Session Zero .pdf
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□ Drop Box – Session Write-Ups
□ Demo: 5-10 Minutes, show-case ability checks, role playing and combat
□ Experience – Characters level up by gaining experience (XP). XP is awarded for “beating” an
opponent – this could mean killing them, subduing them, talking them out of their current
situation/course of action, evading detection by them or similar. XP is also awarded for some noncombat situations. Examples like convincing a noble/baron to pay his subjects better wages,
weedling information out of a particularly secretive Dwarf, etc.
Possibility of individual XP gains (rewards for fun/innovative play, MVP), OR fully shared?
□ Sessions – Try to arrive a little before our arranged time: helps keep things accurate. If anyone
needs to leave by a certain time, let us know at the start! We’ll arrange the next session at the end of
the current. Minimum player count I can DM with is three – how does everyone want to deal with
player absences (continue playing OR pause the game – Board Games as back-up)? How does
everyone feeling about doing a Pizza Round Robin?
□ Table Behaviour – Keep everything respectful: everyone is here to have fun, everyone deserves
their turn/chance. I’ll do my best to make sure that everyone does get a chance and their turn. Are
there any topics that anyone is sensitive about (sex/types of violence/political issues like slavery)
that we should be aware of? I welcome any feedback after a session, and if there’s ever any issues
with anything feel free to talk to me after a session, or ask for a Time Out mid-game and we’ll do
our best to resolve.
□ Distractions – They do happen, and we all understand that we can’t maintain a constant focus for
hours. I just ask that you try to pay attention when everyone is involved. One of the most annoying
things in D&D can be getting a player’s turn and them asking “so what’s going on?”.“Three Strikes
Rule”. If three times in the same session it comes to your go and you aren’t prepared (note: paying
attention, unsure on your action is okay), then we treat your character as having been distracted ingame for one round. This’ll be at my (DM’s) discretion, but it’ll result in something like your
character is easier to hit for that round, or isn’t paying enough attention when attacking so has to
roll higher to hit an opponent.
□ Player Character Behaviour – Some rules! No direct attacks against other PCs (this makes the
game a versus instead of cooperative affair). If you disagree with another PC’s action/suggestion –
speak up. Debate about it. If the two can’t come to a reasonable and mutual agreement in-game,
then the party can vote on what to do. Otherwise, the two involved players can roll off to see who
wins out. Unannounced dice rolls don’t count – if no-one else at the table heard you announce what
you’re rolling for, that 20 you just rolled won’t count! Characters can keep secrets from other
characters in certain situations, especially when it’s to do with their background – be mindful of
what you as a Player know vs. what you as a Character knows.
□ Roll-play vs Roleplay – Roleplaying isn’t for everyone, and I won’t force anyone to do more
than you want to. That being said, it is a role playing game, and I do encourage it. I’d suggest trying
to envisage how your character would speak, stand, the faces they would pull at different times,
their likes and dislikes etc. Watch any of Matthew Mercer’s D&D on youtube if you need any
hints/tips of how to role play (I’d suggest looking up Force Grey, as the players roleplay as well as
□ Expectations – Is there anything you specifically would like to see, or expect to see, in D&D
(apart from D&D themselves)? Are you more interested in combat and slaying monsters, diffusing
political situations, learning more of magic, foiling the plots of big bad evil people?
□ Game Length – Anyone is free to drop out and say “I’m not interested in playing any more” at
any time, but in terms of overall game length, D&D is highly variable. I have a sandbox world that
you as a party can roam and play in, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to go on forever. Is
there any set length anyone specifically wants to the overall campaign, or shall we just play it by
ear? Does anyone have any plans to move out of Auckland in the next year or two?
□ Short Rest – Min. 1 Hour; may spend a Hit Die to roll it and regain that much HP.
□ Long Rest – Min. 8 Hours; regain all HP & Hit Die
□ Advantage – Roll twice, use the highest score.
□ Disadvantage – Roll twice, use the lowest score.
□ Combat Turn – Can consist of an action and movement, though you can do neither, either or
both. You can split movement across your turn (example: move, attack, move again). Actions can
vary from attack, change weapon, to all manner of things. If in doubt, ASK!
□ Ready an Action – Announce that you are readying your action (you must state the action), and
the circumstance involved (i.e. I’ll hold my bow drawn with an arrow ready to fire if any enemies
come around the corner). If and when that circumstance comes about, you take your action as a
□ Bonus Actions – Some abilities give you bonus actions, which will allow a character to do a
specific thing in addition to its movement and normal action.
□ DC – Difficulty Class is how hard an action is. For example, trying to dodge a fireball may have a
DC of 15. You roll a D20 and compare your result after modifiers against the DC. Some actions
may have a sliding scale, becoming easier or harder with subsequent successes or failures.
□ Natural 20’s – A natural 20 on a D20 roll (that is, a 20 rolled BEFORE modifiers take effect)
doesn’t always mean an automatic success. With attack rolls IF, after modifiers, the attack hits, a
natural 20 counts as a critical hit. This means the basic damage is doubled, before modifiers are
□ Passive/Active Perception – A perception check may be taken when you are looking around a
room; you are actively trying to perceive things. Passive perception is a stat without a roll – this is
how well you notice things normally, for example how likely you are to notice an ambush or trap
along the road you are travelling down.
□ Party Rolls – Some skill checks may involve the entire party (for example sneaking up on an
enemy). In this situation, if more than half the party succeeds, the entire party is considered to have
succeeded (the successful members of the party aid their less-successful allies in the endeavour).
□ Rule of Cool – As a DM, my role is not to say “no” all the time. If you have an idea for what you
want your character to do/try, tell me! My most likely response will be “they can sure try: roll a...”
and you can attempt it.
□ Inspiration – A player may be awarded Inspiration as a reward for particularly good roleplay
acting, for ingenious (or downright hilarious) solutions to puzzles/situations, or for staying true to
your character’s stated personality/background. A player may only have one inspiration token at a
time, and may, once per session, use an inspiration token to give advantage on a character’s next
ability check, attack roll or saving throw (a player may give inspiration to a character that they do
not control, including an allied NPC).
□ Renown – Completing tasks for certain people and factions may raise your standing with them.
At the end of the session you may be awarded renown with a religious group, political party,
business enterprise, family or a settlement. Renown can build, gaining you bonuses and advantages
when dealing with that faction/people.
□ Downtime – Each completed session will grant you downtime. This is measured in days, and can
be used when not in a dungeon or otherwise engaged in an urgent task, to represent your character
spending time doing non-adventuring activities. This can be things like learning a new skill, crafting
things, raising buildings and other pursuits.
□ Vendors – Prices will vary vendor to vendor based on a variety of things. Rarity of the item or
material you are trying to buy or sell, the location of the vendor and how easy they can restock their
goods, and reputation/renown with an associated faction to name but a few. Some vendors will
haggle, whilst others will take offence at the attempt.
□ Death – When a character drops to 0 HP, they fall unconscious to the ground, and begin to bleed
out. From then, it is a race against time whether or not the other characters can reach the fallen ally
and stabilise them. Every turn they roll a D20; on a 10 or more you succeed, below that you fail.
Fail three times and you bleed to death, and your character dies.
□ 20/1 – Rolling a “1” on a death saving throw counts as two failures. Rolling a “20” gains
you 1HP, and you regain consciousness.
□ Taking damage while at 0 HP deals a failed death saving throw to your character, and
taking equal to or more than your total maximum HP while a 0 HP results in an instant
□ TPK – How do you want to handle Total Party Kill situations? Make new characters of a similar
level, start with new characters of level 1 of a different region/story area?
□ Races – The available races are as follows; Human, Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, Halfling, Half-Orc, HalfElf, Tiefling, Dragonborn, Firbolg, Goliath, Lizardfolk, Tabaxi, Triton and Tortle. Racial stat
bonuses won’t be in effect, so make your choices based on what you think is cool!
□ Sub-races – Sub-races can be chosen as normal, but like the standard choices, won’t grant
extra stat modifications. The listed ability additions will remain in place, however.
□ Classes – All classes listed in the Player’s Handbook are available, that is: Barbarian, Bard,
Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard.
□ Stat Generation – Roll 4D6 and subtract the lowest score. Do this six times to generate six
numbers, then assign them to each of your six stat blocks. The total for all stats must be equal to or
greater than 70 (if they are not, re-roll your lowest number until it is). Your AC is determined by the
armour that you wear (except for Tortle), and your Initiative is equal to your Dexterity modifier.
□ Hit Points or HP is determined by your class’s hit die. At level one, your HP is equal to the
highest roll of that Hit Die, plus your Constitution modifier. For the first two level gains (at 2 and
3), you will similarly use the highest roll of that Hit Die plus your Con modifier to gain more
maximum HP. After this (at level 4 onwards), you can choose one of two methods of gaining
maximum HP, as shown below.
- Average method. You take the average roll of one Hit Die (shown in brackets in your class
entry) and add your Con modifier. This is your maximum HP gain.
- Roll method. You take one Hit Die and roll it, adding your Con modifier to the result. This
total is your maximum HP gain.
□ Determine Background – Whilst trying to keep in mind the backstory and personality of your
character, choose a background (Pg. 125 of the Player’s Handbook). This will not only grant your
character an extra ability or two and some extra equipment, but will enable you to flavour your
character’s history further using the bonds, ideals and flaw options listed.
- Whilst the background needs to be chosen from the list for purposes of ability proficiencies
and equipment, it is by no means definitive or set in stone. If you have an idea/concept that
doesn’t quite fit with the backgrounds given TELL ME. We can work together to
tweak/reflavour one of the backgrounds to match your idea without unbalancing the
- Renown. With sufficient cause (i.e. justification based on your character’s background), I
may decide to grant a request of some starting renown to a character. This does not
necessarily mean you’ll encounter the faction involved, or that the renown will be helpful.
□ Stat Modifiers – Based on your backgrounds, your character will receive two stat modifiers in
place of the racial stat modifiers listed in the Players Handbook. I will distribute those once all the
backgrounds have been finalised.
□ Back story & Knives – This is a cooperative game, and you’ll be in this party throughout, so I
encourage you all to discuss and come up with how you know AT LEAST ONE other member of
the party (aquantaince, business associate, former lover, family member, best friend, etc). Finally,
When writing a character's backstory, it's important to include a certain number of "knives". Knives
are essentially anything that the DM can use to raise the stakes of a situation for your character.
Anything that can make a conflict personal, like a threatened loved one or the appearance of a
sudden enemy. They're called "knives" because the players lovingly forge them and present them to
the DM so that the DM can use them to stab the player over and over again.
The more knives a player has, the easier it is for the DM to involve them in the story. So it's
important to have them! When breaking down a backstory, it kind of goes like this:
- Every named person your character cares about, living or dead (i.e. sibling, spouse, childhood
friend) +1 knife [A large family can be bundled into one big knife]
- Every phobia or trauma your character experiences/has experienced +1 knife
- Every mystery in your character's life (i.e. unknown parents, unexplained powers) +1 knife
- Every enemy your character has +1 knife
- Every ongoing obligation or loyalty your character has +1 knife
- Additionally, every obligation your character has failed +1 knife
- Every serious crime your character has committed (i.e. murder, arson) +1 knife
- Every crime your character is falsely accused of +1 knife
- Alternatively if your character is a serial killer or the leader of a thieves guild, those crimes can be
bundled under a +1 BIG knife
- Any discrimination experienced (i.e. fantasy racism) +1 knife
- Every favored item/heirloom +1 knife
- Every secret your character is keeping +1 knife
You kind of get the point. Any part of your backstory that could be used against you is considered a
knife. A skilled DM will use these knives to get at your character and get you invested in the story.
A really good DM can break your knives into smaller, sharper knives with which to stab you. They
can bundle different characters' knives together into one GIANT knife. Because we're all secretly
masochists when it comes to D&D, the more knives you hand out often means the more rewarding
the story will be.
On the other hand, you don't want to be a sad edgelord with too many knives. An buttload of knives
just means that everyone in your party will inadvertently get stabbed by your knives, and eventually
that gets annoying. Anything over 15 knives seems excessive. The DM will no doubt get more as
time goes on, but you don't want to start out with too many. You also don't want to be the plain,
boring character with only two knives. It means the DM has to work harder to give you a personal
stake in the story you're telling together. Also, knives are cool!! Get more knives!!!
□ Knives Continued – Ideally I’d like 7 Knives for each of your characters, but a minimum of 5
will do. Try to be as creative and original as possible; I may even be persuaded to grant Inspiration
before the game has begun for particularly cool Knives! If you’re struggling, talk through your
character concept/idea with your fellow players, or ask me to help. I’m sure we can all come up
with something for everyone together.