Welcome Gentle Entities and Mildly Marinated Enemies! We at Mizz Mizzet’s School for Complicated Life Forms would like to wish you happy on this occasion of perambulation around the local sun, marked by the calendar of your ancient imperial conquerors! I hope you celebrated with the explosives, fermented beverages and preferred noises of your choice, or reveled in the counterculture that allowed you to pass unharrowed in the liminal space filled by things that the culture you live in dares not name for fear of breaching the détente with unseen things!

Huzzah my compatriots!  We have survived another local temporal milestone and may add to our respective hordes!

As this is our third column, we would like to remind you that we answer 3 letters from our interrogative entities across the multiverse each week. If you missed our initial column, you may peruse it at your leisure at this location.

Content Warnings

Mizz Mizzet’s Guide to Magical Manners is pleased to provide Content Warnings, given that solving bad behavior often means describing bad behavior. It shall be noted immediately in front that missive and response, so you may enjoy the others and skip the delicate one.

Our content warning for this week is that we are answering a single question with a complex long answer.

Dear Mizz Mizzet

Do I need to bring payment, or snacks, or tribute, or a gift, for my DM? If I want to start DMing, then do I need to start amassing my own hoard?

Thank you for your time.


Tributary Tyro

Dear Tributary Tyro,

You have asked two timeless etiquette questions:

“What is my responsibility as a guest?”


“What is my responsibility as a host?”

Across the multiverse Rules of Hospitality are frequently issues of communal survival. As such, they may vary greatly even on the same plane, within the same geography, and sometimes even within the same kinship group! Additionally, small bands of sentients might identify themselves as distinctly in opposition to political power by creating rules of hospitality that allow resources hoarded to become resources shared. A religious practice might create a general iron clad rule of hospitality that all participants must follow in order to allow charitable gifting without making the recipient of redistributed resources demonstrate humiliating circumstances or publicly identify need.

Some cultures are combative by nature and the exchange of gifts, or gratitude, can become competitive for its own sake even if the rituals were meant to do the opposite.

This is not “bad” per se. It operates much like the development of  CEDH inside EDH/Commander – when the culture shifted so kitchen table play moved from 60 card formats to 100 card formats, kitchen table players whose joy in the game came from speed and power developed niche group customs allowing them the space to be competitive with like minded competitive kitchen table players. Variety is the spice of collective experiences!

Difficulty arises when individuals with different social expectations interact with each other believing their personal group etiquette is universal. Some assume all sentience shares a complete knowledge of those rules. This assumption is unmannerly.

Manners are based in generalized principles, but Etiquette is based on specifics.

Tributes are also part of Protocol – protocol is formal rules about interacting with artifacts and individuals of power in social settings. One might helpfully think of Protocol as the Competitive REL of Etiquette.

Now that we have described this philosophy shining upon your query, we shall address the first of your questions. What is your responsibility as a guest?

May I just say my dear Tyro; how delectable it is for you to recognize that you are indeed a guest when you participate in a group. Such wonderful instincts! Such recognition of the need to think of others when joining an established space!

If you are joining a group for the first time, one assumes you have been invited to join it. In a gaming environment you may find you have multiple hosts.

  • A DM is the host of the liminal imaginary you will inhabit during the course of shared play.
  • The person who invited you to join the group is your social host, even if they are not the owner of the space you are playing or the DM.
  • And finally there may be a third host – the individual or group that owns the space you will be playing in.

As a guest, your behavior in the group and your presence there is a direct reflection ON THEM. You represent your host’s belief in your virtues and thus their judgment and communal values. You absolutely have responsibilities to them in both manners and etiquette as their guest in the group.

We will now get into the specifics you have presented but as a rule of thumb for interacting with new environments when you don’t know the etiquette the mannerly default is “whatever I do should create an inclusive benefit for the group.” The advice below will specifically highlight such benefits and can inform your own future choices.

So, now we shall break down your question of guest contributions into these three categories:

  • Payment
  • Snacks
  • Tributes/Gifts


There are professional DMs! It’s quite a thing! If you are being invited to an event where a DM is being hired for the benefit of a gaming experience there are several different ways payment might arise in a way you feel moved to participate.

If it is a workplace team building event you do not need to bring a gift or snacks for the games master. The polite thing to do if you enjoyed their work is to leave a positive review for them on their social media or corporate presence. You might also write to the supervisors of the person who created the event/invited you to compliment them on their choice of the event.

If it is a private or charitable event and you have been invited by a social acquaintance to participate in a service with a paid gamemaster you are in an excellent position to ask your social host what you can do to help with the event and offer to share the cost, or support the charity. Certain earthly cultures greatly honor the “donation made in honor of” so I might suggest it is good manners if you are invited to a game for charity to make donations to that charity In honor of your host at minimum, and the gamemaster individually,  if you enjoyed their work.

In these two scenarios it is also completely appropriate to ask the entity inviting you if it is either expected or acceptable to tip the professional gamemaster at the end of the event. Gamemasters in such events are professional entertainers. In multiple cultures tipping or passing the hat is how performers survive.  If it is NOT already expected that you might tip a professional gamemaster at these events, then you might individually decide to tip that gentle entity simply because you enjoyed their work.  If you feel so moved, Mizz Mizzet’s Formal Money Moves taught in third form would instruct you on how to move the money discreetly with a word of thanks to the person performing the service, but in a way that does not bring attention to it so that fellow beings who do not, or cannot tip are not made to feel obligated. Discretion is the best part of manners.

The third scenario involving payment of a DM, is when the DM is not a professional, but has personally done the work and supplied the tools of being a DM to a casual group where you have been invited.

Once again I might suggest the person who invited you is the appropriate person to ask about that specific group’s expectations. Groups of long association might support their DM by splitting the cost of new DM tools (books/gear/online memberships) so the DM is not bearing the sole cost of the group’s materials, and you can offer to chip in to the fund. If you notice after long play association that your DM is solely bearing costs, you might suggest gifting materials or gift certificates and coordinating the group in appreciation.  Cash payments are not generally expected for DMs in non-professional settings and might be considered awkward without a cultural story to allow shiny artifacts of theoretical value to be exchanged on first encounters. Money is a highly specific thing and its meaning vis-a-vis commerce vs gift must be clearly defined if one engages with it.

I can speak directly to my own culture however, and let you know in advance that if your DM is a dragon, currency of the realm is always appropriate regardless of the occasion, simply as an expression of gratitude for their existence. If your draconic acquaintance does not directly horde currency, they can exchange it for their artifact of choice. If your DM is a wombat however, please do not do this. Wombats are generally anti capitalist and you should demur.


It has come to our attention that the presentation or gifting of food was quite the discussion amongst the digerati recently. Rituals around sustenance, time, preparation and sharing are deep parts of culture as all living and many non living things must consume to create the energy for sentience. If you are not an energy based being yourself, you will have learned the rules of sharing food while growing at your progenitors knee, or mandible or tentacle as the case may be.

I offer some general guidelines since you have specifically asked about food for a  “DM” my dear Tyro. This means you are most likely participating in a game of Dungeons and Dragons and there are both advisable and historic ritual snacks associated with the game of Dungeons and Dragons specifically:

I personally have never understood this as traditional Doritos have a pleasing fiery orange color that is highly likely to leave marks on one’s tabletop materials but my dear friend Ugin once informed me that it shows a high level monk-like skill and dexterity to partake fully of the Doritos but leave no trace on one’s paper artifacts. This zen-like feat demonstrates attention to detail and active environments much admired in a tabletop role playing game participant. I bow graciously to this wisdom, but also suggest that the bringing of Doritos to your DM might be more of a tribute than a food gift.

When bringing food to any individual entity, one can follow the general hospitality framework outside the gaming environment. Check the rules about food where you and the DM will gather – is it a public site? a local commercial establishment? or a private home? The first two will have policies or personnel you can check with and the rules about what is or isn’t allowed will be posted.

If it is a private home, ask your inviting host about how the group generally handles food, snacks and meals during the game. This is a way for you to understand various food preferences and traditions without specifically identifying that you are thinking about a food based item specifically for the DM. You will also be able to plan your own consumption for the day based on this information. Once you hear how the group handles food and meals for the entire group, you may decide whether or not edible gifts are appropriate. It is an excellent idea to do this anyway as a general question for it allows your host to describe foodways such as:

  • “We keep kosher/Halal/Vegan/Vegetarian rules in the house”
  • A few of our group needs to snack frequently for focus/health/because chocolate is a food of the gods and must be ingested to celebrate divinity, so snacks are welcome”
  • “Anything goes foodwise, but please do not eat the rude – you are judging goblins by human standards and making it difficult to keep the basement lab running”

Now you have enough information to ask your location host if they know of any particular foods the DM enjoys. This gives the location host the opportunity to respond in a way that keeps the food gift within the bounds of the household rules. If you are bringing the DM a specific ingestible gift, we like to suggest you bring an amount of said gift for everyone present, with a set aside box or amount specifically for the DM so they may keep it with their materials and not have to compete for portions. ie – bring cookies enough for everyone at the table with five cookies wrapped nicely just for the DM.

Another food note – if you are ever wondering about “appropriate amounts” of an item for sharing, take the number of people present and think of “how much of this thing would be a serving for a single sentient.” Multiply by expected guests then add 20% more than that, and this should ensure everyone has a chance at sharing your food:

Serving * Guests + .2(Serving*Guests) = Amount To Bring

This is an excellent spot to note that there is a difference between a hospitality gift when one is making a first visit, and a gift when one is part of the group, knows the local preferences, and has a personal understanding of one’s host and/or DM. Gifts for new spaces should be as neutral as possible and gifts for known entities should be as specific to their tastes as possible.

Kettle Corn is a snack that fits most human preferences and requirements and is often available in pleasing gift shaped packaging. Bringing a variety pack of a food or drink presented to your Host/DM with intent to share covers different preferences can be given to the leader of the event, who may then distribute it to the group after taking their first pick.

As mentioned before – contributing to prearranged group payments is also acceptable and you would not be expected to make a separate host gift if this is the expectation. Which brings us to the final category of the Guest half of your query.


Up until now Dear Tyro – we have placed you at the center of the responsibilities of a guest. The bond between host and guest is reciprocal and interdependent. In many ways there is a leveling of power – a good host and a good guest are equally invested in the successful execution of their roles; protocol, etiquette and manners are all in harmonious agreement. Gifts exchanged and partaken are chosen, received and dispersed with the comfort and delectation of all involved as the goal.

Tribute is nothing at all like that.

Tributes are an exchange involving recognition of status – how you might make a tribute depends on what is valued by the entity being honored. A DM is a small god. It is perfectly acceptable to bring a small tribute or offering  and formally declare it as such!

Depending on the personality and mood of the group it can be a serious offering, A gift of use to a DM as a thank you for making space at the table for you, a pen, a dice holder, some new dice… present such a tribute in the manner which you intend to go forward with the group. It can be presented “in character” if your character is already created. One can never go wrong recognizing the nature of a trickster god set to lead you into unknown spaces.

Some groups/DMs will already have what British social anthropologist Alfred Radcliffe-Brown describes as a “joking relationship” described as ritualized banter that allows humor to acknowledge and mediate asymmetric power relationships. Groups may already have traditions of “bribing the DM” with their favorite treat, extra index cards, sacrificial incense brought about by three members of the ruling class traveling through town, etc…. it is best to ask in advance.

You: “Thank you so much for inviting me to your game. I’d like to bring something to show my appreciation – are there any food rules I should know about? Do you have any group traditions like a curse jar or sacrificing goblins to the DM so I know to bring the right things to participate?”

Them: “We stopped sacrificing goblins ages ago for civil rights reasons. But if you give the DM five Hershey’s kisses they’ll let you re-roll one crit per game. It started as a joke but now it’s built into the campaign as a kind of religious practice – whoever’s playing a cleric usually has a whole liturgy for when you do it.”

Tributes are a “getting to know your DM/Gamemaster bonding opportunity!

Final Guest Responsibilities

No matter what the circumstances there are two more responsibilities you have as a guest for a gaming experience:

  1. Always offer to help clean up before you leave. Make the offer directly to the host. If you have offered and been thanked and told not to worry, thank them for hosting and then leave. If you have been part of the clean up, leave immediately after cleaning up thanking them for a lovely event. It is better to leave hosts with a good impression than overstay, requiring them to continue to host *after* clean up.
  2. Thank you notes are considered overkill in informal human influenced spaces such as gaming together – however a quick text to the person who invited you, and a DM on social media to the DM telling them something specific you enjoyed that they were responsible for during the event is a perfect balance of the elder dragon etiquette with current “I would like to be invited back” social signaling. It DOES count as a form of tribute, but also opens the door to future invites and communications.

Your responsibilities as a guest are now complete. Tribute is accomplished either materially or through the closure of the thank you text/digital communication.

Perhaps this is more than you bargained for? A veritable horde of etiquette from such a simple question? But my dear Tyro you have asked for such disparate items in your list! They only look like synonyms.

Gentle entities, I beg your indulgence for this week’s column answering a single question and your anticipation for next week when we shall answer the second half of Tributary Tyro’s questions with focus on “What if I were going to become a DM?”

What are the gift exchange obligations of a Small God when Hosting Humans?

In the interim, I encourage us all not to be  unmannerly when we hold power. Being unmannerly can lead to being rude, and being rude might meet the criteria for becoming a light snack.


Thank you to Adrienne Reynolds, for her interplanar transcription services.
Mizz Mizzet Portrait by Andres Garcia

Delightful Readers, Please Submit Your Questions to Mizz Mizzet.

You may submit your questions to Mizz Mizzet using this form.

New Mizz Mizzet columns are posted every Wednesday right here as well as in Hipsters of the Coast‘s weekly email newsletter. You are also encouraged to follow her at @MizzMizzet on Twitter.

Any questions answered publicly will be made anonymous, and noms de plume will be created to represent any parties mentioned.

Born a perfect dragon in an imperfect multiverse, Mizz Mizzet (she/her) is the pioneer broodmother of today’s multiplanar civility movement.  She is now working to persuade Planeswalkers to participate in it.

Her tireless efforts to expand the understanding and exercise of etiquette beyond the stereotypical terror of too many pieces of silverware, and whether to use poisons or explosives at celebratory conquest dinners, have not escaped official notice.

She specializes as a consultant in seating arrangements for inter and intra planar political events as long as contracts include the option to eat the rude.

Out of respect for her relative’s delicate sensibilities regarding draconic rank, she does not reside on the plane of Ravnica.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.