I have put together a packet I call the “Players Guide” which gives information about my world, my rule changes from the AD&D PHB and DMG, and information on how the game will run. I have edited the packet a few times adding several pages with additional tables, and paragraphs of detail. My players have slowly been coming to me with feedback regarding the changes, but only one has approached me regarding the style of play we will incorporate. It is this feedback that I really want, as helpful as the rules feedback has been.
I posted before now the seven fundamental requirements for playing in my game. These I felt were reasonable and I researched each of them keeping the game context in place. These requirements were also answers to some problems that we have had. Players regularly showing up forty-five minutes late, for example, was a problem I addressed. I want to treat these people like adults but also don’t want to enable rude behavior.
The one response I received dealing with these requirements is that my players would not be up for it. That the players won’t want to give up their little abuses and that I should find new players if I want to go this stricter, more “serious” way. I appreciated his feedback. Maybe I do need new players. Or maybe, although I don’t believe this, I need to forget about these new standards and I should just let people do what they do. They enjoyed my game in the past so… Maybe I’m wrong.
Or maybe I’m right. Part of treating these adult people as adults is to respect their words. I have asked each of them how they felt about the packet. So far all but the one has skipped over the requirements section with their feedback, and told me what they liked or disliked about the rule changes. I am certain that they have read the requirements, and at this point will treat their silence as acceptance of those requirements. Nevertheless, I will ask each player more specifically if he or she is okay with the requirements, but that will be their last chance to comment. After that, players, myself included, will be held responsible to their commitment.
So how can an adult game be fun? The game is too serious if we set up house rules for play, isn’t it? If Joe and Frank are an hour late, that just gives the rest of us more time to socialize. If Jane and Sally only speak when spoken to then that’s fine; more time for the real players to have their voices heard. Jim is on his phone so now is a good time to take advantage of his distraction. Speaking of distraction Margaret has fallen asleep on the couch and doesn’t need a share of tonight’s treasure. No one remembers that hint the old man in the tavern gave us last session; I will sneak back and exploit that on my own. Bill didn’t even show up, but hey, it’s only a game. Only a game.
It’s not only a game, people. You are building relationships around that table. You are forming possibly long-term friendships. Wouldn’t that be easier without snide remarks about behavior? What about hurt feelings because a good and fair boundary wasn’t set? What about those two anxious players you have that are frustrated because players are late? Where’s the respect? Players should do what they want to do. If they want to talk on their phones during the game then they should probably find a different game where phone chat is acceptable. They would be happier, and those still around the original table would not be held up.
Come, let us kill Orcs together, unified by purpose and fraternity. Let us scheme the best way to knock over that trade caravan, with each of us working together. Let us delve into that ancient tomb and with concerted effort, put to rest the Lich King of Arswhole. Let’s come to the table as close friends and leave a little closer.