5E "Labels" and D&D Gaming

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
One thing I have to get out the habit of doing is: I shouldn't assume a game is "RAW unless otherwise specified." That's just A way to play, after all.

Of course RAW can't cover everything, which is why we have dm's in the first place, even when we intend to use RAW as much as possible.

If a game is playing under that assumption, then RAW matters until... otherwise specified. But if that isn't the working assumption, RAW doesn't matter at all.
It's not an unreasonable presumption, though. There are things it's worth talking with the DM about before they come up, if they're weird or complicated or controversial, especially if you're expecting them to be central to how your character works.
 

aco175

Adventurer
How much of this is pre/post internet. I remember playing in my own world pre internet and making all the things up and maybe something would come out in Dragon Magazine to clarify a rule. Now half the table can pull up different views and RAW from 1000 people on various sites. On one hand I find it better to see how lots of others from around the world play and interpret, but this group play must change some of the elements.

There seems some link or crossover with the rise of the internet and 3e system. Might be just for me.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I find it quite strange when people talk about their "campaigns" and then I find out they are going to "be finished with it in a month or so". That's not a campaign as I remember it. That's called "an adventure/module".
I wouldn't know how else to call them but campaigns. I use very little existing material -unless I'm explicitly running a module- most of what I use is 'written' by myself -it is all on my head so not exactly written- and I only reuse maps, encounters or modules.

Anyway, we did have "Rules Lawyers", and they were initially very annoying to deal with because their inflexible outlook on the rules of the game. It was sometimes impossible to placate them; if a rule was in the game, they wanted to use it...but in the current situation it would be detrimental to the Rules Lawyers' PC, they would be annoyed/upset, but would still want to use the rule as written...because if they didn't, then that sets a precedent in their mind that the RAW can sometimes need to be ignored/adjusted/modified.
Well, that's the difference between rules lawyering and cheating. I mean I'd be a munchkin if I only brought it up when it is convenient. (Though that probably makes me a scrub n_n)

How this related to modern gaming...a lot of gamer's seem to see the rules as "equal" to the DM. That somehow, if there is a rule the DM wants to change or ignore, he/she needs permission from the Player(s) to do so...because otherwise it might "make the game bad" or even worse, "mess up a planned PC Build". ;) 5e is better at alleviating that mindset a bit, but it's a far cry from ye olden days of yore when "What the DM says, goes!" was the bedrock. (sucky DM's that ran roughshod over their Players quickly found themselves 'unemployable', from a Player perspective; a nice self-correcting error, if I might say so! :) ).
However notice that in the internet, the player pool is so large in comparison to the DM pool that bad DM's will hardly ever run out of players. I once had a DM that removed our ability to pass through friendly space and this messed us up as we were stuck in a cramped space without the ability to leave, because us with the higher initiative were stuck behind the meatshield with the lower one. He also wouldn't let me use tumble to escape. This basically enabled his monsters to shoot at us like fish in a barrel, exactly as he planned! -pretty convenient selective enforcement of cover rules did that-. He is still out there at large.

. With 5e, me saying "No Feats, no multi-classing, and only PHB, DMG, MM...unless reviewed on a case-by-case basis for other things"...pretty much is the same as saying "DM available! Nobody need apply, thanks!"
As long as you allow me Divine soul, -or reflavoring of a cleric as one- I'm game.

Now here you lose me completely, as other than some basic setting conceits (e.g. it's starting in a Norse-based Human culture, and Hobbits are banned along with (as always!) Dragonborn and Tieflings) the players shouldn't have any knowledge of the intended story at time of char-gen.
But there's still some communication of themes and general ideas. We can say "This will be a pirate/greek themed/witch heavy campaign" and still leave all spoilers out.
 
By 2nd edition AD&D, "campaign" means a series of adventures involving the same PCs, which I think is its modern meaning. AD&D PHB Revised pg 11:

The game doesn’t end when an adventure is finished. The same characters can go on to new adventures. Such a series of adventures is called a campaign.​
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I'll hazard a guess that @pming isn't talking so much about planned end points, but instead of how soon those planned end points arrive.

And I tend to agree. Calling an 8-month AP a campaign to me cheapens the term "campaign" a bit, as after 8 months a campaign should just be nicely settling in and getting established with an eye toward its potentially decade-long future.
Again, that’s fine if that’s the way you want to play. Not everybody wants to play that way, and not everybody who does want to play that way is able to do so.

This depends on what the players (and DM) signed up for in the first place. Did they sign up for a closed-ended 7-adventure GDQ run, or did they sign up for an open-ended campaign in which the GDQ series just happened to arise?
Presumably the former.

OK, so far none of this rejects an open-ended campaign. Even with a - to use your term - linear, narrative stlye a DM can interweave many stories and plots (and PCs, no reason to restrict players to just one each!) and keep a campaign going for many years; and to prove my knowledge that this is possible I will simply plead guilty as charged. :)
For sure!

Now here you lose me completely, as other than some basic setting conceits (e.g. it's starting in a Norse-based Human culture, and Hobbits are banned along with (as always!) Dragonborn and Tieflings) the players shouldn't have any knowledge of the intended story at time of char-gen.
Who says they shouldn’t? If I tell my players we’re gonna do a Ravenloft game, they’re going to have some idea of what to expect - at minimum, they’ll have a good idea of the tone of the game, they’ll know that there will likely be a lot of undead, they’ll know that the endgame will be about defeating Strahd, and they’ll know there’s likely to be a Tarokka reading at some point that will give them clues to things that can help them defeat Strahd. Even in an entirely homebrew campaign, a DM might want to talk to their players in session 0 about certain broad details. “I was thinking of running a campaign set in an archipelago, focuses around the search for a legendary treasure hidden by the late pirate king. Expect lots of seafaring, and to be fighting lots of humanoid sailors and sea monsters.” Or, “This campaign is going to be a straightforward fairy tale style ‘save the princess from the dragon kind of story. Very archetypal characters will be right at home here, while more complex or morally ambiguous characters would probably feel fairly out of place.” This kind of expectation-setting is not strictly necessary, but it’s standard practice for a lot of groups.

Which to me seems a rather self-limiting way of playing a character.
Cool, so don’t play your characters that way.

Sure, I'm often the first to for whatever reason get bored with playing a character, retire it, and bring in something new; and who knows - someday I might later cycle the retired one back in. But a character's "story" usually extends past any given adventure or series of adventures - sure you start out with the goal of driving the invading Giants back out of your home village, and eight adventures later you've done just that, but why stop there?
Because you want to? If you don’t want to, great, but some players do.

During those eight adventures surely something else has piqued your/your PC/s interest enough to keep playing it - be it an opportunity to be heroic some other way, or a romance with another PC, or simply finding the high life is worth living and you'd like to finance more if it.
Or maybe it hasn’t. Who are you to judge?

But character turnover (or even player turnover) does not equate to campaign turnover; with the rare exception of a TPK but even there the campaign doesn't have to end if the players have other PCs floating around in the setting.

The only type of turnover that kills a campaign dead is DM turnover: if the DM don't want to run it no more, there ain't no more campaign. :)
If your goal is to keep a single campaign going as long as possible, sure. But that’s not what everyone wants out of D&D. Some people prefer playing a single adventure path from start to finish and then moving on to an unrelated one.

Unfortunately, some of those "other people" hold or have held paid positions as WotC game designers over the last 20-ish years.
I don’t think that’s unfortunate at all.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Also, allow - encourage, even! - the players to have more than one PC in the setting at a time, and allow opportunities for these PCs to form into different parties and also interweave and interact now and then (vitally important that you-as-DM don't allow them to get too far separated in game-world time!). That way later on you also end up with different characters having done different things over time and come back with different bits of knowledge, which can make things fun.
Now, this concept is very interesting to me. In a vague, hypothetical sense this sounds cool, but I can’t picture how this would actually look at the table. Would you be willing to elaborate on this, particularly in terms of specific examples in actual play? What action steps should a DM who wants to try running a game this way take?
 
A Groups Home Game.
The labels used to describe it tend to be: "Sandbox", "Open-World", "Hexcrawl" and sometimes just "Wilderness"

Now I'm probably showing my age here, but back in my day we called that "a DM's campaign". There was no need for labeling it because RPG'ing encompassed, well, "open imagination and exploration". EVERY campaign was a "sandbox/open-world/hexcrawl/whatever". The DM presented his world, and tossed hooks out, the players bit on what they found interested, the DM...well... DM'ed.
And here I believe you were living in a bubble and what you are talking about isn't "old school" so much as that bubble.

Old school used to involve multiple DMs in a shared setting, which means that the idea that "The DM presented his world" is a piece of new-fangled gimcrackery. If someone got an idea for a dungeon they wanted to create you could add it to the map somewhere appropriate and they'd take over running. Also old school involves taking the same PCs from game to game which might officially be in different universes. (This, incidentally, is why "Monty Haul DMs" were considered a problem back in the day - and no one cares now).

I find it quite strange when people talk about their "campaigns" and then I find out they are going to "be finished with it in a month or so". That's not a campaign as I remember it. That's called "an adventure/module". For example, the GDQ series. If when the PC's finish Q1...the campaign doesn't "end" magically. It's still going.
Things changed drastically by 1985; the incredible success of the Dragonlance Saga - a chain of pre-canned connected stories with limited player freedom and a very much defined end point. This was more or less the start of adventure paths as a mode of play. An adventure path is a series of linked modules leading up generally to a single apocalyptic threat that's been linked to what the PCs were facing right from the start.

PC Builds.
I very much dislike the very notion, to be honest. I understand the desire to somehow "control" how your PC is going to turn out...but it seems to be far too...specific? I guess? A PC shouldn't, IMNSHO, be a fore-gone conclusion as to exactly what class(es) of what level(s), with what specific abilities, combined with a specific race, and having certain stat scores, and a specific listing of spells/magic items.
Frankly I find this incredibly ironic from someone with old school sensibilities. Old school D&D no more has a word for "character builds" than fish have one for water. Once you step on that fighting man (or magic user or elf or cleric or whatever) path you are in it to the end. Your ability scores were selected at level 1, your classes were, and your level is whatever you reach. And your race is also what you chose at level 1. About the only thing that isn't set in stone at level 1 is the loot the DM gives you.

Barbarian 1/Bard 4/Ur-priest 2/Nar Demonbinder 1/Mystic Theurge 2 (to name one extremely specific build) has its first ten levels predetermined but so does Fighter 10. It has from memory three out of four feats predetermined - but the old school character gets no feats. It might get weapon specialisation, but that really locks your character down.

But character builds were mostly a 3.X thing because 3.X had so many prerequisites for certain forms of character growth that you had to sort things out early in order to qualify for prestige classes or feat chains. 4e still had people using builds occasionally, partly because of synergies, and partly because 4e had just so many options that some people were overwhelmed with them and didn't want to deal with that. I've literally shown in the last couple of days how to make a goblin on a pogo stick as an effective PC using only the rules as written with no DM assistance required.

A beginning 1st level PC should be a relatively blank slate; with only the base "theme" reflecting that PC's background/history as written by the player (and DM). Once that is done, the Player plays the PC and that PC's "shtick" may or may not be the same by the time it hits 5th, 10th, or higher level. Again, IMHO, this uncertainty should be seen as a GOOD thing!
But this is D&D we are talking about. A game where you set your stats, your race, and your class at first level. And after that in editions before 3.X you gain very few other abillities other than the spells and items you find along the way.

Not something to be avoided by carefully crafted "builds" on a detailed level-to-level spreadsheet. It just sucks all the mystery and excitement out of the game. Playing, making decisions, and seeing what fate unfolds before the PC's is probably THE biggest draw to RPG's. "PC Builds" stomp all over that. :(
Not everyone's tastes are the same. But in general those who want their characters to actually grow in terms of the abilities they have in a relatively freeform way dropped old school D&D basically at the end of the 70s. Because old school D&D simply doesn't do that. A character build is in general more flexible than an old school class.
RAW.
This ol' bugaboo! Back when I started playing ('80/'81), the "rules" where there for us to refer to when we encountered a situation that we wanted to have handled in a consistent manner. That is NOT the same as "a situation handled exactly as the rules say". Why? Because, frankly, too many variables. But today's more modern player/DM seem to almost have a phobia in regards to modifying or even outright ignoring rules. CONSISTENCY is not necessarily the same as "RAW". Anyway, we did have "Rules Lawyers", and they were initially very annoying to deal with because their inflexible outlook on the rules of the game. It was sometimes impossible to placate them; if a rule was in the game, they wanted to use it...but in the current situation it would be detrimental to the Rules Lawyers' PC, they would be annoyed/upset, but would still want to use the rule as written...because if they didn't, then that sets a precedent in their mind that the RAW can sometimes need to be ignored/adjusted/modified.
Don't make me dig up some of the things Gygax had to say about how if you weren't playing RAW you weren't playing D&D (which of course conflicted with other things he had to say).

But on the subject of RAW this is the 21st century. If a game comes out in the year 2020 and I can not run it as GM RAW and get a good experience out of it there is an appropriate response. Take the book back to the shop and ask for a refund on the grounds that I have clearly been sold a defective product.

This doesn't mean I can't design my own games or even that I don't. It means that I don't expect to have to. And when I do it's always because I have a specific purpose in mind. I expect a game to be well made enough to run RAW. And I also expect the designer to have a vision in mind when they wrote the RPG that running RAW will take me close to. Neonchameleon running 4e, Neonchameleon running 5e, Neonchameleon running Rules Cyclopaedia, Neonchameleon running FATE, Neonchameleon running Apocalypse World, and Neonchameleon running Marvel Heroic Roleplaying should be pretty different experiences

Therefore I am always going to run a game for the first time as closely to RAW as I can manage - and when I pitch a game it's not going to be just pitching myself running the game - but also pitching the game I am running.

Also the rules are the user interface to the game world. Yes as a GM I can change them and will to improve the game. But the expectation I should is I see as a mix of low expectations for the game and the idea that I am unable to pick a good game to suit what I want to run.

Anyway...I just found it mildly irksome realizing that I am old and my "old man gaming style" is making it harder and harder for me to converse with some players and DM's. My notion of "campaign" means never-ending timeline advancing with the Players playing many PC's over the decades...all taking place in that shared imaginative world. So hearing "The campaign is ending soon, what should I play next?" gives me a double take; I still jump to the thought of "...well, try a sci-fi game, or maybe super hero". Because a "campaign", in my mind, never actually "ends"; PC's just die or retire.
And some of us younger people move around and can't manage to keep a group together for more than a couple of years. Also some of us don't want the same meal every day. Different games do different things well and different settings have different advantages.

With 5e, me saying "No Feats, no multi-classing
In other words predefined builds, set at level 1 (other than your subclass which is normally set at level 3) only ;)
 

jasper

Rotten DM
And here I believe you were living in a bubble and what you are talking about isn't "old school" so much as that bubble.

Old school used to involve multiple DMs in a shared setting, which means that the idea that "The DM presented his world" is a piece of new-fangled gimcrackery. If someone got an idea for a dungeon they wanted to create you could add it to the map somewhere appropriate and they'd take over running. Also old school involves taking the same PCs from game to game which might officially be in different universes. (This, incidentally, is why "Monty Haul DMs" were considered a problem back in the day - and no one cares now).
....
My dear person, Maybe in your old school bubble but not in mine. I never heard of shared worlds until the late 90s and thought was weird then. And after getting on the net finding out a good percentage did shared their world. But my groups, We did clone our pcs for different DMs but a shared world? I rather share my popsickle.
Granted half of us ran the same module sometimes in the same month.
 
The notion that a campaign consists of related adventures and features the same PCs can be found as far back as Moldvay Basic D&D (1981):

Several related adventures (one adventure leading to another, often with the same player characters) is called a campaign.​

The article Five Keys to DMing Success by Mike Beeman in Dragon #80 (1983) thinks that adventures in a good campaign ought to be tightly connected to one another, more like Lord of the Rings than Conan.

Every good campaign has five basic elements: continuity, character, competence, creativity​
and cooperation...​
Continuity in a campaign is a very complex thing. It is that in a campaign which makes it more than just a series of dungeons, and that which ties all of the dungeons together into a cohesive whole... The trick here is to make the characters' lives much more than an episodic smattering of unrelated activities, like some TV adventure series. You need to give them the continuity and uniformity of a good novel's protagonists…​
The most important thing to do is to plan in sets of actions rather than dungeon-by-dungeon. Have your dungeons linked together, either directly or indirectly. An excellent example of this is the Against the Giants/Descent into the Depths series of AD&D modules from TSR, Inc. Each dungeon logically follows its predecessor; the transitions are smooth and the challenges widely varied. Many of TSR’s AD&D modules have been published as sets, and this is not a bad example to follow.​

This letter from Dragon #100 (1985) considers campaigns to have a progression and an end point:

One of the most important steps in the creation of my present campaign was the switch to AD&D gaming in one $50 swoop. The game was somewhat overwhelming in its scope, but we played it exactly as published for some time. As we progressed through our campaign, we began to notice flaws in the game and started to create ways to change the game to our own ends. The eventual outcome was our current campaign. The campaign will end soon, and the game will change further.​

These examples demonstrate that the current conception of "campaign" was around in the early-to-mid 80s, though the Gygaxian conception was more prevalent.
 

Hussar

Legend
My dear person, Maybe in your old school bubble but not in mine. I never heard of shared worlds until the late 90s and thought was weird then. And after getting on the net finding out a good percentage did shared their world. But my groups, We did clone our pcs for different DMs but a shared world? I rather share my popsickle.
Granted half of us ran the same module sometimes in the same month.
I have to admit, I was in that bubble. We rotated DM's. It wasn't until university and I started playing with strangers that we had a fixed DM. And, even then, campaigns lasted 8 months or so - the length of the school year. My experience was certainly closer to @Neonchameleon's (and, anecdotally Gary Gygax's).

Now, we play alternating campaigns, but, I'd LOVE to go back to multi-DM's. We did do that for a couple of years when playing 4e as well. It was a great experience.
 

Eric V

Adventurer
Now, this concept is very interesting to me. In a vague, hypothetical sense this sounds cool, but I can’t picture how this would actually look at the table. Would you be willing to elaborate on this, particularly in terms of specific examples in actual play? What action steps should a DM who wants to try running a game this way take?
We did this very successfully for a short while in our 4e game. We played Madness at Gardmore Abbey (great mod!) and at the conclusion they restored the abbey, attracting adventurers from all over. So, we ended up with a sort of "Justice League" scenario, where DM 1 would run adventure X and players would pick which of their PCs would go on that one. We'd have concurrent DMs to prevent burnout, and then DM 2 would run adventure Y and the players would pick their other PCs to go on that adventure.

It was great all around.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
How much of this is pre/post internet.
Honestly, not much. If you look back at various writings, you find that most of the various playstyles and campaign structures you can mention were created/discovered fairly early on. There seem to be several cases of "re-inventing the wheel" pre-internet, due to lack of communication, so several disparate people may feel they invented or originated something, having not heard of the other people who were doing it next door or across the country.
 
If you limit yourself to only one tale, this is true.

So interweave several tales (and start with at least two), some of which aren't even going to appear until deep into the campaign but - in hindsight - have been foreshadowed from day 1, and then add more as you think of them during the campaign and-or if the players latch on to something unintended. And don't be afraid to change up your storyboard and even abandon large chunks of it if the players/PCs don't bite - it happens to all of us! :)

Also, allow - encourage, even! - the players to have more than one PC in the setting at a time, and allow opportunities for these PCs to form into different parties and also interweave and interact now and then (vitally important that you-as-DM don't allow them to get too far separated in game-world time!). That way later on you also end up with different characters having done different things over time and come back with different bits of knowledge, which can make things fun.

Current campaign: 11 years this month; at least four embedded APs (i.e. micro-stories) within it of 4-6 adventures each along with dozens of other adventures some of which relate to three or four macro-stories (one of which is complete though I'm not sure anyone realizes it yet!); a very large boatload of PCs have come and gone, run by a total of 13 players over the years; and it probably 3-to-4 years of play left in it even if nothing unexpected gets added in.

It can be done. :)
I suppose it depends on how you want to define "campaign." By your definition, I've been running a Greyhawk campaign since 5E came out, even though I consider it to be 3 campaigns. They all exist in the same world, in different parts of it, and generally continuing the timeline (current one is set parallel to the first for reasons). Arguably my campaign could be considered about 25 years old, since I've incorporated events/aspects of my 1st & 2nd edition campaigns (I skipped DMing 3E & 4E).

However, that's not how most people look at it. Even if you play in the same game world, most players consider it to be a different campaign (just the same setting). Often DMs like to create a world for a specific campaign, especially if they plan on "blowing it up" (radically altering it to make it less fun to play in). Sometimes DMs just want to create a setting for a change of pace, even if they know they'll go back to their favorite.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The more things change...

I still remember the old WotC data that got published just around the time 3e was released, based on the market research done in the mid-90's. That's actually closer to the origins of RPG's than to now. And, even back then, the average campaign lasted about a year.
As always when someone hauls out this chestnut, I have to debunk it: that research was highly biased at data source and thus isn't worth a hill of beans.

A prime reason why the data showed short campaigns were the norm was that they auto-excluded responses from anyone who self-identified as over 35 years of age i.e. those who would logically be the ones to have run (and-or still be running) long games.

It's not that gaming changed. It's that game designers have actually decided to design their games with an eye to how the games are actually being played. This isn't something new. It was that way back in the 90's and probably back in the 80's as well.
Au contraire - they tweaked their research to give the results they wanted and then just designed to that.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But there's still some communication of themes and general ideas. We can say "This will be a pirate/greek themed/witch heavy campaign" and still leave all spoilers out.
True, but the sense I got from the post I was responding to was that the poster was hoping for more character tailoring than that.

Picking on your example for a moment, "pirate greek-themed witch-heavy" really only warns me not to play a heavy tank, as heavy armour and deep water don't mix well; and even there it's still iffy as for all we know all the pirate interactions might be on land.

It doesn't tell me you've tailored the story for a low-magic stealth group e.g. a Ranger-Druid-Thief-Bard party and will be at a loose end if we bring in two Blast Mages, a War Cleric (Ares), and a Knight. This seemed more what the previous poster was getting at, and to which I objected.

Your example also tells me all races are wide open to play, as they are not mentioned.
 

Hussar

Legend
As always when someone hauls out this chestnut, I have to debunk it: that research was highly biased at data source and thus isn't worth a hill of beans.

A prime reason why the data showed short campaigns were the norm was that they auto-excluded responses from anyone who self-identified as over 35 years of age i.e. those who would logically be the ones to have run (and-or still be running) long games.

Au contraire - they tweaked their research to give the results they wanted and then just designed to that.
Umm, no.

1. Someone who was gaming at the age of 35 in 1995, had possibly been gaming for 10 years, quite easily. Now, they did cut off at 35 because their market research showed that gamers really stop buying after 35 (or, at least that was true at the time of the research). But, no, it wasn't "tweaked" to give the results they wanted. That would be blindingly stupid.

2. Even ignoring the actual market research, I can point you to reams and reams of anecdotal evidence of the time. Heck, poll after poll on En World, stretching back nearly two decades gives consistently the same result - most campaigns last 12-18 months. The overwhelming majority do.

3. At the time the market research was done, the average gamer was in their 20's. Again, by an overwhelming majority. Like about 4:1 to those in their 30's or older. And that ratio has stayed true throughout 3e and 4e. Dunno about now.

There is zero evidence showing that these long, multiyear campaigns are anything other than an outlier.
 

fearsomepirate

Explorer
RAW just means we look at what the rules actually say. The problem is when you get problem players who try to wriggle through loopholes they claim to find due to some vagaries in the English language. That's why it's important to remember that while a player can be a rules lawyer, the DM is the rules judge, the rules jury, and the rules executioner.
 

Reynard

Legend
RAW just means we look at what the rules actually say. The problem is when you get problem players who try to wriggle through loopholes they claim to find due to some vagaries in the English language. That's why it's important to remember that while a player can be a rules lawyer, the DM is the rules judge, the rules jury, and the rules executioner.
Rules lawyering is as old as the rules themselves. probably older. It was made by wargamers, after all.
 

Marandahir

Explorer
True, but the sense I got from the post I was responding to was that the poster was hoping for more character tailoring than that.

Picking on your example for a moment, "pirate greek-themed witch-heavy" really only warns me not to play a heavy tank, as heavy armour and deep water don't mix well; and even there it's still iffy as for all we know all the pirate interactions might be on land.

It doesn't tell me you've tailored the story for a low-magic stealth group e.g. a Ranger-Druid-Thief-Bard party and will be at a loose end if we bring in two Blast Mages, a War Cleric (Ares), and a Knight. This seemed more what the previous poster was getting at, and to which I objected.

Your example also tells me all races are wide open to play, as they are not mentioned.
If the DM has tailored the party for a low-magic stealth group and will be at a loose end if a different party is brought it, then the DM screwed up on Session 0. Full stop.

You can have a fun game if everyone enjoys the uphill battle of using the wrong team for the job, but they should know that going into the game. Session 0 is there to collection players' inputs, understand their interests and tendencies, and make sure that the game as written isn't just the DM forcing their dream-campaign on unsuspecting players. Sure, design the world and loose campaign concepts ahead of time, but I'd actually recommend doing a lot of the early core adventure crafting between Session 0 and Session 1, once you know how to build the game around the principle cast and what their motivations are.
 

Reynard

Legend
If the DM has tailored the party for a low-magic stealth group and will be at a loose end if a different party is brought it, then the DM screwed up on Session 0. Full stop.

You can have a fun game if everyone enjoys the uphill battle of using the wrong team for the job, but they should know that going into the game. Session 0 is there to collection players' inputs, understand their interests and tendencies, and make sure that the game as written isn't just the DM forcing their dream-campaign on unsuspecting players. Sure, design the world and loose campaign concepts ahead of time, but I'd actually recommend doing a lot of the early core adventure crafting between Session 0 and Session 1, once you know how to build the game around the principle cast and what their motivations are.
That's one way to do it, but if the GM has an existing campaign world with a lot of built in conflicts and things, the GM should provide a primer for the players and say, "This is where you'll be adventuring and the kinds of things you will likely find to do. Create characters that fit there."
 

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