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Tips for running an effective Session 0.

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  • Tips for running an effective Session 0.

    I have a story that is slowly becoming a chronicle. I didn't do a session 0 because the story was initially a one-shot to demonstrate the ST system. However, now I have a game with a vampire and werewolf duo, and all the horror that goes with it. So, I need to settle some ground rules, find the limits, and suss the core.

    Any advice?

    What I have in mind right now is:
    • Discuss the sort of player they are, or believe themselves to be. Are they writing a story about an awesome character or are they simulating a life afflicted with a supernatural burden? Do they prefer to roll dice or just talk through social encounters? Should I fudge a dice roll for drama?
    • Discuss the system and its core concepts. Find out how horrific things can go. Discuss player agency during death rages and frenzies. Find out how invulnerable a touchstone is. Is limited information engaging or frustrating? Most important, how comfortable are they with the dice dictating a moral action.
    • Discuss story length and salient aspects. This is a question of abstraction. Should building up the wolves territory take many sessions or one extended action downtime roll?
    • Discuss direction and goals. More open ended variant on the last question: what is the stories we are telling.
    • Introduce the X-card system, just in case.

  • #2
    All good advice.

    I'd also add that it's good not to feel like session zero must remain confined to a single session. I've been playing with the same tabletop group for more than 15 years, so we have a really good idea of what we like, how we prefer to play, and where our boundaries are (all worthy of serious discussion in themselves). But we're highly collaborative, so we usually wool-gather for a new game over the course of several conversations - a general "what game are we playing, and what's the high-level pitch" discussion, several shorter exchanges (usually over email) where people brainstorm character concepts, and then a session where we discuss links between characters and brainstorm interesting set pieces and NPC concepts for me to start to build a setting out of. Our process isn't everyone's process, but my point is that there's often a lot of ground that you need to cover as part of "Session Zero," and it's worth taking the time you need to do that.

    Onyx Path Freelancer and Fantasy Author


    • #3
      I know that this is quite old, but in case you do it again, take a look at Werewolf the Forsaken 2E - The Funeral. It's a very dynamic method for use in a session zero.