Thursday 17 May 2012

Help, there's a noob at my table!

If, like me, you are a keen evangeliser for D&D or (insert iteration of your choice here) then you will have dealt with the introduction of noobs to your table on more than one occasion.

It's presumably a given that you've already explained to them what RPGs are all about and why they're so cool, the noob would be a fool to turn down the chance to play them. However, integrating a noob into your existing group is a process fraught with the potential for problems; they need to have as much information as you can give them in a very short period of time so that the game does not have to stop every ten minutes for an explanation of a concept that seasoned gamers know all about.

So, the question for today - if you only had time for one piece of advice/information/quick lesson before the game started, what would it be?  What vital nugget of knowledge would  you like the noob to get embedded in their brain before the first die rolled?

And speaking of dice, my first thought on this matter would be "Know Your Polyhedrals".  Once a combat gets going or a saving throw has to be made, players need to know their D8s from their D10 from their D%; the funny dice are probably the strangest thing that somebody who has never played before will encounter. 

"Never mind the Balrogs...what the hell are those?


  1. I haven't played with a noob in > 10 years however ,I used to give the noob multicolored dice (red d20, green d10's, blue d6, etc...) I told them we are playing make believe with a bunch of rules and dice to resolve risky actions. If you want your character to attack somebody or do something, I'll tell you what color of dice to roll.

    Then if they needed to roll dice I would say, roll the red d20. After a couple of games they had the dice down. Also, I would usually try to get them to make a character that was the "brother" of an experienced players character so that experienced character could act as a "gaming mentor". Back then I was playing 2nd edition AD&D and I probably added 12 or more new people to the game without issues.

  2. 'Ask questions' - would be my advice to any 'noob'. Ask the GM (me) about what their character might know of the world - its societies, its monsters, its legends etc. Ask about what they see, for clarification and expansion. And ask about what their character understands of their own capabilities, the possibilities and probabilities of their own success, en lieu of asking about the possibly baffling mechanics.

  3. "Watch and listen to the other players. Don't worry about little details for now, those will come out during the game. Have fun!"

    Whenever I've introduced a new player to RPGs we've already had a runthrough with a simplified version of what happens at the table, including how to use the dice. The dice are something that newbies usually latch onto right away because they're fascinating little objects in themselves.

    They should have some idea of how a character is made for the game, preferably from someone helping them to create a character before the game. Understanding how a character is defined in the game will help them understand what their capabilities are.

    There's too much stuff going on that first night, it can be hard on a new player, so I let them play at their own pace with guidance from the other players. It's best to let them have fun the first night and have a post-game chat to clear up any questions.

    The existing group needs to be accomodating and encouraging -- hopefully they will be as excited as you are to introduce a new player to the game.

    If another person in your group is introducing the player, I'd make sure the new player had been given some basic idea of what it's all about by the player who's 'sponsored' them.

  4. "Don't be afraid to try stuff." Take cues from the other player's, but don't be afraid to have your character do anything you think would be reasonable in real-life or in fiction of this sort. Video games seemed to have primed player's to think of their options as much more constrained than they are in rpgs.

  5. "Video games seemed to have primed player's to think of their options as much more constrained than they are in rpgs."

    I'd agree - most objects in video games can't be moved, most buildings can't be entered, most characters can't be interacted with. Video games, even the most 'sandboxy' generally train players to see the world as divided between the 'interactable' and the 'decorational'.

  6. What Trey said -- ditto. The rules and weird numbers and dice are just a framework, the real process of the game is imagination.

  7. "Don't worry about the fact that you don't know all the rules yet. That will come with actual play experience. I, as GM, will educate you during play about what die you need to roll for a particular action, etc. And don't be afraid to ask questions, about rules and about events/the environment/whatever within the game world. And if you want your character to try an action of any kind, describe to me what you want to do and I'll figure out how that translates into the mechanics of the system. And above all, have fun!"

  8. Some good advice here. In terms of only providing one piece of advice to a newb? "Keep an extra character sheet handy. Just in case you know, you croak."

  9. Of the seven or so guys that comprise my regular group, only one of them had ever played prior to starting our sessions. I've been hip-deep in Noob for almost six months now, and it's been awesome. The game provides them with an exercise in group creativity that most of them have never really tapped into in quite the same way.

    I'd have to tell a noob: "At the end of the day, forget about the rules and tables and experience points, and have fun".

  10. My biggest problem with noobs is that they think of a role-playing game as a video game and try to kill everything in sight. So, my first bit of advice for them is, "This is not a video game."