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The same page tool is a list of questions with answers which represent different approaches to playing role playing games. For more information, check the related question What's the purpose of the same page tool?.

The starting points of this question would be:

  • I have some players who probably would like to play together, but probably won't. I don't know it yet, and they don't really know each other.
  • I have GMed for some of them personally, but never for all of them at the same moment.
  • Some of them haven't played with me before, but are not totally new to RPGs.
  • I don't know exactly what might raise a conflict.
  • As a GM, I am ready to accept pretty much any set of answers to SPT questions, but want my group to be on the same page. As one of the answers in the "What's the purpose of the same page tool?" question states, it is mainly intended to be filled in by the GM to codify things. I am not that kind of GM.

So my idea was to use Same Page Tool as a survey, which is contrary to its description. I wanted to understand which of those players might be compatible and which are totally incompatible with each other.

If they are just slightly disagreed, I may ask some of them not to do some things they expect -- most probably, for example, ask one player who wants to have an intra-party conflict to avoid them, or to tell someone who I know is a rules lawyer that I am not going to rely on the rules at all -- they won't even get character sheets, and I don't use dice.

If some of them want totally different games, I would rather play with each of them separately, or make several groups.

So, why is using it as a survey bad?

I want to remind everyone to only answer from your experience. For example, "I have used Same Page Tool as a survey, and here are the problems it caused, which could otherwise be avoided...", "I have used it as a survey, and I didn't get any problems, because...", etc. Not "I didn't use it personally, but probably it may cause this and this and this".

"I have seen it used this way, but not by me" is OK.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you considered posting a question on bankuei's site and asking the creator of the tool this question? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 19 '17 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast No, I haven't. \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Jan 19 '17 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Might be worth trying as that's a primary source. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 19 '17 at 21:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, bankuei seems to address some of this in the back and forth he has with some visitors on that page in comments. Did you read the comments? Last comment I saw from b was an issue about translations in 2016, so I am pretty sure it's still an active site. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 19 '17 at 21:10
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SevenSidedDie's answer is underestimating the damage it can take to use the SPT as a survey. It is not just a waste of time, it is actually harmful.

If you let every player make up their mind on their own about what kind of game they want to play, they will fixate on their opinions. So when it turns out that you get very different results from all group members, you will have a far harder time coming to a consensus. Those people who didn't get their answer picked as the group consensus will feel like they lost the negotiation about what game to play. They will go into the game with a negative attitude or even refuse to take part in it at all.

But when you confront the group with these questions without anyone having a fully formed opinion yet, you can use the psychological phenomenon of groupthink to your advantage. When a small group of people is tasked with forming an opinion about something, group dynamics and peer pressure will prevent them from arguing and help to come to a conclusion with minimal conflict. Curiously, the participants will usually not feel like they were forced to agree to something they didn't want to. They will usually feel committed to the group's consensus as if they had formed that opinion on their own.

Don't get me wrong. There are situations were groupthink is dangerous, because the pressure to conform can often lead to irrational, unethical and all around poorly thought out decisions. But you are not going to make an important rational decision here. You just want to come to an agreement on what kind of game to pass your time with. And when you find it boring, you can just form a new group consensus. Any decision is fine, as long as everyone feels committed to it.


Using the SPT as a recruiting tool

The comments mentioned a different application for the SPT: Using it to screen potential players to get a group together. In other words, sending it to a large number of people and only invite a sub-group which give the same answers.

The problem with this is that the SPT has 9 questions with 2-6 possible answers, plus 6 multiple choice options at the end. In total there are 2 * 5 * 5 * 3 * 3 * 3 * 5 * 6 * 4 * 2 * 2 * 2 * 2 * 2 = 5,184,000 possible ways to fill it out. To be fair, there will likely be a lot of correlation between some of the questions. But still, unless you have a pool of several thousand potential players to choose from, you won't find a subgroup of people who all picked the same answers.

If you want to do a survey to screen players, you need to simplify it. Possible options are:

  • Use the SPT, but tell people to treat every question as multiple choice. Have them mark every option they would be willing to try out. That will make it far easier to find a bunch of compatible people. Those options which weren't picked by everyone are then off the table and you can discuss about the remaining ones.
  • Use the SPT, but have the players only answer each question with a tendency. Have them state if they rather lean towards the upper options, the lower options, or have no strong preference. Skip the "SPECIAL" section. In the worst case scenario there are still 512 possible combinations. Still dangerously many, but less than the five million we would have with the unmodified SPT.
  • Use a simpler player taxonomy system, like the GNS Theory, Bartle Test or the tongue-in-cheek Real Men, Real Roleplayers, Loonies and Munchkins.
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy Can you maybe explain more about how this group can have a group consensus before the group even forms? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 19 '17 at 22:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy I think perhaps you're misunderstanding both the SPT and this answer. For starters, “consensus” is not the word for what you're describing in the above comment and perhaps that's leading to misreading the answer; for finishers the SPT is explicitly designed to solve exactly the problem you raise as an objection — your concern is what it is for, including making sure that nobody's left out. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 19 '17 at 22:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy That is basically saying it's impossible for the SPT to function. If you're unclear on how the SPT is supposed to function at all, What's the purpose of the same page tool? covers that. If being concerned that the SPT simply cannot function as-designed is the motive behind wanting to use it as a survey, no answer to why it's a bad idea will likely seem satisfying. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 19 '17 at 22:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy I wasn't aware that you plan to use the SPT as a tool for recruitment of players instead of finding a consensus among an already established group. I added a paragraph to my answer to address that use-case. Spoiler: It's not a good idea either. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Jan 20 '17 at 8:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the "recruiting tool" section weakens the answer, to be honest. In particular, it's pretty hard to turn the "simpler taxonomies" into actually useful ones, and a lot of them have messy gray areas or weird value judgements attached. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex P Feb 15 '17 at 13:24
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The entire purpose of the Tool is to start a discussion, and only secondarily to record the results.

The paper and its exact options are far less important than the discussion prompted when using it as designed. It is designed and intended to make people realise that there are differences, and to talk about what they all like and want for the upcoming game — to literally “get on the same page”. This can include options that aren't even on the Tool already, but which the group's discussion uncovers is their collective preference.

Using it as a survey is possible, but it won't accomplish its purpose. It may even be a waste of time since the group will still need to have the normal Same Page Tool conversation afterward anyway, and it can actively prevent “getting on the same page” if people become very attached to their own personal choices when they thought it was a survey.

To use the Same Page Tool effectively as a GM who does not like dictating things, hand one copy to your group and have them, as a group, discuss and choose. Listen or participate in the conversation. Give them encouragement for whatever choices they — together — start leaning towards, so that they know you're OK with whatever they come up with.

If you really must use it as a survey, that's fine — but you're on your own to figure out what to do with the results. Speaking from experience, unless you're good at data analysis, it's quite hard to use survey results from a player group, because they very often don't match and how to handle conflicting answers in one campaign is not obvious. What happens when you survey your players individually is that you end up needing to have a group conversation after anyway… which is what the Same Page Tool is designed to facilitate, after all.

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