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GoblinGilmartin
2013-07-12, 11:03 PM
So I've been running D&D games for about half a decade (wow that sounds weird to say), and I'm starting a new game with a group of four players, only one of whom has ever played D&D before.

How do I get them to get a feel for the game as quick as possible?

I'm not doing a module, I feel really uncomfortable with them, and I'm looking for some style tips for quicker immersion. One of my players barely speaks English!

littlebum2002
2013-07-12, 11:18 PM
I know you're asking for answers from a GM perspective, but maybe some insight from the noob perspective may be helpful as well. I've never played D&D, but I've read tons and tons of material on the mechanics to understand the comic.

Anyway, the main problem I would have starting this game is character creation and development. There are so many classes to choose from! Each class works best with certain races! Then there's multi-classing, etc. Too much to figure out.

If I were starting my first game, I would want the GM to help me with character creation. Of course the first character you ever create won't be your character for life (I assume), so I would prefer to stick to basic single class optimal race builds for my first run. Honestly, I would like for the GM to pick characters for us. Have a lawful good elf wizard, a lawful neutral human fighter, and other "optimal" builds to have a balanced party. (I have no idea if my examples were optimal our not)

The players then simply pick which party member they want to be, and get help on how to set up the character and level.

Of course, this would miss out on all the fun of character experimentation, but that's for after you get the mechanics down pat. Anyway, that's what I would want.

GoblinGilmartin
2013-07-13, 12:13 AM
I know you're asking for answers from a GM perspective, but maybe some insight from the noob perspective may be helpful as well. I've never played D&D, but I've read tons and tons of material on the mechanics to understand the comic.

Anyway, the main problem I would have starting this game is character creation and development. There are so many classes to choose from! Each class works best with certain races! Then there's multi-classing, etc. Too much to figure out.

If I were starting my first game, I would want the GM to help me with character creation. Of course the first character you ever create won't be your character for life (I assume), so I would prefer to stick to basic single class optimal race builds for my first run. Honestly, I would like for the GM to pick characters for us. Have a lawful good elf wizard, a lawful neutral human fighter, and other "optimal" builds to have a balanced party. (I have no idea if my examples were optimal our not)

The players then simply pick which party member they want to be, and get help on how to set up the character and level.

Of course, this would miss out on all the fun of character experimentation, but that's for after you get the mechanics down pat. Anyway, that's what I would want.

We actually have already made characters.

The Fury
2013-07-13, 12:30 AM
The single best piece of advice I can think of? Be patient with your players. They're new and they're bound to make some mistakes, so allow them to make those mistakes and don't punish them too badly for making them.
Other than that, just try to make the game fun and engaging and hopefully everyone will have fun.

Doorhandle
2013-07-13, 12:47 AM
How do I get them to get a feel for the game as quick as possible?



Quick, assessable rules reference will help with that greatly. Most D.M screens would have some but just printing often-used parts of the rules (Who can even remember all the conditions?) would be helpful.

Also, don't worry about the tiers at this stage. It's unlikely anyone will luck into best operation for any class if they're just starting.

Can't really give much more advice that's newbie-only.

Metahuman1
2013-07-13, 12:57 AM
Important question, What edition are you gonna run?

See, here's my thinking if you haven't already set an edition. 4th edition, for all the multitude of things I hated with a fiery passion that burned with the white hot intensity of an infinite number of suns, had two redeeming quality's.

The fluff was highly immersive even in the mechanics destroyed it the second you actually did something other then read/listen to the fluff, and the mechanics were all but new player proof. If you've got people who are at the phase where they have to ask what die to roll every time they make a check, this is a fairly good way to teach basic concepts. They'll graduate from those fast enough and then you can move them to another edition, maybe keeping the fluff from 4E, fluff being mutable and all.

Alternatively, it might be good to put them on Pathfinder. Avoid all the 3.5 E and before baggage and not disappoint them with 4E. And I'd Wager Pathfinder is actually somewhat simpler and easier to get the hang of then 3.5, even if I still vastly prefer 3.5.

dariathalon
2013-07-13, 12:58 AM
First, you need to know the rules very well yourself. I assume that's not a problem for you based on your first post, but it feeds into my second piece of advice.

Encourage the players to describe what they want to do. Don't let them get trapped by what their sheets say they can do. This is somewhat system dependent, but most systems have plenty of room for player improvisation. Remind them of this consistently. Once they describe what they want to do it is up to you to explain to them how that will fall into the rules (see advice #1). If it doesn't fall exactly into the rules, be prepared to improvise. Remember the "yes and..." philosophy (ask if you don't know what that is).

New players are often intimidated by the numbers and rules, so encourage their creativity instead. Often players unfamiliar with the rules have some of the coolest ideas because they aren't used to trying to figure out how everything will fit within them.

GoblinGilmartin
2013-07-13, 01:16 AM
Important question, What edition are you gonna run?

See, here's my thinking if you haven't already set an edition. 4th edition, for all the multitude of things I hated with a fiery passion that burned with the white hot intensity of an infinite number of suns, had two redeeming quality's.

The fluff was highly immersive even in the mechanics destroyed it the second you actually did something other then read/listen to the fluff, and the mechanics were all but new player proof. If you've got people who are at the phase where they have to ask what die to roll every time they make a check, this is a fairly good way to teach basic concepts. They'll graduate from those fast enough and then you can move them to another edition, maybe keeping the fluff from 4E, fluff being mutable and all.

Alternatively, it might be good to put them on Pathfinder. Avoid all the 3.5 E and before baggage and not disappoint them with 4E. And I'd Wager Pathfinder is actually somewhat simpler and easier to get the hang of then 3.5, even if I still vastly prefer 3.5.

:smalleek:...AD&D2E.....

Kazemi
2013-07-13, 01:31 AM
Include their characters' backgrounds in your plot. Sample questionnaires can be found all over online, but I'd have them only answer...oh, five or so questions. Give them a handful that they can answer quickly so they don't get bored, but so that they give you enough information. If they say something like "I like reading books", ask them to go deeper: what subject, who is their favorite author, etc.

The goal of this is to get the players feeling like they're really important story-wise and gives them each the chance to shine in a spotlight. It also gives them a goal, something that they actually want to accomplish outside of "clear the dungeon".

Example:
One might be traveling to finish his training by meeting and learning from each of the Masters while another might be tagging along because he is hunting his half-brother and looking for leads while a third might be the Northern Kingdom's third princess and ran away for freedom. This gives you plenty to create a story off of alone, so you can include complications (such as whoever your BBEG is) on top of that. You may or may not want your BBEG to be obvious and known to them at the start (FFII's Emperor vs FFVII's Sephiroth).

You'll also probably want to make sure they know that when you said they could "Do anything", you didn't mean things like stabbing the prince in the groin. Things like that are really just going to get their character(s) killed and doesn't make for great fun. The "anything" in this case includes whether they choose to side with him, against him, try to manipulate him, start a rebel faction, etc. But they should be smart about it. I had a slight problem with this with one of my players and I didn't snuff it out quick enough :smallfrown:

ClockShock
2013-07-13, 05:12 AM
New players aren't stupid. They're new.

Don't coddle them. Work out the kind of game they want to play just like you would any other group and tailor your game so it runs like that.

Some players like a game where there's a 50/50 chance their character will live to level 2.
Some players like loads of complicated rules and bookkeeping.

GoblinGilmartin
2013-07-13, 01:16 PM
Thanks folks for your input. It helped me think a bit outside the box, and i came up with a neat way to start, tell me what you think.

The players met by chance in a small village that was attacked by a small army of orcs. In a siege that lasted a week but was driven back eventually, the PC's were stuck in this town, with a curfew, for the entire length and met that way.

How I plan on getting them quick into the game: The first town the adventurers come to has a massive festival going on. Plenty of contests and games to play, and plenty of bystanders to pick pocket, cool market stalls with interesting items.
I figure this way I can ease them into the mechanics of the game and how to use their special abilities, as well as toss them into a big situation that can lead to an adventure hook.

QuintonBeck
2013-07-13, 05:06 PM
I would be wary of putting new players directly into an open world like you just described. I agree, their new players, not dumb, but ultimate freedom is very daunting. Don't railroad, but I'd suggest opening with something that has a clear goal or be quick to give them clear goals as they explore, as they get more comfortable with the system they'll be more willing to wander off on their own. This comes from experience, I had some plans for multiple adventures at the beginning of my latest (all noob) campaign but I gave them open world at first and none of them knew what to do.

"Umm, is there anyone who looks like they need help? What can I do? Is there a shop?"

When I dropped a plot hook they all pounced on it and began to follow it and things were better cause they had a purpose. I've been running the game for about 4 months and now when I give them free reign they're comfortable with what their characters can do IE "I'm going to look around for a rich guy to pickpocket, a fighting guild to participate in, a [specific] shop for [specific item] and also of course any more plot hooks" but they now know what they can do and are capable of because they learned it folllowing a path and now feel comfortable stepping off the path.

ZenoForce88
2013-07-13, 09:31 PM
Don't make assumptions, especially with how well you think you are explaining something. This goes double for the player who can barely speak English. Sometimes, to ensure there is no confusion, and to make sure that nothing is missed, you you have to speak slowly, and break it down piece by piece, as if explaining it to a child.

Just be sure to explain why you are breaking it down to ridiculous levels of simplicity so that your players don't think you are being condescending.

JusticeZero
2013-07-13, 10:28 PM
Give them easy, linear adventures to start with, like a tutorial. Feel free to tell them that you're starting out light to help get the hang of things. Use small enemies that have small and low damage weapons so that you don't have to worry about damage spikes. Help advise on various tactics they could do each round.

The Fury
2013-07-14, 02:20 AM
Don't make assumptions, especially with how well you think you are explaining something. This goes double for the player who can barely speak English. Sometimes, to ensure there is no confusion, and to make sure that nothing is missed, you you have to speak slowly, and break it down piece by piece, as if explaining it to a child.

Just be sure to explain why you are breaking it down to ridiculous levels of simplicity so that your players don't think you are being condescending.

Yes, this. Also be available to explain things to your players, and make it clear to your players that you are. The players should be comfortable asking for clarification when they need it.

White Tornado
2013-07-14, 06:57 AM
Explaining things is important, of course, but if you need to explain the basic concepts, showing it is way easier.

I'm a big fan of Community, and episode 2.14 the group plays AD&D to help a depressed student gain some confidence. Most of the group misunderstands and mocks the game, but it turns out to be the best game of AD&D ever! Including strong one-liners like "I can't just do that. I am the DM. I have to be impartial, or else the game has no meaning." (that's a threeliner, sorry). Needless to say, I kinda forced my n00b players to watch this episode before playing. It also helped our ethics major to get over the "(orcs=evil)=racist!" bit.

There's also two episodes of the Big Bang Theory where the characters play 4E, but, you know, meh.

The second thing that worked out great for my group was one of the players being very energetic and enthusiastic, which dragged the other players deep into the roleplaying bit and the strategic bit. That will be hard to copy, though ^_^

O yeah, alcohol. I know people vary greatly in their gaming & alcohol preferences, but alcohol lowers boundaries, which makes it easier to delve deep within the game and get outside their regular comfort zone. YMMV, of course.

Mordar
2013-07-15, 06:22 PM
Thanks folks for your input. It helped me think a bit outside the box, and i came up with a neat way to start, tell me what you think.

The players met by chance in a small village that was attacked by a small army of orcs. In a siege that lasted a week but was driven back eventually, the PC's were stuck in this town, with a curfew, for the entire length and met that way.

How I plan on getting them quick into the game: The first town the adventurers come to has a massive festival going on. Plenty of contests and games to play, and plenty of bystanders to pick pocket, cool market stalls with interesting items.
I figure this way I can ease them into the mechanics of the game and how to use their special abilities, as well as toss them into a big situation that can lead to an adventure hook.

Frankly, I think a little "in media res" might be useful to set the stage...maybe the culminating battle of the orc seige? That will whet the appetite a bit, provide an instant opportunity to get used to some basic game/dice conventions and help set expectations (knowing what you can and can't handle). Keep the tactical options simple. Give them a taste of combat, a taste of reward, and then set them on the path of adventure.

As was mentioned above, be sure the festival town has three clear adventure hooks for them to bite, and maybe a few extra. Such a setting might encourage individual players to want to wander off and see things of individual interest...so you might have to bait the hooks extra-well in order to avoid a dangerous situation of one player playing while the other three watch for far too long. Experienced players have a hard enough time with this one...

Good luck!

- M

DM Rage
2013-07-16, 10:12 PM
1. Get your players started with a warmup encounter. Such as a bunch of kobolds with bows behind a wall. Give them choices in the beginning. Do you want to return fire? take cover? Move from rock to rock and creep up slowly or cast a spell or what?

Give them possible options and they will soon start think of choices you could not have foreseen when you designed the adventure. These unexpected twists will be a real test of your mettle as a GM and since they are new players untainted by past games, they may come up with some really ingenious (and exceptionally stupid) ideas.

After the warmup, practice playing through what would have happened had they made different choices (with no adjustments to HP or XP - just a dry playthrough).

2. Praise highly good role playing and reward excellent strategy with XP bonuses. Players will soon start seeking XP bonuses by emulating the one or two people in your group who are playing well.

3. Right at the outset get players familiar with time, movement, morale, weapons ranges and space in their bags. I used to have the players use graph paper where each square represented 10 cn of weight in their bag. A small sack was able to carry 50 cn (coins) of weight so they wrote in each of 5 squares what that 10 cn was. They soon learned to exchange copper for gold and not assume they can carry every rusty weapon they pick up on their backs for sale in town because their character will be struggling along at 5' per turn. I found that when a battle started, drawing the space on laminated 1 inch graph paper was a good idea as was using miniatures or paper markers. String for arrow/quarrel ranges was good. People like visualization. A good way to do this is before the adventure begins, have them play test a battle to get the hang of all the options available.

4. Roleplay what happens in town and describe towns. It helps players visualize their world.

5. Tell players the history of the world their characters are in and wher etheir character fits in. For example, the town of Newbridge was founded in YED 4000 after the great necromancer was defetaed by a last alliance of men and elves. The men of Newbridge came from across the sea from the Kingdom of Oldgrange and founded the settlement. Your fighters great grandfather was a footman in the Baron of Newbridge's house carls who fought Grom the mad, leader of the orcs of the western mountains, during the orc raids 50 years ago. Since that time the orcs have retreated into the mountains and peace and prosperity have returned to Newbridge.
This sort of backstory sucks the players in and makes them ask questions like, will the goblins come back? Who was the necromancer? Has the colony expanded? Where across the Sea is Oldgrange? Will the Kings from over the sea return? Etc.

GoblinGilmartin
2013-07-20, 11:57 AM
Okay. cool. Something I should specify that I forgot? We're playing over skype. None of my players live in the same state as me.

Angel Bob
2013-07-20, 06:15 PM
Important question, What edition are you gonna run?

See, here's my thinking if you haven't already set an edition. 4th edition, for all the multitude of things I hated with a fiery passion that burned with the white hot intensity of an infinite number of suns, had two redeeming quality's.

The fluff was highly immersive even in the mechanics destroyed it the second you actually did something other then read/listen to the fluff, and the mechanics were all but new player proof. If you've got people who are at the phase where they have to ask what die to roll every time they make a check, this is a fairly good way to teach basic concepts. They'll graduate from those fast enough and then you can move them to another edition, maybe keeping the fluff from 4E, fluff being mutable and all.

Alternatively, it might be good to put them on Pathfinder. Avoid all the 3.5 E and before baggage and not disappoint them with 4E. And I'd Wager Pathfinder is actually somewhat simpler and easier to get the hang of then 3.5, even if I still vastly prefer 3.5.

I'm not entirely sure how you think new players would be "disappointed" with Fourth Edition, considering you don't know anything about what these players expect/want to see in D&D. They could well be happy with the action-hero feel and rigorously balanced rules that 4E implements, or they might prefer the looser, "simpler"* feel of previous editions. So without knowing the specific players' preferred playing styles, edition wars are uncalled for.

*Personally, I don't think either 3.5 or 4E is really much "simpler" than each other. Both have a lot of complicated, tangled rules that can be quite overwhelming to first-time players.

TheThan
2013-07-20, 09:56 PM
Youíre in a unique position to teach and influence new players. This opportunity gives you the chance to influence your new players in many ways, you can teach them to be optimizers, Role-players or something in-between. You can sculpt them, make them into great gamers. Donít waste this opportunity.

So think long and hard about what sort of players you want in your games. Then try to nurture those sorts of habits and ideas in your players.

Now, in addition to the normal DM duties you have, youíre also taking on the role of the teacher. Some people learn by reading, others learn by doing. So be patient and teach them how the game works. Since Iím assuming they are brand new to RPGS in general. Be sure to make them realize that the actions of their characters are not tied to whatís written on their character sheet. Ask them what they want to do, then show them how to do it. Just make sure they are the ones making the choices, if you have advice, ask them if they want it before giving it.

Make sure the encounters are built around simple monsters (throwing them up against something with nasty grapple abilities or immunities may not be a good idea at first). As the players get more proficient with the rules, you can start upping the complexity of the monsters they are facing.

As for role-playing, I would plan for some role-playing vs each other and against NPCs. Donít plan for long stretches of this, however if they really get into the swing of things, let them have at it.

GoblinGilmartin
2013-07-25, 01:43 AM
first session was the other day, I ended up being unorganized and unprepared, but i was really surprised that after the game, the players couldn't tell me enough how much fun it was. They killed a giant crab that was wrecking a festival, had their fortunes told, the bard ran an endurance run through an ooze pit, and they fought mudmen on their way to investigate whisps seen at the old mine. we played over Roll20, and I was running stuff off of two laptops at once, one of which slowed down during crucial moments.

It was neat, and I'm planning on sending them into Spelljammer relatively quickly.