Tabletop QOTD 2020-06-23

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Do you have different rules for people new to the game?

It can be hard to get people interested in the hobby- I try to make my games friendly for newbies.


In the first few games, I try to give suggestions to the other players, and allow them to take back moves that I know are bad- letting them know why its bad. I try not to take it to the level of playing the game for the person, but I try to make it at least competitive.


I aid in building characters, and allow a few games until the character is solidified. When actually playing, I tend not to hold hands as much during the role-playing part, but in the combat part, it's pretty similar to board games.

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One of my favourite recent boardgames, Terraforming Mars, has a special "beginners corporation" for people playing it for the first time. It skips ome of the hardest decisions at the start amd is pretty generous, but the result is surprisingly balanced.
In roleplaying games I have generally worked with a rule that new players coming in to a pre-existing group need to be given some hand holding along the way. If they are new to the system (highly probable) I may ask one of the other players to "mentor" them along the way for character construction (presuming a constructed system) or to specifically make an agreed to plot linking to their character that seems feasible so that the character fits in to the story (such as being a relative of their character, or someone they attended school with in some way, or was their neighbor growing up or some such).

I also hate D&D like concepts where everyone "starts at level one" and in other systems where growth/development is important, I will give a new character some benefit so they will not always be behind the rest of the group. This may be a matter of some extra build points, or a running experience bonus for a period of time, extra character funds, or spotting them a beneficial magic item at start etc. These things have to be carefully thought of to fit character concept, goals, and usefulness.

In some extreme cases, such as a person new to RPGs and to the system at the same time I will often try to do a step by step character building get together with them and possibly even build the character to an idea of theirs.

I did this in a hero/champions game where a player wanted to play a group's police liaison character for some supers... so we went with the secret bad ass trope... made them a family heirloom amulet foci that gave them some magical defenses to start and some x amount of unspent points that would be spent in story based on their actions/choices as the story unfolded. Thus mechanics were slowly dribbled in on their character, making them look to go from competent normal person to a super over time as their heirloom adapted to the modern world after years of having been tucked away in the possessions of a dead relative.

That let them slowly get up to speed with the system basics without having to deal with the lengthy build process that normally came with the game. They had fun, the group was good with the process as it unfolded and it gave the player the ability to adapt to situational need. They ran with the group for about a year in this method and it worked out generally well (the player then had their job situation take them to the other side of the country and have to leave so we never got to changing characters or tackling building a new one for another game cycle, but they would have otherwise have had a year to get up to speed on the game rules).

In Board Games if I'm dealing with a group of new players I generally do a few hands or a few sessions of "teaching" the game. When I was working as a PCA I did this with my client, his sister and a few friends of theirs to teach them various card games that they had not played. We'd play the first hand "Open Handed" where hands of cards were not kept secret but played in front of everyone and I'd step them thru their turns and explain their choices as they went.... this was a group of pre-teens (10-12 year olds). Once they got the hang of things we went to the use of secret hands etc that the card games needed, but with me moving from actual play to simply a neutral dealer position who they could pull aside and ask a question of to clarify rules.
For board games, new players should get re-dos and advice along the way even though it makes her kick your butts. Memories of bringing in a player to Munchkins.

As for role playing, I can't remember a new player in an existing campaign so having different level players wasn't a problem. Differing experience was always handled efficiently by the GMs I've played with. I have run a few campaigns, but always with experienced players.
With board games, often when we have a new player we'll play at least a little while 'open hand', with each person describing what they're doing and why. We might play the entire game that way, or just a round or two and then restart... it depends.

When teaching a new game, it's really not about winning or losing for anyone. I've found most people reasonably expect to lose the first few times they play a game, but they get really frustrated when they can't understand what's going on.

For instance, when teaching my wife how to play Call to Adventure this evening, we each showed the cards we were choosing from, I explained why I chose the (origin, motivation, destiny) I did and what strategies I'd be following because of it.