Sometimes I think when I'm starting a new campaign, I should have a document not only of my house rules and setting notes, but kind of a disclosure of my CKing quirks. I know there have been little badges and questionnaires that have been made in the past. But maybe here you can put a freeform description of your CK style. One think I think is interesting: whatever I think my CK style is, my players might think it's totally different. Some of what I think my ideals are aren't what I put into practice.
My CK Style:
1. I like verisimilitude.
This means a lot of things, but mostly I want characters that fit the setting. The setting will also bend to fit the characters, but that is through their adventuring choices. I also tend to make NPCs evaluate the things PCs say and do in the context of the setting. They aren't likely to believe outlandish things no matter what the roll is.
2. I like a grim, shades-of-grey setting.
I don't think I go to the extreme of "grimdark" as people say, but I like a setting where the world continues to challenge the characters, the gods barely care about them (usually), and mostly people make their lives harder.
3. I like resource management, but don't always apply it.
I am a fan of the "how long will my torch last" minigame, the "how are you going to carry that" question, and other tropes of the genre. My players seldom help me keep track of that, and I accept the defeat.
4. The world is dark, but the characters don't have to be humorless.
Indeed, some of my favorite influences are hilarious. Fafhrd and Grey Mouser, Dying Earth, etc. are full of mischief, word games, and outlandish goofiness. As long as it's reasonably in-character.
5. Some metagaming is fine.
Perfect world, I'd make sure people in a fight weren't talking strategy out of character, or that people in a different room couldn't act on information the scout just found. In practice I usually let it slide. Extra points if you try though.
6. Good and Evil are either a thing, or they are not.
I try to be up front with alignment, and it depends on the setting. I am kind of a fan of the Three Hearts and Three Lions idea of Law vs. Chaos, or the Melnibonean take on it. Law and Chaos are actual real things, and not just matters of philosophy. So my Paladins need to stay on course and follow the dogma. (And paladins in my usual setting are rare as hen's teeth anyway). But, when I play in the "standard D&D setting" whatever that means, alignment is really defined by whatever rules, spells, and monsters are supposed to do with it.
7. I have a "standard D&D setting" in my head.
It's sort of back-constructed from the rules (all the rules from every edition), books, films, and heavily influenced by the red box D&D solo adventure (poor Aleena!). Whatever it is, I can't easily define it and many problems come from me not agreeing on how it matches with my players. As time goes on I learn to do better I hope.
8. I am not a fan of long character backstories.
Some people want them and that's fine. I just won't read them
. The reason is I want to place primary importance on what you do from now on. And also, no, you weren't the thrice-blessed scion of a royal family in my non-feudal setting, and if you were so great why are you first level? I am mean like that.
9. I quietly shake my head at min-maxing.
Don't get me wrong. It's responsible RPGing to make a character that can pull his or her own weight. But it's not important to be the best in the setting, world, campaign, or even the party.
10. Party over character.
I play with small groups, so there is some reason to go against this one, but in general, I prefer a group of single classed core character classes, and any decisions they make about their "builds" are meant to complement the team. If you try to make a Rambo for soloing the dungeon, well, you can, I just won't like it.
11. I follow the rules in the book.
At least when the book has the rules. Especially with a new system, I never make a house rule until it's absolutely required or I know it will make things better. Taste the soup, THEN add seasoning. If you do need house rules, though, there are good one for C&C on the forums written by people who found a need for them in play, and that's the first place I look when I need one. But by starting with by the book rules, everyone with the book has one place to look for them.
12. I don't like scene-editing.
Some games are heavy on players influencing cinematics through points and rolls: "I spend 2 scene points so there is a chandelier to swing on". I find these make a game turn silly quickly, at least in the hands of me and my players. I am unlikely to incorporate anything at that level.
13. I want your suggestions.
But I won't always use them, and I especially won't if they don't work with the setting. The suggestions I will ALWAYS use are the ones that can be done in character. "Next session we want to go to *this spot on the map* and see if there is *some activity that is likely to be there*. I'll roll to see what's there, but you always have a fair shake. And NPCs and other clues will tell you whether to bother.
14. I get ticked off when you don't track your damn arrows, hit points, etc.
And if we play online if your sheet isn't ready to play for someone who has to fill in for you. Also see resource management, above.
15. There is a metaplot.
Oh, but not a bad one. If I am playing my own setting, there are events that happen with or without you. You can slip in and out of those events whenever you want. If you want to influence the world you can, but if you don't, cities keep fighting, the wizards keep bickering, the crops fail, the gods show displeasure, etc. as usual. Metaplot can be a dirty word, but for me usually that refers to world changing events for setting books you bought and now are incompatible with your world. For a sandbox I think they are great.
16. I use the word sandbox a lot.
And I think I know what it means, and like everything else I think I know, it's probably wrong or disagrees with what you think. We'll work together to establish the parameters. I am in no way a purist about this anyway. My game has elements of hex crawl and published adventures and other stuff in between.
17. My descriptions need work.
I try to put you in the picture but like a 3 year old telling a story I often forget which parts I already know vs. which parts you already know. Bear with me, I will repeat myself.
18. If you don't pay attention, you will find the world boring.
If you aren't listening, you might not know that the wolf people live in the grasslands in the west, and that they hate Miagox the Archmage, and that they self-govern but are heavily advised by the swamp witch. Because I might only say it once in passing. These are the "hooks". You will probably get 3-5 of these each game. It's totally OK to not pursue them, but bear in mind this is my method of exposition.
19. I like maps.
I hate drawing them, but if I don't, people get lost and they can't perform meaningful tactics and end up playing sword patty-cake.
20. But there's no Google Maps for my world.
You barely know where the next city is. Maps are rare and you have to buy them, steal them, and make your own.
21. Monsters have their own thoughts.
Even the predators know when a meal is too costly. If they are intelligent you can bargain with them. If they are dumb, their tactics will be dumb. If they are smart their tactics will be dumb (but just because I am not that great at them.)
22. NPCs want to win.
So, they will put you to sleep and slit your throat. Act accordingly.
23. But _I_ have no investment in "winning".
Because if I did it would really suck and no one would have fun.
24. I am a jerk, but if you are winning, you are winning.
If my encounter is inadequate to kill you, and you find a way to rip through it without a scratch:
1. Beef the encounter up. I play it as it lies.
2. Retaliate. The next group of monsters won't know how you got through this group and anticipate you unless they somehow know about it (a survivor gets back to them or something.)
That also means, for instance, in a closed dungeon, when you keep winning with fireballs I won't just drop in fire elementals to neutralize your advantage, unless I rolled for them or they were already there. Now, if you get a reputation for it and it's reasonable they know about it, fine, but I won't steal your victory and good planning.
Because players like it when they outsmart the dungeon and do well. And players who like the game sometimes even think I am a good CK. Wins all around.
I may decrease the power level of an encounter in a subtle way if I really misjudged it. I try not to be obvious about it because I want players to be able to make decisions based on their experiences (why was this dragon so much easier than the next one?) and I don't want to steal your exultation.
25. I want to be better.
Seriously, so you can tell me what I didn't do well. I might get hurt and cry for a few minutes but then I'll take it under consideration. After all, the important thing is having fun. I am not trying to teach players a lesson, I'm not trying to instill my preferences for role playing into them, and I am not doing a social experiment. We're sitting around pretending to be elves, and if that is not awesome and fun, then we are jaded indeed.
This ran to book-length pretty quickly. I guess if I have more to say I'll post this as a document to my website.