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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

New Player at the Table! Well...New to Me...






I have a new player joining my Labyrinth Lord game this coming Sunday...maybe two, but definitely one.  It’s been a dry August for gaming in my world, with folks going on vacation, me going on vacation, and schedules in general just not connecting which left a dearth of role-playing in my life I intend to correct asap.

While i’m bummed that we had a player leave the game (he was awesome btw), it’s always nice to introduce someone new into the mix.  Back in the day (the 80’s is my back in the day btw) players came by way of personal introduction, assuming we didn’t already know each other from school or camp or wherever.  Bottom line is, we mostly knew who we were playing with, so personality clashes, while possible, were infrequent.  If I knew a kid and didn’t like him or we had bad blood already, it was unlikely I was gonna be ok with him sitting at my kitchen table...but again, that wasn’t something I had to deal with much.  For the most part, new adds were great.

These days we have many more ways to find players, and the internet is the 10,000 pound gorilla who often runs that end of things.  It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but the internet has a reality distortion field that often makes new players seem much better than they may actually be once the game starts.  It’s hard to suss out personality over the interwebs.

I’d like to say that craigslist, reddit, and a few other places on the interwebs have NOT been good sources for players.  Inasmuch as I use and often enjoy those sites, they don’t really work that well when I wanted to build a gaming group.  Even sites like Meetup.com, which is how I put together my current IRL group, has been sketchy.  In fact it is only one Meetup.com group out of many that has helped me build a table I’m happy with...I’m not going to pimp it here by name, but it’s a well managed group comprised primarily of older (over 35) gamers and alot of dedicated GM’s and Players who run steady games that are fun and consistent.  There were alot of other Meetup groups in the area, but this one was the ONLY group that provided me with the stability I needed to organize and run a regular game (ok Jon, I know you came from one of those other groups, but I just got really lucky with you...the other guys who showed up were a problem...and the rest of us knew it.  You, however, are a great player...and person).


So when I lost a player and reached back out to that well managed group the head Admin was super happy to help, and new player(s) happened.  It’s been a few weeks and via email our new player (Hey Nan!) has been wonderful with communication via email with regard to her character’s creation.  She plays with another of the guys at our table, so she had two solid references, one personal and one of the Meetup group.

So how do I prep for a new player/character?  We are many months into playing our game...things can get weird...ya know?  So I deviate from my normal game prep (which consists of making sure my dice bag is still full of dice, quickly organizing my pile of notes from the last game, think up at least one good combat (maybe make a note about it and generate monster HP), and check to ensure I have a few working pencils (I like mechanical pencils)) by creating a context by which the new PC will meet/greet the old PC’s. That's all. Nothing grand or dramatic. I think of an easy way to introduce the new guy to the old guys, usually via an NPC both know, or by a circumstance that will draw both of them together. Sometimes I don't even know what that will be until we are all at the table and we do a small recap (which, BTW, is something I think every GM should do. Recapping the last session or two helps everyone slide into the fresh session

I know that alot of folks (GM’s) spend a great deal of time preparing for a game, especially when they are new to the art but not always.  Even GM’s with many hours/years under their belts still spend a considerable amount of time, energy, and imagination to create the scenarios/campaign world that the players will face at game time.  I appreciate that, and on some level I understand it, but it is really not my style.

There are two kinds of writers the internet keeps telling me about, planners and pantsers.  I know this is bullshit, and that most writers find themselves somewhere on the spectrum but not at one extreme or the other.  Still, as a writer you lean one way or the other.  I’m heavy on the pantser side of the median as both a writer and as a GM, preferring to enjoy being ‘in the moment’ as much as my players do.  I want the game to (sometimes) be as surprising to me as it can be for them.  Sure, I have an overall game concept, and sometimes I drop a module into the mix to make the crawl a bit more organized and fun, but usually I am living in that other place where none of us know what might happen next.  It’s much more exciting for all of us, but it can get out of hand.  As a GM, you have to know yourself.  If you require plans be made, traps be laid, and treasure be hid then by all means write that shit down...but I would suggest that if you are a heavy planner, perhaps the next session you have all ready to go, push those notes to the side, close the rule-books, and just grab your dice.  Spin your tale not from that loose-leaf paper, but from your heart.  Look at the players as you stand, leaning over the edge of the table shifting from side to side as you weave your story...see how it goes.  You can always look down at the paper to remember that lich’s name, or the kingdom he’s usurped.  No one needs to know that you spent two weeks writing his backstory…

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I wanted to take a brief minute to talk about my good friend Deron.  Really I want to thank him.  Deron and I have been gaming for quite a while, mostly using Fantasy Grounds and playing Castles & Crusades.  When I wrote my first module for publication, I knew that I needed an aggressive, smart, and organized editor to whip it into shape.  Deron came to the rescue.  He turned Adventure Most Fowl into something I am very proud of.



A few days ago I (mostly) finished up the manuscript for a new module, and once again I knew I needed Deron’s touch to clean up the trail of dangling participles, and the paragraphs with far too many commas that I knew I had created.  Again, he was happy to slice and dice my words into a proper pot of stew that both looks and tastes great.

I don’t know if you are looking for someone to edit your work, but if you are, reach out to Deron.  You could do alot worse…  deron@hedgewriter.com




2 comments:

  1. I generally don't go looking for "D&D players". All of the people who I've brought into gaming over the past 15 years were friends/coworkers before I started gaming with them. These are the same folks I'd go to a football game with, or go out with our spouses for a nice dinner, etc... Along the way, people I've personally brought into gaming have invited others, most of whom have become friends after a bit. But the underlying theme here is: D&D/gaming is one of many things we might do together, not our sole reason for hanging out together. I'm so desperate to play D&D that I'll sit down with anyone who drifts into view. I get enough of that at conventions.

    As far as prepping a brand new player, I always think the way we did taught the game as kids in the 80s is the best way: watch a session or two, and if you like it, hand them a character sheet (typically and NPC) and give them some guidance, then hand them the rulebooks. After they have found their legs, they can keep the NPC (which gets fleshed out a bit more), or they can roll their own and retire the NPC or put him back in full NPC mode.

    As far as new PCs, well, we're lax. New PC shows up tied up in a dungeon, or meets in a tavern and we roll with it. We're very beer/pretzels, and not writing fanfic here.

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  2. Unfortunately for me, time and friends are not in great supply, so I've had to reach out to services like Meetup in order to put a game together, but I am SO glad I've done so. I'd like to think I've made several new friends I would not have met otherwise.

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