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View Full Version : Convincing Non-RPGers to Try RPGs



kraftcheese
2017-11-22, 02:31 AM
How do you folks do it?

My only experience playing RPGs has been a few times in groups of people that I didn't really know, as none of my friends who I would prefer to play with at the time seemed interested.

As a result, the games I've been in have been...less than stellar. In gaming groups I've joined on a nearby campus bunch of people who I don't have much in common with, aren't very friendly and have some excruciatingly bad views that bleed over into their gameplay, not to mention a focus on a world I wasn't particularly interested in.

I'd much rather be playing with friends I know I already get along with, but even nerdy friends I've had in the past never seemed very interested in trying RPGs; it is a big time investment I guess, and the rules and commitment can look daunting I'd imagine.

Does anyone have experience converting their friends?

Koo Rehtorb
2017-11-22, 02:43 AM
Start out with an easy to play RPG that doesn't require much rules knowledge.

Something like Dungeon World is perfect for this.

Emay Ecks
2017-11-22, 09:40 AM
I got my group of friends (2 ex-coworkers, one of their spouses, and 2 friends of theirs) into roleplaying by:

1. During talks about hobbies or what we did over the weekend, mentioning I played a roleplaying game (and usually tossing in something fun like "We destabilized a nation with the clever use of balloons" or "We defeated a small army of tentacle creatures bent on seizing the world's pudding")

2. Getting them to try roleplaying shows (got 3 of them into Harmonquest, and one into Critical Role), so they want to try it too.

3. Mentioning I've been trying to get a group together to gm for, and offering to run a one-shot (2-3 hour) adventure just to see if everyone likes it or wants to try.

4. Leave a bunch of adventure hooks in said one-shot adventure (so they're asking, what happens next?)

All 5 of my players asked me if I wouldn't mind continuing on for them, and we have been adventuring for the past 6 months.

Sredni Vashtar
2017-11-22, 09:57 AM
- Simple game systems, not just rules-wise, but also roleplay-wise, depending on the people you're trying to convince. Some of the more free-form, narrative style games can be daunting if a person has never roleplayed before.

- Find a hook for that particular person. "Hey, do you like Game of Thrones/Lord of the Rings/Star Wars/Star Trek/Horror movies/etc.?" "You're into board games, right?" "This game is something I love doing, and it's really important to me. Would you like to try?" (That last one is how I first roped my wife into playing. She's still not a full-fledged nerd, but she has fun.)

- Simple plot arcs. Open world stuff tends to lead to stagnation in gameplay in my experience. Give them a concrete and obvious goal. (Slay the dragon, escape the dungeon, steal the Death Star plans, stop Doctor Orca from turning the city into New Sea World, etc.)

Just start small. If they get hooked, then go further.

Loxagn
2017-11-22, 10:22 AM
It might be a good idea to start with simple or 'casual' RPGs, the sort of thing that can be done in an evening. Like a party game, such as Fiasco or Everyone is John. Both of these are great for a group to grasp and fun to play, especially for newbies.

Tinkerer
2017-11-22, 10:30 AM
Well for starters make sure you aren't this guy.

http://gunshowcomic.com/471

But seriously I'd second the getting them to watch the roleplaying shows (it demystifies the process). Harmonquest and Critical Role are great however even better might be if you find something which they like and that group makes a show. The two top examples I can think of here are Penny Arcade with Acquisitions Incorporated and Team Four Star (Dragon Ball Z Abridged) with... does their show have a name?

Future Sword
2017-11-23, 03:39 AM
You can't. People hate trying things they already don't care about. Give up.

lacco36
2017-11-23, 03:53 AM
My usual approach is to let them talk to the players - I have one who is great at advertising my games. He talks about them, remembers the funniest stories and can pass them well and when the people start to ask about the technical details, I step in and continue.

I don't explain the rules. I talk about basic concepts - and if they can't imagine how would it work, I laugh and say "Yeah, I can understand. I didn't know how it could work either - it's best when you try it, because watching it isn't so fun."

I then usually continue with "C'mon, let's create a character!" when I think the person is interested. Most non-players I convinced weren't really into long-term gaming, but creating a character? That takes just few moments - and can be fun in itself.

I help them find a concept they would like to play. I give suggestions and shorten the time they need to create it, making it fun. In the meantime, the other players feed them with stories, encourage them, etc.

Once a character is there, it's just a matter of setting good time to play (ideally as soon as possible - my first GMing job was when I convinced a friend to create a character because he just had an argument with his GF...and then convinced the GF to make a character too... and then I just said "Hey, we have characters, wanna try them out?"...they had lot of fun playing together and traded barbs through the whole game...).

I don't ask "Want to join our campaign?" or give them too much information. A one-shot is all I need - because it's a matter of compatibility. Do they enjoy themselves? They will come again. They don't? Well, it's either that they didn't fit into the group or they did not like the game - either way, I didn't spend too much time.

Best way? Make it easy for them. Don't fall into the trap of making them a perfect character to join the already experienced party (e.g. lvl 5+ characters) - my experience is that it's best to have a "standby" party of newbie-characters (played by veteran players) or level-less game where they can make impact even with starting characters. The longer the chargen takes, the higher the chances they will bail.

lightningcat
2017-11-28, 01:06 AM
On the idea of making characters, making characters in Traveller and other games that have life path like systems can almost be a game on their own.

kyoryu
2017-11-28, 02:10 AM
I think the most important thing is an approachable system, in a genre they're interested in. A PbtA game is great. Fate could work with the right GM. Fiasco is freakin' perfect.

Really, you want to get rid as much of the geeky minutiae of counting bonuses and +2 this and that and figuring out exact ranges and all of that crap as possible.

Xuc Xac
2017-11-28, 03:42 AM
How do you folks do it?

See the "Tips on starting a cult" thread.

Jay R
2017-11-28, 10:36 PM
Does anyone have experience converting their friends?

"I'm playing D&D this weekend. Would you like to join us?"

That's all. If they say "no", then we're done. If they ask questions, answer them.

But if they don't want to play, we're done. My friends don't have to like everything I like.

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-29, 04:06 AM
See the "Tips on starting a cult" thread.
Damn, you beat me to it. :smalltongue:

Anyways, here are a few different tactics you can try:

1) hold a teaparty or whatever at your apartment. Leave your ritual items and tomes of eldritch lore gaming equipment and game books on display the more interesting the books look, the better. If someone asks, explain what they're for, as excitingly as you can. As the number of people at the party rises, the chances of at least one wanting to try this new game approaches 1. And after one person says they want to try, the barrier for others to try is lowered.

2) read your eldritch tomes of lore in public or in social gatherings. Sooner or later someone will get curious. Seize the opportunity and try to get them interested.

3) Make an advert for your game. Go to conventions and other hobby events. Ambush Talk to hapless victims fellow convention goers and pitch your game to them. "Hello, do you want to pretend to be elves for four hours and murder sapient beings and take their stuff?"

4) ring your neighbour's doorbell. If they open: "Good day, would you like to talk about Satan roleplaying games?"

Asking a simple yes/no question doesn't work, because most people have only stupid stereotypical mental image of roleplaying games, if they have a mental image at all. You don't get usefull answers from people who don't know what they're talking about. So explain your hobby first and use the opportunity to sell it to them.

If all above options sound like too much effort because you're afraid people will mock you, or you're embarrassed of your hobby, you've already lost. Step one in getting people interested is having confidence in what you're selling and being excited about it yourself.

Darth Ultron
2017-11-29, 08:00 AM
The classic is to have a couple gamers talk about the game.

So at a cook out, two players talk about the amazing fun they had on the Dragon's of Dust adventure and go into all sorts of detail telling the story.

The non-gamer sits there and likes the story...then you tell them, ''you know you can make your own story''.......

Red Fel
2017-11-29, 01:42 PM
"I'm playing D&D this weekend. Would you like to join us?"

That's all. If they say "no", then we're done. If they ask questions, answer them.

But if they don't want to play, we're done. My friends don't have to like everything I like.

A significant quantity of this.

Look, there's no "convincing" involved. "No" means "No."

Yes, you can link them to fun YouTube videos or forums or online summaries. Yes, you can describe a game, or invite them to spectate (if your gaming friends don't mind feeling like zoo animals). Yes, you can do any of the above, but that's all secondary to the question: "Do you want to game with me?" And a "no" is a "no" is a "no."

Think about it like this. I'm not a person heavily invested in sportsball. I have many friends, acquaintances, and colleagues who are. If you were one of them, how would you convince me to watch sportsball with you? Would you show me YouTube clips of great sportspoint gameplays? Would you give me a link to a sportsball talkguy talkguying about the sportsball game? No, because that would be weird of you - you'd just ask me, straight up.

And I'd say "No," obviously.

Now, you might press the issue just a bit, maybe bring it up next week, or try discussing the latest sportsball game sometime. And I might be polite, or not, depending on how I felt at the moment and whether you signed my paychecks. But there's no trick or strategy to "convince" me. It's weird to push it before asking, and hard to justify trying to convince me after I've said no.

So ask first. Just a question to gauge interest. Maybe they'll say "Yes," in which case you're set. Maybe they'll say "Maybe," in which case you can certainly offer resources to help them decide. But if they say "No," they say "No," and that's pretty much it.

kyoryu
2017-11-29, 02:33 PM
A significant quantity of this.

Look, there's no "convincing" involved. "No" means "No."

100%

Another point here is that you should figure out why *they* might like an RPG. Appeal to their hobbies and interests. The point shouldn't be to turn a "no" into a "yes". The point should be figuring out how to sell it as something that they want to do, they just don't know about it.

And reduce the barrier to entry as much as possible PbtA games are great for that, old school games or light games, too. Any game where you have to wade through 1,000 pages to make a character is going to be a deal-breaker.

Tinkerer
2017-11-29, 03:37 PM
Think about it like this. I'm not a person heavily invested in sportsball. I have many friends, acquaintances, and colleagues who are. If you were one of them, how would you convince me to watch sportsball with you? Would you show me YouTube clips of great sportspoint gameplays? Would you give me a link to a sportsball talkguy talkguying about the sportsball game? No, because that would be weird of you - you'd just ask me, straight up.


Difference is time invested, passive viewing vs active participation, and knowledge already acquired. If I were inviting you to play sportsball and you literally had no idea what sportsball was I might very well use a YouTube clip.

I do hugely agree with needing to know how to take a no. But I am also first and foremost a store owner with many years of experience in sales and marketing so I know it often doesn't matter what the question is, what matters is how the question is asked.

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-29, 04:23 PM
Look, there's no "convincing" involved. "No" means "No."

Meh to that.

A "no" is only worth respecting if it's an informed "no" based on real reasons. And again: most people don't have informed opinions on RPGs.

At the very least, ask "why not?". It's one thing if they're busy (a legit reason) and another if they think you're asking them to dress up as elves and go prancing in the woods, or enact weird sexual fantasies, or murder goats to Satan and are saying "no" based on that.

Nifft
2017-11-29, 04:32 PM
"Hey kid, wanna try some 80's satanism? Your parents would HATE this stuff."

Iamyourking
2017-11-29, 05:16 PM
Meh to that.

A "no" is only worth respecting if it's an informed "no" based on real reasons. And again: most people don't have informed opinions on RPGs.

At the very least, ask "why not?". It's one thing if they're busy (a legit reason) and another if they think you're asking them to dress up as elves and go prancing in the woods, or enact weird sexual fantasies, or murder goats to Satan and are saying "no" based on that.

I feel like that is vastly underestimating the knowledge of the general populace. Even if they don't know the rules or some of the precise details; most people should be aware of the basic concept of RPGs and how they are run, given how long the hobby has been around and how established it is in popular culture.

Theoboldi
2017-11-29, 05:30 PM
I feel like that is vastly underestimating the knowledge of the general populace. Even if they don't know the rules or some of the precise details; most people should be aware of the basic concept of RPGs and how they are run, given how long the hobby has been around and how established it is in popular culture.

Its not underestimating them at all. TTRPGs are a very niche market. Especially once you get outside the US. It's not like they are vital information or even common knowledge.

While there is a relatively large RP community in my country, with many systems of our own, talking to non-players about my hobby almost always involves me having to explain the basic concept. It just simply isn't well known.

War_lord
2017-11-29, 07:18 PM
A "no" is only worth respecting if it's an informed "no" based on real reasons. And again: most people don't have informed opinions on RPGs.

No man, a "no" means no. Say "hey, X, Y and I play D&D (assuming you're running D&D, things are a bit harder to sell if you're running something else.) on Z day. Would you be interested in trying it?" if the answer is "yea, awesome!" or a genuine "maybe" (not to be confused with a disinterested maybe that really means no) feel free to add more information. If somebody says no, it's weird and impolite to impose on people by trying to sell them on it after the fact.

Red Fel
2017-11-29, 09:04 PM
Meh to that.

A "no" is only worth respecting if it's an informed "no" based on real reasons. And again: most people don't have informed opinions on RPGs.

Wow, strongly disagree.

Look, your reasons can be stupid. And if they are, I will tell you so, because I'm a jerk and I'm not apologizing for that. But they are your reasons. And while I may disagree with your reasons, I won't disagree with your decision. I may question your reasons, may push a little, but when your position is clear, I have to respect it, even if I don't respect the logic behind it.

Of course, if it's a person who regularly has dumb reasons for their dumb positions, I am unlikely to respect the person, but that's another issue entirely.

But yeah. The idea that the person receiving a "no" gets to decide whether it counts is about ten pounds of problematic in a five pound bag.

That said...


At the very least, ask "why not?". It's one thing if they're busy (a legit reason) and another if they think you're asking them to dress up as elves and go prancing in the woods, or enact weird sexual fantasies, or murder goats to Satan and are saying "no" based on that.

With this, I agree.

Ask first. If you get a "no," a "why not?" is totally acceptable, provided it's brief. And yeah, if they say something dumb like "because Satan," you can try to point out that only sometimes, friend, and only at the best games. But frankly, you're unlikely to sway an opinion like that, and again, if they persist in their "no," drop that crap and move on. Don't keep pushing - not even if they have dumb reasons. Especially then.

RazorChain
2017-11-30, 12:17 AM
Its not underestimating them at all. TTRPGs are a very niche market. Especially once you get outside the US. It's not like they are vital information or even common knowledge.

While there is a relatively large RP community in my country, with many systems of our own, talking to non-players about my hobby almost always involves me having to explain the basic concept. It just simply isn't well known.

Today most people under 40 are familiar with CRPGs and MMORPGs

If they havent played they at least have heard about things like World of Warcraft. I recruited people for a group couple a years ago, 3 out of 5 had no prior roleplaying experience. They knew and played CRPGs so we started a Gurps campaign which has been running the last 2 years.

So just find interested people, explain the game and choose a system you are good at running

chainer1216
2017-11-30, 01:33 AM
The long con!

Find a person with RPG adjacent interests, like for example, you have a friend who likes video game lets play or anime, show them Team Four Star's gaming channel or their Abridged series (DBZ or Hellsing) and if they like them, mention they do a weekly DnD stream on Twitch.

Or if you have a friend who likes podcasts show them My Brother, My Brother, And Me, and if they like that, bring up their RPG podcast called The Adventure Zone.

Ect ect ect.

Im hearing more and more that people have gotten into PnP gaming through finding out a group they already follow has some sort of game going.

kyoryu
2017-11-30, 11:50 AM
With this, I agree.

Ask first. If you get a "no," a "why not?" is totally acceptable, provided it's brief. And yeah, if they say something dumb like "because Satan," you can try to point out that only sometimes, friend, and only at the best games. But frankly, you're unlikely to sway an opinion like that, and again, if they persist in their "no," drop that crap and move on. Don't keep pushing - not even if they have dumb reasons. Especially then.

Yup. Nothing wrong with correcting misconceptions.

Other than that, "oh, okay, cool, if you change your mind, let me know."

Mastikator
2017-11-30, 11:52 AM
Board games are the gateway drug to RPGs.
If they're not into that then card games are the gateway drug into board games.
If they're not into that either then give up and move on.