Tips for Good Player/DM Communication

After another short dry spell, my gaming group finally came together this past Sunday to finish off our party's trek through Maldora, a world of my own creation and one of the smaller adventures in my ongoing storyline. After the session, J brought some issues to my attention, which is what he normally does after a session. This started me thinking about DM/Player interaction and the dynamics of it in our group.

DM/player interaction is an important part of the game. Many games end prematurely due to people having issues with the DM and not speaking up, or the DM feeling bitterness towards the players and losing their motivation to keep the game going.

Players who want to bring something to the DM's attention should speak up, especially if the question may change the outcome of the encounter or the game. DMs set the rules for the game, but they also have to follow guidelines to keep things fair. This means that even if you're in the middle of the encounter and have a valid question, it may be appropriate to call a quick OOC conference about it. Try not to be condescending or angry. The DM might not realize he or she is making a mistake. Just let them know you have a question and ask if you can consult the Player's Handbook or DM guide. If the answer to your question can't be found right away, work out a compromise and offer to bring some info to the next session (the DM may want to research this as well). Until then, concede to the DM unless they're willing to change and work the details out later. If the issue results in a PC death, discuss it outside of the gaming session and work something out, like another compromise or a turn in the story that resolves things to everyone's satisfaction.

DMs who have something to say to the players can do so in much the same way. Since it's the DM's duty to keep the game rolling, they may need to remind everyone to stay on topic or double check a given stat. I trust my players, but once in awhile I'll ask to see their roll (most roll on their computer) or to double check a stat. Sometimes, DMs have to be the communication hub between the players as well. If player A has an issue with player B, they may go to the DM first to help resolve it. Situations like these require tact and discretion.

Besides gaming questions, personal issues can surface. If the issue could cause embarrassment to anyone, regardless of which side it's coming from, keep it private with the player. It's never good form to humiliate anyone, and doing it during RPG will only label you as "one of those" DMs and blackball you from future possible groups.

Keep the communication open and don't be afraid to give or receive feedback. It will keep your group cohesive and strong.