Monday, August 23, 2010

Table Etiquette and My Thoughts Behind How I Run a Session

As anyone who has ever played any form of roleplaying game knows all too well, distractions, off topic conversation and avoidable interruptions can wreak havoc on a gaming session, to try and combat this as well as to make the most out of the time we have, and to help maintain the integrity of the story being told I have always maintained a few guidelines for my players. I like to clearly define how I run a game to my players, my expectations of them, and what they can expect from me as their GM. I refer to these guidelines with my groups as Table Etiquette. So what I have done here is more or less compiled my Table Etiquette guidelines here as updated for the 3rd edition of WHFRP.

Character actions should be described narratively in the 3rd person perspective e.g. Odwin readies his pistol takes a deep breath, takes aim at the oncoming Gor and pulls the trigger. - In my experience using a homogenous 3rd person perspective tends to be smoother than 1st person. It also helps delineate between in character and out of character dialogue between the players and the GM, and I've found that players tend to describe their characters more dramatically, adding in a lot of detail to their individual roleplaying.

players will make all of their own dice rolls and describe the outcome of their dice pool results for themselves where appropriate.- My thinking behind this is that the story is more interesting when everyone is actively apart of describing the action at hand. As a GM I will happily help them decide the basics of what the dice mean but leave it up to them to describe how the action plays out. When the action teeters on factors outside the scope of their character however I as the GM will describe the outcomes, like failing a resilience check when poisoned or during social encounters with an NPC.

The GM will not "fudge" the results of his rolls. - this is personal preference really, but I like to make a promise to my players that they can trust my rolls even if they are done behind the GM screen when the situation warrants it.

If a rule is unclear the GM will always interpret it in the best light for the players until an official ruling can be settled on. -This is here to clarify more than anything else.

Off topic comments and conversations are limited to before or after the session, or during a rally step. -This one is a no brainer, going off topic during the session wastes time and more often than not detracts from the overall enjoyment of the game, and with the natural pause afforded by a rally step it’s a good time to chat for a second. I like to simply state my expectation on this one so everyone is on the same page.

During story mode play players may interrupt another player where appropriate, during encounter mode players should refrain from speaking out of turn. - Another no brainer, simple courtesy that just needs to be said for everyone to be on the same page.

When the GM is narrating descriptions, no one else is talking. - I don't like repeating descriptions, and most of the time if I, as a GM, am describing the scene or anything else, chances are very good that it’s important. If a player interrupts the other players miss something important.

No food at the gaming table, feel free to eat during breaks, before or after a session. -This one is a new one specifically for WHFRP 3rd Edition. There is a good deal of expensive components that I don't want to become stained and greasy.

Beverages are perfectly okay but be mindful of them and try and keep them in sealable containers. - Same reasoning as above, a dropped coke could utterly ruin a core sets worth of components.

So thats the basics anyway of the Table Etiquette I use when GMing a sesson and the reasons I choose to do things my way. I would really like to hear what other folks do, I am always looking for ways to improve the games I run!

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