The Ten Con-mandments
I am, I admit, a bit of a grognard. I’m of an age where I am perhaps overly concerned that teenagers are on my lawn. I like to watch the news and I generally go to bed around 10 o’clock. And yet… I like to go to conventions and play games. Recently, I attended a small-size convention, and while overall I had a good time, there were many instances where I was annoyed with the other players. Whether it was a complete and utter lack of personal hygiene, an endless series of inane stream-of-consciousness questions, or the GM texting or e-mailing while reading boxed text and then getting confused and asking us to wait while he finished… it made me much more cranky than usual. While we have previously published a list of 10 general commandments for gaming with a group of friends, I figured I needed to share my 10 Con-mandments.
1. Thou Shalt Keep Thyself Clean and Fresh
We’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. Especially if you are at a convention. Clean yourself. Yes, with soap and water. Use deodorant. A tiny spritz of whatever Axe body spray you like is more than enough. Don’t try to just cover the funk. Every hotel room has a shower. Go forth and clean everything. Your face, your neckbeard, your taint. Everything. For real. There is nothing worse than three days of stank.
2. Thou Shalt Not Keep Thy Dice In Thy Hand Overlong
There’s an old adage of “If you shake it more than once, you’re playing with it”. The same applies to dice. Once or twice is fine… but shaking your dice back and forth continuously does not somehow magically make your damage higher or your hit better. You totally look like you’re masturbating, so stop it.
3. Thy Hit and Thy Damage Shall Be Rolled Together
If I have to watch you jack your dice off when you are rolling to hit, I don’t want the action repeated when you actually succeed. Roll everything (or as much as you can) together. It will speed up play and I can get back to my hotel room in time to watch Matlock.
4. Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Dice
If your rogue does 3d8 damage with every hit… why do you only have 2d8 in your Crown Royal bag? I do not want you to touch my dice and ruin the magic they contain, but on the other hand I do not want to wait every time your turn comes up. I’ve taken to carrying a small bag of random dice for the express purpose of giving them out to dunderheads at conventions. Pencils and paper, too. Some days, I feel like a kindergarten teacher at an inner-city school helping out the tragic children unable to help themselves.
5. Asketh Not Thine Stupid Questions
We’re fighting a beholder in the last room of a dungeon crawl and you are playing your elven wizard. This is no time to ask the GM’s thoughts on whether or not a barbarian can dual-wield giant-sized clubs. It’s your turn to blast the evil beholder into atoms, don’t suddenly ask the grognard next to you how underwater combat works. Nobody cares what your kitsune can shapechange into, don’t pontificate on it’s powers while you should be stepping up and cleaving goblins.
6. Thou Shalt Understand Thy Character
You’re a 7th level sorcerer? Why don’t you know the damage of that magic missile you just shot at the darkness? A 9th level barbarian gets several thousand rounds per day of rage, I’m sure. How can somebody get to the point where they travel to conventions to play and not know their character? I’m not talking about someone just starting out, I’m talking about people who have, allegedly, played their character enough times to get several levels under their belt and had no idea that their oracle was a spontaneous caster. Okay, I confess, that last one was me, but in my defense… uh… Alzheimer’s?
7. Thou Shalt Get Rest So As Not to Sleepeth Past Thy Initiative
If you do sleep past your initiative, don’t throw a hissy fit when you wake up three turns later and realize you missed everything. It’s not the GMs job to make sure you are paying attention. Yes, it’s a convention and there’s Midnight Madness games and parties and it’s all about having fun. Well, you can’t “hoot with the owls at night and fly with the eagles in the morning” unless you are well-caffeinated or able to handle it.
8. Thou Shalt Use Electronics Only For Reference Sake
I’m sure that video of a goat screaming like it’s a human is hilarious, but pick up your dice and throw them down. It’s your turn, dagnabbit! If you are the GM, it’s even worse. There’s legitimate reasons to take a moment and check your phone, of course, but carrying on a 15-minute text conversation with your wife, sister, husband, lawyer, lover, cousin, brother or friend about what you want to eat? Save that for a break.
9. Thou Shalt Not Wear Thy Favorite Shirt More Than One Day
At larger conventions, as long as you’re taint is clean and the shirt’s not crusted with two days of burrito, you can probably get away with shaking the crumbs off your magic special re-roll shirt, but at smaller conventions where you play with the same pool of people? Not a good idea. Even after the first day, the funkishness is going to intensify, so be kind and think of the people around you. Please.
10. Thou Shalt Wash Thine Hands After Sneezing Into Them
I cannot even… seriously? And did you then try to pick up one of my d8s? If you’d like to keep that hand attached to that arm, I suggest you excuse yourself and go wash your hands. Or carry a small jar of sanitizer, or better yet, vampire sneeze. Shoving your filthy, stinky paw up under your nose and letting one go is not the right way to live life.
BONUS: 11th Commandment!
11. Thou Shalt Be Courteous
A well-run and well-organized gaming convention is hard to pull off. Many times it is like herding cats. Large, smelly, angry cats. Do your part to help the organizers by telling them when they do right, and helping them when things go wrong. Adapt. If your game is cancelled, don’t scream at the organizer, it’s not her fault. Find something else to do. When you sit at a table with all 1st level characters, don’t demand that they play higher tier so you can play your highest level, roll up a new one.