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Sleepingbear
2009-12-10, 02:22 PM
I've been part of a party that has been playing 3.5 since 2006.

Originally we were a group of three players and a GM (myself) playing a couple of different Palladium games. One of the players wanted to try his hand as a DM and thought that D&D would be a good game to cut his teeth on.

The other three of us were somewhat surprised when on the first scheduled game day, there was a fourth player present, someone the DM knew from work. This was a bit of a problem as one of the existing players (hence forth known as Loopy) had what we will call existing personality conflicts with this new player (Hence forth known as Bad Apple). Despite this, we decided to roll with it. After the first session another player (hence forth known as Red) and I politely suggested to the new DM (hence forth known as Noob) that Group cohesion is easier to achieve when everyone in the group knows each other and gets along. And that by inviting Bad Apple, Noob was also inviting problems he didn't need.

It should be noted that Bad Apple was playing a Halfling Rogue. Red was playing a Human Wizard, Loopy was playing a Human Cleric and I was playing a Human Fighter. We were, for the most part, trying to keep things basic for Noob. At least most of us were.

Well, the game went on and Bad Apple began living up to his name. The only chaotic neutral in the party (evil not being allowed by the DM), he attempted things like hiding maps he found, skimming/palming treasure and even trying to root through our gear for odds and sods he might want for himself. Usually he was caught and chastised for it.

When he started robbing the town elders and making the whole group look bad, we (the three other players) decided to take action.

Our solution was to create an in-game charter for the party. A document we would all agree to sign and abide by. As I was seen as the party rules lawyer, it fell to me to write it.

We presented it to the DM and he gave us his blessing. Then we brought it into existence in the game. The three original players signed it and gave it to Bad Apple to sign, which he did-grudgingly (we would later learn that he tried to get the DM to not let us have it but the DM basically told him to deal).

It put an end to the worst of Bad Apples Shenanigans. Sure a problem would crop up from time to time but he knew that the whole party was watching him and while he was cocky enough to think he could take any one of us (he couldn't), even he wasn't sure he could handle the whole party.

Eventually Bad Apple left (moved away). We've had other players join us since then. And others who wanted to join. But in each case before the first dice is rolled for character generation, the prospective player is presented with the Charter. They are told that if their character won't sign the charter, they won't be adventuring with us nor will the DM force the character on the party (note that we never actually say that the person has to obey the charter, only that we enforce it collectively).

Players who have looked at the Charter and refused have been turned away from the game where they wound up at other tables. Where they would eventually develop reputations as bad apples in their own right. Players who have liked the charter and eagerly signed have become valuable members of our party. In this way, it has become a litmus test of compatibility for our group.

The charter is by no means perfect. It does not cover every situation or even comes close. There are loop holes you could drive a deathstar through. Yet for our little group, it has served its purpose admirably.

Therefore, it is with that in mind that I present it to the forum. Perhaps others may find use for it. Feel free to borrow, copy or modify it in any way that suits you.

PARTY CHARTER

THIS charter is the contract of the undersigned and shall rule their dealings and interactions. Each of the undersigned is a full Charter Party Member and shall henceforth be referred to as a CPM. Each CPM swears to uphold the tenets of this charter by whatever they hold most dear.

ON Accepting a Quest or Mission:

EACH CPM has an equal vote on whether the party agrees to go on a given quest, adventure, mission or other endeavor.

Should a CPM vote no but the overall party votes yes, the CPM that voted no may opt out of the venture. Doing so means forfeiture of any treasure or other benefits they may have otherwise gained.

Each member of the party may request the aid of the remainder of the party in what would otherwise be personal business. The request is voted as per normal, with the petitioning member casting their vote normally.

ON Death or Grievous Injury:

SHOULD a CPM become grievously injured, incapacitated or be slain in the course of party business, the remaining party members shall pursue all reasonable avenues of healing or resurrection.

Should costs be incurred in the healing of the CPM, it shall be recovered first from their share of the treasure, booty or loot.

In the event that the CPMs share is insufficient to cover the cost, then it may be recovered from their private wealth but not through the sale of magic items or prized possessions (to be indicated on the individuals will).

If the CPMs share and private wealth combined both prove insufficient for healing or resurrection, the party shall still make all reasonable attempts to secure healing or resurrection for the CPM. The balance of the cost not covered by share or personal wealth shall be repaid from future shares. The CPM forfeits the right to opt out of agreed upon party ventures until their debt is paid in full.

In the event that all reasonable attempts to heal or resurrect the CPM fail, then the party shall faithfully enact that CPMs will.

ON the Division of Treasure, Loot and Booty:

EACH CPM is entitled to one equal share of all treasure found.

Each cohort of a CPM who assists during a venture shall receive a half share of all treasure from that venture.

The pay of hirelings is the responsibility of the CPM that hired them. If the hireling was recruited by a group consensus, then their fee shall be paid out before the division of any treasure. Hirelings are not otherwise entitled to any portion of any treasure found.

Followers are the sole responsibility of the CPM that they are attached to. They are not entitled to any portion of the parties treasure. In instances where followers are attached to the party as a whole, then each CPM shall contribute equally to their welfare.

A CPM caught skimming or otherwise stealing from the rest of the party shall lose their share of the treasure for that venture and cannot quit the venture until repayment for the offence is made. Repayment shall be determined by vote of the party as a whole, with the thief not being permitted to vote.

Should a CPM be caught skimming or stealing from the group for a second time in one venture, they shall be expelled from the group by whatever means the rest of the group determines appropriate.

Should a cohort, follower or hireling be caught stealing or skimming, they shall lose their share for that venture (should they be so entitled in the first place) and be expelled from the party by whatever means the party deems appropriate.

Should it be determined that the cohort, follower or hireling was acting on the behalf of a CPM, then the cohort, follower or hireling shall still lose their share and be expelled from the party as above. The CPM involved shall be treated as themselves as having stolen or skimmed from the party.

ON the Division of Items of Interest:

ITEMS of interest include but are not limited to weapons, armor, special items and items of magic of all sorts. When it comes to the division of these items, the party adopts a policy of Need Before Greed.

To expand on this concept, the premise is that a CPM who has the greatest need for an item or can best utilize it to the best effect shall be entitled to claim it as their own. In most cases it is expected that who can best use an item shall be self evident. Should that not be the case and two CPMs make a claim for an item, then the group shall vote on who receives it.

Should an item appear that is similar to something already possessed and gained by a CPM through previous ventures, then the CPM may still claim the item. However, the previous and most likely inferior item shall be made available to the CPM who is next most qualified to utilize the item. If the item already in the CPMs possession be something they acquired on their own through purchase, personal business or before this charter was signed, they may still claim the newly appeared item and do not have to forfeit what they gained on their own merit. They may opt to sell, trade, give or loan items they gained on their own to other members of the party at their own discretion.

In the event that an item of interest not be desired by a CPM nor given to a cohort, hireling or follower, then the item will be sold at the earliest convenience. The proceeds from the sale shall be divided among the party members and cohorts as per the division of treasure, above.

Should a CPM become attached to a specific item, then they may claim it as their own property to do with as they see fit by purchasing it from the group. This is done by paying the retail value of the item into the groups collected treasure minus the CPMs share.

Cohorts, hirelings and followers are not entitled to any special items of interest outside of what they brought with them. If no party members desire a specific item then it can be given by the party to a cohort, hireling or follower in that order of seniority. Once so given, the item becomes the cohort, hireling or followers private property and they can not be made to give it up at a future date.

The party may also elect to bequeath select items of interest to cohorts, hirelings or followers for exceptional service to the party at the partys sole discretion. Such items, once so given become the property of the cohort, hireling or follower and they can not be made to give it up at a future date.

Individual CPMs may also bequeath items of interest that they have acquired on their own to any cohort, hireling or follower as they choose. This does not include items given to the CPM through the course of party business except after the item has been offered to the other CPMs or when the party votes to allow such a gift. Items given in this matter become the property of the cohort, hireling or follower and they cannot be made to give it up at a future date.

Items of interest brought by cohorts, hirelings and followers are theirs and they cannot be made to give them up at any time. Should a cohort, hireling or follower die while on a party venture, then it is up to the CPM to whom they are associated to faithfully enact their will. Should the cohort, hireling or follower lack a will, then it is up to the CPM they are associated with to determine what is to be done with their possessions. If a hireling or follower of the party die during the course of party business, it falls the to party to enact their will faithfully. Should the hireling or follower lack a will, then the party shall vote on what to do with their possessions.

ON Personal Business:

IT is recognized that in between ventures, CPMs shall need time to themselves to attend to personal business or private matters. These affairs are entirely the responsibility of the CPM involved unless the CPM has made a request for party assistance and it has been accepted.

Given that there may be specific matters of interest to the CPM in these matters, he may negotiate specific clauses with the party for the duration of the venture. These ventures and clauses shall be negotiated on a case by case basis and put down in writing prior to beginning the venture. Clauses shall be voted on by the party as a whole. Those who vote against a clause that is agreed upon by the rest of the party may opt out of the venture, forfeiting any gain they might have otherwise had by participation in the venture.

Should a CPMs outside business or unilateral actions have repercussions for the party in whole or part, the party may opt to vote the CPM out of the party. If the CPM is not voted out of the group, other punitive action may be suggested and voted upon by the rest of the party. In either case, the CPM involved is not entitled to a vote.

In either case, the party may vote on whether or not to assist the CPM in resolving the matter. If the party decides collectively not to intervene, then the CPM is responsible for resolving the issue with their own resources. Individual party members may elect to assist the CPM without further support from the party.

ON Cohorts, Hirelings and Followers:

IT is recognized that cohorts, hirelings and followers may be recruited by CPMs during the course of time. Each CPM may declare one cohort each but may have as many hirelings or followers as they can maintain on their own. Any cohorts, hirelings and followers that accompany the party on any venture must agree to and abide by the tenets set out in this charter.

The party may collectively agree to bring on hirelings or followers. In such instances, the party members must contribute equally to the pay and upkeep of these followers and hirelings. Party hirelings and followers must also agree to and abide by the tenets of this charter. A party hireling may negotiate for up to a half share of treasure plus their agreed upon rate of pay. All dealings with hirelings whether for the party or individual CPMs must be in writing.

Cohorts, hirelings and followers have no rights to vote in party matters. They may petition the party or CPMs to act on their behalf however.

ON Settling of Disputes:

SHOULD a dispute arise between CPMs, then the dispute is to be put before the entire party. After both of the aggrieved parties have presented their case, the remainder of the party will discuss mediation. Ideally the party will seek a consensus agreement or compromise between the disputing members. Should that not be possible, then the remainder of the party shall vote on a course of action. Their decision is binding in all cases.

Should a dispute arise between a CPM and a cohort, hireling or follower occur, then the resolution depends on the disposition of the cohort, hireling or follower. If the cohort, hireling or follower is associated with the CPM, then the CPM may resolve the matter in any way they see fit. If the dispute is with the cohort, hireling or follower of another CPM, then the CPM they are associated with shall represent them in the dispute and attempt to resolve the matter with the aggrieved CPM. If a resolution is not found, then the party shall mediate the matter as above. Should the hireling or follower belong to the party as a whole, then the party will mediate the dispute between the CPM and the hireling or follower. In all cases, the mediation is binding. The party reserves the right to side with the CPM over a cohort, hireling or follower in any instance and for any reason.

All decisions made by the party are subject to a vote by the party. Only CPMs may vote on these matters.

THIS, We So Swear!

sdream
2009-12-11, 04:12 PM
The idea of an in game adventurer's charter is excellent.

It does not work, nor is it needed for all groups (for example, I play with my family IRL, and we are also family in the game), but for any classical "group of strangers meeting in a tavern" it is highly advisable.

Very much like a pirate's accords in history.

I dislike some particular elements of your charter, but I assume they were negotiated by initial members and the charter is revisable by the party. Overall a very thorough document.

It would be amusing to use "Persona Charterus, henceforth PC" instead of CPM.

DabblerWizard
2009-12-11, 09:00 PM
It would be amusing to use "Persona Charterus, henceforth PC" instead of CPM.

It would also be amusing and a bit nerdy if it was "personae charterus" which would mean the Charter of the People, or the People's Charter... still "PC", but also sound as far as Latin is concerned.

Maybe I'm not the only one who enjoys nerdy pursuits. :smallsmile:

JellyPooga
2009-12-11, 09:45 PM
Whilst I applaud the obvious success you've had with this charter, I can't help but feel that having it as in in-game aspect of your game somewhat limits the potential for variety as a group. There are certain characters that could potentially get on with the rest of the party without hassle, but would be averse to signing such a contract...such a character and player would be turned away simply on the principle that they refuse to sign the charter, which I feel to be slightly unfair.

I am slightly biased inasmuch as I rarely play lawfully minded characters...whilst as a player I agree with and would abide by most of the stipulations in your charter, very few of my characters would agree to sign it on the principle that they wouldn't want to be tied by such a contract. Hell, most of my characters would happily abide by those rules if asked nicely, but would rather go it alone than put pen to paper or even shake hands on a verbal agreement, especially if said character had only just met the "party" without more than a cursory introduction. Does this automatically make me or my characters "bad apples"? I would like to think not (although I don't know what you and your group would define as a BA), but I would not be allowed to play with you and yours because of it and I think that both unfair and a shame as it means that everyone involved misses out on domr potentially excellent roleplaying opportunities.

Having said that, I'm not saying that your charter is a bad idea; it clearly works for you, but I would not use it myself outside of a very particular set of circumstances.