Kessa
 member, 532 posts
 Dark Army:
 Out to Lunch
Thu 21 Sep 2017
at 22:19
Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
This seems to keep cycling around to the person you are trying to engage. Maybe we can help better if we know a little about them?

For myself, my first systems were D&D 2E, Earthdawn, and Palladium Rifts. Those can be a degree of daunting, but I had a lot of good help jumping in.

By contrast, a friend of mine has panic attacks and melts down in anything more complicated than WoD even though she's been playing and GMing for years.

When I run games for people new to RPGs (which I have more than established players at this point) I do something similar, but not exactly like what DarkLightHitomi suggests.

I ease players into systems. For me, that looks more like sitting with someone during character creation and going over their character sheet in layman's terms. I really feel that it's important that they build and understand to some degree what's on their sheet since the mechanics will have to be learned at some point anyway, but it's easiest and most relevant to start with what will matter the most to them to start, which is their own character. At the same time, I feel it's completely fine to point something out and say, "we aren't going to worry about this yet, but this is what it is just so you've heard about it." Or, "This is supposed to be fun, so if you decide you don't like something now, we can always go back and fix it later." Similarly, just because something is on a character sheet, doesn't mean they have to use it either at first. I'd point to Pathfinder for some of this stuff. Put it on the sheet and go back to it once they're used to the simple stuff.

Then we can move into simple scenes for them setting up the rest of whatever you want to run for them. Maybe an urchin just stole their wallet, or someone else's and they need to run after them, dodge a few things, ask about where they went, and then draw a weapon on them when they are found. It's a simple thing to run and you get to show them how to use their abilities (how to walk, so to speak). Typically, I'll run a handful of sessions with basic mechanical things like that to build a solid understanding of the base mechanics before moving into things like special attacks, called-shots, etc. That doesn't mean the game has to be boring, just that the first events they face aren't going to require chained attacks or complex magic rituals, or anything like that to succeed. Similarly, I don't use more complex rules for NPCs or adversaries until the player is comfortable using those as well. Sometimes players will jump ahead of my tutorial also, and that's fine, too. ^_^
horus
 member, 263 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Thu 21 Sep 2017
at 22:25
Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
You might also look at The Black Hack.  It's a relatively simple system and available for free.  That eliminates a couple of barriers to entry:  complexity and cost.

ASSH is another good, low cost, and simple introductory system.

What engine said hits home, though.  System is not so important as setting.  If the setting is an interesting one without being too complex or obscure, you will have picked a winner.
Dgorjones
 member, 47 posts
Thu 21 Sep 2017
at 23:04
Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
I've never played any of the game systems listed by the OP, so I'm not in much of a position to answer the question posed.  If the OP is willing to consider a system not on his/her list, I can recommend a number of rules lite systems that would be excellent for a first time RPGer.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1202 posts
Thu 21 Sep 2017
at 23:12
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
LadyMer:
It'll also depend on what kind of game you think they'll enjoy.  WFRP is easy to make characters for, easy to run... and anyone who's wanting to play Lord of the Rings or King Arthur-type stories won't enjoy it if they roll up a ratcatcher with terrible stats.


This reminds me, there are two types of RPers, mechanics first, and story first.

Mechanics first players will probably find low stats problematic and ghey'll want to dig into the mechanics more. Such players will probably enjoy systems like DnD 4e more.

Story first players won't be bothered by what stats they have, and they'll be perfectly happy with DnD 5e, savage worlds and other more flexible systems.

If you can figure out which side of that token the new player is likely to be, you can then play up that aspect. Should still give a good preview of both sides of that coin though, if you can manage it.
Talon
 member, 361 posts
Fri 22 Sep 2017
at 00:34
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
I see you have Numenera on your list. Go with that one. Really slick rules as I think someone above mentioned, player only has to roll one dice.

As everyone else has mentioned, don't drown them in rules and you'll be fine. (Rules can be a lot of fun, but they'll want to ease into those as they get comfortable.) Game system really isn't too important as long as you make it fun and don't try to teach them the entire rule book in one session.
engine
 member, 443 posts
Fri 22 Sep 2017
at 00:58
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
DarkLightHitomi:
Mechanics first players will probably find low stats problematic and ghey'll want to dig into the mechanics more. Such players will probably enjoy systems like DnD 4e more.

Possibly but it's a risky fallacy to assume that someone who likes story doesn't also want nice, functional mechanics and empowered characters. This is a divisive view point in the hobby and it would be great if new players were able to join the hobby free of it.
Gaffer
 member, 1494 posts
 Ocoee FL
 40 yrs of RPGs
Fri 22 Sep 2017
at 01:40
Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
In reply to swordchucks (msg # 5):

Your idea is GENIUS!!
horus
 member, 264 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Fri 22 Sep 2017
at 02:47
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
Gaffer:
In reply to swordchucks (msg # 5):

Your idea is GENIUS!!


I had to go back and look, but, yeah!  Imma borrow that one!  Well done!
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1203 posts
Fri 22 Sep 2017
at 03:06
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
In reply to engine (msg # 18):

I did not assume anything. You have the fallacy that it must be either or. But the truth is it is like the difference between horizontal hexes and vertical hexes. A subtle difference that is often overlooked.

The point is whether you see the mechanics as being the game itself and thus everything else derives from them, or if you see the mevhanics as an imperfect interface to a completely independant-from-the-rules fictional world milieu.

Both ways will still have a desire for good mechanics and good story, but what is looked for in the mechanics and how those mechanics are handled will be vastly different.

For example, one side will want the rules to be more stable and reliable and "mechanically balanced" while the other side will want flexible mechanics that can be reworked easily as required and is better at being representative (aka naturalistic balance).
facemaker329
 member, 6966 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Fri 22 Sep 2017
at 03:30
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
I haven't introduced anyone new to gaming in...more years than I care to think about, really.  My preferred system for it, however, was the West End Games Star Wars rules (D6 System).  I could take someone who had barely even heard of roleplaying games and have them up and running in a game in less than an hour, and enjoying the experience.

That said, previous advice here about picking a setting that appeals to your new prospect is very relevant.  I wouldn't go to Star Wars for someone who had absolutely no interest in the series (I do know a very few people who fall in that category, but they're also people who probably wouldn't be interested in RPGs...)  I would steer away from games that require a lot of additional work in character generation (like GURPS) until they're more certain that they enjoy this hobby enough to invest the time in it (I've been gaming for decades, and it still takes just the right kind of game to make me willing to go through chargen for GURPS...)

The idea of starting them with a pregenerated character is a solid one (one of the reasons WEG's rules were so easy was because of the use of customizable templates that would give them a general character category they could tailor to the way they anticipated playing), and regardless of the system you choose, that might be a good way to start out...find out what kind of character they'd like to play, and the kind of setting they'd like to play in, set it up, and let them 'get their feet wet' with a disposable pregen character until they decide they like it enough to build their own.  But you need to tailor it to THEIR interest, not yours, if you really want to set the hook.
Varsovian
 member, 1383 posts
Fri 22 Sep 2017
at 21:00
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
Again, thanks for the input!

BTW. Following on what Dgorjones said: what simple, rules-lite systems do you guys know and recommend?
Dgorjones
 member, 48 posts
Fri 22 Sep 2017
at 21:50
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
Rules lite is all in the eye of the beholder.  To a Pathfinder fan, 5E probably looks rules lite.  For me, 5E is moderately crunchy.  It's all somewhat relative.

For a D&D-based game in the rules lite spectrum, I'd recommend Swords & Wizardry White Box edition.  It's a fantastic rewrite of the original 3 little brown books from 1974.

RISUS is a wonderful rules lite universal RPG.  It's only 2 or 4 pages (I can't recall which).

If you are a Dungeon World fan (and you should be!), there is the 2 page hack World of Dungeons.  I would tweak some things if I ever ran World of Dungeons, but I salute its brevity.

For a more story-game approach, Cheat Your Own Adventure can't be beat.  The premise is everyone at the table takes turns suggesting an action from a starting scene.  The player who set up the scene picks one of the options.  Whoever came up with the chosen action then rolls 2d6 to see whether the group's character lives or dies and narrates what happens based on the roll.  If the character dies, the previous narrator picks one of the other options and it auto-succeeds.  The rules themselves are probably shorter and clearer than what I just typed.  You're basically writing a Choose Your Own Adventure book together.  It's a lot of fun, although not a full-fledged RPG.
Dgorjones
 member, 49 posts
Sat 23 Sep 2017
at 14:52
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
All 4 of those rules lite games are free in PDF, by the way.

If you want to go even rules liter than S&W White Box, there is Swords & Wizardry Light which is extremely streamlined and free as well.
GreyGriffin
 member, 163 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Sat 23 Sep 2017
at 21:01
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
Honestly, 5e is a great place to start.  Sure, it can get more mechanically hairy than, say, Fate, but it does an incredible job of easing the player into it.  Level 1 characters rely on the basic d20 + Attribute Bonus + Proficiency Bonus mechanic for almost every check, plus one or two cool tricks that their class can do.

But they rapidly advance up to level 3.  At level 3, they start getting into more unique mechanics that dig deeper into the system.  Advancement slows down again, until level 5, where they really break into their class-defining mechanics (level 3 spells, second attacks, etc...)

If you're comfortable with a fantasy dungeon crawling game with a decent amount of mechanical crunch, no game does a better job of teaching the game and building the learning curve into the act of play than D&D 5.

Edit: I'd like to directly refute those who argue "system doesn't matter."  System does matter.  System influences behavior in a huge way, both gross and subtle.  Introducing a new player to a system whose mechanics are too dense to comprehend can present the hobby as an impenetrable web of math.  (This is why I don't recommend 3.5, 4e, or Pathfinder for first-time players.)

Similarly, systems with a high level of abstraction often count on an intimate knowledge of roleplaying conventions and a series of unspoken gentlemans' agreements.  The concepts of narrative control, story-based mechanics, and character flaws as a bonus are sort of difficult concepts to wrap one's head around, especially for a new player who has yet to build the context of a roleplaying game through experience, to separate it from scripted theater and board games.

Having written all of that, I might actually pose a second recommendation: Fantasy Flight's new(-ish) Star Wars games.  They have a familiar setting that's easy for a new player to plug in, a sense of fantasy and adventure, and a really cunning system that packs all of the game's mechanics into essentially one dice roll.  A lot of systemic and narrative complexity is unloaded into that casting of lots, which gives the GM and player both a chance to interpret the rolls creatively and create the exciting and dynamic situations that a lot of more simulationist systems struggle to manufacture.

This message was last edited by the user at 21:08, Sat 23 Sept.

AramilNailo
 member, 44 posts
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 21:29
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
Don't kill me... But my top for learning in my experience are below.
-4th edition DnD
-Savage Worlds
-And maybe 5e or Pathfinder with pre-gens in a VERY focused adventure with VERY simple skill use and checks.

Cross Referencing with your list...
Pathfinder with Pre-Gens.
I don't have a lot of WoD experience, but I anticipate pre-gens in a focused adventure setting would help.

Avoid GURPS like the plague for newbies.
swordchucks
 member, 1442 posts
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 23:35
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
AramilNailo:
Avoid GURPS like the plague for newbies.

As long as you aren't exposing them to character generation, GURPS is actually fine for new people.  You, as the GM, need to have a good grasp of it, but if you have that and keep the player out of its guts, it's not a bad game for learning on.
horus
 member, 270 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Tue 26 Sep 2017
at 00:06
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
As for GURPS:

If you intend to use GURPS as GM, and this is your player's first experience with it, listen to swordchucks - he's got the right of it.  Pre-generated characters (or templates for your game setting that can be quickly customized) can make the introductory experience go more quickly and enjoyably.

If GURPS Lite and GURPS Ultra-lite are still our there, they greatly lower the barriers that keep some folks from trying the system.

One of the reasons I favor Traveller Plus for character creation for online (and tabletop) games is that it allows that same build-point versatility, letting players play characters they really want to play.  That's something that GURPS introduced to my gaming experience.
Varsovian
 member, 1384 posts
Wed 27 Sep 2017
at 20:48
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
Okay, thanks once again :)

Dgorjones - I actually have Swords & Wizardry :) Thanks for reminding me of it. As for the other games, I admit I really don't like RISUS... As for Dungeon World - all these Power by the Apocalypse games are too weird for me, I don't get this ruleset.

GreyGriffin - you know, I used to own two of the FFG Star Wars games :) But I admit that I just didn't get this ruleset. It was too arbitrary for me! Plus, I'm just not that big on Star Wars...

I must admit I'd *love* to introduce someone to GURPS, as I feel it's one of the best systems out there - it's certainly very close to my vision of RPing. But it is crunchy - I guess there would be quite a lot of explaining for a newcomer. Even after cutting out the more crunchy bits.

What do you guys of Cypher System as a starting system? I've had some reservations about it, but it does feel deliciously simple to me. And it has been recently released in a generic, non-setting version. Maybe it's the way to go?
evileeyore
 member, 12 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Wed 27 Sep 2017
at 21:56
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
Varsovian:
I must admit I'd *love* to introduce someone to GURPS, as I feel it's one of the best systems out there - it's certainly very close to my vision of RPing. But it is crunchy - I guess there would be quite a lot of explaining for a newcomer. Even after cutting out the more crunchy bits.

No worse than most D&D systems, once you cut away chargen.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1206 posts
Sun 1 Oct 2017
at 20:52
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
I'd like to point out that gurps books are terrible and confusing and poorly put together. I've been playing rpgs for a very long time, and yet gurps is still something that I haven't made head or tails of.

I'm sure I'd get it if I had an actual person to answer questions, but my point is that regardless of how easy it is to teach someone in-person, it is probably better to teach a newcomer on a system that they can read through the books and understand it easily, cause that will likely be the first thing they do on their own, and a book that makes sense will be far less off-putting.
Varsovian
 member, 1385 posts
Sun 1 Oct 2017
at 21:43
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
Really? Personally, I consider GURPS books to be some of the best-designed books I own. There's a lot of information there, but it's all quite clear to me...
Isida KepTukari
 member, 171 posts
 Elegant! Arrogant! Smart!
Sun 1 Oct 2017
at 23:02
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
Varsovian:
What do you guys of Cypher System as a starting system? I've had some reservations about it, but it does feel deliciously simple to me. And it has been recently released in a generic, non-setting version. Maybe it's the way to go?


I'm a huge fan of the Cypher System, so I'm always going to stump for for it.  But also it is fairly simple and the mechanics aren't as extensive as other systems named here.  And you can adapt it for any genre with no or minor tinkering.  Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Modern, Fairy Tale, Historical, Steampunk, Urban Arcana, whatever your players like most, it can do.
Yaztromo
 member, 93 posts
Mon 2 Oct 2017
at 00:16
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
I like the fact that in recent years you can get "quickstart rules" for almost every ruleset, that helps a lot.
The other bit to set rigt is the setting, that perhaps is easier to agree with new players.
horus
 member, 277 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Mon 2 Oct 2017
at 01:15
Re: Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
DarkLightHitomi:
I'd like to point out that gurps books are terrible and confusing and poorly put together. I've been playing rpgs for a very long time, and yet gurps is still something that I haven't made head or tails of.


There are aspects of many rule systems I've seen in the last few years that leave me with that not so fresh feeling, so I get what you're saying here.  The GURPS Lite setup does help to clarify certain things in the more "orthodox" GURPS rulebooks, though.

I hate especially game systems which force the GM to thumb forward and backward consulting multiple locations in the books to get enough information to properly judge all the exceptions, special events, edge cases, etc. that the game supports.  If the structure of the rules gets more complicated than "I before E, except after C..." then I tend to look elsewhere.  Rules need to make sense, dag-nab-it!

quote:
I'm sure I'd get it if I had an actual person to answer questions, but my point is that regardless of how easy it is to teach someone in-person, it is probably better to teach a newcomer on a system that they can read through the books and understand it easily, cause that will likely be the first thing they do on their own, and a book that makes sense will be far less off-putting.


This is in keeping with your earlier post (msg. 11), and is consistent with your outlook on Game Mastery as stated there.  I especially agree with your take on descriptive vs. mechanical play, but there are gamers (and GMs) that live for the mechanics.

To Varsovian:  whatever you settle on to introduce your friend to RPGs will set the tone for their future style of play for a while, and should be selected with their temperament in mind.  One size most definitely does not fit all, so you are wise to ask for input.  One place you should not overlook for valuable information is your friend.  He or she will bring some preferences to the table that rightly should influence your decision.
Mad Mick
 member, 908 posts
 The end
 is in the beginning
Fri 6 Oct 2017
at 02:23
Let's say you want to introduce someone to RPGs...
GURPS Lite is pretty good for a quick start.  GURPS Ultralite may be even better, but it's really barebones.

Edit - That said, although I'd probably go with a more popular system than GURPS, any system can work.  My first system was MERP, and we muddled through it fine.  D&D is great as a starting system because of its name recognition.  Star Wars West End Games is the first system I introduced to my kids.  There are many good entry-level systems.  As long as it relates to something the person likes, it's pretty easy to introduce the rules.

This message was last edited by the user at 06:43, Fri 06 Oct.