1. A player should read the books and understand her part of the rules.
I have to admit this one is tough for me to do as I don't retain information well. I forget most things immediately after I'm told or read about them. Without a smartphone and notes I'm totally lost. This is especially true as far as being a player and one of the reasons I like to be the GM. The GM gets to have notes. The GM gets to plan in advance and have all the books open on the iPad. Even with all the extra work the GM has in preparation for a game, I still find it is harder to be a player. As a player, I don't know what is coming. I don't know what I have to be prepared for or what rules to go back and read again.
Having a well-organized character sheet helps, along with keeping all of the books in PDF on the iPad. It is super frustrating, though. I have to look up everything every time. Sometimes I wish I was as smart as the people I play with--that I could remember ONE rule without freezing. Maybe its Public Math. Public Math is when someone makes you solve a problem in front of the class and instead of recalling how to carry the one, you freeze. I have to give my math teachers some credit for this. I had a few good math teachers, but the one I had in junior high that helped me understand I "wasn't ready" to keep up with my advanced class sadly had the most impact. Up until seventh grade I knew I was excellent at math. After seventh grade I knew I could not succeed in a math class. I gave up after that adult told me giving up was probably what I should do and I always do what the adults say. I can't say for sure if that's the source of the freezing, but my seventh grade math teacher did not do a good job of preparing me for my future as a HackMaster player.
Fighters are my preferred class since they have the job of hitting things. I'm abysmal at tactics, but at least I can write down and remember all of my attack and defense bonuses, damage reductions, and what to do with my shield. The fighter isn't expected to have advanced social skills...or do a lot of Public Math. The fighter protects her friends, takes care of her armor and weapons, and generally does all of the dirty work. I can play a fighter. The Ranger is my absolute favorite type. Rangers have a few more skills than average fighters, are stealthy and observant, and animals like them.
Knowing that I'll forget everything without advance preparation, I read the books and take notes. Since I know what I have a hard time with, I can plan for it before the game. Here are some things that I've done to help myself out.
- I write down the rules I forget all the time that apply directly to my character or at least write the number of the page the rule is found on somewhere on my PC sheet. For example, if I'm playing a cleric that can turn undead, I make notes on how to turn and where to find that in the combat chapter. I can retain information if I write it down.
- Keep the PC sheet clean and up to date. Fill in everything. Write big. Better: Use a PDF character sheet. This way, if I have to ask for help, the information is there for the GM or another player to look at and its easy to read.
- I used to keep my 4th edition characters in a binder so I could keep all of the old sheets from previous levels and notes from other sessions. When I got PDF copies of the books, I put in spell sheets for the cleric. That kept me from needing to flip through the book every time she cast a Cure spell. I know a player that made little booklets out of the spell lists. Gather all of the information needed in one place and keep it organized.
- Organization isn't easy for everyone. Try different things to find one that works. Office supply stores are full of different tools. If keeping everything in a cute kitty-cat binder is the thing that does it, don't discount the idea. However weird it might seem, anything that helps keep the needed information together is a good idea. It doesn't have to be electronic, either. Excel sheets and cloud storage are the best solution for some people, but there is nothing wrong with an old-school binder and notebook.