View Full Version : New GM and New Players

2012-12-22, 12:19 AM
I work in what is essentially a bubble. Everyone lives on site and everyone I interact with socially is a co-worker. Exactly none of my co-workers play RPGs. Recently, a friend tried to get a few of us started on Hunter: the Vigil, and the group were really stoked to play, but then he got transferred and the game died.

I want to try to get another game going. I'm using Savage Worlds, because I'm already pretty comfortable with the rules. I'm thinking Realms of Cthulhu, because I know the group like horror, or 50 Fathoms, because the plot points campaign does a lot of the work for me. I've never GMed before. None of my players have played anything beyond the one session mentioned above. It's a bit overwhelming and a bit of a longshot.

If everyone is new to the game (and indeed tabletop gaming), what's the best way to get them started? Since I'm new to being Game Master, what are some pitfalls I should especially be watching for with a group like this? Any other advice or recommended reads are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

2012-12-22, 12:53 AM
Getting started can be a hard one. Do you mean just setting up, or getting interest, or...?

Your biggest concern may be the rules. I will freely admit that I accidentally cheated in my first session because I didn't understand how a few mechanics worked (although it only added up to a few extra damage points in the end). Make sure all the PCs are correctly rolled up, and do your best to know what's going on beforehand. One of my first-time GMs had not one, but four PC deaths (saved only by Hero Points) because he read Lightning Reflexes as Combat Reflexes, added Sonic damage to a monster's storm Bolts, and didn't read the restrictions to Circle of Death. It happens.

2012-12-22, 11:12 AM
If everyone is new I'd say just read the book understand the rules as best you can and have an idea on where you want the adventure/quest/investigation to go that night. If there are rules you don't understand you can do three things ask your players and make a house rule that works for you guys, ask people on the site I'm sure they know or just chuck the rule. The most important thing for a first session is to have fun and give a good impression of what the campaign will be like, then tweak the rules back in line slowly as you learn them better and at a moderate pace not to swamp the group with new information

2012-12-22, 01:22 PM
Try to get as familiar with the rules as you can, and share books/pdfs with people beforehand, but... yeah, the most important thing to do is have fun. Remember that you're all learning, laugh about your mistakes, and figure out how things work as a group. You'll be fine.

2012-12-22, 02:10 PM
People -- especially new ones -- will look to you as gm to set the tone and everything about the game. If you are serious, organized, and talk in character, they probably will too. If you are silly, and work in jokes and references, they will too.

Try to cultivate the environment you want. You don't need mood lighting and an rp soundtrack, unless you want such things, but its important to realize that these people will be taking cues from you on how to act.

They won't know if you fudge something. If they go off the rails on your planned adventure and you don't know what's going to happen next, you can and should make something up (you can take a quick break to compile your notes and figure something out or fly by the seat of your pants if you're comfortable with that). Since these people don't know what's 'right' and 'wrong' GMing, they won't have any problems with anything you do; don't be afraid of 'doing it wrong.'

2012-12-22, 04:54 PM
It's important to keep a balance between changing plans to better suit your players, and letting them eat the sandwich they've made.

If they kill the evil wizard right before he can say that he's made a pact with an incredibly deadly demon that'll kill anyone who harms him, you may wish to reconsider this course of events, since dying instantly due to information they didn't have isn't much fun.

At the same time, if the party does things horribly wrong, it can also be a lot of fun to deal with poop-fan interactions of their own making, so don't feel compelled to let them totally off the hook. Always head for the middle ground- Maybe have the demon appear and attack them and then have a dramatic chase scene, so the players barely escape and now they have something to worry about, and they know that they almost died because they attacked before they let the wizard speak.

2012-12-22, 06:32 PM
Thanks guys, this is actually really helpful advice for me (or at least really reassuring). Cheers! :smallsmile:

2012-12-22, 10:07 PM
Don't argue about rules. If you don't know something, take a moment (a moment, not half an eternity) to look it up, if you can't find it make something up that works for the moment and look for the rule after the session.
Same goes for players, a moment to look up a rule but don't grind the session to a halt over it.

And if you and someone else is interpreting rules two different ways don't argue it. Simply state that you will use your interpretation for now and look further into it after the game.

Also when things like this come up write down what the problem was and how you interpreted the rule. Both to be able to be consistent with it in the future (inconsistency upsets players more than slightly nerfed/over powered interpretations.) and to be able to look up the right/most common way to read the rule or whatever other issue it was.

Now I'm not familiar with the system you'll be running, but in D&D this happens fairly often, especially when you're new to the game.

And most importantly, relax and have fun, remember it's just a game. :)

2012-12-23, 04:25 PM
In game, for getting everyone familiar with the rules, set up what is basically a tutorial adventure or scene, to get them used to rolling the dice. Form my superhero campaign, I plan on having two characters who don't know each other meet, and possibly fight. Soon, the other players join on either side, and either fight one another, or talk it out. Eventually, something brings them together. Actually, if you've seen the Avengers, they do a really good job of reintroducing each character, giving them a chance to interact, then solidify who they are/what side they are on.

As for being a GM, remember that you're there primarily to make sure the players have fun. Pay attention to everyone, and make sure they are taking part in the action.

2012-12-23, 11:33 PM
Talk with everyone about the characters they want to play before the game starts. The first session is a really bad time to find out that there's a paladin and an antipaladin in the party. (Yes, that really did happen. Yes, it was as bad as you think.)

Also, having a bunch of tier 4s and a single tier 1 character can really upset the interparty balance. Combat-wise, if anyone wants to play a caster, especially a full caster, be sure they know what they're doing and won't spend five or six minutes every round deciding what spell to cast.

2012-12-24, 03:43 AM
Yeah, I'm not playing DnD with this crew yet. I remember it being quite daunting when I started.

2012-12-24, 10:33 AM
Ask everyone to describe the Character they want to play to you, separately. You'll both be better able to work out how to make the Character envisioned a reality that way, and because you're working together on the concept, you'll both have a functioning idea of what the Character can do. As much as possible, make note on the Character sheet as to where specific abilities are referenced, so someone can look them up easily.

As above, don't let lack of rules-knowledge slow the game to a crawl. If something comes up that you can't find the rules for within a reasonable time, make a ruling, then 1) write down your ruling in case it happens again that session 2) write down what the confusion was, and find the "official" answer after the session. If the way the group resolved an issue works better for you than what the "official" rules say, make it an official "house rule." Otherwise, let folks know what the discrepancy was, and how it will be adjudicated in the future.

Never be afraid to acknowledge errors after the fact. It's a lot easier for people to deal with than thinking there's no system of due process.

2012-12-24, 06:05 PM
Often, people will raise different issues when asked privately, and when discussing the problem as a group. It's thus good to have opportunities to chat with every player in the group in their spare time (IE: Friday Night Movies with Steve, Weekday Evening Halo with Fred, etc) so that you can collect their personal angles, and then before and after sessions make sure to ask how everyone felt about the adventure and what they'd like improved, so that you can harvest the group discussion as well.

2013-01-03, 02:40 PM
I've only very played D&D and Star Wars D&D and only DMed D&D, and only now having my first successful, long-running campaign. So here's the things that definitely work for me.

Make sure everyone has fun. Know the rules, if something is hard to resolve by the rules or taking an inordinate amount of time to resolve, rule the most logical and reasonable way you know how. If someone contends something and has a reasonable, logical argument, give it some weight and consider overruling yourself (this can be tricky; don't let the players walk all over you, but don't make them feel like they're in an iron-fisted dictatorship). Make sure everyone has fun. If you can, try to plan a way for each character to have his or her own time to shine in some way at some point. Make sure everyone is having fun.

Clearly, the most important facet and the biggest factor in getting a campaign to keep going on is to make sure everyone is having fun. They don't need to enjoy themselves every moment of every session, but if someone goes for several sessions and just feels meh about it, that's a much bigger issue than it may seem and is a silent, hidden gamekiller.