[RPG] a session 0

session-zeroterminology

What is a "Session 0"?

  1. When is it done?
  2. What does it contain?
  3. Is it recommended, if not mandatory?
  4. What is each person's role (DM/GM, players, etc.)?
  5. What topics are best discussed there?

Usually with my groups, we go directly to the meat of the game right after the character creation, but I see a lot of answers that basically say "you should have a session 0", but it's never explained what it is made of, so it's kind of an enigma for me.

Best Answer

Session 0 is a planning session where the gaming group collaboratively lays the groundwork for a new campaign. Often, this session involves the group deciding the game/campaign they want to play, managing expectations, establishing house rules, determining setting details, and creating characters. Session 0 provides a meeting for the gaming group to agree on what kind of game everyone wants to play.

1. When is it done?

Session 0 is done before the first session of play (hence the name). Some games designed as pick-up games, like Tenra Bansho Zero and Fate Core, actually have some Sessions 0 activities baked into typical play so you can start playing right away.

2. What does it contain?

While it differs from game to game, Session 0 usually involves the group meeting to discuss and establish the following.

  • Game rules set to be played
  • Table rules (table etiquette, behavior expectations, bringing up topics that players feel uncomfortable with, etc)
  • House rules (changes from the core rules set, homebrew material, etc)
  • Campaign expectations (Do we want to play an intrigue campaign? Dungeon crawler? An epic campaign?)
  • Setting
  • Character creation

3. Is it recommended, if not mandatory?

Session 0 is recommended because tabletop RPGs are ultimately a collaborative entertainment activity. Everyone is there to have fun and Session 0 gives the group an opportunity to establish what kind of game everyone wants to play.

Session 0 might not be necessary for some games and groups. For example, my groups usually work out these details in Discord or Skype before the first play session rather than schedule an entire session for it. I've seen some conduct Session 0 activities at a lunch. A well established group might not need a Session 0.

4. What is each person's role (DM/GM, players, etc.)?

Roles depend on the game and group. From my experience, the GM is usually the individual responsible for spearheading topics and managing the session. From his interests and the interests of the players, he establishes a draft of a campaign and house rules to show to the players. The players provide feedback and then express what kind of game they are interested in. There's back and forth among the group before finally an agreement is made.

It's important to note that everyone should have a chance to provide input during Session 0. It generally should not be a one-sided affair.

5. What topics are best discussed there?

The specific topics depend heavily on the game. Necessary topics in one group might not be necessary in a gaming group where everyone is playing a very familiar game and setting.

This reddit post for D&D 5E provides an excellent example of possible topics discussed in a Session 0.

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