The PSG Tool

Play The Same Game

(The PSG Tool)

V. 2.2.1

2021-02-14

Written by

Maciej ‘Vind’ Litwin

Facebook: svart_vind

YouTube at Dobre Rzuty (PL)

Significant contributors

Александр Романюк

Additional help

Urszula Psujek

Based on the Same Page Tool by Christopher Chinn.

So the question is
“Why bother going through more than 30 pages of questions before playing an RPG?”

Well, you’d be surprised, but every person in the group might want significantly different things from the game you’re about to play.

Perhaps you’re not even playing the same game.

Let me explain.

When you sit down to play a board game, usually you know exactly what you’re getting into. You know what the game is about, what are the goals of the game and how it is played. With many RPGs that’s not the case. You may be using the same rulebook and have similar character sheets, but your goals may be completely different and you may expect to play very differently. For example, one player might be interested in “winning” the game by overcoming challenges with well-thought-out character, while another player might expect story and drama with minimal amount of dice rolling. That’s often the case, and one of two solutions is usually applied: either you try to convince everyone else that your way to play is the correct one, or you try to mix various playstyles and goals during a single game session. Both approaches have been tried for years in different groups and have produced mediocre results at best.

So what can you do?

Well, you can make sure you know what you will be playing, and how.


At the very minimum, this might save you a few frustrating arguments over how certain situations should be resolved. But maybe it will also help you to have a fruitful discussion that will allow all of you to actually get what you want from the game – and to work better as a group while doing so.

Whoa! That’s a lot of work!

Yes, the list is long. And starting an RPG game by spending an hour on answering various questions might kill your enthusiasm. Sure.
On the other hand, I wanted the list to be exhaustive, so that nothing important will be left out.


So remember: it’s up to you how to use this questionnaire. You don’t have to answer every single question. Use what you need, and ignore the rest.

To make that easier I’ve marked the importance of each question (based on personal experience), as well as whether people new to RPGs are likely to understand it (because sometimes it’s hard to know what you want until you actually try it first.)

How to use this document?

  • Go through questions you find important for your game.

  • Discuss questions that are important for your game.

  • If you wish, write down your answers to make it official and easy to go back to.

Don’t do these:

  • Don’t answer the questions separately and compare the answers. Do it as a group.

  • If you cannot agree on a single answer, don’t hope that not deciding on it will solve anything. If it’s important, ignoring it probably won’t help.

Important notes:

  • The game you’re playing might decide some of the answers for you. This is normal. You’ll probably want to skip discussing those questions to save time.

  • At the same time, the same system might be played with a different set of answers, as many RPGs support various goals and play styles (even if due to lack of focus in their design).

  • Don’t be afraid to skip questions you don’t find very useful.

  • Some questions that I’ve found to be too niche were not included in the document. It’s already very long as it is.

  • Same goes for some answers. Feel free to answer any questions with something not from the list. As long as you have the same expectations, you should be fine.

I hope this tool will help you to get what you actually want from RPGs.

Maciej

In different languages

English

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uNRNPlIaVwhq9kkLdj1WQ93QMMYSGs4VsvJk16jqrf4/edit

Polish

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N6ZyjJ6l1UoXmutenXKp3wvyVwu_DkyPx7AHR1HR1lE/edit

Russian

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KHrYL95ELPv2lLHjl7E79Et3OSiM3RcEbt_jw97Uj_U/edit

Want to do a translation?

Feel free to copy the document and do that!

Just let me know, so I can link it in this section.

Table of contents

THE BASICS

  1. What do you enjoy

  2. Stance

  3. Story focus

  4. Game master’s job

  5. Player’s job

  6. Power balance

STYLE

  1. Creative agenda

  2. Players skill or character skill

  3. Types of characters

  4. Presentation

  5. Immersion

  6. Meta-gaming

  7. Realism

  8. Mood building

  9. Amount of detail

  10. Controversial topics

EXPECTATIONS DURING THE GAME

  1. Conflict between characters

  2. Treason

  3. Optimal decisions

  4. Splitting the party

  5. Sharing knowledge

  6. Death

EXPECTATIONS OUTSIDE OF THE GAME

  1. Disagreements

  2. Obeying the rules

  3. Knowing the rules

  4. Knowing the setting

  5. Making games happen

  6. Absent players

  7. Absent players: rewards

  8. Social rules

  9. Feedback


THE BASICS

So, what do you want from this game?

  1. What do you enjoy

Let everyone say what their preferences are

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:3 (Newbies might be lost)

What interests you in the game? What do you like?
What do you want from this game?

  1. What would you like for the game to have?

A good and compelling story?
Interesting and colorful characters? Deep and complex characters?

A believable game world complete with rich culture and history?

A sense of wonder? A sense of dread and horror?
Good mood and atmosphere?

  1. What would you like to do?

Fight? Come up with strategy and tactics?
Explore? Discover new places and uncover mysteries?
Uncover intrigues or plot some yourself?
Solve puzzles and riddles? Analyze clues?
Talk with NPCs? 

Feel emotions through your character?

Add to the story by providing your ideas?

Be able to express your character through descriptions and/or acting?

  1. What wouldn't you like?

Unbalanced challenges? Unfair challenges?
NPCs taking too much spotlight? NPCs saying their monologues?

Spending too much time on descriptions and building the mood?

Spending too much time on planning and deciding what to do?

Spending too much time on tactical encounters, like grid-based combat?

Clichés? Overused story elements?

  1. Stance

Let everyone say what their preferences are

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:3 (Newbies might be lost)

Which of these ways of playing your character do you like?
Which one of these would you like to use during this game?

  1. Actor

Decide based on what their character wants and knows.
My character is a part that I play, like in a movie or TV show. I like to see and feel what they do, and think of things as they would.

“That’s what my character would do.”

It is pretty much the “method acting approach” to roleplaying. The most immersive stance, as it doesn’t require you to think outside of the character.
It may make it easier to roleplay to the best of your abilities, but you might also get carried away and blindsided, so be careful.

  1. Author

Decide based on what they want for their character, retrospectively explaining why their character made a decision.

“You know what’d be fun? If my character went to talk to the mafia boss right now.”

This is great if you want to create a story by making your character do the most interesting things, but you probably won’t be as immersed as an “actor”.

  1. Pawn

Decide based on what they want for their character, without explaining why their character made a decision.

“I can stand in lava for 3 turns, I’ll still have 10 hit points left.”

This works well with more of a board game approach, where it’s more about the players, and not their characters, trying to overcome various challenges.

  1. Director

Decide based on what they want to happen, making both the character and the environment behave in a way that supports that.

“I enter the room silently, but the squeaky floor gives me away. Thankfully there’s a huge lamp in the corner and I hide behind it.”

It allows players to portray their characters exactly how they want them to be portrayed, and also to enrich the fiction more with their creative input.
Pay extra attention to the power balance between the game master and the players when using this stance.

  1. Story focus

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:2 (Newbies should be fine)

What’s the story going to be about?
How is it going to involve player characters?

  1. Audience

Players are there to witness the story, it does not revolve around them. They still might get involved and make some decisions that will shape it, but NPCs will be the main actors.

This is often the case when you’re playing through a published adventure or a module. Any group of characters could play through the story and the story would not change.
This approach might also result in a more relaxing game for the players.

  1. Bits and pieces

Player characters are tied to the story in some places.

If you’re running a published adventure you might need to modify it a bit.
In order to give player characters a reason to participate in the events, for example.

  1. Parallel stories

Player characters will have story arcs alongside the main story.

You either modify a published adventure heavily, or you’ll be creating something on your own – whether preparing it before the game or by creating it together during the game. You might use the main story as the backbone of your games and develop other story arcs around it.
The players might be required to put more effort in to make this work.

  1. The main focus

The main story is about player characters.

As above, except every scene not about a player character is a wasted scene.

  1. Story?

Story might happen, but the way you play doesn’t really require it.

  1. Game master’s job

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:5 (Very important)

Difficulty:3 (Newbies might be lost)

What does the game master do?

  1. Linear play

The GM prepares the entire story and reveals it to the players during the game as they participate in its events. The story might vary depending on what the players do, especially if various branching paths are prepared beforehand.

Most published adventures are in this category.

  1. Sandbox play

The GM prepares the game world, including various locations, NPCs, factions, events or even some adventures for the players. But then the game revolves around players exploring that world and pursuing their own goals.
An overarching story might emerge during play, but often isn’t the focus of the game.

Many published modules are sandboxes.

  1. Improvised play

The GM works with players during the game to create a coherent story based on the players’ decisions. He or she might prepare various building blocks for an adventure like in a linear or sandbox play, or not – depending on his or her role in the telling of the story. The GM is expected to improvise.
You play to find out what happens.

Published material might be used in parts as building blocks in this approach, but you probably won’t be able to look to it for guidance.

  1. There’s no GM

Everyone works together to create the story or the rules and the system coordinate it all.

This approach is usually used when you’re using a system that’s specifically designed not to require a GM.

  1. Player’s job

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:5 (Very important)

Difficulty:3 (Newbies might be lost)

What should the players do?

  1. Win

The game will be defined by the challenge it provides – be it combat, an investigation or any other problem or problems to solve. Players should overcome those challenges.

“We need to get every bit of information out of him and then plan our escape.”

  1. Embody their character

The players should act based on what their characters would do.

“That’s what my character would do.”

  1. Pursue their own goals

The players should set their own goals and pursue them.

“It’d be fun to have a castle.”

  1. Follow the story

The players should follow the story, especially if hints are given by the GM.

“So, what happens next?”

  1. Add to the story

The players should seek out opportunities to create interesting scenes.

“I’d like to push the captain of the guard into the snake pit.”

  1. Co-create the story

As above, except the players are also responsible for the entire story, and should create scenes that fit into the story. They should consciously explore themes, story arcs and relationships between characters.

“We’re in act 3, it’s time I confronted Ragnar about his lack of loyalty.”

  1. Power balance

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:3 (Newbies might be lost)

Who decides on what happens next?

  1. Only the GM

The GM is in charge of the story and the only person who moves the fiction forward in major ways.

“The next scene takes place in the villa, you’re all there.”

  1. Mostly the GM

The GM is in charge of the story, but is expected to change it so that player decisions are taken into account.

“Since you’ve decided to side with the king, the next scene takes place in his villa.”

  1. GM and the players equally

Both players and the GM decide on what happens next.

“I want to talk to the king again. I go to his villa.”
“You’re at the villa. The curse has worsened though, and the king does not remember who you are.”

  1. Mostly the players

The GM has some say as to what happens next, which he or she can use to guide the story somewhat. Other than that the GM helps the players to play the scenes they decide upon.

  1. Only the players

The GM helps the players with stories they want to tell.

  1. I’ve told you, there’s no GM!

Everyone works together to create the story or the rules and the system coordinate it all.

STYLE

How do you want to play?

  1. Creative agenda

Group discussion, decide on the order

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:5 (Abstract)

If these come into conflict, which will be the most important to you?

  1. Game

The play should be fair.

It should be clear as to what the criteria for success are during the game. Players should know what their characters can do through the game mechanics, and when doing so, the rules should be respected, and the GM should not “cheat” them out of the expected results. Challenges shouldn’t be arbitrary or impossible to win.

“What’s our next objective?”

  1. Narrative

The story should be interesting.
You want to address the themes and move the story forward, avoiding anything that slows the game too much or is otherwise counter-productive to that goal. Interesting scenes and outcomes are sought after, as well as drama and conflict. Narrative techniques can be used to skip over events that you consider unimportant.

“What’s the story about?”

  1. Simulation

The world should be believable.
You want things to be realistic and avoid anything illogical. You want the world to behave in ways you expect it to, whether in ways similar to the real world or based on the genre you’re playing. You want to be able to suspend your disbelief and immerse yourself in your characters.

“What should happen next?”

  1. Players skill

    or character skill

Group discussion, answer each question

Importance:3 (Useful)

Difficulty:3 (Newbies might be lost)

Challenges – should they be solved by the players themselves
or do you want to rely on game mechanics and character abilities?

  1. Figuring things out

Knowing what the characters should do next or what the clues point to.

  1. Knowledge

Understanding the skills that characters possess and making decisions based on that knowledge.

  1. Noticing

Taking note of weird elements of the game world.
Detecting bluff or weird behaviors of NPCs.

  1. Solving puzzles

…like riddles or any props the GM might have for the players.

  1. Speech

Persuading people, making convincing arguments, lying, giving speeches.

  1. Types of characters

Group discussion, choose multiple

Importance:3 (Useful)

Difficulty:2 (Newbies should be fine)

For the game you want, the characters should have…

  1. Optimal stats

The game will include difficult encounters and/or challenges.

  1. Backstory

It will be important to understand where’s the character coming from.

  1. Flags / Keys

(Most important traits, beliefs or goals of the character should be written down.)
It should be clear how to engage the character in the story.

  1. Motivations

The game will rely on characters pursuing their own agendas.

  1. Relationships

Enemies, allies or otherwise interesting relationships with NPC will be important.

  1. Party ties

Relationships within the party should be important.

  1. Research

Authenticity will be important. The player should understand the setting, history, culture or any knowledge associated with his or her character.

  1. Presentation

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:2 (Newbies should be fine)

How do you present the fiction of the game?

  1. Theatre

You don’t describe what your characters feel or think, you act everything out. This might include using different voices, facial expressions and gestures.
You speak in first person as often as possible.
You let the scenes play out from beginning to end, as if they were presented on a stage.

  1. Movie

You don’t describe what your characters feel or think, you act everything out. This might include using different voices, facial expressions and gestures.
You tend to speak in first person, but describe things in third person when it’s more convenient.
You present scenes in a way you find most engaging, as if you were making a movie.

  1. Novel

You combine acting as your characters and describing their thoughts and feelings so that everybody understands exactly what’s going on.

You mix speaking in first and third person, depending on the situation.

You present scenes in a way you find most engaging, as if you were writing a novel.

  1. Fiction-light

You rarely focus on presenting the fiction of the game, even if you use it to guide the game forward. The specifics of how you do it when you do it aren’t important.

  1. Immersion

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:2 (Newbies should be fine)

How much “out of the game” talk do you allow?

  1. None at all!

You discuss the plot only in character.

If you use game mechanics at all, it’s usually the GM’s job, and it happens in secret.

  1. Bare minimum

You discuss the plot only in character.

You use the game mechanics, but do it quickly.

  1. Little

You discuss the plot mostly in character, but can make exceptions.

You take the time you need to use the game mechanics.

  1. Fine balance

You discuss the plot either in character or out of it, whichever makes more sense.

You take the time you need to use the game mechanics.

  1. No restrictions

You discuss the plot either in character or out of it, however you like.

You spend as much time as you want using the game mechanics.

  1. No immersion

You rarely talk in character. You discuss most of the game out of character.

The game is probably focused mostly on using the game mechanics. 

  1. Meta-gaming

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:3 (Useful)

Difficulty:4 (For veterans)

Can you use the knowledge from outside of the fiction of the game?

  1. All meta-gaming is bad!

Players should not act based on knowledge their characters don’t have, even if that’s something they themselves know. This includes enemies’ stats, game mechanics and information about other characters.
You might not be allowed to communicate with other players outside of your characters.

  1. Some meta-gaming makes it more fun

Players can use their knowledge of the game and it’s world, even if their character might not know all of that information – like knowing what’s the weakness of a certain enemy type despite the character never fighting that enemy before.
You might also be able to cooperate with other players outside of the game – either by coordinating your combat tactics, planning complex actions on the fly or talking about how to make the story more interesting.

  1. No limits, we’re here to solve this thing

Players can use all of their knowledge to overcome challenges during the game. This includes planning outside of the game, using game mechanics to their fullest extent or acting on obscure knowledge about the game world.

  1. Realism

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:2 (Helpful)

Difficulty:2 (Newbies should be fine)

How realistic and logical do you want the game to be?

  1. Full realism

Fiction should abide by the laws of nature, faithfully represent the historical period or be otherwise realistic and authentic. This includes respecting any rules for magic or supernatural that might exist in your game.
If someone points out an inconsistency, you should do your best to address it.
People with expert knowledge are expected to help and propose suitable changes to make the world more realistic.

“A world based on the 12th century should not have the technology to create full plate armor.”

  1. Realistic enough

In general, you want the game to be realistic and authentic, but it is not the focus and you don’t want to slow down the game or change the story to make that the case.
When someone notices an inconsistency, unless it’s very important, they should ignore it.
People with expert knowledge can help to make the world more realistic, but they should also avoid pointing out everything that doesn’t meet their standards.

“That’s not how an untrained horse would behave in a battle like this, but I’ll let it slide.”

  1. Make believe

Laws of nature can be ignored in your game world if it would make it more fun or more interesting.
Inconsistencies in realism should not be pointed out. Although you might still address things that simply make no sense, as that can make your story lose all stakes.
Expert knowledge doesn’t matter that much, unless when coming up with something fun.

“She enters the battle with a heavy machine gun in each hand, and holding a sword with her teeth.”

  1. Mood building

Group discussion choose multiple

Importance:2 (Helpful)

Difficulty:1 (Newbie-friendly)

What do you find helpful for building the mood of the game?

  1. Music

Playing appropriate music in the background – either fitting the mood in general, or tailored to specific scenes.

  1. Ambient sounds

Having ambient sounds appropriate for the scene played in the background.

  1. Light

Playing in darkness, either complete or partial; using candles, etc.

  1. Props

Having props, which might include things given out to the players by the GM.

  1. Costumes

Dressing appropriately for the game world, either as your character or in general.

  1. Food and drink

Having food and drink at the table that fit the game world.

  1. Nothing

You find building the mood of the game to be too cheesy and distracting for your taste.

  1. Amount of detail

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:2 (Helpful)

Difficulty:3 (Newbies might be lost)

How important is the environment?
How much detail do you want to know?

  1. Everything is known

It’s important where everything and everyone is.
In many cases you might be using a map, possibly with a combat grid on it, as well as miniatures and tokens – so that everyone knows exactly what’s going on.

  1. Broad strokes, fill in the details as needed

The general description of the environment should be given, but too much detail will slow things down. You can ask GM for the specifics when they are needed.

  1. Creating as we go

You’ll decide on the details during the scene, as things come up, being able to come up with elements of the environment as you need them. The power to do that might be governed by the rules, or by consensus at the table.

  1. Controversial topics

Group discussion, answer each question

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:3 (Newbies might be lost)

What about controversial topics?

  1. Lines

Are there themes and topics you don’t want in your game at all?

  1. Veils

Are there things that might be in your game, but that you don’t want to describe in detail? (They will either take place “off-screen” or be described only briefly.)

  1. Difficult topics you want to explore

Any controversial topics that you specifically want to feature in the story?

  1. Tools for communication

How do you communicate when someone is uncomfortable during the game?
Do they talk to the group, or to the GM?
Can they stop the game, or should they wait until after it ends?

Do you use tools like X Cards or safe words?

EXPECTATIONS

DURING THE GAME

Avoiding disappointment and frustration.

  1. Conflict between characters

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:5 (Very Important)

Difficulty:2 (Newbies should be fine)

Can there be conflict between player characters?

  1. No conflict

The characters are expected to work together.
Conflicts may be for show, but nothing else. Lines should not be crossed.
Common goals, if any, should never be affected by personal agendas.

  1. Not for too long

The characters are expected to work together.
Conflicts might take place, but the characters are expected to reconcile, and soon.
Common goals, if any, shouldn’t be affected in any major way.

  1. Might not come together

The characters are expected to work together… initially.
However, major conflicts might erupt and never see reconciliation.

  1. Teamwork is optional

Player characters are pursuing their own agendas.
They might work together, they might work against each other.

  1. Player vs player

Players may, or should, actively work against each other.
Alliances are temporary at best.

  1. Treason

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:3 (Useful)

Difficulty:2 (Newbies should be fine)

Can players betray the party and side with the enemy?
Or backstab other party members for selfish reasons?

  1. No traitors

No, that’s being a jerk.

  1. Players can betray

Yes, that can be a powerful dramatic moment.
The character might become unplayable though.

  1. Players can betray, but it has to be planned

All betrayals have to be agreed on with the GM, and can or cannot happen depending on his or her decisions – based, for example, on whether it fits the story.

  1. Optimal decisions

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:3 (Useful)

Difficulty:3 (Newbies might be lost)

Can players be expected to do what’s best for the survival of their own characters?

  1. Yes

Everyone is expected to do that to the best of their abilities – for themselves and for other party members.

  1. Usually

Staying true to the character might mean you won’t always do what’s best for your survival, or help another player in need.

  1. Doesn’t matter

Other factors, such as what characters want or what will be the most dramatic (or fun), will direct their actions. Survival isn’t the focus of the game.

  1. Splitting the party

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:3 (Newbies might be lost)

Can the party be split?

  1. Yes

If it makes sense in the game, the party can be split.

  1. No

Players should avoid situations when the party needs to be split, as it slows down the game.

  1. There’s no party

There is no “party”. The game might follow individual stories of the characters, and they are not expected to act as a group at any point.

  1. Sharing knowledge

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:3 (Useful)

Difficulty:3 (Newbies might be lost)

Can players have secrets from other players?
Can they pass secret notes to others?

  1. Everyone knows

It is assumed that the characters share knowledge between each other and work together, and thus no “secret” communication is allowed.

  1. Characters only

Players know everything, but player characters may keep secrets from each other.

  1. Non-distracting secrets allowed

Any secrets have to be talked about with the GM between game sessions and shouldn’t influence the game in a visible way, except when they are finally revealed.

  1. Can plot behind other’s back

Players can have secrets from other players and talk to the GM or other players on the side, or using notes.

  1. Death

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:5 (Very Important)

Difficulty:2 (Newbies should be fine)

Can player characters die?

  1. Dangerous world

Yes. If the game rules say the character is dead, he or she is dead.

  1. Not as deadly

Yes, but we can bend the rules a little and prevent death if it doesn’t feel right.

  1. Only if it’s cool enough

Yes, but only if it fits the narrative and/or the player agrees.

  1. No death

No, in general we always assume the characters get wounded or captured at worst.

EXPECTATIONS

OUTSIDE OF THE GAME

Avoiding those game-stopping arguments
that can ruin your sessions, campaigns and friendships.

  1. Disagreements

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:5 (Very Important)

Difficulty:2 (Newbies should be fine)

When in disagreement, who has the final say?

  1. All have to agree

The group talks it over until everyone agrees.

  1. Vote

When opinions differ you’ll go with what the majority wants.

  1. Discuss, but let the GM decide

The group talks it over, but the GM has the final say.

  1. GM is the judge

The GM is expected to decide, moving the game forward. The issue can be discussed after the game is over.

  1. Other

You have some other way to determine who has the authority – perhaps the game you’re playing has specific rules on that.

  1. Obeying the rules

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:2 (Newbies should be fine)

How faithful do you want to be to the rules of the game?

  1. It’s f*cking RAW

Rules as written. Follow all the rules, whatever the results will be. You either trust the rules or you just want to see how the game turns out – with no exceptions.

  1. Spirit of the law

Follow the rules. If, however, at some point you feel like a rule fails to achieve the purpose for which it was put into the rulebook, you may ignore it or change it.

  1. Can make exceptions

If a rule does not seem to work for you or it stands in the way of the story, you can ignore it.

  1. Use them as you see fit

You use the rules as a suggestion rather than law. Other factors, such as realism, genre or story can determine what should happen instead of them.

  1. Knowing the rules

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:3 (Useful)

Difficulty:1 (Newbie-friendly)

In order for the game to go smoothly, it would be best if everyone would…

  1. Know and understand the rules very well

The rules, which might include the way the game is supposed to be played, are very important and should be well known by everyone.

  1. Know the rules

The rules are important and not knowing them will slow down the game. However, detailed understanding isn’t necessary.

  1. Know the basics

…everyone at least should know the basics of the rules.

  1. One person is enough

The rules are simple enough that they can be quickly explained or people can pick them up as they play.

  1. Knowing the setting

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:3 (Useful)

Difficulty:1 (Newbie-friendly)

As for the setting of the game, everyone at the table should…

  1. Know it very well

The setting is important, and might influence the way the characters should be played. Therefore, everyone should be fluent in it.

  1. Know

The setting is important and players should know what’s going on in the game world.
Everyone should know the setting very well.

  1. At least the genre

Everyone should at least know the genre the game pulls from.

  1. Foreknowledge is not important

Either the setting isn’t that crucial or it can be entirely explored during the game.

  1. Making games happen

Group discussion, answer each question

Importance:5 (Very important)

Difficulty:1 (Newbie-friendly)

How do you get together for a game?

  1. Finding time

How often do you want to play?
Do you play regularly, on the same day, or do you play when everybody has the time?

  1. Gathering the players

If someone can’t make it, do you still play?
How many players can be absent so that the game will still take place?
Are some players exceptions due to a busy schedule, to be treated more like occasional guests?

  1. New players

What’s the maximum number of players your game can have?

Can you bring new people in during the game?

  1. Absent players

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:1 (Newbie-friendly)

What happens to the character if the player is absent during a game session?

  1. Someone else runs the character

Either the GM runs it as an NPC or another player takes it over.

  1. The character fades into background

The character is still with the party, but it is ignored during most scenes, probably also during encounters.

  1. The character is away

You come up for an in-game reason for the character to be absent.

  1. We don’t play without everyone

Simple as that, you either don’t play or play something else.

  1. Absent players: rewards

Group discussion, choose one

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:2 (Newbies should be fine)

Do absent players catch up on rewards, including experience points?

  1. Yes

The player gets full rewards anyway. You want to avoid disbalancing the party and “punishing” players for missing the game.

  1. Partially

The player gets some rewards, but not all of them. Perhaps it’s all of the experience points, but no wealth. Perhaps it’s half of the normal reward.

  1. No

The player doesn’t get rewards for a game he or she wasn’t part of.


  1. Social rules

Group discussion, answer each question

Importance:2 (Useful)

Difficulty:1 (Newbie-friendly)

Apart from the obvious ones like not being late and behaving yourselves, do you have any other rules?

  1. Alcohol

Do you drink during the game?

  1. Breaks

Do you make breaks as needed, or perhaps at certain set parts of the session?

  1. Bringing stuff

Are players expected to bring something every game session?
Dice? Miniatures? Food?

  1. Feedback

Group discussion, answer each question

Importance:4 (Important)

Difficulty:4 (For veterans)

Do you give feedback after each game? If so – how?

  1. How?

Do you give feedback together, or individually?

Is everybody expected to say something, or just the people who want to?

Do you do it regularly, or from time to time?

  1. When?

Right after the game, when everything is still fresh in your mind?

Some time after the game, after you had a chance to think it over?

The next day or later, once you’ve slept on it?

Do you give feedback during the game, for instance during the breaks?

  1. Personal experience

Is there a maximum time for each person to speak, or does everybody take as much time as they want? Is there a minimum?
Does the GM share his or her experience as well?

Do you prefer to focus on the good, or do you share everything, including the bad?

  1. Suggestions and advice

Do you give suggestions and advice to each other?
Do you give advice to the players? To the GM?

Is there a limit of advice one can give after a session?

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