My wife is planning a “girl game day” that will take place next month. Most of her friends that will be joining her have played board games, but haven’t really roleplayed before. Jennifer has played extensively– earlier this year she ran us through the first half of Keep on the Shadowfell. She ran her first adventure about a year ago. [It was a cool Dungeon Magazine adventure about a town with a kidnapped noble, with a big bad Wererat that battered us near the end.] She’s going to run a 4e game for them, probably built with some help from Dungeon Magazine adventures and notes from one shots she played in.

When she asked me for advice, I told her about the one shots I’ve run to teach new systems. (She was remarkably patient as I told the stories.) She brought up a good point– in my cases, I’m usually teaching a new system to experienced roleplayers. She’s going teach them how to roleplay and show them a specific system all at once. Despite the imperfect match, I drew on my experience and came up with the suggestions below.

My Suggestions

  • Pregens: I suggested that she should generate characters in advance– a few more than the actual number of players, so that her players have some choice. She’ll probably borrow some of the characters from the WotC website and might repurpose some of the characters we’ve made for RPGA 4e games.
  • Stories: One thing that worked for me when running a teaching one-shot was to provide a couple of paragraphs of history for each character. It was a good way to quickly convey some setting assumptions and gave the player a baseline to roleplay from.
  • Dice, Pencils, etc: Let everyone know they can just show up– everything else will be provided.
  • Power Cards: I think having power cards with everything already worked out could make the game even more approachable. (Much like the powers on the Shadowfell character sheets.)
  • Maybes: I’m not sure if or which of the following are best.

  • Quick References: I’m divided on providing quick references. I’d guess that one page sheets with action types, turn sequence, etc. would be OK. I suspect a 20 page ‘quick’ reference would scare everyone off. New players flee if confronted with too much material.
  • Simplified Sheets: Most character sheets are extensive– they have all of the data you need to recompute everything listed in boxes. Would it be worth the effort to streamline sheets to knock out the intermediate numbers and just boil it down to the final numbers? It might make for a cleaner, less intimidating sheet… but it would be harder to explain where the numbers all come from.
  • A ringer: She mentioned the possibility of including an experienced roleplayer among them, to subtly guide them. The main drawback is that her experienced player pool is mostly guys, which might get in the way of the “girl game day” part. Another problem is that they’ll pick up the ringer’s bad habits instead of inventing their own. Making sure they know the game is for them– not the ringer– is also important to get right.

Adventure Design

I suspect that her group will take some time to introduce themselves, pick characters, etc. That sounds like a half an hour at a minimum– longer if they’re chatty or eager to study each character. In all, I’d guess that three or four hours is as long as she should plan to keep new people’s interest. Jennifer has talked about wanting to run a more traditional dungeon crawl. Keeping in mind the limited time, do you start with a town/hiring scene, so they can talk and explore a bit? Or do you skip ahead (say, with a paragraph of explanatory box text) and start them off at the cave mouth?

I think two or three combat encounters, a roleplaying encounter, and a good skill challenge makes a good framework to build on. I’d be tempted to start with fight brewing– say, a couple of kobolds come out to find out who is tromping all over their ceiling or the like. The first battle should be easy, because everyone will be discovering what they’re best at doing… and might take a few smacks while they figure it out. On the other hand, if the battle goes too easily, other minions might respond to the noise as delayed reinforcements.

How does the overall framework sound to you? Is it too ambitious, or do you think they’ll blow through it too quickly? Would you prepare an extra encounter or two to drop in case they run ahead of schedule? Or just assume that you’ll take up the extra time toasting their success in town after they’re through?

Your Suggestions

I suspect many of you have introduced new players to roleplaying– please share any advice you have. Is there anything critical she needs to include to help them figure it out? I’ve listed my suggestions– please help me find the holes so she can plan a fun session. And maybe make a few converts.

If any of my suggestions sound counterproductive or too time consuming, please point them out. I don’t want her to burn out before the game even begins. [For a quick hint about her: when I mentioned writing this article, she asked "Are you going to call it Newbs with Boobs?"]

About  Scott Martin

Scott is an engineer turned gnome and game store owner. He lies awake at night building intriguing worlds and plotting your character's demise.



32 Responses to Introductory Games for New Roleplayers

  1. I just did more or less the same thing last december, to get some friends into D&D so we can start an adventure.
    I then prepped the character sheets, but without background. Next time i will do that too.
    Playing material was all supplied by myself, thats very important!

    The Quick references part i solved like that: before the first combat i explained in short what a character can do in one turn (5 foot step, move, cast, attack – not more; and also how these actions work). This method i used also for all other rules & co: “oh, now… you could do this and/or that, and this works so and so”

    Character sheets – i used the “normal” sheets, but explained which parts are important and which are just numbers.

    About the adventure: i created some minor story (read it on my blog, but its german: http://dndhjt.wordpress.com/2008/12/17/tagebuch-einfuhrungsrunde/ ) which contained some information gathering (guided RP), 3 encounters and the happy ending… I should have prepared some additional encounters, as we outran the schedule.

    The more time you invest, the better outcome you get! =)
    Be sure to think of EVERYTHING and some additional 20% of unexpected, new, old and other stuff, like that things you and your playmates just “know”.
    There will also come the “stupid” questions, these will be easy handled, but… there will also come some nasty questions (generally starting with “why” and not fitting in the “stupid” category). Be prepared to answer questions you and your playmates could not even think of =)

    -HJT

  2. My suggestions:
    * Add an NPC to the party to provide some guidance if the party gets stuck. The clues that are obvious to veterans might be missed by n00bs.
    * I personally hate party recruitment scenes, and find them awkward even with experienced roleplayers. Instead, I suggest going with ‘You all grew up together in the same small town’ or some other device to say that the party knows each other in advance.
    * Have food! Of course, I suggest this for any gaming session.

  3. The story should have vampires, probably something in the same vein as Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters series. That will catch their interest right away.

  4. My biggest suggestion is to carefully pick which system you introduce someone to. I don’t think it’s best to start people out on D&D. Pick a system with dice, but not one that’s quite so confusingly dice based – personally, I like 10d10 systems, but there are other options that meet a happy medium between ‘traditional D&D’ and ‘diceless indie.’

    The reason I suggest this is that if people are really into the dice system, they’ll have plenty to think about even with a simple system, and people who are into the character-building aspects of it will find dice daunting. Trying to keep a million numbers straight is not fun, even if you’re into numbers. And if you’re not, it’s a nightmare, whatever your gender.

    I really love the idea of a girl game day, and I think that the women-only aspect of it should absolutely be preserved. I wish I had had that introduction to games (instead of being the only chick in a male gaming group and feeling like I was constantly fighting to not be perceived as, well, the newb with the boobs).

  5. @Flourish – Uh, I should add that I recognize that the suggestion about what kind of dice system to use isn’t useful to this particular situation – I was merely holding forth. LOL.

  6. @ simplified sheets: In terms of character sheets, I’d use a playmat character sheet. I found a few on ENWorld a few weeks back but I can’t find them now. Regardless, a simple sheet could easily be made that includes only essential information in large print (no modifiers slots, etc). A ‘landscape’ setup tends to work better, also (and leaves more room at the table).

    (I can post a link to download one if wanted, but I can’t give credit to the original author as I can’t remember who it was.)

    In terms of what to run, I’d also suggest a Dungeon mag adventure. I would actually choose 3. Start with a short roleplaying intro that proposes three adventure options: urban, wilderness and dungeon, perhaps? Or three types of dungeons: sewers, abandoned castle, underground dungeon. This gives some flexibility and choice but, regardless of choice, the DM has a prepared game.

  7. I haven’t tried this yet (and maybe not likely too, unless I decide to introduce my wife and children to roleplaying with 4e instead of 3.5 or Pathfinder – after trying it out for a few sessions, my weekly group has given 4e a pass), but I really like the concept. This thread is by a guy who wanted to get his non-rpg friendly group into roleplaying, so he created a 4e Play Mat with alot of the relevant info readily available right in front of the player. The thread is pretty long, but read through it as the original poster describes it, then puts up photos and podfs of his sheet, then other posters revise the sheet to make it prettier, more usable, and so on.

    Your wife might consider using something like this to simplify the mechanics of the game to something more easily understandable by those familiar with boardgames. The poster says he ran a session with players who didn’t know the rules at all and they managed to run the session without cracking a rulebook, learn the rules well enough to correct the one player who already played in a regular 4e campaign, and decide to continue the campaign.

  8. @Rafe – Looks like I posted the link you couldn’t find… :-)

  9. I think Flourish has a point about single-dice systems as being good for the introduction to rpgs. Whether that dice is d20 (Mutants and Masterminds, for example), d10 (Storyteller) or d6 (Gurps) that can be a good way to simplify entry into roleplaying.

    As a D&D player, mostly, one of the things that has to be overcome is the “dice hunting” new players have to go through. For many people, it’s their first introduction to dice that aren’t cube-shaped.

    Point in fact, you can play D&D with 3d6, but it takes a bit of tweaking.

  10. I think the choice of game system is going to play the largest role in whether the new gamers are going to have fun and will want to try roleplaying games again in the future, which I assume is the goal here.

    As others have said, D&D is fairly complex and can be rather difficult to wrap one’s head around if you haven’t read a lot of fantasy novels or assume this ‘fantasy’ game is going to be just like Harry Potter.

    Several other roleplaying games come to mind that might make it easier to guarantee everyone’s first roleplaying session is fun. Each of these is relatively light on rules, and I have taught people how to play any of them in under 15 minutes. They also require hardly any pre-game GM preparation other than printing out character sheets.

    InSpectres
    ( http://www.memento-mori.com/inspectres/ )
    Is a roleplaying game about a paranormal investigation startup business. Think Ghostbusters done as a reality TV show.

    1001 Nights
    ( http://www.nightskygames.com/ )
    Is a very story-focused game where ‘you play members of an Arabian Sultan’s court, whiling away the sultry nights by telling pointed stories to advance your own ambitions.’

    Three Sixteen: Carnage Among the Stars
    ( http://gregorhutton.com/boxninja/threesixteen/index.html )
    This is a high-octane science-fiction role-playing game where you play power armored-space troopers killing bugs all across the Cosmos.

    In A Wicked Age
    ( http://www.indie-rpgs.com/games/unstore/game/2 )
    A swords and sorcery roleplaying game where gods, demons and mortals contend with one another for power.

    If I was introducing people to roleplaying games for the first time, I would lay all of these down on a table for them and let them choose one to play. I would make it clear that it would be a one-shot session; if someone’s never roleplayed before the idea of committing to an ongoing campaign can be intimidating. At the end of the session ask everyone what they thought of the game, whether they had fun, and if they would like to play the same game again or try another one.

    The keys to successful gaming with new roleplayers are being flexible and patient, letting them venture into the hobby at their own pace. Don’t insist that they have to play again next week unless they want to, but if they do, be enthusiastic and ready.

  11. @Rafe – My handle on enworld is porter235. You can see my playmats at this discussion. Be sure to check for the pdf versions as they will print nice and neatly.

    These are designed with board gamers in mind. With spots where you can put counters to represent your hit points, action points, and healing surges.

  12. @Troy E. Taylor – I seem to remember playing with 3d6 instead of a d20 was a recommendation for variant play int he AD&D DMG, but it may have been elsewhere. Something I’ve always wanted to try, for the bell-curviness of it.

    My girlfriend was going to run D&D for her folks once, and what she did was basically prepare a summary of all the basic concepts (races, classes, skills, feats) and a simplified character creation process. Took a lot more time on her part, but it worked OK.

    What I do when I’m running games for new players is bash through all the numbers for character creation, and then say “OK, so, you are good at Athletics… so, one day you are walking along the dock, and you see a small child who was playing in the water has been swept out to sea! What do you do?” and run through the basics of a dice system that way (maybe even handing out a few bonus XP for good play, in games that support that).

    Once everyone has had a highlight scene which maps out their most basic stats, I move on to a simple combat, to get a feel for the pace of it. Every game has distinct combat (even games that use a simplified combat resolution) so it’s good to know what the intricacies of it are. A fight scene is a good way for all the PCs to “meet” and find out they are on the same side (in the history of virtually every issue of Marvel Team-Up)

    Dice out of the way, I’ll do an RP scene, and let the players describe their characters and just free-form roleplay for a bit.

    Important: Don’t stifle anything the players say! If they say “I remember you from when you were thrown out of the royal palace on your butt!” don’t say “actually, it’s up to N to decide if her character had that happen in the past”. Just let them sort it out. Most people are natural roleplayers and improvisers, but just don’t -remember- how to do it. If they turn to you, just say “well, does that sound right to you?” For first-timers, it is VITAL to not the the rules or traditions of RPing interfere with their creativity.

  13. Start them off on Burning Wheel. It uses nice, friendly D6s. Also, pregen characters would offer so many advantages for the GM- character history and beliefs/instincts/traits, in other words built-in roleplaying guidance and conflict!!! You could start out ignoring the more complicated rules and resolve actions by simple and versus tests until people get the hang of it, and maybe script a duel of wits or proper brawl as a finale?
    Is it the “typical” RPG experience? Maybe not. But the habits developed playing BW would benefit any further RPGs they might feel inclined to try.

    In a more general vein: foster trust between GM and players, and amongst players themselves. Make it clear up-front that the GM is a player, too, that she is only “out to get them” in the interest of making the game more fun and meaningful for all involved, and that this goal should be taken as the responsibility of everyone in the group towards everyone else. Be clear and explicit about the social agreement right from the outset.

  14. Those are good ideas Scott.

    Not that this would apply to your wife’s game in particular, but a game which introduces people to RPG’s should be a good represenation of the typical game found in the hobby.

    My old group introduced my wife to RPGs via a Coyote Trail game, in which we were all outlaws. I’d have given our game an “R” rating if it had been a movie. It was not typical of our roleplaying games at all. It was fun, intense, and certainly different. It was certainly not our usual type of game though.

    My wife had a fairly good time and did pretty well getting into character, but some of the players were doing stuff that just wasn’t the normal for the group and I was concerned that my wife would think that our outlaw game was “how we game” all of the time. I had to go to great lengths to explain this to her, especially when a couple of the character’s were being complete scumbags and even making me uncomfortable.

    It just would have been better to introduce her to the hobby via a “regular” game like D&D or Star Wars. Usually, there is a much clearer distinction between good and evil and what the PCs are all about. That is why I think it helps for the introductory game to be a heroic one. Villainy just doesn’t have the same appeal for most people as being a hero. That has been my experience anyway (27+ years).

    Just something to keep in mind when people are designing that intro adventure and picking a system/theme.

  15. Thank you everyone for great advice! I’m not going to break up the thread with a wall of text responding to everyone– but I really appreciate all the input so far. I look forward to what other cool bits everyone contributes too.

    Thanks for the links to the playmats. I appreciate the suggestions about other systems, but Jennifer has only run D&D [3.5 and 4e] so far– and I think we’d all agree that the GM has to be comfortable with the system in this situation. Deadlytoque, your idea about simple skill demonstrations to start is a good one– it’s very similar to something she’d already described wanting to do.

  16. If it’s practical, colour code the dice.

    i.e. All d20s one colour, d12s another, d10s a third etc.

    So you can ask a player to roll a d20 (or whatever), and when they ask which one that is you can automatically tell them that it is the “blue” one, and the same will stand for every player.

  17. I agree on the simplified character sheets – they don’t need to know what base AC is and how it’s modified, just what number the badguys need to beat to hit them. Explain it if they ask; otherwise, don’t.

    When teaching a new system, I usually run a sample combat with randomly chosen pregens before doing much of anything else, just so everyone has some idea what they’re getting into. That way they can say, “I like how that guy stood ten squares away and didn’t get hurt – do you have one like that for me to play?”

    I’d skip most of the intro roleplaying stuff. With experienced roleplayers, they can find excuses to make that sort of thing work, and it’s still awkward. Just start off with kicking in the door.

    Since it’s D&D, my main tip is to not let anyone have any kind of die even NEAR them that they don’t use for their character. That cuts it down to a d20 and maybe two different sizes of damage dice.

  18. Power cards seem like a good idea, in my one and only 4e play experience so far, they worked rather well.

    The DM there did a quick-reference sheet for us, but only of action types. That could be useful, too.

    A ringer may be overrated, in my last D&D running, I had 3 newbs and 3 veterans; the newbs turned out to be much better RPers than 2 of the hack & slash vets.

    Re: gender: That game (“Feywatch”) was almost all women players, my wife– who was not playing– quickly nicknamed it my harem. I recommend sticking to the single-gender group if possible, especially if it was recruited as such.

  19. It seems to me there are two issues here; the one, that the group is going to be made up of first-timers needing to be taught the system, and secondly that it’s a “girl game day”. As I’ve introduced scores of new players to our hobby and I’ve also been running an all-girls group for the last nine years (though I am a guy, they’ve accepted me as “one of the girls”), I’ll share my insights.

    The first issue is best addressed, I think, the way TSR and WotC try to bring new players in, with colorful pregenerated characters, simplified rules sets, and as much multimedia as you can bring to help kickstart the imagination. The prime example in my mind was the classic “First Quest” boxed set from 2nd Edition, which had very nice full-color maps, a few miniatures to start with, color tiles for monsters, traps and key items of treasure, and perhaps most importantly, a CD with voice tracks laid out for the players including dialogue and sound effects to frame each encounter. The set had three starting adventures, and each one, as you went on, had less and less handed to the DM, transitioning not only the players but the DM into the role. Now, I don’t know if such an aid is available these days, but some of the same effects can be garnered from having a handful of minis, shortened lists rather than tables out of the book, pregen characters sheets showing just what is needed to run the game at hand, and maps and pictures and background music as possible to help their imaginations attach to your words more meaning. All this will help ease them into gaming that first critical game. After that, though, it’s good that they’re using 4th Edition D&D, which does an excellent job of outlining game concepts and teaching the core of the gaming experience. Don’t sugar-coat too much, I would further advise, by paring down the rules, but make sure they get all the positives of an adventure: memorable characters, exciting treasure, and lots of action.

    Most gamers go through three steps as far as game-play motivation goes. Hack-and-slash, problem-solving, and then role-playing are the common progression points. Setting too much up for beginners involving role-playing and puzzles or deep plot issues may be more than you need. Certainly, touching on these is good, but for a first time I’d make nodding acquaintances of them and move on to mostly action.

    Lastly, there is a different psyche to the all-girls group that I run, as opposed to the mixed- all-male groups. The all-girl group is far more into the social aspect of gaming, and has required me to learn patience and to be more generous with the time at the table so they can get their social fulfillment taken care of as well as the entertainment of my game session. I can only refer to my own situation, of course; I hardly make a claim that all groups, regardless of gender, behave the same! Nonetheless, I recommend keeping that first game very loose, and open up the possibility to further sessions if you do not accomplish the end of the adventure in one sitting. I wouldn’t make any other assumptions based on gender, however. My ladies can be every bit as crude, boisterous, and bloodthirsty in character as their husbands and boyfriends, after all!

  20. Hey, I’m Jennifer — the one taking on the GM task here. Some quick bits:

    I’ve decided that the characters will all know each other. It just makes sense and saves time. I like @happyturtle’s idea of adding an NPC, and it may work into the adventure I’m creating (with Scott’s help).

    I think the big trick is going to be letting everyone do some characterization (role-playing) with some dice tossing. I’m hoping that even through we’re using pre-gens the women will embrace their characters. And, as @omnus said, I’m guessing there will be a lot of socializing, especially since not everyone knows each other IRL.

    My game concept is basically that the village our trepid adventurers live in is having it’s big once-a-decade celebration. Part of that is a contest among the village that sends groups forth to explore the local “Tom Sawyer” cave. Let’s me do something traditional (dungeon crawl), set up challenges the characters should be able to overcome (traps, monster encounters, boss fight at the end) and have a reason for celebration at the end (the party beats the dungeon and claims rewards).

    @flourish
    You totally stole my game day name – “newbs with boobs.” I was trying to convince Scott to use that as the posting title.

    @rafe and @skelly
    Thanks for the recommendation. Hopefully when I get home I can take a look at it (darn this corporate firewall).

    @darrell
    Ohhh .. color coding the dice, great idea! And the perfect chance to buy new dice!

  21. BTW, keep the suggestions coming! This is REALLY helpful.

  22. Seems to me so far everyone is thinking in terms of systems, and simplifying rules. Which is very important for new players. But before you can get to that stage, the girls at the table should have at least a basic handle on “roleplaying” as opposed to “playing DnD” or whatever game it winds up being. Try describing our hobby in generic terms. I usually go with, “remember playing “let’s pretend” when you were a kid? Same thing, but with grown up rules.” Or I’ll talk about telling a story around a campfire where everyone contributes a couple sentences and passes it to the next person. Or acting in a play where you make up the dialogue as you go. Something so they have some kind of grip on what they’re doing amidst all those rules. Roleplaying is a daunting hobby for newcomers, and not just because of the rules sets we use. If you let the newcomers focus on what the rules allow and don’t allow, they’ll miss the wonder of seeing their story being told and shared with some of their friends.

  23. It’s hard reading through 20 comments before you when you’re running out the door, so hopefully nobody has suggested these already.

    I say use the regular character sheets. A lot of the draw towards roleplaying I find is the setting. No, not Eberron, I mean your living room. The feeling of sitting in a group with these strange charts of paper while one guy sits behind a cardboard screen, with strange coloured and shaped dice. So the sheets are important, I guess, to me at least.

    But highlight what’s important. Literally. Take that yellow highlighter and note their HP, Defenses, Attack and Damage, and Initiative modifiers. I’d highlight the Skills header too, just to note that they’re important, but not each individual skill.

    Also, power cards are important. What I would do is let them figure out some stuff that is obvious to us, though. Tell them what a minor action is, and let the ranger come to his own conclusion that “Hey, using Quarry every turn would be a good idea.” Oh, and make extra cards for those things as well. Even though Hunter’s Quarry isn’t a power, it would make an important card.

    What else… Be patient. These girls probably haven’t done anything like this since they played house in elementary school. So it’s not going to go anything like with your usual group. But that’s obvious, I guess. (I was only thinking about House because my 8 year old niece said she and her friends played House and said that she was Cuddy. I don’t know what to think about that. I might have to have a talk with her mother.)

  24. @Jennifer_W – A lot of these suggestions are about how to help them with the roleplaying aspect. I can’t speak for your group, but as a girl who has taught other girls how to game several times in the past… the biggest problem was getting their characters to stop hitting on each other and start pursuing the quest.

    Their roleplaying will be fine. Don’t worry about it. I don’t know if girls are just less conditioned to be awkward in front of one another or we’re more naturally social or it’s just that all of my friends are also writers, but I’ve yet to meet a girl who didn’t take intuitively to the RP part of RPGs.

  25. I’d say that the first session ought to encourage the playing of roles. I didn’t say “roleplaying” because that’s absorbed so many other elements of RPGs – the dice, the character creation, computer games, etc.

    Help them have fun pretending to be other people. I know it’s fun for many people to run a character like a finely tuned machine, but I suspect that the fun part of RPGs for most people is being able to be 1) someone else in a 2) different world.

    If someone comes up with a fun, in-character idea, roll with it. Don’t worry about sticking to the plot too much. While linear gaming has its place in some games, I don’t think it’s right for new players. There’s an implicit social contract in a linear games that GMs will try to clue lost PCs into what their goal is and that the PCs will play along with the given plot. New gamers, though, won’t be familiar with this, so don’t make them play that way. Let them run around in your world and go nuts.

  26. I would encourage you to place some character descriptions at the top of each pre-gen sheet. Something along the lines of “lithe & quick” – “unexpectedly strong” – “voice that commands attention” – etc.

    Follow that up with a short list of the things the character is best at – using a sword – stealthy – spells – etc. I’ve found this provides an easy handle for the player that puts the numbers beneath it into a more understandable context.

    A method I’ve used to pull fresh players into a game is to put them into a tense situation right off the top – only a short verbal introduction to tell them where they are. Something wherein each player can discover their skills/personality and get a bit of confidence in how things work without risking death.

    In your scenario, I would suggestion something along the lines of throwing the players into an immediate confrontation with drunken town thugs. A non-lethal confrontation where standing up to the bullies is half the battle – a short scuffle results in the bullies backing down/running away. This gives the players a taste of their abilities without leaving them wounded. It also provides them with some role-playing opportunities and an immediate hook with some of the town folk who have been victims of the thugs. These town folk serve as your NPCs who encourage your players to get involved with the town and the rest of the adventure.

    But most importantly, remember to have fun yourself.

  27. Kurt "Telas" Schneider

    If you’re not going to play D&D, I’d suggest a Fudge variant or Savage Worlds. (My wife, who cannot grok D&D, picked up Savage Worlds in about five minutes.)

    If you are going to play D&D, I second the highlighted character sheets, but with different colors – All the defenses are blue, all the attacks are pink, all the skills are yellow, etc. You may want to circle the characters’ “best” abilities, as well (such as a Ranger’s Perception).

    I’d also strongly recommend the Power Cards; they make 4E so much easier to play.

    You may also want to suggest that the players flip their character sheets face-down for RP. They can flip them back to check things, but they’re not distracted by all the cool stats.

    Finally, you may want to make 2x as many characters as you have players, and let them choose them based on quick descriptions.

    Hold the phone… Staple the quick descriptions over the character sheets, so the description is the first thing the players see.

    Example: “Neanne Mirgalana is a rather large Half-Elven woman with more personality than most acting troupes. She’s constantly entertaining others with her stories and especially her (often bawdy) songs. Don’t sell her short, though – Neanne is very comfortable and skillful in nearly any social situation, has a nearly-encyclopedic knowledge of history, and is rumored to be quite talented with the many blades she has stashed about her person. She’s six feet tall, nearly 200 lbs, with green eyes and auburn hair. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.”

  28. Nice ipsem lorem invocation Telas! I’d put it under the “casting a spell” part of her character. ;)

  29. Kurt "Telas" Schneider

    Thanks. I really just wanted to point out that the description should be more complete than what I had written. (Yeah, she’s one of my NPCs, a former adventuring Bard who now runs a local tavern/inn.)

    Another thought: Print up a few cards with effects, such as Slowed, Weakened, Ongoing 5 Damage, etc. that the GM can drop on the character sheets when the characters are affected by them. Make sure they describe the actual effects, and say “Save Ends” when applicable. You can also use colored beads or poker chips to identify who marked who.

    I’m realizing that, run properly, 4E can be a great system for introducing new players to RPGs.

  30. Hey there! I’m a relatively new gamesmaster, playing with some friends who are new to RPs with actual rules (we met mostly through RP forums, which are incredibl freeform) and have been using a homebrew system that my mom has been gaming with for years.

    I’ve learned these things about new gamers:

    1. Pregens are easiest to work with.
    2. The rules need to be clearly explained, and even then – sometimes, they just won’t get it. Not just system rules, but also campaign rules.
    3. Patience is a virtue.

    I guess those two are just GMing rules period, but hmm. More new-player-specific stuff.

    4. New players especially need to be led around by the hand a bit. Throw them into an open world like I did, and they tend to get a little lost; that’s why modules are recommended for new gamers.

    5. Character sheets should be as simple as possible, and if you’re pregenning, definitely add some history to the sheets so they know what their characters come from. Make the backgrounds as diverse as possible, and definitely create more than you’re expecting to have players. First, it gives some choice, and second, you never know who’s going to bring friends. (One of my players showed up and was like, “My sister heard you were running and she loves these kinds of things, can she play too?”, she’s one of the best players in the group now)

    Oh. And as a note on pregenning. One thing that I’ve found that works is to only finish the characters 90% so that the players have some choice in customization. For example, in my system, it’s a skill-based system – so I left them 20 of a hundred skill points to add new skills or distribute betwen the ones I’d given them. It keeps them from feeling like the characters aren’t theirs, which improves the roleplay and stops people from whining too much.

  1. Yeni Oyuncular İçin Giriş Oyunları | Babil Kulesi

    [...] Turkish with permission. You can read the original English-language article by Scott Martin at Introductory Games for New Roleplayers, and check out Gnome Stew’s books on the Engine Publishing website. Gnome Stew, Gnome Stew [...]

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