October 27, 2009

Rules of the Campaign

One thing I highly recommend for someone about to start a new campaign is to write up and send out a Rules of the Campaign. This is not a new idea, but basically it means letting your prospective players know what they can expect in the campaign. This can be exceedingly helpful; if they are expecting a campaign of dungeon crawls and instead get court intrigue, they may be disappointed or even resentful. A prospective player may not be in the mood for the style of campiagn you have planned and its best to determine that at the outset.

Here is a copy of the email I sent out to my prospective players:

This is a 4th edition D&D campaign.
It will run every other Monday starting at 7pm and ending at about 10pm.
The place will be at my house; address and telephone included here.
Character generation will be done on the first night. All characters will be human in race and will all be 13 years old at the beginning of the campaign. There will be no classes chosen at the beginning.
The campaign can end in several ways. There is an end goal that the campaign will push toward. There are other ways to end the campaign prematurely, mostly by the players messing up with their actions.
House rules:
We will be following the basic rules of 4th edition. New rules may be added as supplements are released.
I would prefer it if players play a character of the same sex. I feel it helps avoid confusion and makes DMing easier.
I do not mind verbal party conflicts, but I do not like party members fighting other party members to cause them physical harm.
Our first night will be July 28th.

The goal of this is to outline what the players need to know to make informed decisions.  Ultimately you want players who want to play in your style of campaign. Outlining such things as the day, time and place where the game will be played can help your players ask themselves if they can commit to those days and travel time. A well prepared brief will get the players enthused to play.
One of the most important things that needs to be included are the House Rules, those rules you want the players to play by that fall outside the expected norms.

Some of the information that may be included are:
  • Place. Will the place rotate between locations?
  • Time span for the night.
  • Day or frequency. 
  • Estimated length of the campaign. 
  • Food rules. Are people expected to bring food.
  • Game system.
  • Major changes to the game system. Shadowrun rules in a fantasy setting?
  • Supplements allowed.
  • Classes/Races allowed.
  • Special abilities, skills, etc allowed or disallowed (whichever list is shorter).
  • Alignments suggested. Are the characters expected to be heroes or can they play evil characters?
  • Distraction rules. Are laptops, texting, etc allowed during playtime.
  • Building rules. Is smoking allowed, are there pets to deal with, etc?
  • Guests.  Are they allowed?
  • Missed games. How is a missing player handled?
  • Removal. Is there something that will get a player kicked from the group?
  • DM rules. Personal bias rules on the part of the DM.
I'm curious what other House Rules people have implemented in the past.
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