For three decades this gaming group has been together in some incarnation. We've expanded, contracted, and changed a lot. The guidelines for a campaign of middle-schoolers are different from those of a group of twenty-somethings out of college. And now that most of us are entering middle-age, it's time for a new set of guidelines.
Guidelines are just that, and the most important thing to remember is that this is a hobby. It is creative storytelling, and we've created an incredible story over the years. We tell a better story when we're all together, but as we get older, that isn't always able to be the case. The point to these guidelines is to lay out the benchmarks that will help us ensure that we get the most people, the most often, and that we all have the most possible fun, together.
Scheduling: Particularly--but not entirely--because of childcare, it is important that we continue to schedule each year in advance. Just like every other guideline, the calendar isn't set in stone, but with no less than three sets of babysitters to rearrange vacation days and other plans, it gets much more difficult as a session date gets closer. We've been scheduling this way for years, now, and I know everyone is comfortable mentioning when a date doesn't work. We'll make every effort to change to accommodate the most people; the only change we've never made is one that results in fewer players being able to make a session than we would have had on the original date!
Party Size: I'm willing to run a session as long as we have a minimum of four players. Smaller groups provide different advantages--and also challenges--from a larger group. Every edition of D&D published since 2000 has been written for a party of four. Previous editions anticipated a party of up to a dozen at lower levels, and groups of 4-6 at higher levels. Maybe that's where the confusion between killing players and killing characters got its start...
Start and End Time: We will start each session at 12:30pm and end at 9:00pm. Because we have a set end time, due to childcare and long commutes, our start time is equally important to make sure that everyone gets as much time at the table as possible. Late arrivals can always be worked into the story, just as we may have a character slip away in a closing encounter so that we can reach a clean stopping place--as has been our custom.
Food: Please take care of lunch before the game session starts. We've had some awesome dinners over the years, both from restaurants and made at the table. The Missed Forums are the best place to arrange dinner plans before the session begins, especially when someone is offering to make something if we'll all chip in for the cost of ingredients. If we know which restaurant we'd like to eat from, then it's also possible that we could arrange the order ahead of time and schedule the delivery.
Running the Game: I've put a lot of time and work into preparing this campaign, and I'm fully prepared to run it for years to come. However, one aspect of the Missed that I'd like to revisit is the idea of sharing the DM's chair. I'd like to propose the following scenario: Two out of every four adventures will be selected from a list of adventure hooks by the players. One out of every four adventures will be selected by the DM. And the fourth will be DMed by someone else from our group. I know that life responsibilities are daunting, and some folks aren't keen on DMing again. Keep in mind that these are adventures (as opposed to sessions), and so this approach could result in having one person take the DM's chair each year. If each person takes a turn, that would be one adventure every seven years or so. Of course, if anyone is willing to take a more active hand DMing, let me know!
Choosing the Adventure: If two out of four adventures are selected arbitrarily, then that leaves half of the adventures we play to be selected by majority rule. Here is the system we'll use to pick each adventure: The Rumors page will list four or more adventure hooks at any given time. These hooks will be roughly equivalent to the group's level. One may be a little easier, and one may be a little harder, but on average they will provide a fair challenge.
To help in selecting which adventure will be played, each player roles an information gathering check before discussion begins. The results of the check determine how many rumors, keyed to the adventures on the Rumors page, that player may add to the conversation. In addition, rumors regarding Rappan Athuk are always included in the rumor pool. All players are then free to speak--out of character--about which adventure hook sounds best, using their collected rumors and the Rumors page to make their decision.
When an adventure hook is selected, then those rumors--and that adventure hook--become real in the campaign world. The other rumors remain out-of-character, and will only become relevant if the adventure they're associated with is selected at a later date.