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Avoid these D&D 10 mistakes so everyone can have more fun

The choices you make in your D&D games can have an impact on everyone’s fun – not just yours, but that of your fellow players and the DM too, so make sure to avoid the 10 mistakes we’ll discuss in this blog.

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#1 Don’t lose your attention on the game

As a player in a D&D game, you won’t always be directly involved in the action. In combat, it can be a while between each of your turns, especially if there are a lot of players or opponents involved, and out of combat, it can be a while before the DM focuses on what your character wants to do or say.  


Don’t lose your attention on the game, and make sure you follow what’s going on even when you aren’t directly involved in the action.

If you get distracted, not only are you likely to miss important plot points or details, but you’ll also likely slow the game down, leading to a poorer experience for everyone. It’s also just good manners to pay attention to the game, and especially to your DM, who has probably put a lot of work into it. 

This is why I prefer keeping devices away from the game, especially as a player. If a device is nearby, you’ll be much more likely to want to check your emails or notifications and lose focus on the game. 

If you want to keep devices away from the table, physical player aids can help make sure you still have everything you need at your fingertips.

I make print at home player aids that I’ve designed to help make play easy and offer an immersive experience for tracking your characters’ abilities. You can get a 10% discount on my Character Journal, Spell Tome, and Class Trackers using code BLOG10.  

DanDMadeEasy print at home player aids make D&D easier to play and more immersive. Learn more here.


#2 Don’t leave it to your turn to decide what to do

This is a follow-up to the last mistake. When it isn’t your turn in combat or social interactions, make sure to consider what you want to do when your turn comes around.

Build an idea of what you want to do with your movement, action and bonus action on your turn in combat, or what you want to ask your DM or say to an NPC during exploration or social interactions, so you’re ready when it’s your turn.

If you wait until your turn in combat to decide what you want to do with your actions, check which class abilities or spells you can use, or choose a target, your turns will take much longer, leading to more time waiting for everyone else.

Of course, what you want to do on your turn may depend on what happens during downtime, and you can’t always plan everything out, but it’s best to have an idea in mind.


#3 Don’t leave all the rules to your dm

D&D has a lot of rules, and you may be relying a lot on your DM to understand them and make sure they’re followed, especially if you’re a newer player.

While it’s important for any DM to understand the rules, it’s best if you learn them too. The more players that have a good understanding of the rules around the table, the smoother the game will run, and the easier it will be for the DM to run a game that’s fun for everyone.

Try to get the basics down, including skill checks, actions and rolls in combat, saving throws and the like. I’ve made a set of free rules reference cards that you can print at home and use to jog your memory.

Print a set of my free rules references cards and keep them by the table so the rules are always at your fingertips

Pay special attention to understanding rules that apply to your character class and subclass. DMs have a lot to remember already, and your DM is likely to forget what a specific class or subclass feature does, so it’s important that you know this.

The Druid’s Wild Shape feature is a good example here. This lets a Druid shift into the form of a Beast, but the Challenge rating of the Beast form is capped, and is quite low. I’ve been in a few games where neither the player nor the DM took the Challenge Rating cap into account, and Druids shifted into Beasts with much too high a CR. In my opinion, this was detrimental to the game – or at least my enjoyment of it.

If you have any questions about specifics of any rules or how your DM interprets them, make sure to ask your DM.


#4 Don’t forget to track your abilities

While its your DM’s responsibility to keep track of most things that happen in the game, it’s your responsibility to keep track of your character and their statistics and abilities.

Some of your characters’ important statistics may change while you’re playing, such as Hit points and Armor Class, and your characters may gain conditions that affect them, for example becoming Blinded.

Depending on the class or classes you’re playing, you’ll likely get access to resources that are limited such as spell slots or features like Rage or Bardic Inspiration, too.

Make sure you keep track of your characters’ statistics and abilities and have easy access to information on which abilities are available, which have been used, and when each ability should refresh. When your character completes a short or long rest, make sure to update your hit points and hit dice, and if you’re concentrating on a spell, make sure to stay on top of making your concentration checks.

Standard character sheets can help a little with tracking statistics and abilities, but they aren’t great at this for a few reasons. They don’t offer a dedicated place to track abilities other than spell slots, they don’t make it clear what you should get at which level, and they don’t help you understand how important rules such as restoring hit points on a short rest or making concentration checks work.

If you’re playing online, D&D Beyond can be much more helpful than using a standard character sheet for tracking and managing your characters’ abilities, but you’ll need access to the abilities your character has on the platform.

If you’re playing at the table, my print at home Character Journal can help you track abilities for any character. The Journal supports multiclass characters and includes dedicated trackers for each class with level indicators and refresh markers, making it easy to track your characters’ abilities. It also includes rules reminders and infographics that help you keep everything up to date, for example rules for spending hit dice, death saves, and concentration checks. What’s more, with over 300 cover options, you can customize your journals to match your characters’ personalities.

The DanDMadeEasy Character Journal includes everything you need to track your characters' abilities and makes it easier and more immersive to play.


#5 Don’t speak up too much, or too little

There are usually quite a few players and personalities around a D&D table.

Some may be quick to engage in in-game conversations and move the story forward, while others may be quieter and less likely to speak up unless they’re asked to.

You’ll fall somewhere on that scale, and my advice here is to do your best to work towards being near the center of it. 

If you’re an extroverted person that’s quick to speak up, don’t forget that some players are quieter, and often need encouragement to share their thoughts. If you’re excited to respond to an NPC and you usually do so before other players have a chance to, consider waiting for a few seconds before speaking up.

If you’re quieter and want to be more involved in the game, do try to speak up more. If you find it uncomfortable to share when you expect someone else to do the talking, you could raise your hand to make it clear that you want to contribute. You may also want to consider asking your DM if they can ask you to share your thoughts more often during games.


#6 Don’t forget about teamwork

In most D&D games, you’ll be playing with a group of fellow adventurers, and both your character and theirs will have different strengths and weaknesses.

While it’s possible to play as a lone wolf and make decisions in a vacuum, it can be much more rewarding if you work as a team to overcome the challenges you face.


Consider what abilities you have, and how you can best use them based on your party composition and the ebb and flow of battle.

If you’re a tank, make sure you end your turn next to melee opponents if you can, so you can deter them from running to attack your teammates.

If you’re a Bard, consider which character has the most need for your Bardic Inspiration dice. If a fellow party member has cast Bless on the party, giving Bardic Inspiration to that character so they can pass a failed concentration check and keep Bless up is a great boon for the party as a whole.

If you have spells or effects that lock down an area such as Spike Growth, make sure to only use them if it doesn’t hamstring the rest of your party.

#7 Don’t forget to play your character, rather than you

You have a personality that has evolved over time, and your characters do too. Making sure to keep those personalities separate can lead to more immersive games.

Good roleplaying involves putting yourself into another creature’s shoes and trying to understand how they would react to a situation based on their personality, background and experiences.

It’s fine to play your character however you choose to, but it leads to a more consistent and immersive experience if you make decisions based on your characters’ perspective rather than yours.

Your characters’ ideals, traits, bonds, background and backstory can really help inform how they might react to a situation, and it can be a good idea to keep these in the back of your mind as you play. Just like you, your characters will evolve over time, and if you play your character across a campaign, you’ll likely learn more about them and how their personality and decision-making may have been affected by their experiences.


#8 Don’t metagame... too much

This one is related to the previous mistake, and getting in character.

As a D&D player, you’ll know some things that your character doesn’t know, and in many situations it’s best if you can make decisions based on your character’s knowledge rather than yours.

Making decisions based on knowledge you have but your character doesn’t is called metagaming, and many players and DMs don’t like it much as it breaks the 4th wall.

Like most things in life and D&D, this comes on a scale, and some metagaming is fine, and often an inevitable part of playing the game.

Choosing to use your Action Surge to attempt to finish off an opponent because the DM told you as a player that they’re on low hit points is fine.

Choosing to swap your Warhammer for a torch when fighting a troll because you know you need Fire or Acid damage to stop its regeneration effect is clearly metagaming.

The more you know about monsters and their strengths and weaknesses, the harder it is to avoid metagaming. If you know something about an opponent but it isn’t clear whether your character does, it can be helpful to ask your DM what your character knows that opponent.

Your DM will likely ask you to make an appropriate skill check, and if you roll well, they may divulge enemy weaknesses. At this point, as it’s clear that your character knows the information, using it to your advantage is no longer metagaming, and no longer breaks the 4th wall.   


#9 Don’t forget to take notes

Lots of things happen in every game, and you never know when a particular piece of information will come in handy.

If you’re having a conversation with an NPC, it’s much smoother if you know the “whos”, the “whats” and the “wheres”, and don’t need to interrupt your speech to ask your DM or another player which mcguffin which NPC needs to deliver to which location.

The mistake here is not taking notes, even if they’re basic ones.

As a minimum, it’s best to note down the names of fellow players’ appearances, NPCs, locations, items and agreed values such as quest rewards.


#10 Don’t forget to try new things

We get tons of choices when playing D&D. From character races to classes to personalities, we have lots of options and we could easily play the game our whole lives without ever making two similar characters.

Or, if you want, you could just stick to what you know and have done before and make another Lawful Good sword and board Paladin in your new campaign.

The advice here is to try new things and continuously stretch yourself. If you want to follow the same formula, that’s fine, and it isn’t a mistake if it’s what you want to do, but in trying out something new, you may learn more about yourself, the game, and your fellow players.

I’m currently working through my quest to play as every class in fifth edition D&D, which I’ve almost finished. I gravitate towards classes with spells, as I love the versatility that spells provide. Playing characters with fewer tactical options has made me focus more than ever on the roleplaying aspects of the game, and on choosing backgrounds and crafting backstories that I’m interested in exploring even if I don’t find combats as interesting.

If you haven’t tried DMing yet, you may want to give it a shot. You’ll learn much more about the game and yourself in the process, and being on the other side of the table will help you better support your DM as a player.



I hope you can take something from this blog to improve your games. If you have any more mistakes you’d add to this list, let me know in the comments.

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Until next time, happy adventuring!




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