This is an excerpt from my book 'The Book of Roleplaying Hints, Tips and Ideas', available now on Kindle and DrivethruRPG.
Although this and many of the 29 articles in the book were written with a light-hearted tone, there was a somewhat serious side to the essays in that I was exploring different aspects through careful observation during the literally hundreds of games I played in and ran with dozens of groups during my 30 years in the hobby.
This particular article literally drips with sarcasm; it was the mirror image of Gary Gygax's book 'Role-Playing Mastery', but written in a way that might make players sit and think about their actions.
Looking back on it, I hope nobody took it seriously.
How to be an annoying player.
Every game has them, and you don't want to be the exception. Take a few tips from these ten easy to learn steps on how to ruin the game your GM has so carefully designed.
Number One: Make sure that you never talk in character. Its much more effective to say 'My character tells the Navy officer to surrender or die' instead of just giving the GM a scowl and saying 'Surrender or die, Captain Vud!' in the most convincing Royal Shakespeare voice you can manage. Keeping the gulf between your characters personality and your own roleplaying talents as wide as possible is an absolute must for all players.
Number Two: Always express your own opinions and ideas, especially when someone else is talking, preferably the GM. Interrupting an explanation or a piece of dialogue with brash statements will win the respect of other players. All gamers are well known for their tolerance for people butting in on their repartee. If you make sure your speech is loud and overbearing, you may even succeed in drowning out the other people at the table.
Number Three: Don't be concerned about turning up for the game on time. Arriving about twenty minutes to half an hour after the agreed meeting time is suggested, although three quarters of an hour would be a fine example. Keeping other players waiting is a good test of their patience, of which they'll need a lot with you around. It's good to keep them on their toes.
Number Four: Wait until a moment of high drama has arrived and then talk about something that has absolutely nothing to do with the game. Football or last night's television programmes are always good subjects to throw in. It makes the game unpredictable and sometimes quite surrealistic. So next time the GM gets to the part of the game where the final confrontation with the corrupt syndicate boss is just about to happen, make sure you come out with something like 'I saw this great program last night on telly, listen to this...'
Number Five: The game will progress much better if you don't actually take much notice of what is going on. Sitting in your chair and reading a book or a magazine while the game is in progress is a definite sign of good roleplaying. Every now and then nudge another player and show them what interesting things you've just read about, and when the GM looks upon you and asks what it is you want to do, just give him a blank look and say 'huh?'
Number Six: Every time the GM has to make a ruling, make sure you disagree with it, or at least question it before grudgingly giving in. Plenty of games have been filled with hilariously enjoyable hours of players and GM's conversing over their interpretation of the rulebook. And remember - if the GM succeeds in having his ruling accepted make sure you're miserable and surly for the rest of the session. In fact, moan about it for the next few days. After all, the game is being played for your enjoyment so why should the GM ruin your fun?
Number Seven: Wit and humour are what makes a roleplayer, so why not treat the whole game like a joke? This works most effectively when the GM has designed a game that's dark and sombre. Why play along with that, when cracks such as 'So that's an octopus’s great wobbly tentacle! Fnarr, Fnarr!' and 'I'll jump in front of the female guard and shout "Get back or I'll whip out my baton!" Ho, Ho!' will carry the atmosphere effectively.
Number Eight: Cheat at your dice rolls. You may think this is dishonest, but look at it this way; won't your fun be heightened if your character succeeds at most of her rolls? Of course! Forget about chance and tension, just roll those dice, scoop them up before anyone else sees them and say you've succeeded. The game is supposed to be fun, so you want to milk that fun for all it's worth, even at the expense of effectively roleplaying a character that is on the front line of danger.
Number Nine: Take lots and lots of food with you. This may be the normal thing to do for most players, but make sure you take plenty of chewy sweets. Having your mouth full with thick toffee and trying to explain your actions to a GM makes the game just ooze with realism. So when the GM next asks you what course of action you wish to take against the soldier who is about to attack you, you can reply with 'Gile thwig ag im wig my shord’.
Number Ten: Have you recently had a slight disagreement with another player over something trivial, out of the game? Do you want to know how you get back at that player? Well, the answer is simple. Use your character to spite him. Make the odd sarcastic comment to his character through yours, with the obvious reference to what you disagreed about, and then afterward say 'I was only roleplaying'. Better still, have your character try to bump off the offending player's character in some way. Using PC's to settle petty differences are a great way to improve the session and strengthens the relationship between players.
Using one or two of these steps will make you an annoying player. Using several in conjunction, or better still the whole repertoire, will let others know that you are definitely on the road to complete roleplaying player mastery.