Introducing a New Player: Introduction

Apathy University: Introducing a New PlayerBringing in a new player to an established group can be a big challenge, especially if the new player has never played an RPG before, but even if not. The truth is, roleplaying is very intimidating. Even as an experienced player, joining a new group or learning a new game can be a source of fear. I recently joined a game of Legend of the Five Rings, and found myself overwhelmed by the depth of an unfamiliar setting and the nuances of a new rule system.

With a completely new player, there are a number of challenges to overcome.

This series, Apathy Rules for Introducing a New Player, provides a set of rules and tips for game masters and players to help introduce a new player to their group. Here is an overview of the rules, with a brief description of each. A separate article for each rule will give advice for implementing it effectively.

  1. Be well prepared. More than ever, you want to make sure things run smoothly. Have extra dice, paper, and pencils for the newcomer. Know your adventure, what rules will be needed, and how to explain them. And make sure you have all the snacks and drinks your players could want.
  2. Converse before the game starts. Take some time to bring the newcomer into the social group without involving the game, while simultaneously getting to know some of the newcomer’s tastes.
  3. Provide limited character options. The newcomer doesn’t know the game. Give him some choice, but keep his options limited to prevent intimidation.
  4. Introduce only the basics of the game. Teach only the core mechanics and the basics of the setting. Too much will overwhelm the player.
  5. Keep the adventure simple and quintessential. A newcomer’s first adventure should show the standard expectations of the game, and nothing more.
  6. Provide a simple tailored objective. Give the newcomer a sense of success by giving him a task that he is best at achieving.
  7. Engage him gradually. Allow him time to get used to the game, and slowly introduce the characters and new elements, assisting him whenever necessary. Also, at some point during the adventure, each player should interact with the newcomer in an In-Character fashion.
  8. Ask him questions. After you’re finished, ask the new player what he thought of the game, and socialize for a bit more. Hopefully he just had fun.

Please come back next Tuesday for Apathy Rules of Introducing a New Player: Be Well Prepared.

Call to Action: Tell us your horror stories involving new players. Successes are okay too.

  • Greg

    Having played a few RPG’s the mist intimidating time being a “noob” to the group or game was figuring out my character. A close second was then getting to know the people i was playing with.

    The easy part was learning the rules, they were either explained “in-game” or simply by reading the book.

  • http://www.geekydomains.com/ Tyson J. Hayes

    @Greg That is one of the reasons we’re writing this segment the focus shouldn’t be on teaching rules but simply engaging the new person. Engage them, learn about them and then teach them the rules.

  • http://www.geekydomains.com Tyson J. Hayes

    @Greg That is one of the reasons we’re writing this segment the focus shouldn’t be on teaching rules but simply engaging the new person. Engage them, learn about them and then teach them the rules.

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  • Greg

    Having played a few RPG's the mist intimidating time being a “noob” to the group or game was figuring out my character. A close second was then getting to know the people i was playing with.

    The easy part was learning the rules, they were either explained “in-game” or simply by reading the book.

  • http://www.myspace.com/spyderzt Spyder Z

    I think that the most difficulty I ever ran into while bringing a new player in was in dispelling preconceived notions about things. From the rules, to the creatures, to the kinds of magic and how it works. It was almost nicer to get someone who’d never played a Pen and Paper, as they accepted everything as stated. ;P

  • http://www.myspace.com/spyderzt Spyder Z

    I think that the most difficulty I ever ran into while bringing a new player in was in dispelling preconceived notions about things. From the rules, to the creatures, to the kinds of magic and how it works. It was almost nicer to get someone who’d never played a Pen and Paper, as they accepted everything as stated. ;P

  • http://www.apathygames.com Tyson J. Hayes

    @Spyder Z: I can see your point I think D&D; has spoiled me with how magic works and how I think a game should be played. I haven’t had a chance to play much with Savage World’s magic system but it looks pretty win.

  • http://www.apathygames.com Tyson J. Hayes

    @Spyder Z: I can see your point I think D&D has spoiled me with how magic works and how I think a game should be played. I haven’t had a chance to play much with Savage World’s magic system but it looks pretty win.

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