When I Run A Roleplaying Game…

…I want everyone to be there at the beginning. I know this isn’t always ideal, or even possible, but I want everyone to be there every week (or session). I want everyone to be there to make characters together, even if it’s just in a brainstorming capacity.

…I want everyone to already have an idea of what they want to play. I don’t mind if they change their mind when they hear what everyone else wants to play, because it’s important to create a group that works well together – and that’s hard to do when everyone does their own thing independently of one another.

…I want everyone to have an idea of how they want their character to develop. I’m not saying they have to plan their character out to thirtieth level, or even to second level. I want them to have a goal, any goal, for their character. “Become the best swordsman who ever lived,” is acceptable but, “find lots of treasure and level up,” is not.

…I want everyone to have an idea of their place in the world. Which is not to say that their character knows, but rather they realize they’re an adventurer or a noble or whatever, and they can seek out opportunities relevant to their desires. A blacksmith probably doesn’t care about fancy to-dos, but if they do, I expect them to know why.

…I want everyone to have an idea of something their character simply won’t stand for – it could be monsters, it could be lying, stealing, or murder – it doesn’t matter. There needs to be a point where the character will draw a line, and then be ready to throw down. Or run away. Either works. “I don’t care,” is a failure on your part.

…I want the characters to get along, even if they’re grinning through their teeth at each other. Don’t steal from the party. Don’t attack anyone in the party. When your character is the subject of charm person, they should have reason to resist fighting their traveling companions. Even just a little.

…I want everyone to be prepared to die, but not to expect it. I will push you to your breaking point. I will push your character to their breaking point. The object of the game is to not break. To go past the breaking point and to bounce back harder than ever. You’re heroes (or villains) and I expect you to act like it.

…I want everyone to know the rules their character uses. If you’re playing a spellcaster, read the magic section of the book. Ask questions. If you’re a ranger, read about wilderness survival. Ask questions. If you’re a fighter, read about weapons. Everyone should read the combat section. And ask questions.


I might have to find some way to codify these into a manifesto or something. It’s like bringing a pencil and scratch paper, your own dice, and your character sheet. Every player has their homework, their minimum level of participation, even if it’s to come up with their own name. I hope some of you out there agree.

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