Behind the Screen: How do you break in a new group?

2008 August 22
by Dante

I learned many lessons from GenCon this year, many of them involve eating too many Monster Burgers from The Ram. On the roleplaying front, this was my first opportunity to play with an entirely new group of gamers since college. Even in college, I had pre-established relationships (mostly friendships) with the rest of the gamers in the group. Barring some online chats, this was the first time I got to play with people who I had not physically met before.

Observations and Advice In Action

As previously mentioned, I had the distinct pleasure of an invitation to Drunken D&D which was run masterfully by our good buddy Phil, The Chatty DM. This was a great way to get to know a new group of people and bond over a common pursuit: a mixture of getting sauced and playing a fun adventure.

After the second successful session of this type of game, thoughts started prickling around in my head (or maybe that was just all the Bud Light)… but either way what Phil did made excellent sense. He engineered an ice-breaker right into a D&D game, which allowed us all to get to know one another in a not-too-serious game setting while enjoying some non-nerd style bonding (i.e. booze) as well.

What I Do…

On the rare circumstance that we welcome new players into our group in Stupid Ranger Central, we tend to have a social “getting to know you” session that sometimes consists of character creation, pizza, or a roleplaying heavy first gaming session where characters and players are encouraged to interact over a session which is intended as a prelude to the campaign proper. This allows new players to feel comfortable in the game setting while getting some light roleplaying involved as well.

Phil did a great job of engineering a game that really accellerated the bonding process, we were all laughing and having fun within minutes of getting together for the first time in person. It was brilliant!

What do you do to introduce new players into your mix? Do you adjust anything in your campaign to allow for a “feeling out” process? Let’s hear those ideas!

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    August 22, 2008

    You've raised an interesting idea, and I'd like to know more.

    "…run masterfully by our good buddy Phil, The Chatty DM. This was a great way to get to know a new group of people …what Phil did made excellent sense. He engineered an ice-breaker right into a D&D game…"

    Was it just the inclusion of alcohol or Chatty's innate genius? What specifically did he do that worked so well?

  2. Dante permalink
    August 22, 2008

    It was both, actually. He constructed a campaign setting that was interesting, along with pre-generated characters with fun accents, personality quirks, etc.

    These items combined with alcohol made a great foundation for a fun time. He allowed for a lot of roleplaying with his NPCs in the second session, which was a nice touch as well.

  3. Bob permalink
    August 22, 2008

    We tend to carry on as normal with the gaming sessions.

    If it’s someone completely now to rpg’s then I always find changing the emphasis of the game ie to a game as you suggested where you roleplay in character more than normal doesn’t give the new player the best idea of how the games going to be run week in week out. Because of this we tend to assign one of the more experienced players to help them out and hold their hand through the first couple of sessions. I would maybe squint the story or the first session or two with them to force them into taking part a little if they were holding back although if they still didn’t want to actively participate I’d then leave them to come in whenever they wanted afer that if they were still enjoying it. Maybe even have a wee chat with them after the first session and see what they thought of the game and how they thought they got on.

    If its just someone new to the group rather than completely new to rpgs then they get a brief run down of the house rules and thats about it. Our gaming sessions are rarely that serious for the most part anyway so there would be a good chance for the new member to get to know folk.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS