Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Campaign regs

This is a standard text I used to hand out to new players in my game. I'm posting it here as it seems pertinent, but it's not meant to be a specific message to any of my current players. However, if the time should come when for some reason there's an opening again, this will be posted, so those who are interested can see right up front how I run my campaign.

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As a DM, I expect a great deal of myself, and I expect a great deal of my players. The following is an outline of the standards of behavior I require from those who play in my gaming sessions:

1.Be a good roleplayer. My campaigns are three dimensional, and I will do my best to make the world and the NPCs that inhabit it seem real, vivid, and easily believable for my players. In return, I expect my players to make their characters real, vivid, and believable as well. The characters should have their own consistent personalities, quirks, motivations, and desires. The essence of three dimensional roleplaying is giving the character an identity rooted in the campaign background, that is different and distinct from the motivations and desires of his or her player. A three dimensional character is not just a pawn to be moved around at the whim of its player, it is an individual and a being in its own right. Try to get into the world and your character. I’ll do my best to make it easy for you, with the rules, how I describe the campaign setting, and how I roleplay the NPCs.

2.Be punctual and reliable. If you’re the kind of player I want, you’ll be bringing something special to the way you roleplay your characters, and the campaign will be worse off without you. Try hard to show up for every session, and be on time. Few things are ruder, or more annoying, than a player who consistently makes everyone else wait for them to show up. If you HAVE to miss a session, call me as soon as possible to let me know. Be warned, your character will be run as an NPC in your absence, so try not to miss too many sessions.

3.Respect the authority of the DM. Roleplaying campaigns, by their nature, require someone to make the Final Judgement Calls. I use what I call the One Appeal System. I’m not invested in always being right, and have no problem admitting it when I’m wrong. If you have a problem with something I’ve decided, tell me... just do it politely. I’ll always listen, and I’ll consider everything you say. Then I’ll make my final decision. I may change the previous decision, or I may not... but either way, at that point we move on. I’ve played in too many games where hours were wasted on acrimonious disputes. Either you trust a DM or you shouldn’t play in their campaign.

4.Respect your fellow players. I won’t tolerate out of character disputes or arguments between players, they’re a waste of time. In character disputes are a valid element of in depth roleplaying, but I do not like party brawls and will not hesitate to evict players who show too little regard for their fellow players. I hate bullies and poor sports and will not tolerate one in any gaming activity I arbitrate. The party members are your comrades, and they may well be the only people in the whole of the campaign world that you can trust. You don’t need to make your fellow player characters into enemies; I’ll supply plenty of NPC opponents for you. You also don’t need to go out of your way to irritate your fellow players. We’re all here to have fun. If we’re NOT having fun because of one particular player, I’ll chuck that player out of the game so fast his or her head will spin.

5.Expect the mundane. This last is a note for all the power gamers out there. I have nothing against high fantasy roleplaying campaigns filled with astounding enchantments, amazingly tough magical creatures, gods and demons and Mighty Swords of Chaos and enormously powerful player characters. A great many campaigns are set up like this, and in general, they have many more players than my sort of campaign seems to attract. But I don’t enjoy playing in campaigns like that, and I don’t enjoy them. What I’m interested in are ‘normal’ people/characters (human or nonhuman) who operate within basic human parameters, who have to strive against difficult odds, who live in a believable world and who deal with everyday, mundane issues. My campaigns are not about saving the entire dimension from hordes of Chaos Demons, they’re about exploring unknown lands, seeking lost treasures, rescuing kidnapped princesses, overthrowing a corrupt king (or trying to keep a worthy ruler from being overthrown) or simply trying to survive in a hostile environment. My campaigns are filled with politics and intrigue, where nothing is what it seems, everyone has an agenda, and the person who thinks they can just bull through by swinging a sword at everything is only going to end up confused, aggravated... and dead. So, if you’re a power gamer who lives to collect magic weapons, enchanted Artifacts, and the heads of all three hundred different kinds of demons, you won’t enjoy my campaign and you’d most likely be better off finding another one more suited to your tastes... which shouldn’t be hard.

6. Be good. It’s a personal prejudice of mine, but I simply don’t like either amoral or out and out evil player characters. It’s easy to have no sense of morals at all (what D&D calls Neutral characters); and good roleplaying shouldn’t be easy. Your character should have to make difficult decisions and do hard things; heroes don’t have an easy lot. The amoral character will always take the easiest path (or the one that his/her player finds most gratifying at that particular moment in time) and I find that sort of roleplaying extremely disappointing and boring. You don’t have to be a goodie goodie all the time, but try to play your character with some sort of consistent beliefs or personal code that he or she is willing to live by. If your character doesn’t have any personality traits that I can respect or admire, I’ll get tired of them awfully quickly. As for out and out evil characters, I find it to be a waste of my time and degrading. If you want to run slavers, rapists, and/or psychotic killers, find another campaign. Try it in mine and a phalanx of Serra Angels will drop on you like a rain of sword weilding meteors.

If any of the above seems unacceptable to you, in any way out of line, wrongheaded, unfairly restrictive, or just plain stupid, then it’s most likely that you wouldn’t enjoy playing in a gaming activity arbitrated by me, and it will save us both a lot of trouble if you simply don’t start playing. If someone does start playing who cannot behave in a manner consistent with the standards I’ve outlined above, I won’t hesitate to evict him or her from my gaming sessions... but nobody enjoys that. So if you don’t think you’ll like playing in the sort of session outlined above, it's best if we simply don't waste each other's time.

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