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So what are your informal expectations...or rules, for a RPG?

So from another thread. Not that I think GM Agency is even a thing. But the idea is that RPGs in general have "informal expectations and even rules" that everyone playing the RPG must follow.

Even more so is the idea that all gamers.....somehow.....have mostly the same "informal expectations and even rules".

Of course I stand seemingly as the Lone Gamer that thinks all the above is balderdash.

I agree that any social group of people needs to have some sort of organization...even rules. At least the should. Often though this is part of a bigger 'gate keeping' of people just picking and choosing people in a social group or even friends. After that it just falls to the 'host' of the group or at least the 'leader' or at least the most 'socially aware'.

As the DM is often the host, they make rules for everyone except themselves, things like "don't smoke or vape in my house" or "don't steal my stuff".

Beyond that, the DM nearly always has to be the "Adult" of the group. The DM often has to make rules for all the players, because the players will outright refuse to even act like adults no matter their age. Things like "show up for the game on time", "don't insult others" and "don't cheat".

And then we get to the DM. As the maker of the rules, the DM does not have to follow any of the rules. And many won't make sense for the DM, like when the DM as host says "don't steal form me".

And, sure, I lot of DMs will "fall on their D20" and say "the informal expectations and even rules" are for "everyone". But this is again silly as most DMs would never even consider doing all the bad things most players will try to get away with in any game. Few DMs would say "oks..game pause...I gotta text my wife for twenty minutes" or "lets stop playing and watch some You Tube videos!". And even for the few DMs that might do such things, the players will be right there next to them and approving.

And that just leaves the crazy ones like "the DM can't cheat", that sound good...but are meaningless.

So....what are your "informal expectations and even rules" ? What are your Table "informal expectations and even rules"? Do you happen to know any of the "informal expectations and even rules" that "everyone" knows and follows without question?

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I am trying to parse the meaning behind the OP and all I can come up with is that the theoretical GM in this scenario is running a game at the Home For Wayward Chimpanzees.

Everyone comes to the table for their own reasons, GM included. I think it is certainly possible that a limited pool of participants can create groups of people that don't really mesh, but more often than not groups end up being composed of folks that are "good enough" -- especially when you are talking about games that take place in peoples' homes, as opposed to public venues where the expectation is that you can't turn players away.

As for the GM being the "leader" -- wrangling players is part of the job. Not because the GM is the only adult in the room -- unless, of course, the GM is literally the only adult in the room -- but because one of the most important jobs the GM has is managing pacing. Managing pacing often means managing focus. That can be redirecting a player from their phones, but it can also mean redirecting a player from a self indulgent in-play shopping trip.


Don't commit any real-world crimes inside my house.

Don't be rude to each other.

If you're having company over and you have more rules for guests beyond that, you should talk to then about it.

Wait, does this thread actually have to do with games?

aramis erak

Keep your gender identity and/or gender hostility issues out of my game, please. I don't care what your preferences are, but exploring them in my game makes me uncomfortable.

Be reasonably on time; if you're going to be late or miss, call, text, or discord message.

Don't reek.

I've given up on "Bring a pencil" and instead spend about $4 per year on bic pencils.

At the Store's back room: don't touch the game library.
Don't set beverages or snacks on the card mats.

In terms of what I expect i n a ruleset is a framework for resolution, reducing my agency as GM, and my players' agency, but making the process of genre enforcement and story generation through play much easier, (Creation within a scaffold is much easier than totally open space. I trade my authority over every action - itself a form of limit upon player agency - for a system that helps with trust, genre, and tone.)


Similar to what @Tony Vargas mentioned upthread, I do not think I would play with the people that need rules for common decency told to them. "Hey, thanks for coming to my house as a guest. Please do not swear in front of my children, rummage through my pantry for something to eat, or steal my stuff." I can see a few things like not putting your fingers on my artwork or statue if I had something like that or please use a coaster on the coffee table, but generally I should not have to tell people baseline expectations.

If I'm at a convention or game store, then more things may pop up. I guess I can tolerate some things for a few hours- more so the rude or swearing guy over the stealing or smelly guy.


Mod Squad
Staff member
The DM often has to make rules for all the players, because the players will outright refuse to even act like adults no matter their age.

I suppose if you are playing in public venues (game stores and conventions, for example), you have very little control over who shows up, and that can lead to folks with little social investment in the game who may be willing to act like less than mature adults.

But, lots of us don't run/play games in such situations frequently. We are playing in our homes, with people who were specifically invited, most frequently with friends. And then this sounds like hyperbole or sarcasm, and that may leave folks wondering where this is going, or how to engage with the post.


He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
When we use italics and/or quotations for emphasis in text, we do so rarely as we respect each others ability to read and comprehend.

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
My assumptions:
  • The player decides what their character thinks and does. Exceptions need to be justified as mechanics appropriate to the genre (magic, psionics, horror).
  • Outside of PC thoughts and action declarations, the GM has unlimited power. "Infinite Dragons" and all that.
  • Anybody who doesn't trust others at the table to use these powers wisely, or doesn't like how they choose to use those powers, should probably find other people to play with.

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