Bringing 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.
- Overcoming intimidation.
- Integrating the player with a new social group.
- Making the new player comfortable with the concept of roleplaying.
- Teaching the game, both setting and rules.
- Making sure the new player has fun.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Provide limited character options. The newcomer doesn’t know the game. Give him some choice, but keep his options limited to prevent intimidation.
- Introduce only the basics of the game. Teach only the core mechanics and the basics of the setting. Too much will overwhelm the player.
- Keep the adventure simple and quintessential. A newcomer’s first adventure should show the standard expectations of the game, and nothing more.
- Provide a simple tailored objective. Give the newcomer a sense of success by giving him a task that he is best at achieving.
- 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.
- 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.