Applies to current campaign: Whispers of Tirathis.
A social contract is how we treat each other at the table, as people. While some things may be obvious, like, "Don't flip the table because your character was brutally slain by Pun-Pun, the 5th level kobold overgod", some things are not, like, "How strongly should everyone be committed to playing?"
The fundamental key to a working social contract, and fun gaming, is honest communication. If you are interested in something, say it. If you don't like something or are not having fun, say it (don’t assume people will catch on).
What are we playing and how are we playing it?
We are playing heroic fantasy Pathfinder RPG (D&D 3.75), not Cthulhu, WoW, Modern, Spycraft, etc.
This game is meant to be free-form, allowing the player characters to pursue what they want. However, it is generally accepted that the player characters are a force of good in the world. The game is not meant to devolve into slaughtering-all-villages-in-our-path or one in which the player characters are all working to backstab each other.
How long is a session? How long will the campaign run?
A session will last 3-5 hours (and the occasional mega-length session, as desired), with the end being called based on plot or energy level. If your energy level is getting low, please let the group know.
With the campaign being free-form, there is no set epic ending pre-planned. However, this campaign is meant to last 1 year (currently in 1-year extension, expiring 7/11/2013). Additional extensions are possible, if the players and DM agree and are continuing to have as much fun as they would have with some other campaign or game.
While attendance is not recorded or obsessed over, you should shoot for at least a 75% attendance rate. If your attendance becomes noticeably less than this, the group may decide to replace you with someone who can make more sessions. This is intended to allow the campaign to have some consistency. If you wish to rejoin the game after your time issues are resolved, you will be welcomed back as long as the player cap hasn't been reached.
Session scheduling or what to do when someone needs to be late/absent/cancel the game?
If you are going to be absent or late, please let the group know via the message board as soon as you know. If there's a chance that you won't be able to come and you won't know until the day of the session, let us know that you might not be able to make it as soon as you know.
If using an ad-hoc schedule, a poll to determine session day/time will be placed on the message boards. Players are expected to place their votes by Saturday for the upcoming week (Monday - Sunday).
The minimum number of players needed to run a session is three, but those three players may decide not to hold the session if they are knee-deep in something that requires a balanced party. Many things can be done outside of dungeon-adventuring with an unbalanced party. If the minimum number of players cannot be met and there is interest, the host may decide that playing other games is appropriate.
If the DM will be absent, the session is cancelled, but if there is interest, the host may decide that playing other games is appropriate.
The characters of absent players will be placed in limbo, where they have off-stage immunity. They will still earn experience points, as XP is divided by the party size, not players present. The distribution of treasure to absent characters is delegated to the players of that session.
Leaving the game
"I don't like this game" doesn't equal "I don't like you". If you are not having fun in the game, and after honestly communicating this, the rest of the group doesn't want to change the game, please let the group know that you are leaving the game.
Be honest. If you don't like the game, don't say, "I don’t have time to play anymore". Let your feedback be known.
If are you not getting along with someone in the group, honestly communicate with the person to see if he or she can modify his or her behavior. If this doesn't help, talk with the DM or host who will work to determine what should happen for the overall health of the group. A player may be asked to leave the group if his or her behavior detracts from the fun of the group as a whole.
The group has a hard maximum of seven players and a soft maximum of six players. If the number of players drops below six, new players should be recruited. New players are to be recommended by existing players and are given a probationary period of three sessions before becoming a full member of the group (approval based on honest communication and consensus of group). The recommending player is responsible as the new player's mentor in getting them up to speed (this is especially important if the new player is new to Pathfinder/D&D).
If you like something, say it. If you don't like something, say it. Try not to stop play or get into hypercritical arguments, but honest communication is necessary. Just because the DM and a single player are having fun haggling over the price of a rope for 30 minutes doesn't mean you should sit through it if you are not enjoying yourself. Speak out. Keep the game moving.
Signs of trouble
If at any time, you feel like you cannot communicate honestly, something is wrong. If you've broken off into a subgroup that enjoys saying something like, "Oh, we just lied to him and told him we stopped playing", something has gone really wrong. This is a game; we are adults. We shouldn't have to lie about this stuff. Communicate honestly and communicate often.
Respect the host's domain
Treat the host's domain much better than you do your own. Clean up after yourselves. Don't pee on the carpet. Keep the volume low if there are sleeping children or spouses about. Do not rely on the host for snacks and beverages.
Rules lookups should take no longer than two minutes. If a DM or player expects certain rules to be invoked soon, he or she should become familiar with them before the incident occurs. The DM is allowed to adjudicate on the fly to keep things moving. If a player character or game balance is incredibly harmed by an incorrect ruling, the DM will work with the player or players to correct the situation in-between sessions or during a break.
Profanity is to be moderated when minors are present, though the campaign should be assumed to have an “R” rating (hovering around PG-13 most of the time).
Cheating is not tolerated. Only the DM may fudge dice rolls, and then only for the benefit of the game.
Avoid activities that sap away your attention from the game, such as reddit browsing or video-game playing. Laptops at the table are acceptable as long as they don’t detract from play.
Sessions may be audio recorded. These will not be shared outside the group. Their use is intended for the DM to have a good record of what happened during a session and add relevant information to the wiki. Role-playing is sometimes transcribed into session recaps.
See House Rules.