Great idea Brendan’s got here on Untimately. This serves nicely as a pre-launch campaign FAQ to keep everyone on the same page.
- Ability scores generation method?
4d6 drop lowest / assign at will / no re-rolls
- How are death and dying handled?
unconscious at 0 / lose 1 hp per round / dead at -10 / anyone can spend their round stabilizing a dying character simply by “binding wounds”
- What about raising the dead?
as per spell rules / if not high enough level, must find high-level cleric and pay for the service (payment open to negotiation…might begin a new quest)
- How are replacement PCs handled?
rolled up on the spot (or possibly beforehand and just “waiting in the wings”) / integrated ASAP (within reason) / start out 1 level lower / probably need to be rescued and healed or something similar that fits into the current scenario
- Initiative: individual, group, or something else?
individual / rolled only once, at the beginning / may hold actions to move around in the initiative order
- Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?
yes to both / Natural 20 means a draw from the Critical Hit Deck / Natural 1 is a fumble that forces a DEX check to avoid the Critical Fumble Deck (some adjustments might need to be made for results from both decks if you are playing an old-school edition or retro-clone)
- Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
yes, as befits the situation: possibly gain extra saving throw versus effects that target the head, neck or face (decapitation, blindness, gaze attacks)
- Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?
indeed you can / if you miss your target, roll a Death’s Head die (or get a 1 on a d6) to determine if you hit an ally and then roll randomly for which ally
- Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?
running away should always be an option to consider (keeping in mind that you might be pursued!)
- Level-draining monsters: yes or no?
yes / there are some things worse than death, like rising up as a wight under the command of the wight that drained you (provides some fun role-playing to allow the PC to continue running this character)
- Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?
yes / depending on the circumstances, we might enter into some negotiations on the bonus(es) to the saving throw roll, but then the result will stand
- How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?
encumbrance is up to the players to keep within reason, so that we don’t have to strictly track it / various resources are strictly tracked only if they are of utmost importance at the time: track rations only when far from civilization or plentiful game, track only those spell components that are unusual or expensive, and so forth (campaigns set in the frigid northern wastes, underwater, or in trackless deserts would become exercises in resource management)
- What’s required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?
level gains occur as they happen / in most cases, PCs are training on-the-job, so there is no need to find a trainer (fighters using their weapons and armor, clerics praying for spells and blessings, magic-users scouring ruins for old books and scrolls) / the exception is if you want to multi-class to a class unrepresented in your party (for example: if there’s no thief in the party, then there’s no one who has been able to spend the last level teaching your fighter how to pick locks)
- What do I get experience for?
killing monsters / taking their loot / dreaming up interesting ideas / roleplaying your character well (basically avoiding player knowledge vs character knowledge dilemmas)
- How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?
some combination / I’m willing to give a slight bonus if the player gives a good description of what the character is doing (for example: tapping the floor ahead with a 10-foot pole, keeping one hand on the wall slightly ahead to feel for arrow slits or spear holes, etc) / same thing goes for finding secret doors
- Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?
retainers are totally up to the players / likewise, retainer morale is totally up to the players to roleplay (as I allow the players to run their own retainers), but with the understanding that no hired hand is going to lay down his life for you unless you’ve done similarly for him
- How do I identify magic items?
in the wilds: generally via trial and error (magic-users get a series of Intelligence checks to determine features) / in civilization: use a large library for research or pay a high-level magic-user (much like when paying a cleric for resurrection, payment may take the form of a quest)
- Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?
no / exceptions might be made in the case of generous donations in return for level-appropriate healing potions
- Can I create magic items? When and how?
yes / if you want to be a magic item crafter, we’ll discuss it beforehand and work out a system; but basically, you will need to provide the materials and spells needed in addition to securing components worth the value of the final item, and then gain access to a forge, laboratory, library, etc / magic-users and clerics may craft potions and scrolls on-the-go, so long as they have the materials (flasks, parchment, inks, etc) and any special spell components
- What about splitting the party?
sure, just be prepared to face challenges at less than full-party-strength
None of these “tenets” are completely unbreakable, but they do form a basic house-rule framework that I’ve developed with various groups playing various editions over the past 30+ years. I’ve always been more than willing to work with my players (or DMs when I’m on the other side of the screen) to ensure maximum fun for all while minimizing rules-lawyering downtime.