SESSION 0: WHAT, WHY AND HOW.
A rundown on the importance of session 0's, what they are, and how to approach them.
Written by: Screaming Muse Dice
You may have heard of a mysterious “Session 0” in the world of tabletop gaming, and this quick article is here to explain what it is and why you should have one!
First up, let’s attune to what a Session 0 is. In short, it’s a meeting of the party and the DM before any actual gameplay to establish expectations and introduce the campaign. This session is also a fantastic opportunity to check in on any triggers or boundaries anyone wants to set. If you are the DM and running Session 0, it’s good to start with the players and the characters. Give everyone a moment to introduce themselves and their character. This can be as vague or as detailed as folks are comfortable with. If you have a large party (more than five characters or so), it can be helpful to establish connections here. Each character should have a connection to at least one other so that they have a reason to adventure together! If the players haven’t yet rolled up their characters, this is also a good time to confirm your preferred method for stats. I like 4d6, drop lowest, and reroll any ones.
The next step is introducing the campaign's setting, or the world in which everything will take place. If the setting has a complicated system of factions or a common history that everyone in-game would know, this is the time to discuss it! Having a common ground can facilitate roleplay. Players will feel more connected to the world and its events. After this, you can set up the circumstances in which the campaign will begin. Sometimes the characters will be all together, or they may be scattered nearby (especially in the case of a large party). This isn’t really necessary, but it can save time so that you can jump right in on the first session!
Finally, it’s vital to discuss expectations for the campaign. This last step is arguably the most important. What’s everyone’s play style? Do they prefer combat, roleplay, or puzzles? What tone are they after? Are there any triggers or topics your players would like to avoid? It is wise to invite your players to disclose the latter in private if that makes them more comfortable. There are great safety tools like the RPG Consent Checklist that can be handed out at session 0 and returned to the DM before the campaign begins, or discussed during session 0 - whatever your group are comfortable with! Talk about how you’ll handle more sensitive scenes, such as those including heavy violence or risqué material. The fade-to-black approach is popular here, but it’s always important to check!
Let’s sum all that up! Session 0 is important because it contributes to the most comfortable experience for both players and DM. It opens lines of clear communication and helps prevent misunderstandings down the line. With a good Session 0, you can start your game with a confident, informed approach. Start your game on the same page!
Best of luck adventurers!