I’m a big fan of Session Zero exercises. In particular, anything that explicitly draws out the ‘why are we all here?’ angle in preliminary play. Or maybe I should just say, how are we all here – we can at least establish some basic agreed facts, but whether we have buy-in may be crucially difference. I’m thinking of things like community-builder steps, explicitly creating relmaps, ‘leading questions’, and doubtless many more I’m forgetting, or am tragically unaware of in the first place. (Please do by all means share and compare examples of these, too!) Hopefully they pay off many fold in terms of player buy-in down the line. I’m not thinking so much of the ‘here are my house rules’ checklist S0s, though no doubt they sometimes lead to useful dialogues and scope for tweaking the game to follow, too.
But how do we get buy-in to the session zero? OK, on the face of it that sounds a little ‘turtles all the way down’, but I think there are some live issues here. Should we be building a community, if players might chafe at the particular type of community the exercise envisages? (Or at the entire concept of a community at all, players being players!) Hopefully expectations are somewhat in line by way of how the GM pitched the game, and by the fact of then players having agreed to it – and perhaps clues were given in the manner of their agreement. Is there Technique or – heaven help us! – Theory that can can be thrown at the problem? Or is this best just intuited and informally winged?