Same page tool
There are many ways to play role-playing games. When different people in the same group are trying to do different things, the game can end up being unfun. This tool is designed to get everyone on the same page before the game starts. Generally, the person proposing the game specifies which statements apply to their game. People signing up to the game know what they're signing up to.
None of these choices are any better or worse than any other. Most games can be played with most choices. Most players can enjoy games with most choices. What's important is that people know what's expected in this particular game.
Who prepares the story?
- The GM prepares the overall shape of the story, linear or branching. Players run their characters through these events. The GM gives hints to provide direction.
- The GM preps a map with NPCs and/or monsters. The players have their characters travel anywhere they can reach on the map, according to their own goals.
- The players prepare long-term goals for their characters. The GM is expected to shape everything else around the pursuit of those goals.
- No-one plans anything. PCs and NPCs just do what seems right at that moment. This might or might not lead to a good story.
- There's no GM. Everyone works together to make the story through freeform.
- There's no GM. The rules and the system coordinate it all.
What can players contribute to the story/setting?
- Their character's thoughts and actions; everything else is owned by the GM.
- Their character's thoughts, actions, and backstory; everything else is owned by the GM.
- Their character's thoughts, actions, and backstory, plus occasional story bits when they spend a resource (such as whimsy cards or hero points) or make certain kinds of rolls, subject to GM's approval.
- Whatever they want, subject to GM's approval, which should be as forgiving as possible.
The rules (including agreed house rules) will be:
- followed, come what may.
- ignored when they conflict with what would be good for the story.
- ignored when they conflict with what "should" happen, based either on realism, the setting, or the genre.
Player characters are:
- expected to work together. Conflicts between them are mostly for show.
- expected to work together. Major conflicts might erupt but you'll patch them up given some time.
- expected to work together. Major conflicts might erupt and never see reconciliation.
- pursuing their own agendas. They might work together, they might work against each other.
- expected to work against each other. Alliances are temporary at best.
How brutal is the game?
- If you do dumb things, you character will die quickly.
- Combat is only interesting if at least one PC falls unconscious or is killed.
- Whenever I miss a roll – and sometimes even when I make it – I want the situation to escalate.
- Don't hurt my character without warning. Tell me what the consequences of failure could be and let me back out if I don't like it.
Doing the smartest thing for your character's survival:
- is what a good player does.
- sometimes isn't as important as other choices.
- isn't even a concern or focus for this game.
After many sessions of play, during one session, a player decides to have her character side with an enemy. This is:
- something that shouldn't even happen. This is someone being a jerk.
- where the character becomes an NPC, right away or fairly soon.
- something the player and the GM should have set up ahead of time.
- only going to last until the other player characters find out and do something about it.
- a meaningful moment, powerful and an example of excellent play.
- a perfectly valid choice and no big deal.
Questions that don't seem to fit as well
Do you play to win?
- Yes, you totally play to win! The win conditions are...
- Good play isn't a win/lose kind of thing
How much comedy/wacky/silliness should there be?
- Lots! "Wouldn't it be funny if..." should come true all the time. On a critical fumble do a pratfall.
- Some. When comedy emerges from situations in play that's great, but let's not turn our epic fantasy into an episode of Xena.
- None. Let's take this seriously.
This is a slightly modified version of Chris Chinn's same page tool.