privately and constructively.
- b) I don’t generally challenge the DM on a ruling, but I might very occasionally. I always respect their final call.
- c) I challenge the DM fairly often on their rulings. I usually accept their final call.
- d) If the DM is wrong, I will almost always point it out. I only accept the DM’s call if the DM is right. I enjoy rules debates: I’m happy to stop the game and have a discussion about rules.
- Character investment
- a) I put a lot of work into my character: their back story, hopes and dreams, secrets, flaws . . .
- b) I like to put a bit of extra thought into my character, but I could probably do more.
- c) I sometimes put a bit of extra thought into my character, but I generally don’t bother. My character is a race-class combination, and that’s it, really.
- d) I don’t really care about my character as a ‘character’. Choose a race and class, leave the rest blank. It doesn’t matter.
- a) I love getting into character! I take care to develop my character, be it through voices, mannerism, or description, and I try to stay consistent with my characterization. I describe their actions carefully.
- b) I usually get into character, either with voice acting or third-person description. The characterization is relatively developed and usually consistent.
- c) I sometimes roleplay, but I don’t tend to do voices, and my description doesn’t tend to be very thoughtful.
- d) I don’t roleplay. I don’t put on voices. To be honest, I rarely describe my character’s actions at all.
- a) I always take notes. I share them with the group. Sometimes, I even write notes in character.
- b) I almost always take notes. If someone else has agreed to share their notes, I review them before the session.
- c) I sometimes take notes, and if I don’t, I can rely on my memory between sessions. If someone else is sharing their notes, I sometimes read them.
- d) I don’t really take notes, nor do I read other players’. I often forget things between sessions as a result.
- Acting and reacting
- a) I will make things happen if the game is lagging, but not without ‘reading the room’ first. I can improvise around anything!
- b) I like to keep things moving. I am pretty good at improv, but sometimes struggle to think on my feet.
- c) Sometimes I make things happen, but I often get bogged down in overthinking things. I’m not great at thinking on my feet, but I’ll have a go.
- d) I tend to sit back and let other players ‘do stuff’. I’m not great at thinking on my feet.
What tier are you?
Almost all ‘a’s: S tier. You are, quite simply, a model player. You are well rounded: you know the rules, but you don’t let them get in the way of a good story. You’re socially astute and a pleasure to have at the table. Every DM wants a player like you in the group!
Mostly ‘a’s and ‘b’s, maybe a few ‘c’s, but no ‘d’s: A tier. You are a very good player! You have no real flaws and several strengths.
Mostly ‘b’s, a few ‘a’s, ‘c’s, or ‘d’s: B tier. You are a good player – above average. Maybe there’s one thing you could do to be even better, like taking notes or fleshing out your backstory. Perhaps you’re more focused on one aspect of the game than the others, and that’s OK if your group doesn’t mind.
Mostly ‘c’s, maybe a few ‘d’s: C tier. There’s nothing wrong with being in this tier. Maybe you are great at some things but could do some work on others.
Mostly or entirely ‘d’s: D tier. You’re not a bad player, but you probably have a few areas to work on, and it’s possible that this is starting to grate against other people. Consider your DM and how much work they put in to give you a great session. Could you be upping your game?
The dreaded F tier
What about F tier? ‘F’ is a category all on its own: you might call it ‘toxic’ or ‘unacceptable’. This is the kind of player who actively makes the game less fun for other people, and if you’re the DM, you should probably ask them to leave. That said, what is ‘unacceptable’ to one group might be ‘D tier’ or even ‘C tier’ to another. Everyone has their own red flags. Here are three of mine:
- Actively cheating or setting out to break the game. This is essentially about fairness and sportsmanship. Maybe they look up monster stats during combat or get their hands on published adventures. Perhaps they seek out deliberately ‘broken’ character builds or lie about dice rolls. Maybe they’re not actively cheating, but they are constantly on the lookout for rules mistakes as an opportunity to call out the DM and undermine them. Everyone has their own threshold here, but if you recognize yourself in any of these examples, then, respectfully: cut it out.
- Socially difficult. The player is consistently rude or unpleasant to other players. They talk over other people or ignore what they’re saying repeatedly. Maybe they are late to sessions, or they’re on their phone all the time, or they don’t make any effort to work with the rest of the group and create a cool story. You might decide you can put up with this sort of thing. But at the same time: why should you? D&D is meant to be fun. This one can be a case of a ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’: it’s not necessarily the individual behaviours that are annoying but the cumulative build-up over time. Again, if you recognize yourself in this, you are probably annoying some of the people you are playing with. Perhaps you should weigh up whether it’s fair on them to carry on behaving in this way.
- Repeatedly or unapologetically offends others or makes them feel unsafe. This is essentially about consent. If anything is a ‘red button’ moment, this is it. No one has to explain why they don’t consent to something, and it’s not up for debate. If a player intentionally sets out to make other people uncomfortable or upset, that’s F tier. Ask them to leave – your game will be better for it.
What tier of player are you? And where did I go wrong?
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