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

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
That'd be a nice thing to strive for. Also, maybe deriving enjoyment from the successes/triumphs of other players, could be a good attitude to cultivate - or at least, not completely zoning out when it's not your turn?

It's easy to approach a game like D&D as a cooperative in a sense, but still competitive in others. Like, rivals, each trying to get the most treasure/exp/best items/etc, but cooperating to beat the monsters and generally survive. Heck, that may even be how it was originally "meant" to be played.
That's how I've usually seen it. As you say, it would be nice to always be thinking of others, but I don't think it's necessary or should be insisted upon by or of the players in your group
 

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Somewhat loaded language there. And I think you are making some big assumptions about how folks have been gaming, historically. I don't know that there's been any "huge shift".
Well, sure, as again my past is 1005 unique compare to anyone else would would post.

But there was a time when the gamer community was open and included all gamers with in a good fifty mile radius. Everyone knew each other, play in each others games, there was a ton of cross gaming, new players came, old players went and on and on.

Really this reached a dizzying height after 2000 or so and 3E. Not only were game/comic stores full of 3E games, but so were most malls(and as a MallWereRat, I was there). Plus all the home games at peoples homes. And it was not just 3E, but also Magic!. And the crazy of other card games...remember that Star Wars one? And a bunch of other RPGs too.

The Gated Games were the rare ones. Though sure they were there from the start. There was always that group that kept their game quiet (the first rule of RPGing is to not talk about RPGing, though this was years before fight club). The group that did not mix with other gamers, and never let others join "there" game.

But going by the comments, it seems everyone else.....except my area.....has now reversed that. All games are gated games and there is little or no open gaming.
 


J.Quondam

CR 1/8
The Gated Games were the rare ones. Though sure they were there from the start. There was always that group that kept their game quiet (the first rule of RPGing is to not talk about RPGing, though this was years before fight club). The group that did not mix with other gamers, and never let others join "there" game.

But going by the comments, it seems everyone else.....except my area.....has now reversed that. All games are gated games and there is little or no open gaming.
I've never heard a gaming group that vets for compatibility or safety referred to as a "gated game".
But more to the point, there are plenty of open games in the world, especially in FLGSs and online. Private in-person games might be more "gated" (to use your parlance), but that's typically to keep unknown weirdos away from your home and family until you're comfortable playing with them. There's nothing especially unusual or antisocial about that.
 
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Irlo

Hero
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".
But more so was the mention of "secret not rules" that are informal that "everyone" (except for some people like myself) know and follow automatically....and that bind the GM too.
I don't think anyone claimed in that other thread that all gamers have mostly the same informal social contracts or rules. These things are specific to the participants. And even among the same group of participants, the expectations vary from game to game and campaign to campaign.

And, again, I don't think anyone claimed that those social contracts are secret.
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?
Like most groups, my primary game table has informal agreements for out-of-game matters -- play at the DM's house, bring your own beverages, bring snacks to share, be ready to chip in for a vegetarian pizza if you're gaming through lunchtime, share your dice with people who forgot theirs or don't have their own set.

The more interesting discussion is about the social contract related to in-game activities. These vary widely, but here are a few that apply to one of my gaming groups:

  • The DM doesn't go out of the way to provide safe havens for short or long rests. It's up to the PCs to decide the timing and location of any attempted recuperation. The DM doesn't go out of the way to interrupt rests, either, to manage the pacing of the game or the resources of the party.
  • We hand-wave encumbrance for PCs and NPCs. Heavy loads might slow down our overland travel but generally doesn't affect movement in combat. None of the players question the movement rates of heavily-laden monsters.
  • Occassonially the DM accidentally slips back into 3rd edition rules for minor stuff when we're playing 5th. I used to correct him. That didn't add to the game, and the slips don't detract from it, so now we let it go and keep playing.
  • Players keep rough inventory lists. If we don't have it on our list, we don't have the item -- to a point. We don't question whether a particular outfit includes gloves or a mess kit includes a 6" cast iron skillet. If I need a button, I can pluck one from my tunic without worrying about whether the button was recorded on my character sheet. That level of detail is handled on the fly. We don't abuse the privilege. Some of us track ammunition. Some of us forget to do that. We drop some upkeep expenses anytime we get to town without worrying much about what specifcially we're spending money on.
  • The DM is NOT expected to have pre-determined details of NPC inventories or the contents of rooms or much of anything. Players have leeway in referencing objectst that fit the general descriptions of areas. If there's a working kitchen, and a player indicates the PC grabs a chunk of cheese to eat later, the DM won't force an "Is there cheese in the kitchen?" roll and won't veto the action -- unless there's an sufficient justification for the veto. "I didn't specifically plan for there to be cheese here" is not a sufficient justification. A haunting by a cheese-eating ghost would be sufficient justification.
  • We don't play often enough and we're lousy at taking notes. The DM provides recaps at the start of each session and reminds us of important details. The DM does not treat the players' forgetfulness as the PC's forgetfulness.

We don't expect these informal agreements to apply to anyone but our own group in this particular campaign. When we all die and start a new party, we could agree to do things differently to support a different gaming experience.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I don't know who you are running games for, but, like, stop, for your own sake. Someone is going to get hurt.
I've had similar experiences as Bloodtide in terms of players needing someone to adult for them...

Several of my current players have autism. Adulting isn't their thing. They, however, usually aren't in need of bathing advice... tho' I do provide a sounding board for concerns they have. Something about being 20-30 years older than most of my players... and most of my players having an absent father...

In 40 years of GMing, I've had to tell a half dozen players they needed showers before game. 2 of those, I told them bring a change of clothes, show up half an hour early, and take a shower. (Both of them contributed cash to the soap fund, and both used their own towels.)

One of my offspring is nearly anosmic - they have a super high threshold before they smell things. THe good side? They don't complain about any but the most noxious flatulence... the bad side? They overdo the fragrances. They've triggered my asthma 4 times since the solstice. And still live at home.
 

Yora

Legend
That the normal local cultural customs of social interactions still apply when you play a game is so obvious it really isn't worth mentioning. There's probably whole libraries written on all of that.

I have a whole bunch of parameters specific to my campaigns that are not actually game mechanics. Though I try to make them clear to players in advance so they don't come as a surprise.

  • My campaigns are set up to be about exploring the world, not the characters. Adventures are expeditions by the party, not personal stories. Players are free to drop in and out of the campaign without disrupting the campaign too much. As long as three players make it to the game, we play.
  • When making characters for the campaign, there's only two hard rules they have to follow: Every PC must want to go exploring dangerous places, and has to want to cooperate with the party for this. Antisocial loners who are reluctant to go on adventures are simply not viable for the campaign.
  • Create characters with the assumption that they will probably die in some dark hole from an accident or getting stabbed by a nameless critter and that you might go through two, three, or even more characters before the campaign wraps up.
  • Since PCs are replaceable and to some degree interchangeable, backstory is something that the players can create to help deciding on their characters' personality and stats. It won't normally be relevant in play.
  • When players want to take an action against other PCs, (attacking PCs or messing with their possessions) the offending players have to openly state the actions their characters are contemplating. It is then up to the defending players alone to decide if the offending PC goes through with the action or not. If the defending players decide on on, then the offending players have to accept that their PCs decide not to do it.
  • My role as GM of the campaign is to facilitate the game for the players. I try my best to provide a world that has places to explore and treasures and wonders to find, and villainous NPCs who are doing their villainous things which the players can choose to try to topple and drive out if they want to. I'll describe what the PCs see, answer questions about the world, and try to make NPCs react plausibly to what the players are doing, given the resources and powers I've written up for them.
  • As GM, I don't have a stake what's going to happen in the campaign. I describe the situation to the players, the players state what they want to do, we run that input through the mechanics of the game, and I interpret the output of the dice to describe the new situation. I just run the game computer, I don't plot or conduct the adventures.
  • Everyone can die. All NPCs and monsters have their stats fixed, and the game mechanics and dice decide which attacks and spells succeed and what effect they have. If the big bad dies in the first round or the party gets wiped, that's the story that is playing out.
  • I will always try my best to make anything that could potentially kill a PC visibly look like a real threat. I want players to always make a conscious choice to put their characters into mortal danger. It will never appear suddenly without warning.
  • Retreat or surrender are almost always an option. (Though the players still need to work to pull it off.) Encounters are not dialed in to ensure the players can win.
  • The requirements for progress on character advancement are objectively stated as standard mechanics of the game, or defined at the start of a quest. Progress points are gained when those requirements are met, in the specified amounts.
  • Any die that falls off the table automatically counts as failure against the player's favor.
  • Only the GM can call for a roll. Players can not announce a roll.
  • Every roll that will lead to an immediately visible result for the PCs is rolled in the open.
  • For random events like Wandering Monster encounters or a rotten bridge collapsing, the roll is a single die with the probability of "1 in N". The standing rule is "Something always happens on a 1". What is going to happen on a 1 is specified before the roll is made. The die is rolled by a player. (Which makes it clear that what happens is not the GM's personal preferred outcome.)
 

delericho

Legend
IMO it's always nice when somebody really gets into portraying their character, whether in 1st person or 3rd person, but if somebody just wants to play a pawn that's really ok, too.

Agreed. When I said "buy into the premises", that wasn't quite what I had in mind, though - I was thinking more of not bringing a CE assassin to a White Hat Heroes game (or a LG paladin to an evil campaign), or when playing Star Trek not trying to turn the transporters into the ultimate weapon (they don't work like that. Why not? They just don't. :) ), or things like that.

I should note at this point that we will have discussed these things ahead of time, when deciding what to play. So if the players want something else, we'll do something else.

Like actively more enjoyable; ie, every player needs to be looking for ways to make the game more fun for others? Or just "don't be a jerk"?

"Don't be a jerk" is enough, though more is of course appreciated.

It's perhaps also worth noting that the character can be a jerk, as long as their antics are entertaining to the players. And, at least in recent years, I haven't had any problems with my players understanding that nuance and acting accordingly.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
That the normal local cultural customs of social interactions still apply when you play a game is so obvious it really isn't worth mentioning. There's probably whole libraries written on all of that.

I have a whole bunch of parameters specific to my campaigns that are not actually game mechanics. Though I try to make them clear to players in advance so they don't come as a surprise.

  • My campaigns are set up to be about exploring the world, not the characters. Adventures are expeditions by the party, not personal stories. Players are free to drop in and out of the campaign without disrupting the campaign too much. As long as three players make it to the game, we play.
  • When making characters for the campaign, there's only two hard rules they have to follow: Every PC must want to go exploring dangerous places, and has to want to cooperate with the party for this. Antisocial loners who are reluctant to go on adventures are simply not viable for the campaign.
  • Create characters with the assumption that they will probably die in some dark hole from an accident or getting stabbed by a nameless critter and that you might go through two, three, or even more characters before the campaign wraps up.
  • Since PCs are replaceable and to some degree interchangeable, backstory is something that the players can create to help deciding on their characters' personality and stats. It won't normally be relevant in play.
  • When players want to take an action against other PCs, (attacking PCs or messing with their possessions) the offending players have to openly state the actions their characters are contemplating. It is then up to the defending players alone to decide if the offending PC goes through with the action or not. If the defending players decide on on, then the offending players have to accept that their PCs decide not to do it.
  • My role as GM of the campaign is to facilitate the game for the players. I try my best to provide a world that has places to explore and treasures and wonders to find, and villainous NPCs who are doing their villainous things which the players can choose to try to topple and drive out if they want to. I'll describe what the PCs see, answer questions about the world, and try to make NPCs react plausibly to what the players are doing, given the resources and powers I've written up for them.
  • As GM, I don't have a stake what's going to happen in the campaign. I describe the situation to the players, the players state what they want to do, we run that input through the mechanics of the game, and I interpret the output of the dice to describe the new situation. I just run the game computer, I don't plot or conduct the adventures.
  • Everyone can die. All NPCs and monsters have their stats fixed, and the game mechanics and dice decide which attacks and spells succeed and what effect they have. If the big bad dies in the first round or the party gets wiped, that's the story that is playing out.
  • I will always try my best to make anything that could potentially kill a PC visibly look like a real threat. I want players to always make a conscious choice to put their characters into mortal danger. It will never appear suddenly without warning.
  • Retreat or surrender are almost always an option. (Though the players still need to work to pull it off.) Encounters are not dialed in to ensure the players can win.
  • The requirements for progress on character advancement are objectively stated as standard mechanics of the game, or defined at the start of a quest. Progress points are gained when those requirements are met, in the specified amounts.
  • Any die that falls off the table automatically counts as failure against the player's favor.
  • Only the GM can call for a roll. Players can not announce a roll.
  • Every roll that will lead to an immediately visible result for the PCs is rolled in the open.
  • For random events like Wandering Monster encounters or a rotten bridge collapsing, the roll is a single die with the probability of "1 in N". The standing rule is "Something always happens on a 1". What is going to happen on a 1 is specified before the roll is made. The die is rolled by a player. (Which makes it clear that what happens is not the GM's personal preferred outcome.)
What game do you play?
 

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