“Warstories” is the name I gave to a series of short, quick articles that involve DM’s sharing exactly that: warstories from around the table. I see it as an avenue for griping and venting and as a way to share solutions and answers to little things that may creep up in your games. It could be a simple as food choice gripes, small playing spaces, or bigger issues like controlling problem players. As always, feel free to submit your own columns for future Warstories.
I’ll assume that at some point in our collective gaming careers, we’ve all been guilty of this. Heck, I know I have on more than one occasion. I’m talking about the player who shows up to his game with no pencils, 2 dice, a barely legible character sheet he scribbled on a napkin, and a few pages from a scanned copy of the rule book.
Yes, he’s the Unprepared Player. He’ll tell you that he left work in a hurry and couldn’t go home to pick up his stuff, he’ll say he left it at school, or he’ll just shrug his shoulders and say he’s sorry. Other players will sigh whenever it’s his turn to roll the dice, because he’ll have to borrow some from someone, just like he’ll need someone’s pencil all the time. Aren’t unprepared players annoying?
So what can you do as a DM to counter him? Well, there are several things, and really this should only turn into a big deal if the guy is constantly pulling this week after week, and the other players are getting upset by it. You can, and should pull him aside and say something. It is, after all, a little disrespectful to the other players to have a guy constantly borrowing dice, paper, and pencils. Tell him before it becomes an issue at the table.
The other thing you can do (and you’d be both a saint and a fool for doing so) is act as an office supply/gaming store and have an ample supply of dice and pencils available to lend out if needed. After all, you’ve planned your game all week, the last thing you want at the table is arguments over dice. You want to get on with your game, as I would.
Of these solutions, talking to Mr. Unprepared Player is the best one obviously. I can’t imagine anyone not being decent enough to shape up after being spoken to by his or her DM.
So, how many of you play with the Unprepared Player? What have you done about it?