Return of the Nameless
Basic Social Contract
- What game are we playing?
Dungeons & Dragons
- What version of the rules?
5th Edition, current release (2016)
- What house rules?
None currently, though as GM I have plans to integrate some optional rules from other systems, and I have made some small changes to the setting canon. Also, see notes regarding character death below.
- Can house rules be introduced later? By what process?
Yes. By either player or GM suggestion—the GM can veto suggestions and house rules can be vetoed by majority vote.
- What is the game schedule? Weekly? Every other week? Monthly? Irregular?
We’re scheduling our sessions for every other Saturday. Our first session is actually on a Friday (the 29th), but we’ll be switching to Saturdays (Feb. 13th) after that and plan to keep that schedule going forward. See the calendar here.
- What are the exceptions to the schedule?
Players can suggest changing the schedule as needed, with the approval of the group as a whole. This can be done by e-mail or text message, or face-to-face (perhaps at the end of a regularly scheduled session). Players should make every effort to be considerate of others when requesting schedule changes.
- What is considered “quorum” for a game? (Under what circumstances will you cancel a game?)
If more than three players won’t be able to attend a session (50% of our initial group), then we will probably cancel that session (we may play a side quest, one-shot, or other type of game if there is player interest). In other circumstances, we’ll decide on a case-by-case basis if we want to cancel a session, always keeping in mind the wishes of the missing player. Players will never be penalized for missing a session, and the GM will make every effort to provide players with opportunities to ‘make-up’ missed experience points or other in-game rewards.
- What is the process for formally cancelling a game?
The player or players (or GM) that are requesting a cancellation will inform the other players via text or e-mail, preferably with a few days’ notice.
- How should players notify people if they cannot play? if they _can_ play?
If a player can’t make it, a text message notification is probably the best way to communicate this. Players can use the calendar on our Obsidian Portal webpage to note when they will and won’t be able to attend a scheduled session.
- What is the process for formally inserting an additional game outside of the normal schedule?
Given that we are all busy adults with complicated lives, it’s unlikely that this type of situation will crop up. If so, we would probably discuss the possibility in person as a group (probably at the end of one of our regularly scheduled sessions), and reach a consensus at that point.
- How long do we play (per session)? Will that change often (extended games), or do we need to stop at a certain time?
I plan to run roughly four-hour games, with fifteen minutes before and after for getting comfortable and socializing, and a fifteen minute break in the middle for eating, snacking, etc. If we go under or over this time frame by a small amount, that should be acceptable, but I’ll aim in general to keep things within these parameters.
- How long of commitment are you expecting? One game? Three games? A year? Forever?
We currently plan to schedule thirteen sessions, and will meet to review at the end of this period to decide how we would like to proceed from there. As a storyteller, I plan to structure each game session as a self-contained ‘episode’, like a television series, with the thirteen total sessions comprising a ‘season’, during which we should resolve all of the story’s main plot points.
- Is it cool to miss games? How often?
We all understand that life is complex and full of surprises, and therefore it is completely acceptable to miss a session from time to time. Players will never be penalized for missing a session. Our expectation is that we as a group will make an effort to help players who have missed a game get back into the story and into their characters. If there are players who will be missing several sessions, or who will only be able to join us occasionally, we will do our best to accommodate them as reoccurring ‘guest stars’. I as GM will work with these players to make sure they can join the fun with a minimum of fuss or disruption.
- Where is the game hosted?
We plan to alternate our sessions between John & Jen’s apartment in Broomfield and Chris & Kevin’s apartment in Denver. Our first session (the 29th) will be in Broomfield.
- Are hosting duties shared?
Hosting duties will also alternate, based on the week’s location, but it is expected that the group as a whole will work together and communicate to make hosting as light of a responsibility as possible.
- What is the address of the place where we play? Got directions?
John & Jen’s:
11847 Ridge Pkwy
Broomfield, CO 80021
Google Map (Address is different, but it matches where the actual apartment is within the complex)
- Where do we park?
At the Broomfield location, lot parking is available in front of the apartment building. At the Denver location, street parking is required (but should be easy to find along the block).
- What are the special rules of the house? (take off your shoes, don’t let the cat out, etc.)
At Broomfield, take off your shoes at the door. And be careful around Soba the cat (she can be a little aggressive). Special rules may be updated going forward as we communicate with one another more.
- What should people bring? (food, dice, books, miniatures, etc.)
Players are not required to bring anything, but it is a good idea for each player to have their own dice, character sheet, and rules references as needed. The GM will provide miniatures and maps, although players can certainly bring their own miniatures if they wish.
- Will we eat during the game? Who brings the food? How is paying for delivery food handled?
Eating during the game is acceptable, and we will aim to have a break in the middle of each session so that players can prepare/obtain/handle food. We’ll discuss meals on a week-by-week basis, hopefully coming to a consensus that suits every one. Ideally, we’ll take a few minutes at the end of each session to discuss the next session’s meal preparations. Bringing and sharing snacks or drinks is welcomed, but not expected. Vegan snacks, when possible, are appreciated.
- Who is invited to play?
We currently have six players, with a seventh player that may join us on occasion as a ‘guest star’.
- Who is excluded from play?
We don’t have any plans to exclude anyone, and I don’t anticipate that becoming an issue. My intent is for our sessions to be open and welcoming to all of our players.
- What is the process for inviting new members?
At the moment, I would prefer not to invite any additional players, as a group of 6-7 is at the upper limit of what I am able to handle as a GM.
- What is the process for bringing a friend or significant other to a game?
It would be best to ask permission of the host first, and then check in with the rest of the group to confirm that they will be comfortable with the addition. I expect that we will usually be fine with any guests, but keep in mind that just watching a role-playing game (not participating) can be fairly boring, so be sure your guest will have something to keep them occupied if needed.
- Are children or spectators or pets permitted as tag-alongs?
See above. If a guest, pet, spectator, child, or robot assistant is creating a distraction, we will discuss the issue as a group and aim to come up with a solution that works for everybody.
- What is the process for correcting poor player behavior?
Based on my experience with the players involved, I believe poor behavior is unlikely to be a problem. I have the expectation that players will treat one another with politeness and respect, and that we will be understanding when there are occasional miscommunications or unintentional offenses. That said, however, I won’t tolerate any player that intentionally makes another player feel unsafe or uncomfortable. At that point, I will take responsibility for pulling the offending player aside and asking them to leave the game.
- What is the process for expelling someone you don’t like?
I believe this is unlikely to occur, given the players involved. But see the above answer for relevant/related thoughts.
- What is the point of play for this group?
Enjoyment and relaxation, social interaction, storytelling.
- What is the general mood of play? (fun, serious, dark, etc.)
Fun, with occasional moments of seriousness as the story requires. The mood will likely adjust as players grow more accustomed to the game and each other.
- What is the general theme of play? are there any special tropes?
The overall theme is heroic fantasy. Players can expect good versus evil, a complex villain, and some weird mystery elements.
- Is it okay for players (including the GM) to be competitive with each other? (up to killing each other’s characters?)
It is acceptable for characters within the story to be competitive with one another, but it is assumed that players will be co-operative and open to one another’s styles of play.
- Are there any limits about game content (“lines and veils”)?
We won’t be addressing or including any ‘mature’ themes in this campaign (i.e. rape, abuse, sexual content, etc). Those elements don’t have any place in our story. While the game will include a significant amount of violent conflict, I plan to describe such elements in an “action movie/exaggerated” style rather than a “horror movie/gory” style. As a storyteller, I consider it my responsibility to avoid content that would make players uncomfortable. I will always accept player feedback in regard to themes or content they would prefer to exclude.
- How do players create characters?
Our characters will start at 2nd level, and will use all the usual D&D 5th edition rules for character creation. Players should use the ‘Standard Array’ option to determine their character’s statistics. Characters will begin play with standard wealth and equipment for a 1st level character. I would ask each player to pay special attention to their character’s bonds, traits, ideals, and flaws.
- How do players advance characters?
As per standard 5th edition rules, except that each character receives maximum hit points at each level.
- What level of playing “in role” is expected of all players? What is too little? Too much?
This will vary from player to player as everyone finds their own style and adjusts to the style of others. For the moment, however, I’ll say that there isn’t any such thing as ‘too much’ or ‘too little’ when it comes to role-playing. We may find ourselves reviewing this as the campaign continues.
- What is the expectation around character death? Under what circumstances can it happen or not happen?
I’m of the philosophy that character death should be appropriate to the story, and only occur at moments where it would be dramatically sensible. Therefore, in most encounters character death will not be an option. Characters reduced to zero hit points are knocked unconscious instead (and may suffer other effects, such as permanent scars, depending on the events of the story).
Occasionally, there will be more dramatic encounters, with life-and-death stakes. As the GM, I will clearly let all players know when such an encounter arises. Furthermore, I plan to give each character option that lets them avoid death one time, at the cost of something valuable and important to the character (which will likely require changes to the character’s bonds, ideals, or flaws).
- If a character dies, how does the player replace it?
The player can make a new character of the same level as the rest of the party. Ideally, the player will work with the GM and the rest of the group to ensure the new character fits into the story.
- How do players integrate characters into the setting?
I would encourage each player to make use of resources such as the Forgotten Realms Wiki to learn more about the game world (specifically the section on Damara, which is where our story takes place).
Two other assumptions are important to keep in mind: 1) the characters all know one another prior to the beginning of our story and have worked together for some time, and 2) each character has some sort of religious affiliation that is important to them (possibly a connection to Ilmater, Torm, or Bahamut, the major religions of the region).
- How do players integrate characters into the game’s situation or existing character
- What kind of play behavior is considered annoying?
There are lots of behaviors that could be considered rude or annoying—too many to list here. But there are a couple I’d specifically like to call out as things to avoid. First of all, please don’t interrupt or talk over other players; give everyone enough time to finish what they’re doing or saying. And secondly, don’t let distractions pull you away from the game; keep them to a minimum.