The Player’s Handbook is just a general guideline. The GM can, and will, deviate from the written rules with reckless abandon if it makes the story better.
We play AD&D 2nd Edition, not because we are old, or it is the best of all possible versions of the game, or because we are too cheap to upgrade to newer versions, or even because we are too lazy to relearn everything that has changed. It is because of ALL of these reasons.
Although we are all consenting adults, there will be no roleplaying of anything remotely resembling “sexy time.” I’m all for public embarrassment, but there are some things that are just never going to happen. The most provocative thing that is ever going to happen in the game is when we pause play long enough for somebody to fetch me another Mt. Dew because my legs have fallen asleep and if I try to stand up, I’ll break a hip.
The GM does not need to show you their dice rolls. The GM doesn’t even need to roll any dice. But all players must roll their dice where everyone can see them, so that we can all enjoy the glory of each 20, and the bitter, humiliating failure of each and every 1. You would be surprised at how many people will stoop to cheating in a game that cannot be won, or lost. It staggers the imagination.
Do not take anything overly seriously. This is a game in which resurrection is an option (albeit expensive), so do not worry if your character gets hacked into quarters by an angry mob of goblins. Somewhat more concerning is your character falling into a dragon’s mouth and being devoured. And if you slip into a lava pit, you might want to reconsider letting the GM have the nicer parking space next time so things like this don’t keep happening.
Experience is given in a fashion not necessarily perfectly aligned to the methodology outlined in the DMG. I reward creative thinking, participation, staying true to your character, participation, and of course, participation. If you just sit there like a lump on a log, you will find it nigh unto impossible to ever level up.
In this glorious age of communication, feel free to use text and email to ask questions in the days following an adventure. If you solve a riddle on Sunday that was presented on Friday, let me know. And yes, that is worth experience points. Everything you do that adds to the overall joy of the game is counted in your favor, whether or not we are all present.
I prefer being referred to as “Game Master”, rather than “Dungeon Master.” That is a different kind of game altogether. See rule #3.
There are times in which I will use a funny voice, or goofy accent, to indicate that a particular NPC has a particular quirk. This doesn’t mean they are important, I just have had too much caffeine. When speaking for your own characters, do not feel it necessary to try and roleplay their speech impediments. It is enough to know that your dwarven necromancer has a lisp, we don’t need to hear it. Also, you have bigger problems than your difficulties with saying “short sword”.
For anyone trying to game for the first time, and certainly for the first time in the world I’ve devised, evil alignments are a nonstarter. It takes a lot of work to roleplay a villainous character, because despite how some people like to view themselves, they are not really tough, wicked, backstabbing weasels. They are just occasionally jerks.
It is preferred that violence be kept in the game, and not unleashed upon your fellow players. I don’t care if it is your spouse, sneak attacks with rolled up character sheets are not cool. For them, anyway. The rest of us thought it was hilarious, but they didn’t. Of course, they were tossing dice at other people all night, so we’ll just call this one a draw.
The more you have, the more that can be taken from you. Every now and then, a player will want to play a character from a wealthy, or aristocratic background. While this does sound like fun, starting off from a place of privilege, it carries with it an inherent penalty. Not one person of lowly status and destitute upbringing is ever targetted by powerful enemies. But someone of regal background can easily be the victim of kidnapping, theft, or even murder. Like I said, sometimes a player wants to be born rich. But it never happens more than that one time, you can bank on that. Now, you can act like a pretty little princess until the cows come home. If you are a princess, though, you better watch your back. Yes, I’m looking at you, Grundarr the half-orc barbarian. You are a pretty princess.
Players will NOT be dragged through a storyline, nor will NPCs do all of the heavy lifting to allow players to move forward. My games can take a very long time to play out, because the important things are a good story and a good time. This is not a race. There are plenty of chances for players to hone their skills, explore their enemies’ weaknesses, and find other resources they can use to get a job done. Not every foe has to be killed to yield massive experience, and there are multiple ways to skin a troll. If things look insurmountable, take a step back, and collectively assess the options. You may very well discover an easier path right in front of you.
Now, go back and reread rules 1, 5, 6, and 13. Repeat these to yourself before every gaming session. Should you ever feel compelled to telephone the GM twelve hours after a game session to tell them they pulled a “dick move” because you routinely ignore rules 1, 5, 6, and 13, do not be surprised when the GM has a hissy-fit. Go with the flow, enjoy the story and the fellowship, and savor the possibilities of a world where just about anything is possible, as long as the dice agree.