Beginners and teaching the RPG game

Thursday, 5. August 2010

Jade over at Evil Machinations is doing a fine follow up to Madbrews Growing the Hobby carnival. The topic this time is obviously, how do you teach the game and bring new people in. The new players portion is a bit interesting to me because… we have no real game shops in the area. (Sad but true.) Any Case, with out further aidu.

How do you find new players?
This is an issue in my (Detroit) area.  Best bet to start is probably to feel around and see who might be interested.  You can usually pick up a few people this way but it can be difficult if you’ve got a smaller friends circle.  Hobby shops that have gaming or message boards of some sort (Colleges come to mind if you’re a student) are probably the next best best, followed up by looking to see what you can come up with online.  There are a number of gamer location type services I’ve come across Obsidian Portal is One, and Pen and Paper Games has another nice service as well.

How do you help them learn the mechanics of a system (and how much of the system do you require them to learn?)
Initially you don’t. They player needs to know what their role in the group is, and a general idea of what they should be doing. That’s all that’s needed. The problem breaks down to be that rules are a hindrance in this case to good free action, and as a storyteller or other player you need to be assisting with intelligent choices and inserting the rules as need be. Eventually they’ll figure it out if they’re interested… via osmosis, questions or picking the books up themselves. If they’re not, you haven’t spent a bunch of time teaching someone rules who really doesn’t need to know them. More importantly, you’re not intimidating them with what they can, or cannot do.

How do you teach the non-mechanics part of the game?
I think developing a little bit of a character background, and a good hook for a character will go a long way towards making them easily playable.  If the newbie in question has something that can grasp onto that they’re supposed to do  (Talk like a pirate, be arrogant, be clumsy.. etc.) then it makes it much easier.  Once they get into the feel of actually role playing, then all of the pieces fall together.  I think that games that involve an actual party that are working together at least most of the time are much simpler in this regard than ones where you might have a bunch of people playing solo and occasionally bumping into each other.

How do you teach someone to GM?
I’m really not sure why you’d want to punish someone like that….  However, they should have at least played a few games to get feel for how everything works and what a storyteller does.  On top of that, they need to be reasonably familiar with the rules (and in my belief are the only person that really -needs- to know the rules to play.)  It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to have them be under the wing with putting together an adventure and seeing all the components that are involved with it.  After that, jumping in and storytelling is the best way to do it.

What’s the best beginner system?
Simplicity! It really doesn’t matter as long as the storyteller knows what they’re doing.  They are providing a setting to work with and a framework to play by as necessary.  If you’re forcing the new guy to learn the rules before doing anything then I think you’re wasting your time, but something like old school D&D is pretty easy to work with.  If everyone is new well.. good luck.  Take your time and feel it out as you go.

What’s the best system for teaching role playing to kids?
Same as above.  Simpler is better. I wouldn’t go with any systems that get too overly gory or are shall we say built around being morally questionable.  Before the latter comment catches some comments, I think thieving and killing or subduing villains is basically part and parcel. Torturing and sucking out peoples souls is definitely over kill for younger kids tho.

How do you run games for kids?
I haven’t had the privilege yet, but if I did it would probably be with a small group working together where everyone can feel that they are contributing to it, particularly for younger kids.  Success is very important for them to feel good about what they’re doing.  Failure is going to happen as well, but it’s a good learning tool particularly if you can impart some good moral value into it.

What was your first game like? How could it have been better?
I think it worked out well.  Myself and 2 other friends.  I think I was 8 at the time.  Just a simple dungeon crawl from the old school basic dungeons and dragons set.  It was definitely a learning curve since some of the old rules were byzantine in structure.. but we had fun so I can’t exactly complain.

Should roleplaying be taught in the schools?
Anything that has to do with acting is essentially role playing, so it really is already taught.  I guess you can say it teaches life skills, but in reality I’d be happy to see kids working more and being judged appropriately on Math, Reading and Science.  If RP can be effectively incorporated here and there with the lesson plans, great.  But as a pure subject, definetely not as is. I do believe however that having a RP club or something like that would be a good idea.

Are all-kid game groups better than adult-kid mixed groups?
I guess it depends on who wants to socialize with whom and how much pop culture is involved.  I really like my parents but I don’t think I’d have wanted to role play with them.  It’s probably a good idea to have someone with some experience involved in teaching kids what its about, then stepping out of the way later as need be.

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3 Responses to “Beginners and teaching the RPG game”



  1. Don Says:

    One of my player’s wife wants to participate in our D&D 4E campaign. She knows nothing about RPG’s, but likes to hear the stories her husband brings home.

    She is Korean and is learning English (she is conversationally fluent, but not technical/subject-depth fluent yet).

    We’ve set up a side game just for her, giving me a break at DMing and I get to play, giving another guy in our group a chance to DM, and a limited player set to get her used to it.

    If she sticks with it, she’ll likely be invited to the main group if an opening is available. If not, the side game might turn into a full campaign length event.



  2. Grey Says:

    Cool deal, let me know how it works out. It sounds like a good break in process there, and you can do it on a limited introductory basis without really overwhelming her entirely. (And your new GM, har!)



  3. The Pen and the Sword « oberonviking Says:

    [...] Beginners and Teaching the RPG Game  [...]

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