Be prepared — probably the greatest mistake that a Dungeon Master or players can make prior to a gaming session is to fail to prepare for it properly. Proper preparation can be summed up in two words, study and organization. And yes, this takes some extra work during the course of a week in between games. Nothing spoils a game more quickly than a DM who hasn’t studied his material beforehand and players who don’t know the details of their own characters, or what the objective of their group is, or worse yet, even where their character is currently at. Players will be responsible for knowing their character sheets, character statistics, NPCs that they have interacted with, and what is going on around them in "their" world, and the current scenario.
HOSTING THE GAME:
The game is currently being held at the Dungeon Master’s residence, unless noted otherwise. Every Monday night, starting time for the game will be 5:30 p.m. sharp for those who can attend. Player’s are encouraged to show up earlier if they want too, and socialize for an hour or so, and the doors to the house open at 4:00 p.m. every evening. If you cannot not attend, or are running late, then a curtesy phone call should be made to contact the DM and let him know.
FOOD & DRINK:
Snacks and beverages are allowed; however, if player’s eating habits disrupt the atmosphere of the gaming environment then eating at the table will not be permitted in the future. So please, no plates of food at the gaming table. Food and drink (non-alcoholic) is something that all players should provide for themselves. It is rude to assume that other players and the host will always provide something for you. Food and drink can also become a serious distraction at the game. Only approved, sturdy, wide-bottomed, beverage containers will be set on the table (no bottles or cans please) during the course of game.
Usually, the Dungeon Master will set up the gaming area before the players arrive. So as a courtesy to the host, and his household roommates, please clean up the area before you leave our residence. Fold and put the chairs away, clean up beverage containers, throw away trash, and put empty cups in the sink. This would be greatly appreciated by the household.
THE OPENING CEREMONIES:
The Players Meeting: [5:00 p.m.] This gives the leader and the players a chance to discuss the previous game session, go over their notes, plan strategies, and decide on the group’s course of action. As well as, discussing various role-playing themes and personalities and how their character might react to such situations. Ultimately, this activity should take place at someplace other than the gaming table. Upstairs, in the living room would be a great place to get things started. This is also the time for the Dungeon Master to answer any questions that the players may have concerning the last adventure, rules clarifications, etc.
The leader will announce to the Dungeon Master, around 5:30 p.m., when the players are ready to begin their game session, and request that all non-essential conversation end. Then candles will be lit (if desired), lights dimmed, and music started, and the game will begin.
ESTABLISHED BREAK PERIODS:
There will be breaks given approximately every two hours during the gaming session, and each will last about ten minutes. This will be the time to chow down, get more beverages, bathroom trips and generally relax from the stress of disciplined role-playing. This break is designed for the group to refill drinks and possibly stretch their legs. Recently, everyone seems to just get up and leave the table at their leisure. This is very disruptive to the flow of the game.
Smoking—Fairness should be applied to smokers and non-smokers alike. Since we are playing in a non-smoking environment, it is requested that cigarette breaks only be taking at the pre-determined break periods in the game.
The leader of the group will call all the players back to the table, letting the DM know that they are ready to continue their adventures for the evening.
Anything that doesn’t enhance the playing experience of the game will ultimately detract from the atmosphere of the whole environment. Where possible, all outside distractions will be eliminated. Role-playing is considered a high concentration recreation, believe it or not. If a player can’t concentrate on the game because he is more interested in the distraction, the DM will suggest that he leave and let other players enjoy the game in progress.
Talking out of character is considered a major distraction to both other players and the DM. The talking, whispering, and general "game-speak" must be eliminated as much as possible to provide a truly fantastic journey into the art of role-playing. We must not fall prey to the mode of thinking that we never need to improve our skills, or that we cannot learn something new when it comes to the art of in-depth role-playing.
WHEN LOGIC FAILS:
For some situations, no interpretation of the rules seems to apply. Worse yet, problems are going to arise that have nothing to do with the game, but involve the people playing game. The Dungeon Master will rapidly find, as well as the players, that people who enjoy participating in role-playing games often have interesting personalities. And strong personalities seem to inevitably clash. So, along with running the game, the DM may find himself moderating situations between the personality conflicts of actual players too.
If a problem arises between two players that the DM cannot resolve, and the problem escalates into verbal arguing, or worse yet, physical violence. The DM will quickly usher all people involved away from the table, and depending on the severity of the problem request that the offending players leave the game permanently.
INTRA-PARTY TREACHERY AND BACKSTABBING:
Playing adventures in character often leads to situations where the motivations and personality of one character lead him into direct conflict with another. If so, the DM may find himself moderating an encounter that readily escalates into an all-out-war between the characters (and quite possibly the player’s too). Although team play is best for successful chronicles, the DM will not entirely discourage small squabbles between characters, as long as it is completely done in "dramatic personification" and seems to develop deeper characterization and emotional bonds between the characters involved. And as long as it is done with the intent to further develop the plot of the story or a character’s personality. However, when these little annoyances, pranks and sleights escalate to situations where bodily harm may occur to a character, the DM will have the right to step in and suggest that the instigating character’s behavior stop. If that doesn’t work, then he will use some element of the game to end the treachery! Say….a lightning bolt from the sky!
For this reason alone, the only alignments which are allowed within the campaign are lawful good, chaotic good, neutral good, and in some rare cases with DM approval, lawful neutral, and for druids only—neutral good within the Forgotten Realms. Do not even ask to play any evil alignment or the highly disruptive chaotic neutral character!
RUDENESS VS. DISCIPLINE:
Remember that sitting at this gaming table is a privilege, and it can be revoked at any time without warning. Grumpiness, grouchiness, bad manners, interrupting players during their turns, and basically portraying a character which constantly antagonized the group—the end result is that one player (or more) is acting in a way that insults or annoys his fellow companions and possibly the DM too. This type of behavior encompasses a lot, from the person who openly insults someone else (even a joke can hurt folks), to the fellow who presumes that food in front of the player next to him was provided for his benefit. Most people have enough tact to keep unpleasantness to themselves, but when they don’t, tension and bad feelings rapidly increase. When this becomes apparent, the DM will respond quickly and firmly.
Due to many character deaths and to player’s deciding to abandon one character for another. Each player will be required to have a pre-generated character as a back up. Character creation, especially when any type of background development is involved, takes time for both the player and the DM to flesh out. So, players will now be able to concentrate on deciding what their characters background, history, personality, etc., outside the game environment, thereby not bringing any further disruption to the overall gaming atmosphere in progress. It should make transitions between characters less difficult in the middle of a game.
Specifically, each person will be required to have a full character ready to go, before they will be allowed to once again participate during the game. The DM will be keeping a folder to store any pre-rolled character concepts that the players have. Player’s will not be allowed to bring in a non-sanctioned character, or even roll one up, without pre-approved sanctioning from the DM in charge. All characters must be rolled in the presence of the Dungeon Master and witnessed by his authority.
When a character permanently dies, a new character for the player will start out two levels lower than the current average party level of the group. If that makes the character equal in level to another group member, then they will start out three levels lower, etc. For each character that is brought into the group, due to a player relinquishing one character for another character concept, they will start out four levels lower than the current average party level of the group. If that makes the character equal in level to another group member, then they will start out five levels lower, etc.
BASIC TENETS OF FAITH AND TRUST:
Be kind to the Dungeon Master. The players must accept that the Dungeon Master’s word is the final authority in all matters concerning the game during a role-playing session. Don’t cheat, even if it means a character will die. Don’t play favoritism games. Accept a character’s misfortune or death calmly, and don’t belabor it. The DM is human (really, it’s true!) and will make mistakes. Players should know that if the DM makes a decision that seems unjust or unfair, that everyone has the right to ask for an explanation (even though most things can not be explained for the sake of the adventure). If a player believes that a judgement call in the game was unfair, he may ask the DM why he interpreted events the way they happened. If a player believes that a fatal mistake was made, he can ask the DM to change his decision in good grace without recriminations after the game is over. The DM will listen to contrary opinions, if they are brought to his attention in a calm manner during a player’s meeting before the game, or at the end of a gaming session. After listening to a player’s opinion, however, and the DM over turns a ruling decision, then all the players must accept that his word is the law in all things. Do not argue with the DM about mechanics, rules, or other game-speak-related issues during a game. It is the fastest way to find yourself eliminated from this gaming group!
Be sure to compliment the DM on a good game!
Be kind to Players: This Dungeon Master promises to adjudicate each game session fairly and unbiased toward each participating player. He assumes they are not cheating if they haven’t been caught at it. He will let the player’s make their own decisions, though he may give advice though in-game knowledge that the character possesses. He will not manipulate the player’s characters as if they were part of a novel or railroad them into choosing a predetermined path. He will never punish a player for being clever. If they avoid or foil the best trap in the dungeon, then he will reward them for it. He will not kill off characters of unpleasant players or punish them if they miss a play session, or have to leave early. This DM will always compliment players on clever actions and good role-playing. He always treats each player with respect whether they know the rules or not.
The only official book a player can have at the gaming table to reference is a Player’s Handbook D&D Next, and any other official books that the DM sanctions as appropriate to the development of the character’s personification or statistical information.
Lastly, all house rules and alterations to the Dungeons & Dragons Next Core Books will be made publicly known before they are put into use within the campaign setting and a gaming session. Any questions concerning the rules can be brought to the DM anytime outside of a game session.
A player is required to have a copy of a comprehensive, fully completed ‘record sheet’ about their character. It will include all physical, mental and social statistics, and all the modifiers associated with those abilities. It will also include weapons and feats and skills, and all modifiers related to your character in these areas. A player is required to know how each of his abilities, feats, etc., work in conjunction with the game world. The DM will not be required keep a duplicate copy of your character sheet on file, so if your dog eats the character sheet—the character is dead!
Every player should take the extra time to write, or randomly generate a character history. This will give added depth and flavor to your character, as well as give the DM an understanding into why you approach situations as you do.
This is not as important in the beginning, but as the story progresses this becomes increasingly more important. It is used to keep track of your characters financial obligations, as well as what your character can afford to buy. This is information is currently listed on your character sheet.
There should be, yet, not mandatory, several different sheets on your characters gear, reflecting a variety of modes of traveling (city attire, night stalking attire, daily dress are a few examples). Plus equipment and gear that is not currently on your character but rather left behind in your room should be noted as well.
A player is required have accurate accountings of how much his character is carrying in pounds. Especially in adventuring situations where various movement rates need to be calculated for a variety of activities and encounters. If a player needs help understanding how to do this properly, then they should ask the leader of the group or the Dungeon Master for assistance.
A player should be able to calculate his movement rates, which are based upon his character’s encumbrance values. These ratings should be figured out for combat, walk, haste, run, climb, swim, move silent, etc. It will make figuring things out during an adventure much easier. Players will be given the Grimoire of Encumbrance reference document to help assist them in this endeavor.
PICK UP & DROP SHEET:
Each player’s Equipment List (computer print out on gray paper) is essential to the DM. It helps players, and the DM alike, to keep track of things that are acquired throughout a game session, and also, it helps the DM to keep track of what each character acquired during a particular gaming session. A player only needs to write on the Pick-Up sheet (Equipment List), something that his character now possesses at the end of the game that he did not originally begin the game with. Conversely, a player only needs to write on his Drop sheet, any object that his character has lost, sold, or given away that he originally had in his possession at the beginning of the game. The items or things that a character gains in game, but then loses in the same game do not need to be recorded. Because the DM did not have a record of those items from the previous game.
A player should note what spells are memorized or prayed for on the back of the Pick Up & Drop sheet (Equipment List), and then mark off the ones cast during the adventure. A special note should be made of spells casts that require an XP cost to cast, so that the DM can modify any experience earned during the gaming session. Also, a spell-casting character needs to write these selected spells on his own character sheet as well.
These Pick-Up & Drop sheets are to be updated, with new encumbrance values for every item, and recalculated for movement rates, at the end of each game session. Then they are to be left on the gaming table, so the DM can look over them, each week. If a person needs a copy of their Equipment List during the week, they can request that a copy be emailed to them.
THE DREADED JOURNAL:
It is very important for all players to keep some form of notes on their characters exploits and progression. This can be the elaborate story-format from their character’s point of view style, or simply be an outlined formulation of events. One thing is for sure, that one must keep consistent notes on places, people met, and unusual events. A player never knows when idle conversation with a passing stranger could be a vital clue in their next adventure!
ELEMENTS OF MYSTERY:
A great DM will not disclose information more than once, and if a player does not remember something he can not rely up the ‘all-mighty character intelligence check’. That just promotes laziness, and is a lame way of not having to do any work. It is the DMs job to make things mysterious, unpredictable, and sometimes a general dose of misinformation will be applied to any given situation, and it is the player’s goal to try and unravel the enigma of all situations in the realms of Dungeons and Dragons, and the world around them.
Every player will need to spend some money to participate in this kind of recreational group. How much depends of the needs of each individual player. It will be highly recommended that any serious player buy the D&D Next Player’s Handbook and at least one set of polyhedron dice. If you do not possess any dice when you begin, some will be provided for you. The total expense to enjoy this format of entertainment and socializing will be a minimum of $0.00
The Bastard Dungeon Master