Etiquette For Playing D&D Online
Playing D&D online is becoming increasingly popular. For some (like myself), it’s the main—or only—way they can play.
There are plenty of articles on the general etiquette you should have for in-person sessions, but I couldn’t find many for playing D&D online.
Online play has its own obstacles, compared to playing around a table, so I believe it comes with its own etiquette too.
If you want to be a great player or DM without annoying any of your party, hopefully, some of these tips help!
Get In The Zone
DMs put a lot of hours into prepping a great campaign—even more so if it’s a homebrew world AND online. You have to do all the usual prep like story hooks, characters, voices. You know, the usual. But, when playing online, you also have to source maps, upload them, fit them to a grid, learn the online software you are using and much more.
Players have got it easier; it mainly boils down to us turning up and being ready to roll some dice. So the main thing you could do to have the best etiquette possible (in my opinion) is to pay attention to the game.
This etiquette obviously applies to in-person games, too, but it’s easier to get distracted when playing online—and a lot easier to get away with it, too.
So to avoid offending your DM, stay in the zone and resist flicking through other tabs. Just sit back, relax and immerse yourself in the game your DM has created.
Audio, Audio Wherefore Art Thou Audio
The fact we can even play D&D online is amazing, to be honest. Without it, I wouldn’t be as in love with the game. So we have a lot to thank technological advancements for, but alas, audio isn’t one of them.
Gone are the days of terrible Xbox Live Party Chat, that much is true, but not the days of an application or software’s ability to convey audio as if in person.
Programs like Zoom and Discord still have issues processing multiple voices causing people to blur into one. It’s much easier to tell if someone’s trying to say something when playing in person, and thus much easier to avoid talking over each other.
The online etiquette here is to be aware of when you are talking, ensuring you’re not interrupting or talking over someone. Here and there is fine, it’s totally natural, but you want to make sure everyone gets to participate.
Bonus points if a DM or a player notes who was trying to speak to make sure they get back around to them. I know this to be especially useful if you have shy players at your table. If a shy or anxious person gets interrupted too often, they’ll stop talking altogether.
On The Topic Of Audio
Not everyone can afford a decent audio or microphone setup (I’ve used the same Turtle Beach X11s for eight years), so this doesn’t entirely fall into the etiquette category. It’s more so tips to increase the quality of your audio which your whole party will thank you for.
If you have constant background noise such as a loud PC, noisy neighbours, someone hoovering etc, switch to ‘push to talk’. This gives you control when your mic is on or off, meaning the party only hears the background noise when you choose to speak.
You can further mitigate this background noise by changing the input sensitivity; this is the threshold the noise coming into the microphone needs to reach before it picks up any audio. So when you are speaking, it only picks up your voice.
Another note is snacking. Snacking and D&D go hand in hand and it goes down a right treat when playing in person. Your party at the table are a little more distanced than the proximity of your microphone online, so make sure to mute yourself when you’re chewing!
Metagaming & Researching
Metagaming is when you decide to use the knowledge you have as a person/D&D player to make the choices for your character that they would most likely not make themselves.
This is also a problem offline, but it’s more accessible when playing online, especially from a module without any homebrew content.
Perhaps your party is stuck on a puzzle, or don’t know which way to go in a dungeon, don’t know whether to trust an NPC or not, can’t do damage to this certain monster? Some people might be tempted to find the solution on Google.
I’d put this in the bad etiquette category as it goes against your DMs prep and could even ruin the experience for your party. Maybe they love puzzles and wanted to solve them; perhaps they liked the intrigue whether that NPC was a cool dude or not.
Players have got it easier; it mainly boils down to us turning up and being ready to roll some dice.
Keep It Short And Sweet
Online sessions have worked better, in my case, for both consistency and player engagement when the sessions are shorter.
I think because we are online and we are at the computer, where again, that distraction is just one click away, it hugely benefits if your session is around 3-4 hours maximum.
The duration of the session is something that is usually pre-arranged too. So for us players who need to check Reddit all the time, we can withhold a little longer as we know that session will be short.
I think that’s the main downfall of online play–how easy it is to be distracted. Being on a computer activates that instant gratification part of our brain that society has imposed on us, and it’s our duty as good D&D players to fight for the righteous side of etiquette.
READ MORE: How D&D Improved My Mental Health