What table rules do you have? The Social Contract

AMP

Explorer
I've had a habit of having digital versions of character sheets for a long time now; I've always had the policy that unless there's an easy and logical way for your character to take off, your character is played by someone else when you're gone.

(And yes, I know some people are super-hostile to other people playing their character.)
Yeah, I've done the same thing, more often than not. I only don't do it when there are more absences than presences. Depends on how I want to handle inactives, usually.
 

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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Generally, I try to avoid having a player play another player's character. It is generally easy to avoid because my sessions are eight hours long and we usually end at a spot where there it makes in-game sense why a character might be missing from the group in the next session. But when we end in a situation, such as in the middle of the battle, usually I'll ask the player who will be missing if another player can play their character.
 

AMP

Explorer
Generally, I try to avoid having a player play another player's character. It is generally easy to avoid because my sessions are eight hours long and we usually end at a spot where there it makes in-game sense why a character might be missing from the group in the next session. But when we end in a situation, such as in the middle of the battle, usually I'll ask the player who will be missing if another player can play their character.
That definitely makes sense with that setup
 

Back in the F2F days:

1) Interview for a position at my table.
2) Punctuality is critical. If life intervenes, let us know as early as possible. If you just 'didn't feel like gaming today', goodbye.
3) No body odor.
4) Bring your own snacks and drinks.
5) Pants are required.
6) Spray before cutting one.
7) Work as a team, share the spotlight.
8) We take having fun seriously.
9) You are not allowed to assault another player without GM approval.
10) No smoking in the house.
11) No alcohol.
12) Regardless of the system, death is permanent, there is no cure for death.
13) Play your own gender.


Now, online:
1) Interview for a position at my table.
2) Punctuality is critical. If life intervenes, let us know as early as possible. If you just 'didn't feel like gaming today', goodbye.
3) Mute while eating or drinking.
4) Work as a team, share the spotlight.
5) We take having fun seriously.
6) If you drink, and it affects your gaming, goodbye.
7) Regardless of the system, death is permanent, there is no cure for death.
8) Play your own gender.
 

rmcoen

Adventurer
My group has been friends and gaming together in most cases for 20+ years; a couple for pushing over 35 years. We have no written social rules. At certain rare occasions over the years (even just last year), we have had to step up and apologize for certain comments or attitudes, but otherwise we all know how each other act and react, and we have fun. I don't need to say "No Real World politics", for example. My players have seen my kids grow up, and have tempered their actions (and noise volume) as appropriate over the years.

And since I've been a forever-DM, they also know what kind of game I run (all rolls in the open, nothing fudged, yes that's a dragon on the map feel free to go visit it at level one if you want a new character). Only Campaign-specific changes need to be mentioned ("This game, you either take the Noble background, or give me a great reason why not." The campaign's name is "The Baron Wastes", and the PCs are meant to be all second- or third-heirs of frontier barons.)

When we were looking to fill an unexpected hole in the group, though (one player got a promotion, but it required a night-shift on game nights), we had trouble filling the spot. The basic social contract rule was this: You have to be comfortable inviting this person into your home. We might not be friends, but no one is accepted who you'd be embarrassed to introduce to friends and family.

Having said all that, one of my players recently (COVID) decided to try his hand at DMing. He did a great job! I played in on 5e campaign with mostly the same crew as my own D&D game, with a couple roll20-forum-invitees, though, so he did set some social ground rules ("most of us have kids, so keep foul language to a minimum"). And now I'm in a Pathfinder game he's running, mostly with people I don't know -- a larger set of social contract rules there.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
My table rules mostly involve dice etiquette:
  • Everyone "rolls in the open," including the DM. We play on Roll20, so everyone sees what everyone else rolls. My players insisted we play this way, and I don't mind at all.
  • Rolling completes the action. Once you have rolled the dice, it's too late for someone to use the Guidance cantrip, or to use the help action, or "wait let me cast Bless first!" Describe your action, take all the time you need--but once you roll, the action has ended. We had to implement this rule because low rolls were slowing down the game.
  • If you do the same thing that someone else just did, in the same way they just did it, you'll get the same result they just got. This usually only comes up when someone rolls low on an Intelligence (Investigation) check or whatever, which prompts everyone else at the table to suddenly want to investigate also. I want to be clear that I do allow multiple attempts, even retries...I just require the player to describe how their character is doing it differently this time, in order to merit a different check. There are only so many ways you can look at a wall, after all.
  • When creating characters, you must always roll your stats, using the 4d6 method. The DM will also roll a set of stats, which will become the "default array" for the campaign (in case someone doesn't want to roll, or if they want/need to create a new character later on.)
  • We use the 'Mercer rule' for rolling hit points. Whenever you gain a level, you are required to roll--no "taking average"--but if you roll a 1, you get to reroll it. (Characters with d10 and d12 hit dice can reroll on a 1 or a 2.)
  • If you are holding your d20 while speaking (or if your hand is raised in Discord), you are considered to be talking "in character" and NPCs will react accordingly. We aren't voice actors, so this is our work-around.
Some non-dice table rules:
  • If the gaming session is on your birthday (or close to your birthday), your character earns double XP all night long.
  • If you're late to the gaming session, we start without you. Your character is considered to be present, just sort of doing their own thing in the background (they are "just off camera") until you can log on.
  • If you miss a gaming session, they will be "just off camera" for the whole night, and they will only earn half XP. (It used to be "no XP for absent players," but we changed it when our players started having babies.)
 

rmcoen

Adventurer
Some "Table Rules" that aren't "social contract":
  • Show up early on or at least on-time, you start the session with Inspiration (or a single-use of "Lucky")
    • For your birthday session, you get 1 extra, which is over and above the previous rule
  • Your character is present, whether you are or not. Designate someone to run him/her/it, or the GM will pick for you. [Unless, in some specific cases, your character can be absent, like just not participating in the city adventure. In which case you are "sick with a cold", and stay off-stage.]
  • Dice that end up cocked or off the table are rerolled; you do not reroll any other dice that might have been in the same roll.
  • Know your character, their gear, and their abilities. If you have to spend play time doing research, game time elapses; this might make you lose your turn in combat, or the chance to act in other encounters!
  • The more you work to integrate your character and their story to the campaign and the world (and the other players), the more the DM will reward your efforts. (This is a bonus situation, not a requirement - interact with it as you choose, or don't.)
  • The DM brings Swiss Rolls to every session; he provides drinks when he hosts. The players provide all other food. (With some exceptions.)
  • The DM will be angry and frustrated at last-minute cancellations, but he's working on that... In return, please try to plan ahead!
 

The Sigil

Mr. 3000 (Words per post)
Social Contract Rules:
  • Rule 0: Use Your Head
  • Bring Your Own Snacks. Nobody likes a mooch.
  • Be On Time. Keeping others waiting is rude. If there are circumstances beyond your control delaying you or causing you to miss the session, send a message, even a brief one.
  • End On Time. You're guests in my wife's house, and she expects to have full reign of the house back when we told her we'd be done.
  • Know Your Character's Powers (including the rules on how to use them). The DM has to worry about absolutely every other thing that happens, the least you can do is have the courtesy to prepare to play your own character. Yes, there may be edge cases we have to look up, but searching the rulebooks during a session to figure out how something works should happen once per session, if ever (this is relaxed a bit for the first few sessions of a new rule set).
  • Don't try to offend other people.
  • If you're "other people," don't try to be offended.
  • The DM, not the Rulebook, is the ultimate arbiter. (If the DM doesn't know the answer, he will make something up on the fly he deems sensible, note in the moment this is an off-the-cuff call and he will look up the real rule later. At the next session, any rulings that will be done differently in the future based on having looked up the rules as written will be noted but not retconned.)

Game-Specific Rules (D&D)
  • A round is six seconds. When I come to you for your action, if it takes you more than six seconds to begin explaining what you are doing, your action for the round is "indecision." (Some complex actions may take more than six seconds to FINISH explaining, but you need to have started to communicate a coherent thought by that time).
  • All rolls where the outcome is obvious (e.g., combat) are made in front of the players.
  • Rolls where there is no way to know the outcome (e.g., Perception check) are made behind the DM screen. The DM is likely to throw dice and random intervals that don't actually involve checks so you don't know when he's REALLY checking your Perception, checking for Wandering Monsters, etc.
  • The villains don't know they're the villains. The DM will play monsters with tactics appropriate to their intellect.
  • The villains are trying to win. The DM is NOT trying to win. However, this may mean your character dies, goes unconscious, etc. There is no feeling of accomplishment without risk.
  • The DM may do some fudging behind the screen in the favor of the players that do not involve die rolls (lowering HP of monsters, for example) if he realizes an encounter is harder than he anticipated; he will NOT fudge rolls in the case of bad luck (e.g., if you just spent three rounds rolling 6 and below on your attacks and missed, that doesn't mean the encounter is too hard - it means you had bad luck; if you just spent three rounds rolling 16 and above on your attacks and missed, that probably DOES mean the encounter is too hard). He will NOT fudge things in favor of the villains.
  • You may attempt an impossible action. If you do so, the DM is not obliged to allow a natural 20 to mean success. ("I don't care if you scored a natural 20 on your Acrobatics check, you can't move your feet quickly enough to walk on water").
  • The world is a dangerous place. While exploring is encouraged, foolhardy exploring is likely to get you in over your head. The DM will try to plant some warning signs to indicate "you will be in over your head" but if you run through those signs, the DM will not fudge things in your favor (i.e., if you're a first level group, you may certainly attempt to kill the ancient red dragon in his lair in a straight-up fight - and you should expect to be crisped within seconds).
  • While the DM is NOT trying to kill you outright, he's not trying to save you, either. He's trying to set up encounters where you are likely to succeed, but there IS a risk of failure.
  • (With my last group of 3 players): Each player controls two characters; it is natural that one will be the "favored" character but the other one is not the slave of the first one and the DM will not permit things like "Character B gives all his money to Character A so Character A can be better-equipped." (This rule also makes it easier to keep a player engaged if one or two of the party members is incapacitated or killed during an encounter; the player now runs only the single character remaining).
  • When attempting a check that multiple characters may attempt, ONE character makes the roll for the party (e.g., Survival to forage food). The character may be aided by other characters, but you fail and succeed as a group.
 

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