Playing the Game in The World of Cartyrion | World Anvil

Playing the Game

Playing Laurels & Loot requires you to have three things. First, you must have at least one friend or acquantance also wishing to play. Preferably, you will have more than that. A "table" of five to seven people is ideal; two or three is fine; more than eight or nine tends to become unwieldy.

Second, one of your group must be willing to assume the role of Gamemaster. The Gamemaster has two important responsibilties: they will act as referee with regard to the rules, and they will temporarily assume the roles of every creature or non-player character (NPC) that the adventurers come across.

The third thing is the most important: you must have an active imagination. You and your tablemates are about to embark on a collaborative storytelling effort. Together, you will weave a tale of intrigue and adventure in a fantasy world filled with all sorts of fantastical beings.

There are a few more things that are handy to have available. A copy of these rules, online or hardcopy, should be easily at hand to quickly resolve any questions that may arise.

Every player needs a character record to keep track of their character's abilities, possessions, hopes, and dreams. This, too, can be online or hardcopy. (A four-page character record is included in the Appendix; players are free to make copies of this for their personal use. If a paper copy is used, a pen or pencil will also come in handy!

Every player should have scrap paper, a notepad, or a digital equivalent for note-taking during game sessions. Different players will have different note-taking styles. Some player groups will appoint a "secretary"; but this does not mean somebody should be force to be the party scribe if doing so will spoil their fun!

Game Sessions

Typically, TTRPG sessions run between two and six hours in length, with most falling in the three to five hour range. A lot depends on how frequently your group is willing or able to meet; weekly sessions tend to be shorter; monthly sessions can stretch to six or more hours to allow things to get done. There is no hard and fast rule about how long a game session should be, but it is important to keep in mind that Laurels & Loot presumes that each session begins and ends with the characters in some "home base" environment - a village tavern... an adventurers guildhall... an expedition base camp. Sessions should be long enough to allow characters to get from that "home base" to where the action will be, and to get back home again before the players call it a day.

During the game session, every player at the table should be doing their best to pay attention to what is going on. As one of the players at the table, you are equally responsible for the collaborative storytelling that is going on, whether it's your turn or not.

The Gamemaster Is Not...

The Gamemaster is not "the opponent" or "the enemy". They don't "win" by killing off characters. In fact, the only "winning" in Laurels & Loot or any other TTRPG - occurs when everyone at the table is having fun.

The Gamemaster is not required to create the world in which you will be adventuring. There are thousands of prewritten adventure and campaign settings available. Of course, a Gamemaster who wishes to run a "homebrew" world is welcome to do so!

The Gamemaster is not required to be an accomplished voice actor. While it may add to the fun to voice every NPC a party comes across with a different accent or speech pattern, this is by no means necessary, and the inability to do so should not prevent somebody from giving Gamemastering a shot.

The Gamemaster is not required to have memorized every rule in the book. "The book" is always there for consultation. (The Gamemaster should be at least familiar with the rules, though, as knowing where to look something up helps to keep a game on pace.)

The Gamemaster is not solely responsible for ensuring that everyone at the table is having fun. Everyone at the table shares this responsibility equally, and it should be the most important thing that everyone keeps in mind as play proceeds.

The Gamemaster Is...

First and foremost, the Gamemaster is responsible for being the Referee at the table. They are required to set success conditions for the creative actions that players will devise. Many of these will be judgement calls, and Gamemasters and players are encouraged to discuss possible interpretation of any gray areas, but the Gamemaster gets the final call. Always.

The Gamemaster is consistent - at least a good one is. Consistency means applying the rules in equal fashion to every player in every situation. If rules are applied inconsistently, or worse, are interpreted one way for one player and a different way for another, there will be a breakdown of fun at the table -- and everybody loses.

That said, though, the Gamemaster is able to bend or even break the rules when the situation calls for it. The "Rule of Cool" has been a thing in the TTRPG space for a long time. If players devise some outlandish, unforeseen, creative way to solve a problem or reach a goal, the Gamemaster should not disallow it just because they didn't expect it, or because it isn't covered by the rules. The Gamemaster can overlook, stretch, bend, or break a rule in order to allow something fun and memorable to happen. (Just weigh this against the importance of Consistency, though!)

Plan your next move... adjust those plans as players ahead of you describe their actions... be encouraging and show excitement when the player next to you scores that critical attack which slays the monster. Don't be "that player" surfing social media while others take their combat turns, having to ask "what are we doing now?" every time your turn comes around.

Session Zero

Before a group of players begins meeting regularly to play the game, they should schedule what is commonly called a "Session Zero". This may be a session where everybody creates their player characters, or collaboratively finished up doing so to ensure the party is well equipped and any backstory relationships between characters are refined.

But these are not the most important aspects of Session Zero. The most important accomplishment of this session is the establishment of the ground rules for the table. This not only includes explanation of homebrew rule adjustments that the Gamemaster may wish to impose, it also includes discussions of player expectations. The entire table - Gamemaster and players - should come to an understanding of what to expect in upcoming adventures. Sensitivity triggers should be discussed, and some sort of "safe word" system devised to ensure that nobody at the table will be forced to endure emotional discomfort during play.

Expectations regarding scheduling of future sessions should be discussed. (Because Laurels & Loot encourages a "leave home/adventure/go back home" session structure, it is particularly conducive to allowing sessions with missing players to occur easily; missing players simply mean fewer characters on that adventure! (The Gamemaster should be given warning if possible, though, to allow adjustment to encounters.) This also means that one-off "guest characters" are also easily supported!

Finally, any "house rules" that the Gamemaster intends to employ should be discussed - especially if these modify or contradict the rules as written. (There is nothing wrong with house rules that do this, by the way, as long as the table group agrees they will not impact on the "fun".) Limitations on what sorts of characters should be created are especially important here -- before players spend time creating a player character that might not fit the campaign.

Creating Player Characters

The last thing a player needs in order to start the adventures is a Player Character, or PC. Creating a Laurels & Loot PC is fast and easy; the detailed steps are found in a later chapter. Creating PCs could be done during Session 0, or offline between Session 0 and the first adventure. It could be a group exercise, or done offline individually. However it's done, though, the Gamemaster needs an opportunity to see the completed characters to get a feel for what they'll be dealing with - and to work with the player to correct any errors or inconsistencies with the game setting and/or house rules.

Playing the Game

With all the preliminaries out of the way, it's finally time to start adventuring! Actual gameplay is broken into three aspects: Exploration, Encounters, and Downtime. Each aspect has its own pace and flavor, and its own subset of rules to govern the action. These are all described in the next few sections.

Home Base
Most Laurels & Loot adventuring will involve the Player Characters starting out and ending up in some sort of home base. This is a place where the PCs can obtain necessary supplies, recover from injuries and other conditions, and find out about new adventuring opportunities. It could be a village, town, or city, but it doesn't need to be. It could be a lonely crossroads inn, or even the camp of a nomadic group or merchant caravan.

In game terms, it is assumed that adventurers have access to all their possessions when in this home base, and that items they choose not to carry in their inventories for a given adventure will be relatively safe while they are out seeking fame and fortune. PCs arenot required to remain at the same Home Base forever, but if they plan on moving their base of operations, they need to make provisions for transporting any goods beyond what they can carry in their inventory.

Activities that take place in the Home Base will be discussed more extensively in the Downtime section of these rules.


The Laurels and Loot Rule System is published by Bob O'Brien
It is available to all in accordance with the Creative Commons (Attribution) license
(Creative Commons 4.0 International License)

Laurels and Loot Rules are derived in part from the following sources:
Knave 2.0 TTRPG System Rules published by Ben Milton
in compliance with
(Creative Commons 4.0 International License)

The banners on these pages was composed with art attributed to:
b0red from Pixabay (treasure chest image)
Gordon Johnson from Pixabay (laurels image)

The side panels are composed with art attributed to:
Evelyn Chai from Pixabay (dungeon passage)


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