Friday, March 19, 2010

Focus on the newbies

I run games in constant fear of boring my players, especially some of the veterans in my group who aren't all that enthused by game elements that might interest newer, less experienced players. I find myself catering to the veterans more frequently by giving them whatever "red meat" pushes their buttons—that might be in-depth roleplaying opportunities or epic battle scenes or scenarios that test their personal codes of honor.

But I need to get over that tendency, because it's more important to focus on the new players for whom roleplaying is a fresh, wonderful endeavor. They're the ones who peruse equipment charts with starry-eyed wonder and take careful notes about what sort of stone the dungeon walls are made out of. They're very likely in the midst of the same "lighting in a bottle" phase that veteran players (me included) find so hard to re-capture.

My fellow player Ben, himself a veteran of countless RPGs, drove this point home recently in an email. Experienced RPGers, he said, can find ways to have fun and get their kicks out of virtually any well-run game. But newer players, when presented with the vast, open-endedness of most RPG settings, might be looking for a few specific things right off the bat. Maybe a nice, succinct dungeon delve, or a way to cast themselves as heroes (or villains) in a sleepy frontier town.

It's a good GM who can recognize this and help encourage their growth. That's something I'm going to do more of in the future.

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