Shared Expectations among a group of Role-players


So you’re ready to start your game. You’ve found a group of like-minded lads and lasses to get together and play organized pretend. From my experience as a role-player, I’ve found that the all-important session zero is a good starting point for laying down rules, but having some things in writing really helps. Creating a shared expectations document is a great way to get your point across.

Sometimes I put it together beforehand, and other times, it’s a collaborative effort with my players. It’s all up to the group your playing with. Here is an example of something I’ve used in the past.

In my most recent game, I split my doc up into 4 sections:

  1. Overview & campaign info
  2. Rules
  3. Character creation
  4. Optional rules and homebrew


Here is where I lay out the campaign. If we’ve decided on an adventure to play, I put it here. If not, I give a selection of adventures or the type of game I can run as a DM. This might be a conversation starter at the table during session zero.


I have a specific set of rules for the games I run. These are the rules for my club games at school and for my home games with real adults. They’ve evolved over time and I’ll probably tweak them after every campaign as new things come up. Why rules? Equity and fairness are important, and setting some basic ground rules lets everyone know that.

Rules for games run by Nick

  1. Rule number 1 is fun; if it’s not fun for the player and the GM, we should do something different.
  2. Rule 2, we are all good people. While the characters we play are not necessarily lawful good, we are on a team working together. Thou shalt not make it not fun for others, so no trolling.
  3. Rule 3, we all are playing by the same rules. That means the written rules of Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition. You are responsible for remembering the rules that help you. I am responsible for remembering the rules that help me.
  4. Last rule. We’re all human. Humans make mistakes. Forgive and forget. Leave your outside issues at the door and your table issues at the table. You are not your character.

Character creation

The following items are decided by me or my players at the table. Most of these are negotiable depending on the group. I edit my doc to reflect what we decided so if others join our table later, they get the same deal.

  • Starting level, wealth, and equipment
  • Leveling (XP vs. Milestone)
  • Stats (rolling, point buy, or standard array) I use the standard array or point buy for my club games since some students are more trustworthy than others
  • Other stuff

Optional Rules and Homebrew

  • I like the optional flanking and diagonal movement rules from the DMG, so I list them here for reference. List any other homebrew or optional rules you’ll be using.

That’s it! I’d be interested to hear other people’s table rules and shared expectations, so leave a comment if you’ve got something to add.