D&D Pre-Game Session Zero Strategy: Tips and Tricks for DMs and Players

Getting your Campaign off on the right foot.


11/23/20232 min read

Preparing for a successful Dungeons & Dragons campaign starts long before the first dice roll. A crucial step in ensuring an enjoyable experience for both the Dungeon Master (DM) and the players is the pre-game session zero. This is the time to establish expectations, discuss campaign details, and build a strong foundation for the adventures to come. In this article, we will explore some valuable tips and tricks for DMs and players to make the most out of their session zero.

Let's start with things that we would suggest happen PRIOR TO Session Zero


The DM should introduce the players to the world of the campaign, including its history, geography, and major factions. This will help the players understand their place in the world and make decisions that are consistent with the setting.

Set the Campaign Agenda

The DM outlines the general direction of the campaign, providing a brief overview of the plot, setting, and potential challenges. This gives players a sense of what to expect and allows them to tailor their characters accordingly.

Character Creation

Players build their characters, race, class, backgrounds, motivations, and goals. This allows the DM time to review and understand PRIOR to Session Zero.

Session Zero

A session zero, also known as a "pre-session" or "player buy-in," is a meeting held before the first session of a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) campaign to establish expectations, discuss character options, set the tone for the campaign, and more. It is an opportunity for the Dungeon Master (DM) and players to get on the same page about what they want out of the campaign and how they want to play the game.

Establish Expectations

The DM and players discuss their expectations for the campaign, including the desired tone, level of combat, and roleplaying focus. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page and avoids potential conflicts or disappointments later on.

Discuss Rules and Mechanics

The DM clarifies any house rules or unique mechanics they intend to use, ensuring everyone understands the ruleset and any variations. This helps avoid confusion and rule disputes during actual gameplay.

Character Finalization

The players should finalize their characters and fill in the remaining pieces that a DM would need to know. The DM can provide guidance on character options and thoughts and help the players make choices that fit the campaign setting.

Establish Ground Rules

The DM and players establish ground rules for behavior, communication, and etiquette at the table. This includes respecting each other's opinions, avoiding disruptive behavior, and maintaining a comfortable and inclusive environment for all participants.

Address Player Concerns

The DM and players openly discuss any concerns or questions they may have, addressing potential issues before they arise. This fosters a collaborative and transparent atmosphere, promoting a positive gaming experience.

Remember the goals are:

  1. Enhanced Player Engagement

  2. Smoother Gameplay

  3. Stronger Character Relationships

  4. Avoidable Conflict Resolution

  5. Shared Creative Process