Over the years that I have played D&D I have seen a few session zero’s. The first one we ever had was all of us friends just sitting around trying to figure out how to play. It’s kind of a bumpy start when you’re trying to learn as you play. Since then our session zero’s have evolved and gotten better.
At our second session zero we were all a lot more confident in our knowledge and ideas so it went smoothly. Still, it wasn’t a traditional session zero so to speak. Traditionally, a table would make their characters right there at the table with everyone. All of us, players, already had our ideas for what we wanted to be and had player sheets to match. We came together for session zero as more of the introduction of everyone’s character and to set the scene for what our campaign would be about. It was super fun, but it was harder to match up back stories or create story junctions that would make sense for players to meet at.
In this third campaign of ours we are going to be going through a traditional session zero due, in large part, to our new homebrew world. Since it is a new setting, we wanted all the players to come together to make characters after learning a bit of history of the new world. We’ll be hosting a little mixer with everyone involved, provide some yummy food, and give a presentation detailing some of the more important points of our world. Once that is done we will make our characters. It does come with its own issues.
I would not recommend having a session zero for a short campaign or a one shot. If the actual event is only a few sessions or just one, a session zero really isn’t necessary. For these you want to create your characters before attending. This saves time and allows the players to enjoy the story longer. One of my friends had the misfortune to attend a one shot that decided to create characters at the event before starting to play. Since many of the attendees were new to the game, they spent a lot of time learning the rules and creating their characters. Before they knew it, the day was over and they had to go home.
They never even got to play. It was one of the saddest things about D&D I have heard. This friend will actually be joining our table for this next campaign and my husband (DM) and I have been really going out of our way to make sure she is comfortable and happy with how she wants to play. I don’t want her to feel rushed because she’s afraid she won’t enough time to play. It’s one of the main reasons we are trying to have a traditional session zero. I’m super excited and looking forward to finding out how this goes.
Session Zero can be very important to establishing the foundation but it is equally important to know when one should be had. Short sessions are sweet because they don’t last so you don’t want to waste time planning things that you might not get to play. As always enjoy yourself and, above all, have fun!