This pre-game survey is intended to serve to help you quickly determine how your players would like a game to be run. They are mostly multiple-choice, and can be easily shared with your players using a variety of online polling solutions like SurveyMonkey.
At what power level should the players be built?
Characters will be intentionally worthless.
Characters will be built using options which are generally considered weak, difficult to play, or otherwise bad. The players will likely struggle with mechanical challenges.
Characters will be built with below-average options, options which are only situationally useful, and options which only work in specific campaigns. This will likely require the GM to tailor the game to these characters’ strengths.
The “sweet spot” in most games. Characters will use options which are effective but not always exceptionally powerful.
Characters will be built using the best and most mechanically optimal character options. Characters will be powerful, and published content may require adjustment to keep the game challenging.
Players will build the most incredibly powerful characters they can concieve. The DM will need to adjust the game to avoid making mechanical challenges insultingly easy. This will effectively turn the game into an arms race.
How lethal do you want the game?
Characters may be rendered unconscious or disabled, but won’t ever actually die, and won’t suffer permanent injury. I love my characters and never want anything bad to happen to them. A TPK will result in the characters being rescued in some fashion.
Characters who “die” can come back with a permanent penalty of some kind, but won’t actually die. This does not include obviously suicidal actions (swimming in lava, etc.). I like my character, and want to play them for a long time, but I’m okay with them taking a few hits along the way. A TPK will result in something bad happening to the characters, such as being captured or robbed.
Enemies will not actively attempt to kill disabled characters, but may kill the character while attempting to disable them. Enemies will not coup de grace anyone already unconcious. I like my character, and I’d rather not die. TPKs may result in players bleeding out or naturally recovering; it will fall entirely to the rolls of the dice.
Enemies will attempt to kill disabled characters when the opportunity arises, but will typically focus on important threats first. I like my character, but death is a part of the game. TPKs will have varying results depending on the nature of the enemies; players may be killed or captured.
Enemies will target easy targets, and will make a concerted effort to kill as many players as possible. Death will be a serious concern. Character death is a thing; I won’t let it ruin the game for me. TPKs will have varying results depending on the nature of the enemies; players may be killed or captured, but are more likely to be killed.
Very high lethality
Someone will probably die every session. Encounters will be above average difficulty for your level. Combat will be fast and brutal. Forget my character, I’ll roll a new one. TPKs will have varying results depending on the nature of the enemies; players may be killed or captured, but are more likely to be killed.
Absurdly high lethality
Bring a stack of new characters to every session so that you can warm yourself around the pire which the DM will throw them upon.
How should dead characters’ items be handled?
Lost in time and space
Any items the character was carrying are lost forever with no chance of recovery, and possibly with no explanation.
Keep the big stuff
Items relevant to the plot or crucial to the party are kept, but other items disappear.
Something to remember them by
Important items are kept, and each player may keep one minor item.
Just a few things
Important items are kept, and remaining items have a random chance to survive their owner’s death.
Most of his stuff survived!
Important items are kept, and remaining items are very likely to survive their owner’s death.
I loot the body
All items survive and are available to the party.
How should new characters be built?
New characters start at the same XP as the highest level character in the party. Generally best if all characters have the same amount of XP. New characters are new, shiny, and ready to rock and roll.
New characters start at the average XP of the current party members. New characters will fit right into the party.
New characters start at the minimum XP for the average level of the party. New characters will be essentially in line with the party.
New characters start at the minimum XP for the party’s average level-1 (minimum level 1). New characters will need to do some of catching up.
New characters start at the minimum XP for the party’s average level-2 (minimum level 1). New characters will need to do a lot of catching up.
Start from 0
New characters start at level 1.
How should new characters be introduced?
From The Aether
New characters appear fully formed with no further explanation and no questions asked.
New characters appear somewhere convenient, and join the party with no further explanation and no questions asked.
Waiting in the Wings
New characters are recruited from the local populace, and join the party with no further explanation and no questions asked.
New characters are recruited form the local populace, and the party must make an effort to integrate the new party member.
An old friend
New characters must be selected from established NPC’s who are fit to join the party, and the party may need to make an effort to integrate the new party members.
No new characters
If someone dies, the party continues short a member and Blackleaf gets kicked from the table.
How would you like the campaign’s plot be handled?
CHOO CHOO. Trains departing daily for plot town. Stops at Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, and Falling Action.
The campaign will be largely structured, but there will be room written into the plot for the party to deviate from the plot slightly.
Off the rails
The campaign has a central plot, but there will be plentiful opportunities for side quests, and freedom to roam off the plot once in a while.
Open World Sandbox
There is a plot, but the game will swing wildly in and out of the plot. There will be lots of side-quests presented, and plenty of things to distract from the campaign’s plot.
The DM will present a self-contained adventure each session, but the only constants between adventures will be the players and setting. It’s like an episode of a cartoon from the 90’s: everything resets at the end of the episode except the main characters.
The DM won’t even bother writing notes before the session. Warning: Sandbox may contain a non-zero number of partially-buried turds.
How should rules be interpreted?
RULES AS WRITTEN. ELBOW DROPS AND ABUSABLE GRAMMATICAL ERRORS EVERYWHERE. THE RULES ARE A CAGE IN WHICH TO CONDUCT CAGE MATCHES.
Rules will be interpreted as written, unless the rules as written are completely ambiguous or extremely incomplete.
Rules will generally be interpreted as written, but may be modified or overridden if they present issues.
Rules will generally be interpreted as written, but even slightly ambiguous or confusing cases will be handled “as intended” according to DM interpretation.
Rules will be interpreted as intended (in the DM’s opinion), even if that interpretation conflicts with the rules as written. House rules may be frequent.
The DM might not even read the rules.
How graphically violent should the game be?
Mild Animated Violence
Enemies take damage and fall down with Xs over their eyes. Swords are made of foam rubber. Bullets are nerf darts.
You hit people and they shoot sparks. Swords are metal, weapons shoot lasers for no apparent reason.
Cutting people with swords may cause bodily harm or death. Think real-world violence, but cut down enough that you could show it on prime-time television.
Death will be violent and bloody, but not horribly excessive. Gore is uncomfortably realistic.
Death will be horribly excessive for shock value. Gore will be akin to a TV crime drama: every show is competing to be the goriest.
Tear out your enemies spinal columns and hold them above your head in triumph. Enemies are basically bloody water balloons.
What should be the tone of the game?
Humor will be largely absent. Themes will be dark, dramatic, and possibly depressing.
The overarching themes of the game will be serious, but occasional humorous moments will exist, and attempts at humor by the party will not be immediately crushed.
The story will be serious, but the way it is presented may not be overly serious.
The story will be slightly ridiculous, and many characters will be humorous.
Nothing will be serious. Characters will all make some attempt at being funny, situations will involve frequent humor elements.
Off the Walls Goofy
Everything will be over-the-top ridiculous. Nothing will be taken seriously. Anything even remotely serious will be met with cartoonish resistance.
Are there specific themes, topics, or activities which you are uncomfortable including in the game?
This information should not shared with other players if the subject is especially uncomfortable for one or more players. Common answers to this question include sexual violence, violence against children or animals, torture, phobias, etc..
For more on answering this question, look into Lines and Veils and other RPG safety tools.