Agenda & Principles for Players

Agenda & Principles for Players

Agenda & Principles for Players

I’m not strictly sure these are necessary, but I had room on a handout and thought it’d be a good thing to add. What do you think?


● Portray your characters as real people

● Engage with the world you are creating

● Play to see what happens


● Think in character

● Think about the rules, too

● Begin and end with the fiction

● Show us what’s important to you

● Make connections to other characters

● Have goals and pursue them

● Be bold, take risks

● Embrace difficulty, setback, and failure

● Answer questions with integrity

● Be a fan: pay attention, ask questions, contribute to the conversation

● Respond to others with generosity and trust

● Communicate your wants and needs

● Be patient

25 thoughts on “Agenda & Principles for Players”

  1. I am a huge fan of player agenda / principles for all games, so definitely a good thing to add.

    In terms of the specifics, looks good so far. I’ll probably read them out to my players at the start of tonight’s session, see if they’re grabbed.

  2. You might want to clarify what the Player should do versus the Character.

    You touch on it, but perhaps specifically: “Share the spotlight”?

    I’d put “Have fun” in the Agenda.

    Something like “Character losses are part of the fun” or something?

  3. Tom Walker I went round and round about “have fun” when I was writing these.

    I opted to leave it out because it’s so unspecific and personal. What’s fun for you and what’s fun for me are potentially (probably) very different. Like, I have a number of friends who like RPGs but really dislike DW because of what I love about DW. If “have fun” is the agenda, for them, that means playing a different game.

  4. maybe something like “create opportunities for others to shine”, or anything that encourages players to play a supporting role and highlight the aspects of the other characters that they find interesting and exciting.

    also maybe something that addresses the level of control that the players have over the community and how they should approach that?

  5. Along the lines of “have fun,” I’m looking at those last 3 principles. They’re important, but they’re more “principles for being a good person” than “principles for playing Stonetop” (or DW, or whatever).

    In the interest of keeping this list reasonable and adding some of the excellent suggestions, I might scrap them.

    It makes we think, though, that there’s a deeper, more fundamental set of principles at play for pretty much all RPGs, a set of principles at the social contract level. With agendas like “Play the game you all want to play” and “Enable everyone’s fun” and even “Enjoy the time you spend with each other.”


  6. I’d replace them with more concrete sentences that players can use. I’ve found principles are lovely tools for thinking outside of the game about how the game should be run, yet aren’t that handy in play.

    Think in character seems like such a broad command, perhaps

    “What’s he feeling?”

    “I’m concerned about _”

    “I’m expecting _”

    What kind of goals should be pursued? I always imagined Stonetop emphasised smaller stakes.

    “Make sure _ gets/doesn’t married”

    “Watch that shady refugee _ closely”

    “Convince the town to elect _ to the council of elders.”

    “Press the town to value resources over safety.”

    What does playing someone as a real person even mean, to you, for this game? I wonder if that changes between games or if there is a consistent current of realistic character that persists between fiction.

    Edit: I’ve been thinking about this some more.

    The above sentences seemed too narrow and particular. Something like “Show concern for a characters emotional wellbeing.” That might be a goal. And “Ask about an NPC’s emotional state.” Would compliment that nicely.

  7. Timothy Stanbrough I think I see where you’re going with this… almost a list of “GM moves for players,” yeah?

    Like how the list of GM moves is basically a set of “interesting things that you might choose to do that will push the story forward,” this would be a similar list for the players.

    I’m not really sure how useful that would actually be… (just like I’m not at all sure that a set of player principles are all that useful, at least not on the last page of a 6-page spread of moves and gear). If that was going to go anywhere, I think this stuff would go on the playbook itself. But there’s no room, there.

    Y’know where this stuff might be useful? At least for face-to-face games? On the bag of a name tent, so that your name was always facing outward toward the others but the agenda/principles/moves/whatever were always facing you.

  8. Jeremy Strandberg That works for me! We play 1-2 times a week and like to hop around on different systems. We like Dungeon World a lot and had a 4 month campaign last year, but have recently been experimenting with a handful of OSR systems. I could likely get you a write up of 3+ sessions by the end of January

  9. Jeremy Strandberg Just showed a couple players the Thrall Insert Class and I have at least two who are committed! Confident that the others will be more than happy to join in

  10. Jeremy Strandberg, I wasn’t thinking about it in those terms, but it’s spot on for what I was suggesting.

    Instead of a list of things perhaps you could carefully examine your principles and agendas and find ways to embed them directly into the game. Burning Wheel has effectively embedded “Have goals and pursue them” into the framework of the system, and there is matching tools for the GM to leverage that player move.

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