Introducing a new player to RPGs: Focus on the Fun, not the Details

Posted: September 24, 2014 by pointyman2000 in Advice, Roleplaying Games
Tags: ,

Roleplaying games is an incredibly rewarding hobby, but there’s always a bit of difficulty when it comes to introducing new players into the hobby.

Part of this difficulty lies with the fact that it’s so tempting to overload someone with expectations and pressures that take the fun out of everything. Players joined the game hoping to have fun, but three culprits manage to ruin their fun even before they’ve had a chance to really appreciate the hobby::

Optimized Character Creation

New players don’t know the system, and will make sub-optimal characters as a natural consequence. This is not a bad thing. The objective of running a game for new players is to focus on the fun, rather than stressing them out about making the right choices for a character.

While some systems will need you to call out a few must-haves, make sure to not go overboard and take away their chance to enjoy character creation.

Optimized Combat

Combat is another place where it becomes very tempting to step in and “guide” them through. GMs and veteran players alike are guilty of doing this. Combat for new players is a chance for them to shine and get to know the basics. It’s not about them making perfect strategic choices right off the bat. If they’re not quite used to it yet, bring up where they could improve after the fight is over rather than trying to remote-control them.

One-Solution Situations

GMs are the culprits here. Given that these players are new to the game, it’s unreasonable to give them situations which have only one solution.

Come to think of it, it’s unreasonable to provide that situation to any player, regardless of experience level.

Ultimately it all boils down to permissiveness. Think back to the early days of your rpg life. The fun comes from being able to play a role, do fun things, and achieve the impossible. Don’t make it hard for players to discover that experience. Let them understand the appeal first. Once they understand the appeal and are hooked, then you can start introducing the various challenges and obstacles that will make play even more rewarding.

  1. th3muser says:

    I have found it useful to tell the new player to just focus on the roleplaying and let me (or us the more experience players) handle the rules when it comes to it. This way they can participate fully in the story as the character they are playing and not feel bogged down by the rules.

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