Are we all on the same page about this game?


The first thing you have to know about this post is this: If you feel you don’t understand what I’m talking about or if you feel that this is way too much bullshit that has nothing to do with games…. STOP READING RIGHT NOW!

Because you’re right.
It really has nothing to do with sitting down and playing.

Except… It does. But…
Oh, it’s complicated.

If you don’t understand or don’t want to care, then that’s actually for the best. For the rest of you, read on.

This is my filling out the “Same Page Tool” by some blogger dude on the internet. I don’t care who he is and don’t care to link to it because of his stupid “I won’t let anyone even translate my post into other languages because I’m an asshole” thing in his comments.

Anyway… The original post is good, which is why people want to repost it.

Here’s my version for this game. The answers here are simply what I expect going into the first session. THIS CAN CHANGE DEPENDING ON PLAYERS’ INVOLVEMENT.
The bolded answers are my answers. I’m leaving all the others in to show that there are other ways of playing. We could even morph our play into these ways depending on how the group feels about things later on.

Do you play to win?

a) Yes, you totally play to win! The win conditions are…
b) Good play isn’t a win/lose kind of thing

Player characters are:

a) expected to work together; conflicts between them are mostly for show
b) expected to work together; but major conflicts might erupt but you’ll patch them up given some time
c) expected to work together; major conflicts might erupt and never see reconciliation
d) pursuing their own agendas – they might work together, they might work against each other
e) expected to work against each other, alliances are temporary at best

The GM’s role is:

a) The GM preps a set of events – linear or branching; players run their characters through these events. The GM gives hints to provide direction.
b) The GM preps a map with NPCs and/or monsters. The players have their characters travel anywhere they can reach on the map, according to their own goals.
c) The GM has no plan – the GM simply plays the NPCs and has them act or react based on their motivations

d) There’s no GM. Everyone works together to make the story through freeform.
e) There’s no GM. The rules and the system coordinate it all.

Ok, so I’ll interject here.  The above question is vague and the answer is vague as well.  At times, I will provide very linear adventures to fit into the self-constrained timeline of the game.  At others, there will be a general are for you to explore.  At others, there will be no constraints and you can just fuck around as you want to.  So, there will never be a time where there will not be a DM.  I’ll always be there. But the other things are pretty fluid, depending on how the story plays out.

The players’ roles are…

a) …to follow the GM’s lead to fit the story
b) …to set goals for their characters, and pursue them proactively
c) …to fling their characters into tough situations and make hard, sometimes, unwise choices

Again, you will never be railroaded.  so following my lead… I mean, yeah, there will be times when the obvious story is over here, but I’ll never say that you MUST GO OVER HERE.  Hopefully, the goals of your characters will be integrated into the story -that’s on me- and the decisions I throw at you will be tough, possibly leading to unwise things to progress the story… Because that’s what good stories are made of!

Doing the smartest thing for your character’s survival…

a) …is what a good player does.
b) …sometimes isn’t as important as other choices
c) …isn’t even a concern or focus for this game.

The GM’s role to the rules is…

a) …follow them, come what may. (including following house rules)
b) …ignore them when they conflict with what would be good for the story
c) …ignore them when they conflict with what “should” happen, based either on realism, the setting, or the genre

Honestly, I see B and C to be basically the same thing…

After many sessions of play, during one session, a player decides to have her character side with an enemy. This is…

a) …something that shouldn’t even happen. This is someone being a jerk.
b) …where the character becomes an NPC, right away or fairly soon.
c) …something the player and the GM should have set up ahead of time.
d) …only going to last until the other player characters find out and do something about it.
e) …a meaningful moment, powerful and an example of excellent play.

Holy shit… this one is super tough. They all apply in various situations.  I mean.. I guess I would hope that everyone works together, but if someone wants to be “that guy” and it makes for a really good story , then , yeah… go for it.   This is a thing that would occur through organic play and shouldn’t happen that often.   I think that’s the key.  If it happens once every blue moon, then yeah, it’s great character dynamics… If this shit is going on every other Tuesday, then you’r just being an asshole.

A fistfight breaks out in a bar! The details of where everything is – tables, chairs, where everyone is standing is something that…

a) …is important and will be displayed on a map or grid, perhaps using miniature figures.
b) …is something the GM will describe and you should ask questions to get more information.

c) …you can decide on the spot using specific game rules (rolling dice, spending points, whatever)
d) …isn’t really that important other than it makes for an interesting scene- pretty much anyone can come up with details.

I will use a combination of “theatre of the mind” and actual maps and miniatures to portray combat and other meaningful tactical and strategic locations.  I love the speed and convenience of theater of the mind but I also love maps and minis! So we will use  both extensively.

In order to really have fun with this game, the rulebook is something that…

a) …everyone playing needs to have read and understood before play, because the rules and setting are both very important.
b) …everyone should know the rules very well.
c) …everyone should know the setting very well.
d) …everyone at least should know the basics of the rules.
e) …everyone at least should know the genre the game pulls from
f) …Only one person needs to really know the rules and it can be explained in 10 minutes or less to everyone else.

You should at least know what the hell your character is capable of, but the specifics are not needed.  I want everyone to be able to describe their character’s actions based on the setting and fictional world.  But a basic tenet of the world is one of mystery and exploration.  Basically, if you describe your character’s actions like you would describe a scene in an action film, knowing the basics of the genre, we can work out the rules as we go along.

SPECIAL
Instead of “choose one” think of this as a checklist – pick which options apply, leave the ones that don’t.

This game runs best when the players take time to create characters that are…

a) …built to face challenges using the mechanics and stats.
b) …written with extensive backstories or histories
c) …given strong motivations and an immediate problem or crisis
d) …tied into the other characters as (allies) (enemies) 

e) …written with some knowledge, research or reading up on the game setting, real history or an actual culture

I don’t want “min/max”ers.   If you want to write enormous backstories, that is fucking great and I WILL incorporate those stories into the game, but if you die… Well…     As for knowledge of the the setting, we’re making this shit up as we go along, so you shouldn’t have that much knowledge at first.  Maybe as we progress through the game, and the history of the world builds, you can start to make those characters.0

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