View Full Version : [3.5] Starting a Realms campaign with first-time RPers

Doc Filth
2008-10-07, 10:17 AM
By the end of the week I should have enough players gathered together to start a new D&D campaign. I'll be running Realms, as it's always been my CS of choice, and I was pondering - how slowly should I be easing the players into it, as I don't think any of them have ever played D&D before?

For starters, I'm not going to allow any of the extra PC races from the expansion books - just the ones from the Realms sourcebook should be enough to give them a good range of choice. No Psionics, either, and I'm going to keep them fairly in the dark on the matter of Prestige Classes - if, later on, their characters devlop naturally towards one or another, then fair enough, but I don't want to encourage powergaming.

Also, I'm thinking about not allowing Evil characters - I see the Realms as a fairly heroic setting, and I'd like the PCs to start off fairly idealistic, as I've had too many games ruined by characters being too cynical.


Kurald Galain
2008-10-07, 11:03 AM
I'd say start it rules-light. Don't let players worry about details like exact combat rules or how many wizard spells exist, just leave a couple things blank until they're eased in. I'd recommend either pre-gen characters, or allowing a few retrains later on if they realize that their initial pick wasn't that good.

At first level, don't give quadruple skill points, but give that amount of skills maxxed out (i.e. at rank 4). Simply let them pick X+int bonus trained skills, that's easier. For casters, ask them what kind of stuff they'd like to do, and simply give them a bunch of prepared spells that pretty much do that. For clerics and druids, mention later on that they can pick from a lengthy list every day.

Starting at level 1 is a good idea regardless. No evil characters is also good to prevent people getting into a fight.

Stress the idea that fighting is not the best solution to anything; and indeed, that there is no best solution anyway. RPGs aren't a puzzle.


Doc Filth
2008-10-07, 11:21 AM
I like the bit about the skill points particularly - that's the sort of thing that I've previously experienced first-timers being put off by.

I'm also thinking of running a 'tutorial' session before starting the game proper - teach them how to use their feats and skills, how the basics of combat work, saving throws, all that sort of thing. That way, when they have their first game proper, it won't be slowed down quite so much by having to handhold them round their character sheets.

Kol Korran
2008-10-07, 01:00 PM
- as to the tutorial, i'd suggest you make it part of the actual game... have the party members recruited by some sort of organization/ military/ militia or so on... then, have them run through some practice drills- a few simple combats, emphasizing different aspects of fighting (movement, cover, grapplling rules, tackling ranged combatants, tackling casters). these "basic training" could take a few days, with the characters healing and renewing spells between combats). when they learned the basics, send the new "team/squad" on a simple mission, in which things go wrong...

- another suggestion is to put an NPC with the characters on their first mission/ basic training. this could be your voice in the party. i suggest it to be a bard- it won't steal anyone's thunder, can boost the entire party's abilities when needed, and has enough knowledge skills that he seems to actually know things, and not you just telling the party things. just remember- give hints and clues, not guidance and railroading...

- start away from a major town (such as waterdeep)- it is filled with way too much complication for newbies

- keep teachingthem as they go along- various skill checks, and the modifiers that accompany them due to the characters ideas, actions, caution and so on... intorduce them to elements of the Faerun and it's cultures and people, but slowly, without the details being pivotal to the plot necesserily. allow the characters to explore and try new ideas.

- between meetings, especially after major events, work with each player to expand their character a bit more.

- the major problem with inexperienced players, is that they never know where and when to stop. i suggest to prepare two versions (if you have the time) for major encounters- a normal one and a weakened one, that let the characters escape badly hurt but living. they will learn soon enough.

- the major blessing with new roleplayers is that they are usually focused on roleplaying, and what they character do, instead of the rules behind their actions. try to encourage that, and you will have surprising and contributing players. stifle their excitment by nitpicking at the rules, and you'll lose them.

- be prepared to replace a character or two, if the players find out they don't realy enjoy what they're playing. but first- try to make it workable

-on the subject of replacing characters- the first character death should be meaningfull: enabling her friends to escape, getting close enough to lunge the final blow agiaanst an enemy, saving some importent NPC or the like... just don't make it utterly casual, not now... people get real attached to their first character, let the player have a positive memory of it. it will only fuel him/her onwards. let the more casual deaths ("because you just shouldn't have fought the monster like this")

those are my little points of advice. i hope this helps,

Doc Filth
2008-10-07, 01:25 PM
Thanks for all that, Kol. I guess you're speaking with the voice of some experience here? :smallsmile:

Now, regarding starting location, I was thinking of somewhere in either the Western Heartlands or Cormyr. That way, I can realistically allow characters from those two regions, as well as, theoretically, the North, Waterdeep, Amn, The Sword Coast, the Dragon Coast or the Dalelands. That gives a nice wide range of cultures, and all the core races get a decent look-in.