In my time as a pen and paper gamer, I've seen ups and downs, crits and fumbles of all kinds. > Here are a few rules I've come up with for making a game night as an enjoyable experience as possible. I figured I'd pass these rules along, and see if it makes things any easier for all you tabletop gamers out there.
1. If everyone at the table is having fun, you "win".
The easiest way to make sure everyone has fun is to assure the whole group shares expectations. If the game is a beer & pretzels, kick-down-the-door, kill-the-monters-take-the-loot D&D game, then everyone should know, so no one writes a novella-length backstory and gets upset when it doesn't come up over the course of play. On the same note, players should be sure to tell the GM what they feel like playing; if you all want to be ninja, and he wants intrigue and politics during the Italian Renaissance, there's sure be some hurt feelings when you go all Assassin's Creed on the major NPCs.
Corollary: There is no such thing as bad fun.
It doesn't matter what you play or how you play it, if you've managed to follow rule one, it's a good thing. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for LARPing, combat-heavy gaming, or enjoying RIFTS. If you're having fun, you're doing it right.
2. Don't be afraid to try new stuff
Just because you know what you like doesn't mean you find something new and cool somewhere else. Try new systems, new settings, new character concepts. The d20 system is not your girlfriend, so feel free to cheat on it with other games.
3. Don't be a jerk.
This is a very broad rule, I admit, but when you look at the vast majority of RPG advice not related to a specific system or style, you can boil it down to this simple maxim. Be a good house guest, don't be disruptive, passive-agressive, or over-bearing. Also important when confronting a fellow gamer exhibiting jerk-like behaviour, don't be a jerk yourself. Odds are you can probably talk your way through the issue.
4. It's just a game, you should really just relax.
Taking things too seriously can lead to all sorts of jerk-like actions and not having fun, breaking the first two rules. Just take a deep breath and take it easy.
Nothing too complex or astounding, but sometimes the best advice is like that.