Hail and well met Gentle Entities and Slurried Enemies! I would like to wish a Bountiful Burns Day to those that celebrate on the plane where Hipsters of the Coast resides. I must admit to a miniscule  bit of disappointment to learn that Burns Day is a celebration of the poet Robert Burns, and not the ritual setting of aesthetic fires I grew up with. However, I am quite pleased to report that Mr. Burns has a delightful address to the local  supernatural personification of Evil that manages to excel in both form and function. I have read this communication in honor of cross cultural exchange and you may find it here at the Poetry Foundation.

Today is also the third day of the Lunar New Year so for all who keep this calendar we wish you Happiness and Prosperity!

While we answer 3 letters from our interrogative entities across the multiverse each week,  on this day we shall focus on a single question because it has so many aspects of cross-cultural sensitivity to take into consideration.

This is the fifth column for us. 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.

Creating House Rules as Host

Dear Mizz Mizzet

My game group wants to be an alcohol friendly space/game/cocktail group, and I (the host and organizer) am fine with that, but I don’t know what rules or such that I should put into place. How do I keep my group happy and happily-tipsy, without going overboard or messing up the game? 

Tipsy in Tallahassee

Dear Tipsy;

It is indeed a time honored tradition to combine potables and play. You do not mention which type of gaming group you host, so our answer shall cover the various possibilities. Card games, board games, and shared storytelling games played with or without accoutrements will be directly addressed. The initial requirements of good manners supported by good etiquette apply to all three. Practical execution will vary slightly depending on who and what you host.

A wee bit of research informs me that Tallahassee is in the domain of Florida, a land renowned for both its ability to party and its politicians attempting to create islands of imposed governmentally defined purity. You are wise, my planar traveling friend, to know you should discover rules that define what is allowable in the societal space you are hosting in.

The United States in general has a specific fixation on the use of alcohol as a right of passage based on age. The other areas of this plane differ greatly on approach to alcohol and so humans are not consistent in any way about when you can and cannot serve alcohol to sentient beings.

Florida has a law named The Open Party Law that describes the responsibilities of a party host where alcohol is served.

In addition to this, the cultural discussions involving alcohol intersect with extreme differences in both medical and religious codes and practices amongst human societies. It is best as a host simply to be aware that in the US, folk who are observant Muslims, Mormons and a few sects of Christianity, avoid all alcohol Judaic practices have a weekly ritual that requires alcohol but can use unfermented grape juice. Medically speaking there are strong feelings about human womb bearers drinking alcohol that are not necessarily shared by the medical profession outside the Realm of USians. Some of those medical recommendations are codified in certain legal coda. And finally there are folk who, for whatever personal reason, choose not to partake in the ingestion of fermented goods. These reasons can include but are not limited to recovery from addiction, distaste for the flavor, an unannounced imminent spawning.

Now dear readers, you may well ask why should we be concerned with all of this detail when we are looking at setting up cocktails for our known group of friends? I am so pleased you have inquired!

There is a multiverse of difference between setting up the social rules for a one time event or gathering, and setting up the baseline of social expectation for an ongoing event and possibly expanding or contracting group of participants.  Our dear Tipsy in Tallahassee (who is quite clearly qualified for the honors program at Mizz Mizzet’s School for Complicated Lifeforms) has specifically asked us how to set up “what rules and such” they should put in place for their own home. One should start out as one means to go on. Being familiar with the culture of your guests is part of the “and such” for any and all hosting.

Your group may start with beings all of legal age, similar practice and great willingness to share recipes and traditional good time. However life and health are never static so it is best to set up your rules for your home to anticipate future circumstances and friends as yet unmet.

Now my dear whelps and hatchlings – you might recognize that this answer requires interactions with laws, religion and health, and you have learned in your “How to Host a Human” textbooks that it is rude to directly ask a human directly about any of those things. And you know we may eat the rude. You will need to review the appendix on indirect inquiry to avoid becoming a future option for ingestion. (Although adult mentors, you are not to eat the teachable young. Floridians are not the only culture with age restrictions on comestibles).

So how does one proceed?

The first step is really to envision how you see the sharing of libations in your ideal state.

You have envisioned a limit “tipsy” without going overboard. You have expressed a concern that imbibing may impact the game. Start the house rule process by assessing what you already know: You have shared an agreement, your group has asked and you have agreed that alcohol can be welcome – construct the positive boundaries of your house rules for these three things:

Rule 1

Statement to your guests: Alcohol is welcome at the game

Conditions for Rule 1 to express to your guests : but we are sharing for fellow feeling not for drunkenness so the house rule is two or three drinks per person per event – that way everyone has the same cap and no one is singled out. It can be encouraged for folk to share their favorite cocktail recipes or fermented items that allow slow sipping over several hours.

Rule 2

Statement to your guests – because we will be drinking in the state of Florida and we get together regularly, before we start let’s set up a kind of “round zero” set of agreements for alcohol.

Actions:  With you leading the discussion, have the group round table and agree to shared support rules for boundaries. This will include:

  • The host (or the group) will hold the keys of anyone who seems to have drunk enough to impact their ability to drive home.
  • The host (or the group) should be prepared to allow anyone who feels like they need to metabolize to stay until they do OR the host (or the group) should have transportation plans ready for anyone in the group to say “perhaps I shouldn’t drive” with enthusiastic support! (This can include car services, taxis, shared rides.)
  • There should be an agreement that any member of the group for any reason might be able to say “I am not drinking tonight,” and that will be immediately, and mutually, accepted by everyone without further comment for the evening at any and all events. Your guest may share reasons if they would like to but in order to have alcohol be part of the event the ability to participate without alcohol must be preemptively protected to avoid imposing on your guests.

By setting this house policy up before it is necessary, it will make the space welcoming for everyone as long as your group meets, and becomes a thing you can say to folk who are newly invited so they do not feel like they * have * to partake to participate in the games.

Rule 3


Alcohol is expensive; decide in advance how you and/or your group is supplying libations and how the cost is going to be borne. Will it be shared? Will individuals Bring-Their-Own-Bottles? Will there be a gaming group stocked bar with a menu? Discuss with your group which alcohols are desired, handle it the same way you would handle any food discussions with your gaming group and use the same social rules you had successfully engaged with for other comestibles.

“So are there any dietary preferences we should take into account when developing the drink list?”

By using this model, everyone is on an equal footing to share what does or doesn’t work for them without being forced to provide personal, religious, or health information, but it also invites them to share it, if they personally want to emphasize an allergy to the group. No matter WHAT the reason for a dietary preference they should all be treated as equally important by a host.

Jubilations! You have covered the baselines and remember to respect your own boundaries. If you as host become uncomfortable with something, you have the obligation to express it before it becomes something that creates discomfort with hosting the group.

Now we shall move from the general to the specific. Our dear Tipsy in Tallahassee was concerned excessive alcohol might ruin games. The group discussion about creating desired and agreed to goals and a drink cap should prevent excessive inebriations but what affects game play can differ for each type of game and you might want to consider some purely practical house rules:

For Card Games

Pleasant tipsiness sometimes creates fine motor clumsiness which is often deleterious to collectibles. As a result,  Mizz Mizzet’s World of Well Set Tables recommends the host require playmats and sleeves for all game components where libation is served  to prevent damage to game pieces from accidental spills. When I host personally,  I have a selection of enclosed drinking vessels, all prepared prior to the event  with a prophylactic casting of Remove Curse. I provide these to my guests if they have not brought a preferred enclosed chalice of their own. Indeed personalized beverage bearing items can be lovely milestone gifts from the group to an individual for special occasions. The human realm has several in their favorite container form of “sippy cups”

A marker for when it’s time to gently tell a friend the fermentation is affecting game play should be discussed at the shared rule setting meeting where the group can all have input on the agreed upon signs to prevent later conflict.  However for card games  I would recommend difficulty shuffling or resetting life totals should be an agreed upon sign that an individual should switch to water or something caffeinated for the rest of the evening.

For Board Games

Unlike card games It is quite possible for the mildly impaired individual to ask another entity to move their board game markers so as not to alter other pieces and continue play rather than discontinue imbibing. One generally hopes a group member would know their own limit and stop at two rather than three if this is occurring, but this is an acceptable answer to prevent game disruption. If an individual is unaware they are getting a wee bit frankfurter fingered then volunteering to move their board pieces on their behalf is acceptably polite.

For gently telling a friend perhaps it is time to explore other liquid refreshment during a board game – if they are having uncharacteristic trouble following lines of play or sorting through their own pieces of hidden information you as host should softly suggest it is a good time to self flag.

For Role-Playing Games

There are fewer physical tells in a role playing game where drunkenness might negatively affect game play and a drink limit will most likely prevent any egregious behaviors. If the game nights were “open bar” you might run into things such as unfiltered emotion or difficulty concentrating on group problems solving or scene playing.  However, If you find that three drinks affect one of your players more than two, the best answer is to be direct with the friend about the effect on game play and maybe move to a two drink limit.

As a dragon I must admit that at my own table when folk lose dice off the table, there is a house rule in effect that if it reaches the floor it’s mine. It keeps fellow players nimble and constrains overactive die rolling. A similar house rule might work for keeping your group members in a TTRPG self monitoring for their sobriety.

If not then you acquire more dice for your personal horde. A silver lining!

Nota bene: The local laws of Tallahassee are quite specific as to the legal liability a host bears for minors who acquire alcohol on their premises. These laws are WOEFULLY speciesist and do not take into account the varied life spans of multiple sentients forbidding alcohol to anyone under twenty one solar years.

I am not clear how various authorities work but if you are concerned about sprites, pixes, some forms of short lived demons, and aetherlings not being able to share in your group events because they age at a different rate and rarely make it through twenty one solar rotations. calculate to the best of your ability how many experience-health years they have compared to human life span and be prepared to testify to that calculation in front of their truth stone or whatever local courts use. Consult with a local Azor to be sure. . I have witnessed humans calculate dog-years frequently and a similar calculation should be available for other friends.

Beware of goblins who agree to the rules individually but eventually invite warrenmates who were not briefed on house rules. Gently but firmly explain to both your Goblin Friend AND your Goblin Friend’s Friend that Guests of Guests still must follow house rules to protect the host from liability under local laws. Also warn your Goblin Friend that party crashing is rude and that makes their friend a potential canapé.

If they are not rude, a polite dragon will have to come up with a completely different socially acceptable reason to ingest them. To my draconic brethren I do consul forbearance with Goblins though they are such joyous folk at a gathering! You can always clean up the after effects of welcoming them later.

Cheers to you Tipsy in Tallahassee! May your group celebrate for many eons with conviviality and clear communication.


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.

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