DMsGuild
  1. #1

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    Talking about the party dynamic(personalities not classes) is important.

    SUMMARY:
    Do not have an unspoken “social contract” for your player party. Make it an explicit player conversation. Otherwise you don’t really know if your player party is capable of making it out past a handful of sessions or not.
    Not as the characters, but as the players that are playing a game together.
    If you are not for sure all playing the same game, you do not have nearly as much fun, when your individual plays can be mutually exclusive ways to play.

    CRITICAL TO THIS: Be willing to pass up a seat at the table, if you discover most of the other players want to play a way you perosnally don't find fun and don't want to.

    Just cause we're all using 5e or whatever same RPG system, does not at all mean we're actually playing the same game. Many 5e players play in ways that are mutually exclusive for fun from other players play of it.
    If we do not actually talk about it first, we have no clue if any of the other players are playing the same game we are, or are even playing a compatible game to us.




    I find that the common RPG launch (session zero), does not have the players talk as the players with each other nearly enough.
    Typical default start:
    The players will speak of their party class make up, seeking to have a “balanced party”/be sure they got a healer / a lock picker / whatever it is they imagine they need in the party kit of skills.
    But they will not talk about what their player expectations are for the party personality dynamic and this is what many an RPG table falls apart over.



    The real question the players fail to talk about with each other, is personality dynamic of the party and what all they think is or is not fun in that.
    When the adventure kicks off, you are all about to go into the "writer's room" to write the story of your ensemble cast party. Are you sure everyone here is writing the same genre of story together for that ensemble cast?


    You do not box yourself in to choose up front to be a party that may not all easily get along, but for sure has no inner party trust issues.
    OR
    A party that gets along easily but actually does not trust each other for good reasons.



    A group of players, where everyone has fun playing at inner party wealth and power struggle dynamics where trust is just weakness. They will have fun back stabbing each other and basically being the party that has no choice but to be with each other as no one else would have any of them anyway.
    The players will have a great time together.

    The group of players, where everyone likes being a trust fest get along stalwart companions and a company first mentality to their group play. They’re gonna get along and a fun time together too.

    The group of players that wanted to have a party with a party leader they follow and one among them wanting to play at party leader. They are gonna get along and a fun time too.

    The group of players that want to play in a democratic vote group that was out for their own group’s self-interest against the world. These players all get along and have fun together too.

    Are you starting to notice the pattern here yet?


    The players that all wanted to be strangers meeting for the first time, and find out if the party dynamic was going to be good or evil or whatever. And all knew up front whatever the party personality majority winds up being, some of us will have to abandon our first toon and make a new one that does fit to the party. Might even be killed off by the majority of evil players in the party…yeah they will in fact all have fun with this even the ones that had to make a new toon once the party dynamic had been discovered.
    yeah they have a fun time playing together too.


    But if the players did not take the time to have this conversation, about the personality make up of their party(like the party is a character), or if the explicit choice was made to find out and maybe have to make new toons along the way for some.

    Then it is very unlikely these players all just happened to have wanted the same exact kind of RP situation for the party dynamic. And anyone with RPG XP will know, few players are really into letting go a toon they dreamed up on their own as their own cool idea of a toon they really wanted to play next. IF we did not agree up front to let go and make new toons to keep the verisimilitude of the party dynamic plausible, ain't no one likely to be finding it fun if their toon is the odd one out.


    If the players do not take the time to talk to each other about that kind of party dynamic, then their odds of all just randomly happened to have been on the same page about what is fun, isn’t all that good really. And if players do have mutually exclusive ideas of what fun is, they are not that likely to be having fun together.


    GMs, make your players talk about that before they show up and tell everyone else what their toon is that everyone else just has to cope with, good fit to the party personality or not.

    Player’s you don’t need the GM to tell you this. If the GM leave it open, then have this conversation with the other players for sure, do not assume what you imagined was fun is exactly what the other players also imagined as fun.


    The least interesting and ZERO verisimilitude party story, is that we can’t plausibly explain why these characters hang out and go into a fight together, except to say, we are the players at the table that agreed to do that.
    Get synced up about “the genre of story” that your player party dynamic is about. If you do not, then the only story for your party can easily be the story of the players at the table that rolled dice and didn’t have all that much fun together.



    This is what i feel is important two cents for all players and GMs:
    No unspoken assumptions about how we want to play the party, carry on an explicit conversation about that and have that inform your character creation process.
    Last edited by A Social Yeti; November 5th, 2020 at 20:58.

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    I like to have a "session zero" before starting a new game/campaign, etc. where we (DM and players) discuss expectations that each of us might have. A pre-game meeting of this kind is important since gaming is supposed to be a collaborative activity and having a frank discussion of what we really want can only help in the long-term. If a new player joins, I typically meet with that person with members of the group in attendance so that everyone is on the same page.

    This reddit thread goes into quite a bit of detail if you'd like to find out more information about what a zeroth session entails.
    Last edited by OghmaSF; November 4th, 2020 at 09:18. Reason: edited for clarity
    Professional hobbit and legendary-eater-of-meals.

  3. #3

    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by OghmaSF View Post
    I like to have a "session zero" before starting a new game/campaign, etc. where we (DM and players) discuss expectations that each of us might have. A pre-game meeting of this kind is important since gaming is supposed to be a collaborative activity and having a frank discussion of what we really want can only help in the long-term. If a new player joins, I typically meet with that person with members of the group in attendance so that everyone is on the same page.

    This reddit thread goes into quite a bit of detail if you'd like to find out more information about what a zeroth session entails.

    I know i didn't use the key term, "session zero."
    But it is what i was describing here in this passage:

    "I find that the common RPG launch, does not have the players talk as the players with each other nearly enough.
    Typical default start:
    The players will speak of their party class make up, seeking to have a “balanced party”/be sure they got a healer / a lock picker / whatever it is they imagine they need in the party kit of skills.
    But they will not talk about what their player expectations are for the party personality dynamic and this is what many an RPG table falls apart over."


    I apologize for not including the key term in that, i'll edit it into the OP to be more clear with everyone.



    What i'm saying is, in several decades and many zero sessions. The default common start i found was only talking about class make up of the party and maybe, alignments a little. But by and large the playes still invented their own toon's backstory and personality in a vacuum of their own imagination, without the full party interactions in mind*. A party has class balance(whatever class make up satisfied everyone) but is still a group of personalities that rarely have a plausibly reason why they bother staying together as a group, other than that players at the table agreed to do this.

    And other options for party RP, players wind up missing out on, if they just default to being the rag tag group of randos. Instead of taking the time to talk about a group theme/story besides that default one, that might be even more fun for everyone.


    Yes some do, i'm posting this becasue in my years of RPG, it is only some and not the actual default for a session zero, by my xp anyway.


    * We as players tend to default to writing our "main character's" story, rather than considering our character's part in the full ensemble cast story we are actually going to be involved in.
    Last edited by A Social Yeti; November 5th, 2020 at 21:07.

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