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47

A DM should not think of himself as having the right of Rule 0, which is why he controls the game. A DM should instead think of himself as having the responsibility of controling the game, and therefore being given the tool of Rule 0 in order to do so. Because ultimately, that is what Rule 0 is: a tool given to the DM to keep the game fun, engaging, and ...


44

First, the generic advice: Plan for it. [You do this.] Set aside the first 30-60 minutes for chat. Hold your players' interest with an exciting game. [You are doing this.] If they're chatting, frankly, then they'd rather be chatting than playing. Make them more interested in playing than chatting by making your game more interesting. Is there a lot of ...


40

It mostly comes down to communication. Both for practical matters (to allow for planning around your absence), and for social ones (letting the other people in the group know you aren't a flake). Tell the GM ahead of time that you will likely be unreliable, and why. Details aren't necessary, but a cursory explanation is polite. When a specific instance of ...


40

I've run a variety of tones of campaigns over time and some could be considered "evil"; in fact currently I'm running a three-year long Pathfinder campaign where the PCs are pirates - not all of them are technically evilly aligned, but murder, torture, rape, slavery, etc. have all come up in the game. Here's how you make it work. Decide on Limits, Within ...


38

Ask more generally about their comfort boundaries Tell the party that you have some ideas you think might be crossing the line, and ask them where they'd like the line to be drawn. In that context you might even give examples and include something similar to your idea as just one of several. Throw in a scaled-down version as a test Use the general concept ...


29

One of my all-time favorite solutions for this was a DM who would have NPCs react to OOC conversation as if it had been directed to them. Generally at very inopportune times. Or the party would miss an opportunity because game time would continue to pass while the chatter went on. He impressed upon us the concept that the OOC chatter had a cost, and we ...


29

Yes and no. The limit to Rule 0 is defined entirely by agreement of the people playing the game. If such a limit existed, it would be created by a philosophical limit on the ability for human beings to cooperate to achieve consensus, which would lie somewhere far outside the scope of the roleplaying game they're playing. So in theoretical terms, there is no ...


26

As noted, this is a player decision rather than a GM one. However, here is the system that one of my groups used to good effect in the past: Loot is pooled until the end of the night or adventure (although particularly powerful upgrades may be lent out on a temporary basis). Calculate the total sell value of the pool of items (that is, how much the players ...


26

This is an extremely tricky and delicate situation. As a DM, I generally do not allow social skills (Diplomacy, Intimidate, etc) to be used on other PCs, and while I've never had the issue come up, I don't think I would allow mind-control magic to be used either. The reason? People play RPGs to participate in a group story with a character under their own ...


25

Well the thing is it's not a gaming specific term; there's plenty of definitions outside Ron's Big Model specific one. Social Contract Definition The term "Social Contract" (or "social compact") got its start from Rousseau and those types who defined it as "An agreement among the members of an organized society or between the governed and the government ...


23

Like most table issues, this is a complicated knot of "maybes" and "that depends." Let's see if we can break it down. We have far less loot for our level than the book says. The book is like the pirates' code... More of a guideline, really. While the rules are play-tested "as-is," DMs traditionally are allowed to exert a great deal of influence over ...


22

Definitions We all have our limits and boundaries. Lines and veils are different ways to handle those boundaries in play. A line is, well, a line — a hard limit, something we do not want to cross. Lines represent places we don't want to go in roleplaying. "There is no torture in the events in our game. We don't do it, NPCs don't do it to us or ...


21

The player problem that rules changes seem to handle really well is boredom. If combat drags on and on, or if you have two players who are really interested in setting up elaborate tactics on the battemap and one who just wants to roll the dice and move on, then changing the rules to better suit the group as a whole can help. Another thing rules can have a ...


21

The answer to your question is "yes." This is clearly a communication and expectations issue. Here are some things that will help your group: A DDI subscription if you don't already have one. This gives you a searchable rules database and should help put everyone on the same page. Also the online character builder can help get everyone a character sheet ...


20

Some questions to answer in your social contract: Can my character die without my consent? In D&D (and most action-based games) the default answer is 'yes'. Subquestions to ask: Will I get a hint that I'm in serious danger? (In 4e you usually won't need one... it'll be obvious that you're low on surges and survivability.) How likely is this? ...


19

Our very own Graham Walmsley has a book on this very subject: Play Unsafe. The core idea is to always build on others' contributions, never trying to block or frustrate the stuff that other players throw into the game. This creates a wonderful forward momentum where a lot happens fairly quickly, with high player investment and a large degree of the ...


18

One thing we did was lead off each session with dinner. Currently we meet at a local restaurant and we take about an hour before going to our host's house to play the game. This serves to get a lot of the OOC chat out of our system. Previously, we've gotten pizza or other food delivered. It was clearly understood that while we were eating, there wasn't ...


18

Here is something a little different to try. Give the 3 most vocal players each a task. The least vocal of the 3 should be the keeper of time. It is their job to know how much time has passed 'in game time'. i.e. "That combat and the short rest that followed took our party 40 minutes of character time". They should keep a written record of this. They ...


15

If I am not there, in general I do not want someone else playing my character. If there is no logical way for your character to not be there, our group normally just assumes the character is there giving general input that is not essential to the current events or is helping "off screen" in combat. This is not to say I don't mind my friends saying my ...


15

The question is a bit unclear and I’m not quite ready to delete my other answer since I’m not sure it’s inappropriate, but I think this would get lost in it and may be closer to what Zach wants, based on comments. Therefore, I am answering two questions here: How should I tell a player that he’s not playing a character the way he ...


15

A word of warning, more like an addition to BESW's excellent answer. A long time ago, in a horror game, I did run a rape scene which involved one of the player character. Unbeknownst to me, the player was a rape survivor. Boy, did I feel bad about that one! Thankfully, the player was fine, knew that I did not mean offence, and that it was a ...


15

Unlike Diplomacy, Intimidate and Bluff both have well-defined mechanical uses outside of open-ended persuasion. For instance, Bluff can be used as part of a Feint action in combat. If player-versus-player actions are allowed in game, then those uses of the skills are allowed by RAW. That is, in my opinion, why you do not see an explicit rule against the ...


14

I notice that you didn't tag this question with a D&D tag, so I'm going to add an answer that doesn't assume D&D party dynamics. If both players want their characters to get a particular piece of loot, awesome! They have their characters in a conflict, which is what makes stories interesting. Run with it. In this case, I would turn it over to the ...


14

Evil can be just as "Heroic" as good! Disclaimer: my experience is primarily drawn from RPG systems where alignment has no mechanical impact on the game or powers. Starting out with some movie reference material... Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." Characters are already ...


13

To add to some already great answers: Failure has to be "fun." If failure is not-fun, then players will do their best to avoid failure, and one's own failure is more not-fun than another player's. This avoidance leads to this "selfish" (self-preserving) behavior. Let me try to unpack "fun" in this context. All outcomes need to be interesting. The game ...


13

While I won't speak on whether doing so is a good idea or not... some items I would suggest including... in no particular order: Punctuality - What to do when a player is habitually late. Attendance - What to do when a player misses a number of sessions. Food - May wish to include a policy on eating while playing or at least establish group feelings on ...


13

Here's some advice I'd give, based on what unreliable players in my group do and don't do: Pick a support role, but not one that's necessary; avoid being the headliner. Let people know you're not going to make it to every meeting, and when the GM announces the times of a meeting or puts out a theorized potential meeting time, let them know whether or not ...


11

Hopefully, you've got one PC acting as group leader. Assuming he's trying to be fair, all loot should be evenly divided at the end of a story arc. Of course, if you've got this, you probably wouldn't need to ask the question. As GM, you can give gold to each player while looting an area. This may lead to PCs trying to loot areas first and keep everything ...


11

No. You should be playing these games with your friends or at the very least friendly strangers (at a con) or people who you'd want to share a beverage with. Mechanics cannot solve assholery. Mechanics can make assholery worse or easier. A game with piss-poor mechanics can turn an otherwise friendly table into a lame place to be.


11

Is character death "on the table" — that is, will characters be rendered unplayable through non-consensual IC action? For these purposes, deciding to stop playing a character through the device of character death is different. Likewise, there are some games where being "dead" doesn't mean you stop playing, and others where there are "fates worse than death" ...



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