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[Savage Worlds] Roleplaying with newbs

Started by ethan_greer, June 20, 2004, 01:37:46 PM

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So. Friday I did some Savage Worlds gaming, with a twist. When I got there, I learned that three of the neighborhood kids Andy the GM hangs out with were going to be joining us. Since we were short two players, it was good to have the company, but the snag was that these guys were total neophytes. Allen, the youngest, had played once before, but Jason and Josh had not.

[GNS]Andy's play and GMing is pretty solidly Sim with a strong emphasis on Actor Stance and a tendancy towards mild to moderate Illusionism. In other words, pretty near to what is considered "normal" roleplaying by a lot of the gaming crowd. Which is neither good or bad; it is what it is, and he's good at what he does.[/GNS]

So, we settle in and Andy starts going over the rudiments of play. Josh, the oldest, seems interested, picks up on the basics of the system with ease, and appears to enjoy himself for most of the session, but he doesn't really add anything to the game (more on this later). Jason, the middle kid (they're all brothers), doesn't appear to have a whole lot of interest but participates in the fight scenes with mild enthusiasm. Allen, the youngest, now he's sort of an interesting case.

First off, he spends most of the session asking how to do things in the rules. Before play starts, he says he wants a better weapon, like a flaming sword or something. He is crestfallen when we explain that while a flaming sword is possible in the setting, it'd be beyond the means of his Novice-level character to buy. When he learns this, he gives up on getting a cool weapon entirely: "Oh, I'll just keep my sword, I guess."

Whenever he needs to make a roll, we have to walk him through the whole process. Every time. First, we find out what his stat level is.  It goes like this: Andy asks him what this-and-such stat is. Allen glances over his character sheet for ten or more seconds, and finally we tell him where to look for it on the sheet. Towards the end of the night, we had most of his stats memorized from repeatedly telling him where to look or reading the sheet ourselves. Then we have to explain the mechanics. "So, your Strength is 8, so roll a d8, along with your wild die (a d6) and then take the highest roll." Then we have to explain which die is the d8 and which is the d6. Every time. Reflecting on it now, I recall that in many cases he would grab the right dice, but then stop to ask (usually me, since I tried not to treat him like crap when he'd ask questions) if he had the right dice. So he seems to suffer from a lack of self-confidence. Read on and it'll be pretty easy to figure out why.

He spends most of the session doing, for lack of a better term, stupid stuff. He's feeling his way into roleplaying, figuring out what works and what doesn't. Which is cool by me. The problem is, whenever he does something that seems inappropriate, he gets smacked (figuratively). His brothers (most often the middle kid) bitch at him for doing stupid pointless stuff. The other experienced player often busts out laughing, and sometimes I do too; I can't stop myself - some of the stuff he was trying to do was comically stupid. Whenever this happens, he gets embarrassed and says, "Nevermind, I don't do that." But see, that's the problem. It's a setting loaded with lots of humorous color. So whenever he did something that was actually funny and clever, we'd laugh, and he'd say, "Nevermind, I don't do that."

Other times, he'd try to do things that the system didn't support. Or he would try to do cool stuff that was prompted by his misunderstandings of how the system worked. So he spent most of the night being stymied by us, the rules, or both.

So. What do we have here? We have a guy who seems genuinely interested in roleplaying, and is willing to try stuff and interact. And we basically threw him to the wolves. Wolf #1 was the fact that he was made to feel stupid whenever he'd try something. Wolf #2 was the system's lack of support for many of the things he tried to do. If I'd had my way, I'd've thrown out the system and gone free-form. Couldn't do that, though, because a) it's not my call, and b) we're helping Andy playtest a comercial product.

The real kicker is that when the kids had to leave at midnight and we finished out the adventure, I realized that their absence hadn't really changed the game at all. Basically, the kids were a non-factor in-game, and annoying out of game. Even Josh, the one who seemed to grok the whole process the most, contributed pretty much nothing. From this I conclude that I and the other experienced player did a lot of spotlight hogging and didn't give these kids much of a chance to get into things. I don't feel very good about that. On the other hand, we did make some token efforts to get them involved. But why would they want to do that, after seeing how Allen got abused for doing the "wrong" things?

Worse yet, we're not going to game with the kids again. Not necessarilly because of anything they did wrong - it's just that we're getting together for a playtest and they didn't add much to that. The product is being marketed to experienced gamers, and simply put, these kids aren't even close to being in the target demographic. Their input is of questionable value. So that's great. We're not going to game with the kids again, and they're probably going to think that it's because they did something wrong or that we don't like them.

Gah. It sucked.

On the plus side, it was a cool adventure.


Ermmm ethan? Why not just play something else with them?

(I understand there could be plenty of reasons not to - but you're not stuck to the system if you'd want to play with them. Even if it's just to encourage them for a bit.)
Tobias op den Brouw

- DitV misses dead gods in Augurann
- My GroupDesign .pdf.


Why not play something else with them? Well, that's a good question. The simple answer is that despite all my noises about how we blew an opportunity to get some kids into gaming, I don't like kids in general and I didn't particularly enjoy playing with these kids specifically. We did blow an opportunity (well, maybe - I can't know for sure, can I?), but that doesn't make me feel guilty enough to actually play with them again.

As for not being stuck to the system - well, it's Andy's game, both in the writing sense and the running sense. So for this particular group, we kind of are. But yes, I could get these kids together and play something else with them. Like maybe Thugs & Thieves - I bet they'd love it.

But I'm not going to. Because I'm a bad bad man.


Out of curiosity, how old are these "kids"? Like, are we talking pre-teens, early teens, late teens, early 20s?

Jeffrey S. Schecter: Pagoda / Other


Hi Ethan,

well of course they would like Thugs and Thieves it's a great game lol(on a serious note I reckon it would be pretty newb friendly).

Anyway with regards Savage Worlds (which I think is very newb friendly) did the GM dish out bennies to the "Nevermind, I don't do that." Kid, cos seriously he should have for cracking you guys up. I think technically the rules says players can eran a bennie every time they say something funny IC, but then again SW is pretty fast and loose on these issues.

Now imagine "Nevermind, I don't do that Kid." gets a benny everytime he does something dumb or that his character can't pull off, but he gets to spend bennies on re-rolls or (if the Gm allows, some do some don't) he can spend bennies like drama points, no matter bennies=good, get bennies for trying stuff (even if you fail and make everyone laugh)= more success or control in game.

Then when his brothers see this they go "Ahaa" and they start trying stuff (ie get into the game more).

What's more "Nevermind, I don't do that kid." comes out of the game feeling a bit better about things.

Player rewards, ya gotta love 'em!

One other thing you metioned them having stat skills of 8 etc so needing to roll d8 (ignore me if this is just an oversight in your post and not the way things were on the charsheets) but the stats and skills should actually be d8 or d4 etc.

In fact there is a charsheet knocking about (I think its the Pulp one) that actually has pictures of the dice by the stats (you circle the relevant picture) which would be even more newb friendly.

Anyway ya should of killed their characters and took their gear, and if "Nevermind, I don't do that Kid." ever plays TnT make sure you let him have a flaming sword, cos flaming swords are teh cool.


Allen (Mr. Nevermind) is the only kid whose age I know - he's 11. The middle kid was probably around 12 or 13, and the oldest was probably 15-16.

ZenDog, thanks for your post. And I'm not just saying that because you plugged my game. :)  I'm going to make sure the GM sees this, 'cause you're making a whole lot of sense about the bennies thing. If it's a humorous game, then people should definitely get rewarded for being funny. I bet that would have helped get these kids started better.

Regarding character sheet, the ones we were using did have the pictures of the dice on it. That smacking sound you heard a minute ago was me slapping myself on the forehead and saying "why didn't I think of that?"  Live and learn.

And yes, stats and skills are d8, d4, d6, etc. I just typed 8 for short.  See how efficient I am by not typing that one extra letter... :)

Sydney Freedberg

Quote from: ethan_greer....Before play starts, he says he wants a better weapon, like a flaming sword or something. He is crestfallen when we explain that while a flaming sword is possible in the setting, it'd be beyond the means of his Novice-level character to buy. When he learns this, he gives up on getting a cool weapon entirely: "Oh, I'll just keep my sword, I guess."

I know you weren't GMing, but my thought on how to respond:

1) "A flaming sword? Dang, that would be cool...."
Kid feels affirmed.

2) "...but it would cost, like, a thousand gold pieces."
Kid looks at sheet, sees he has 10 gold pieces, looks crestfallen.

3) "There's a rumor your guy heard, though, about this ancient 'Blade of Fire' that is supposed to be lost in the [whatever place the adventure was going to anyway]."
Kid looks interested.

4) GM hastily retcons flaming sword into scenario and holds out hints of getting it throughout night. ([theory]I appear to have gone "No Myth" here[/theory]).

5) Kid gets flaming sword -- at least to use it for one fight -- if he stays engaged.

EDITED to clarify point:

In other words, it's not a problem, it's an opportunity: The kid told the GM something that would make him interested in the game.