Categories
Roleplaying Tools

GM Table Rules

Game Management

Table Rules of Play

What is table rules play? This is when the games masters has to put boundaries explicitly into the night so behaviour of one or more players and their characters should not negatively impacts on the fun of other players or the group.

Usually this covers characters committing evil acts in the game, but can also include those that are known “triggers” (actions that cause can cause traumatic responses) as well as mean spirited digs at players.

We are all not perfect angels, and games are meant be fun an a relaxed environment, but to achieve that we need boundaries and the GM’s role is to enforce those boundaries. Sometime as the games master I will allow my players the room to express themselves, or find a balance in the group before I step in an assert what is acceptable at the table. If you want to see how much the rules of the game can become an issue have a look at the House Rules where I talk about Rules As Written, Rules As Intended and a lot of the bad things this has brought to the game table)

So each character has three issues it can cause in game (either by game play, or player interaction) and each player has three characters they can lose from issues before they will be asked to leave that group.

Rule #1 – No evil characters

(or players) in the games.

What does this mean? Exactly what it says. The games that I run are where the player characters are the heroes of the setting, you might be downtrodden, have faults or other issues they work on as they strive to be the hero. In some cases its simply trying to be making the world a better place.

Playing evil characters will result in offline discussion and the implementation of the three strikes rule.

Evil characters are those who go out of their way to be harmful to other player characters in the game, ranging from direct attacks to rendering them ineffective and irrelevant in the game. If this is at the expense of the other player character, even after they have spoken up about this being a negative impact, then it will count against the character doing the action.

Another way a character can be disruptive in the game is to actively avoid the storyline, such as kill, dismiss or ignore NPCs as they provide important story information, destroy information, or act against the interest of the storyline. An example could be to gain the kings favour, so they pick a fight with the kings guard. Or in an investigative mission, they kill everything instead of talk and gain the information they need.

A way someone can be an evil player is to be aggressive to other players to the point they are uncomfortable to be in your presence, to personally attack them verbally (physically is an automatic ejection from all games). Basically trying to bully other players or the GM is not a good thing at the table in a hobby where most of us grew up being subject to that behaviour on a daily basis. But to earn this as counting against your character, you have to choose to continue the actions willingly after being warned of the repercussions.

This is not meant as a straight jacked causing players to hold their tongue, or a warning that you will be kicked out. This is here to remind you that it is a shared game, and only works if players, and the games master is enjoying it. Being excited about this is wonderful and helps create excitement for everyone else, just don’t do it at the expense of everyone else. If someone (including the Games Master) is behaving in a negative way to the groups enjoyment, its your right as a player to see if you can fix it to improve this social event. Because that is what a game is, a social event.

If evil play is your thing, my games are not for you.

On the rare occasion I will tell you that your actions can be evil, such as when you might be dominated and I wanted to give you a chance to roleplay it. This is not free reign, it has the limitations of being vague and not going into explicit detail of the evil acts you get involved in. Such as I intimidate him with threats of violence is much prefered to going into detail about what you will do to the person.

Rule #2 – Be respectful

to the other players and the Games Master.

Disrespectful players will be asked to leave.

Like being evil at the table, being respectful at the table has similar issues such as announcing to the table the game stats of what they have just encountered without giving them a chance to experience it, telling the GM they are wrong about how the game works and holding up game play just to prove a point. Or simply not paying attention to what is going on because chatting to someone else was more important, requiring the last five minutes to be repeated just for your benefit. Clarification because your unsure of aspects is one thing, not having a clue as to what happened just before your name was called 2-3 times as you were not listening is some else.

Then there is allowing someone to have their turn, without forcing them to do what you want, supporting them is fine, but if they have it under control telling them repeatedly where to move their miniature to does not help. Talking over others is a problem, especially with mixed groups where some players are online and some at the table. With the sensitivity of microphones, those talking online can be overpowered by players at the table insisting on having their side conversations during the active players turn, yet getting annoyed with it happens to them. I do allow some side conversation, but players need to be mindful that the louder and more often they talk over other players, the more those players have to repeat themselves, or the less engaged other become. Also how can you keep track of the story, or expect the game master to keep track of your side storyline, if you not the active player at the time and they are trying to listen to someone else.

Players also have triggers ranging from phobia to trauma because as adults life likes to throw us some curveballs. So some of the warnings on inappropriate conduct or content relate to that. I won’t explain why, just tell you it is inappropriate for that game table. The explanation of why is personal to the people involved, and their privacy needs to be respected. This also stems to players trusting the games master to make a call for the good of the table, even if it curbs some enthusiasm from players. Some of these things can be no to races, or concepts, or themes, and if you don’t trust that there is a good reason behind the stopping of that, then you might need to ask privately why. Just don’t always expect a full answer.

An example of this is if an NPC is doing inappropriate touching, that’s as much information as you get. No description of it will be dropped on the table, that’s your imagination of what is inappropriate. Rape or torture of any sort should not be implied on or by player characters, and definitely not part of any scene or description. This can also include self harm, physical abuse of children (which considering adults in fantasy are still children by our current standards makes aspects challenging). If in doubt about an action, feel free to ask. This is important in games with Paladin and force users because they rely on the morality of the character involved as the mechanics have good and evil as part of the character rules.

For this to be an issue, you need to be told this is an issue and further instances after you agree not to do it again counts as one of your three character game issues.

Rule #3 – Provide Stat blocks

Those who provide stat blocks gain access to extra rules from my website and books released, those that do not can only access the Core rules books. Pathfinder 2 (Core Rule), D&D (Players Handbook, Monster Manual and Dungeon Masters Guide)

As I run 6 games which contain 40+ characters, if those characters are not in a standardised format I have laid out, and I can follow with a glance (not one recreated because my players have a different view of where things should sit for their own aesthetics) I provide a ongoing bonus for being a team player and making my job or administering the game easier. This is in the GM’s Luck Roll bonus.

As of writing this, most required enough rework that I had to pass on the job of just getting the stats to the requested format as I am unable to follow up all the changes that need to be made and still have time for myself. Verifying that a Stat Block follows the asked for format (also provided for each game online) takes at least an hour per character level if I have to try and figure out what different and unique changes were implemented for this character.

Being told its all improvements, or better the way a players has done it does not meet the requested format.

If something seems too powerful or not following the rules as intended, then it is easier to check the references of a character and are the expected time I will look in depth at your character. As they stats are important to a Games Master only when designing character specific items, questlines and interactions, it is not as important up to that point unless an issue in the game is called.

Ongoing as part of bringing a new character to a game, players will need to have a stat block accepted a week before the game they want to bring it into to be fair on the other players.

Having the character dropped on the night provides the obligation on the GM to accept the character as is (I can’t read it during game play time) or that player walks from the table. And yes that has happened, so I am reluctant to allow that level of intimidation and bullying to be permitted ongoing.

It might not seem like much, but a lot of character issues have stemmed from players asking for character changes or options (or revealed what options they had taken) at the gaming table which basically ruins a lot of time and preparation as its normally a yes to no (with most no’s being taken badly).

Rule #4 – All Games will be recorded

and put into my YouTube Channel.

You can witness what you missed, and revisit what you attended. There will be no editing, so what you say will go online. As of 150 videos, only one of them has had any editing to remove an argument after the game that lasted for 30 minutes of the recording, even though I suggested taking it off line, I chose to have it edited out before posting online.

If you believe your actions are not acceptable for going onto YouTube, then they are not acceptable at the gaming table. This is the final warning on your behaviour as it will be there for the world to see after the events.

Conclusion

The use of these tactics are designed as a balance to my gaming groups, and not the first option, but as a way of making it clear that there is a line people should not cross without permission.

If you ask the player, the group or the GM and get consent for the actions without any objection, then that’s just part of the game, and can be dealt with as we are all adults (mostly) and will endeavour to make the game interesting as well and enjoyable.

Content Updates

Game Management

GM – Choosing a New Campaign, Downtime Uses, GM’s Luck Roll, House Rules, Running Games over Skype, Sandbox vs Linear, Table Rules, Tracking Experience

Annotated Stat Blocks: Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Pathfinder 2, Star Wars FFG

Creating a Campaign: D&D Mystara Design, Genesys, Pathfinder, Pathfinder 2 TRAP Design, Shadowrun, Star Wars

Character Creation: Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder 2, Star Wars Beta, Star Wars FFG

Concluding a Campaign: Star Wars

NPCsTalking to NPCs, Working with NPCs.

Virtual Table Top (VTT) Software – d20Pro: Installation, Realm Works: Players and their Characters, Using for D&D, Realm Created

Library of Books

B5, d20 System, Pathfinder, SW

Main Logo

This site is constantly under revision, no blog posts are final as this is a work in progress place for me to develop my game settings and rules. Some posts might be placeholders for future content, so feel free to check back later for updated information.

General Links

Basic Links: Who Am I?, Home, Game Tools, Game Session Videos, My Campaigns, My Library, Site Map, Subscription Information

Game Systems: Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder 1 & 2, Shadowrun, Star Wars. Other Game Systems

Follow My Blog

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox. For managing your subscriptions see Subscription Information.

Join 49 other followers

Categories

Site sponsored by the author AS Hamilton (my wife) with her books available on amazon kindle.

By thedarkelf007

I am a long term gamer, I run 6 RPG's a fortnight, host board game, card game and LANs each about once a quarter and have an addiction to buying more games. Games I am currently running are Pathfinder (1st and 2nd Edition) and Dungeons and Dragons (5th Edition).

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s