Player-GM Contract

Here there be meta.

Houserules

Inspiration

We’ll be using altered rules for the Inspiration mechanic, based on a post by AngryGM. The modified rules are:

Every character starts with Inspiration at the beginning of the session. It can be used as long as it doesn’t conflict with the character’s Ideals. When used, inspiration provides of of these benefits:

  • grants self Advantage on one D20 roll or
  • grants Advantage to another (the PC must be assisting) or
  • disadvantages the roll of another (must be a position to hinder)

To recover Inspiration, the the player must claim a setback. The player describes a penalty, disadvantaged roll. or counter-productive action that derives from a Flaw or Bond. The DM decides if the claim is valid.

Some examples:

  • A character with the flaw “I believe everyone can be redeemed” takes Disadvantage when springing an ambush. The character feels uneasy about using lethal violence before giving the enemy a chance to surrender.
  • A character with flaw “I relentlessly pursue knowledge” agrees to a terrible bargain, even if the players know it is a trap. To claim the setback, there has to be a consequence, so other characters can’t just talk them out of it. The party should, however, take steps to minimize the damage, which can itself be interesting.

A good Flaw or Bond is not planned or constant. A Bond such as “I have to pay a monthly tithe” is boring, expected, and doesn’t justify a setback.

GM Promises

There will be no gotchas

The DM will not punish for things the players cannot possibly know. Two big ones:

  • no random traps without foreshadowing
  • no unwinnable fights without a warning

In return, the players promise to not search for traps every 10 feet.

Bad consequences should only come from bad decisions (and sometimes bad luck).

In many games players are afraid to use scrying spells, because DMs use them to screw over players. The DM shall not do this. Scrying will give benefits that match the cost, just like everything else.

The DM will provide information characters would know

The DM wants to help players immerse in the world, not screw them over by omission. The players don’t have to ask “can I read that?” If it is readable, the DM shall offer it automatically. This also applies to shopping. The DM will not try to trick players into paying 100 gp for a walking stick.

And this definitely applies to etiquette. Your character would know many social rules, depending on background. The DM will guide you and advise against actions if your in-game char would know they are bad ideas.

No busywork

Players don’t have to make a roll to find a tavern. Unless there’s time pressure or other threat, every possible action succeeds automatically.

If a knowledge check would apply, the DM will ask everyone to make a roll. Players don’t need to ask.

Many combats are optional

The DM isn’t a fan of “monsters just because.” Every combat has a cause, every monster has a motivation, many can be bribed or intimidated. Nor does every combat have to be to the death. Parley can happen anytime, especially if one side has an advantage.

Of course, some combats are unavoidable, and sometimes they are to the death. Zombies don’t negotiate.

Lethality is negotiable

Lethality is a style thing. Some players like the thrill of possible TPKs, some don’t. The DM will ask, and tune the game to match the player’s appetite.

No acting required

Decisions matter, not acting. If you want to use a fancy accent or gestures, that’s OK. But you won’t be punished for speaking normally. Talk out of character if you want. Focus on the decisions your character would make.

Coop suspension of disbelief

The DM will make occasional adjustments to make the game fun. This includes “fudging” a battle in either direction. The DM will attempt to do this subtly. In return, the PCs won’t “look behind the curtain.”

Player Promises

Pay attention

It is the DM’s job to set the pace, so everyone has fun. If you aren’t paying attention, you may lose your turn.

Know your character

You don’t have to know all the rules. But you do need to know the rules for your class, race, and gear. If you need to check those rules during your turn, you may lose your turn. ESPECIALLY spells. The DM gladly will help you with prep.

Don’t ask to “skill something.”

Never say “I roll Intimidate against the guard.” That’s playing a rule, not a character. That’s as bad as saying “I DEX a door.”

Instead, tell the DM what your character does, and how he does it. The DM will tell you if you have to roll.

Some better examples:

  • “I shake my mace and threaten to beat the guard to death.” (violence)
  • “I twirl my daggers with obvious skill, and say it would be a shame if the guard’s family just… vanished one night.” (coercion)
  • “I flex my muscles and call the guard a wimp, and threaten to humiliate him right here in the street.” (bullying)

This is both more immersive and more flexible. The DM can award Advantage for creative solutions.

Don’t rules lawyer

If you find a way exploit the rules that makes it unfun for others, the DM will change the rules, or even ban/kill your character. Min-maxing is fine, get creative, as long as everyone is having fun.

Don’t derail the game

Psychopath characters are not allowed. Stealing from other characters is not allowed.

Derailing the game by ignoring all quests is not allowed. The DM encourages improvisation, but also has a story to tell and has spent many hours on it.

It’s the DM’s job to maintain pace and prevent boredom. If the DM tells you a scene is over, it is over.

Player-GM Contract

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