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Author Topic: How to recruit players  (Read 4038 times)
ffilz
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« on: September 13, 2004, 09:15:20 AM »

Well, here I am back again...

A couple weeks of thought, campaign prep, and "character creation session" and I've reached the conclusion that I really don't have a gaming group.

I'm at an impasse on how to find players who will enjoy playing in the types of campaigns I enjoy running. I've also started to understand just what it is that I like doing, and what it is that I don't like doing.

What I get out of gaming is the creative investment of developing a "world" and then opening it up to the players to explore, and leave their own mark on. I usually end up starting from someone else's world (combination of time, and lack of skill in certain areas of development - especially political situation). I've thought about why I don't like playing, and basically it's because I don't have the same creative outlet, tending to leave me with just gamism (where I quickly get frustrated - though some of that frustration is probably due to encountering disfunctional play).

I know players exist who like to play in my style of game, since I've had them in the past, but it seems like it's always luck that I find them.

One of my big problems is that the most popular system (D&D) isn't very supportive of my play style. In my last campaign, I had it thrown straight in my face how much a teleport spell for example blows the doors wide open. Of course the amount of prep work for encounters is also a problem, leaving me no time to prep the world. The balance that I perceive between the magic users, fighters, and skill dudes is also an issue, though it seems like it bugs me for gamist reasons.

From my campaign e-mail list, it would seem that I have three players, but the more I look at it, the more I think I have none.

One player is an 11 or 12 year old kid. He seems excited about gaming, and enthusiasticly borrowed some Tekumel books. But he doesn't call his own schedule, and his mom has never been very good at communicating their availability.

The other two players are a young couple. The husband is probably a narativist player, who wants a simple system, and has little desire to explore the world. He seems mildly interested in finding a place in the world, but he doesn't want to work for it. He has turned down numerous opportunities to borrow setting material. His wife is hardly more than a bump on a log. She seems somewhat interested in developing a character, but learning disabilities have hampered her play, and she is even less interested in learning about the world (and I should point out that most of the time, her husband or I have to practically tell her what spells to cast [she always plays spell casters]).

The couple's schedule has become a nightmare. Last year, they were the most dedicated players (he got his work schedule changed so he was free on Saturdays). This year, their weekend availability is Sunday 1-5 (which really doesn't work for me, both from a length of game session, and fitting in with my church activities). Late evenings will not work at all for the kid (he is basically dependant on public transportation to get to games, and understandably, mom doesn't want him out too late, plus weeknights are completely out because of school).

I put out a recruiting e-mail on the local gamers lists, plus contacted some people from the Fudge gamers database, and basically came up dry. On top of that, I realized Fudge was just totally not what I wanted to do, leaving me with no commercial game system I'm willing to run for Tekumel. I could switch back to Rune Quest/Glorantha, but I'm not convinced that will be any better. My sense is that a lot of the Gloranthaphiles have switched to Hero Wars/Hero Quest, which just doesn't even begin to click with me. I have Hero Wars, and I've read part of it, but it's just too mushy a system for me, I guess I just don't buy into the narativist style (I didn't do very well with Everway either - though the character creation was really cool - but the character's had no connection to a world, and the post character creation game play just sucked).

So any suggestions are welcome. I'm close to just punting on gaming, though I'm not quite sure what I would do instead to engage the same creative needs, but it seems pointless to have a crummy time gaming in hopes of getting a good creative hit. I've been sustaining myself through the summer by devouring campaign settings (Glorantha early in the summer, Tekumel later), but that's run out of steam.

Frank
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Frank Filz
jdagna
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2004, 10:10:39 AM »

I've had really good luck finding players simply by word of mouth.  I let my current group know what size I'd like and I tell everyone I talk to that I game.  This way, my group members can recommend people and if people I'm talking to are interested, I can invite them.  We give new people a trial period ("to see if they like it" but it's more to see if they mesh with the group), and we aren't afraid to exclude people if necessary.

Getting the group started in the first place is a little tougher.  This is partly because the most functional gamers generally have stable groups of their own.

Mailing lists and web sites are a good start, and in my experience, you'll be most successful if you are very clear about what you want to do and who you're looking for.  Perhaps even give a campaign teaser.  Also, giving a specific time often works well because people are more likely to respond if they think a game fits what they need.

If there are local game stores, most of them have places you can leave messages to find players.  I haven't had a lot of success by just leaving notes, though... but you might try running a few games in-store during busy times to hook in a few players.

Conventions are a great place to find players.  Just volunteer to run games at whatever local venues there are.  When you see players who seem to like the same kind of things you do, hand them an invitation to join your group.

Also, back when I was in school, I used to carry my books around frequently and did most of my game prep during breaks or after school.  It's another tactic to let everyone know what you're doing and you'll get more than a few interested parties.  I also played the game during lunch breaks in a visible spot on the campus.
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Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com
Christopher Weeks
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Posts: 683


« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2004, 10:36:15 AM »

When you post to fora like this, you could note where you live.  I'm putting together a play group in the twin cities (ahead of actually moving there) based so far only on Forge posters who list Minneapolis/St. Paul in their profile.

I don't have any other great ideas.

Chris
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ffilz
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2004, 10:54:21 AM »

Quote

When you post to fora like this, you could note where you live.

Hmm, not quite sure why I didn't fill that in in the first place...

Quote

I tell everyone I talk to that I game.

This is one of my hangups. I find it real hard to be open outside the gaming community. I was always singled out as the "nerd" in school (I started gaming in the late 70s before it was a big fad, and even in an engineering college in the 80s it was still a bit "nerdy" but we also had a great games club there) so I tend to keep my weird hobbies to myself. Lately I've even been embarassed to invite folks to me house because of my LEGO hobby. I will admit that my most recent "best" player was found because he picked me up at home to go caving and noted my shelves of gaming books, but that was 10 years ago. Heck, on game days I close the door to the LEGO room.

Quote

Mailing lists and web sites are a good start, and in my experience, you'll be most successful if you are very clear about what you want to do and who you're looking for. Perhaps even give a campaign teaser. Also, giving a specific time often works well because people are more likely to respond if they think a game fits what they need.

One of the problems I have is just how to communicate and be clear about what I want to do. Over on the Fudge mailing list I've just been talking about how I am a very visual person and less of a word person, but I'm also not that much of an artist. I guess I could post pictures of maps and things.

Actually, one thought I've had is to spend a year or so developing a campaign setting that can be expressed in LEGO, and being prepared to run a game that would be as visually immersive as some games are dialog immersive... It would then be easy to post pictures, or fill several boxes with stuff and show up to a convention... A strategic scene displayed in the nearby game stores display case could be a good advertisement also. But that's a long term project, but it may be the route I go if something doesn't pan out soon.

Frank
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Frank Filz
Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2004, 11:08:29 AM »

I am basically unable to game FTF because my wife is disabled, and she needs me at home to care for her.

I can't tell you how much of a godsend IRC has been.  If I had the time for it, I could be in a different game every night of the week.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
ffilz
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2004, 11:25:28 AM »

IRC wouldn't work very well for me since I don't work as well in the text realm. On the other hand, a significant gaming need is met by participating in boards like this, but nothing online meets the needs of actually socializing face to face with people.

Frank
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Frank Filz
mindwanders
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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2004, 12:38:27 PM »

Quote
What I get out of gaming is the creative investment of developing a "world" and then opening it up to the players to explore, and leave their own mark on. I usually end up starting from someone else's world (combination of time, and lack of skill in certain areas of development - especially political situation).


This is exactly what you need to be telling your players. Have you considered writing up a 1 page "brief" for your game that includes what it is you are running and what it is you are looking for from the players (characters with definite goals and agendas, players who are willing to take the initiative and strike out for thier goals without being led by the nose by the GM).

Once you have something like this you can hand it to potential players and post it up on notice boards. You will have a lot more luck finding players if you can tell them exactly what you will provide and what you are wanting from them. Setting a time slot (or maybe 3 options) will also help.

You might also want to try and get involved in the local Camarilla LARP scene (or if there's a similar indie LARP in your area they are normally better). It may not be what you are looking for as a player, but I've found that there are a lot of Simulationist players that get drawn to political style larps. It's been an absolute god send for me.

Quote
On top of that, I realized Fudge was just totally not what I wanted to do, leaving me with no commercial game system I'm willing to run for Tekumel.


Have you considered FATE (which is based on the Fudge System) as an alternative to Fudge? It's been a real eye opener for me for these kinds of games. It's also free which is a major bonus.
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ffilz
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« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2004, 01:28:39 PM »

Hmm, the whole vampire scene turns me off (perhaps for unfounded reasons). Though the whole political intrigue bit is one thing I'm not real fond of (ok, so that does limit the potential scope of similation - but there really isn't much I can do about it, I turn into a wallflower when political discussion breaks out at parties). I did have a couple Vampire players when my D20 campaign started, they were some of the most gamist players in the group, and I was not real sad when they left.

One thing I'm real not sure of is how productive it would be to recruit players from other games. If the players are well engaged by the other game, my game will be a second priority to them (that was the other problem with the Vampire players - my game was a "well, if there isn't anything else to do", I think I was actually 3rd on their list). If the players aren't well engaged, I could come across as a pied piper coming to steal their players.

Hmm, I looked at FATE, and initially I liked the idea of Aspects. Then when I started to implement my game, I realized I didn't like Aspects. I also saw them as a poor cousin to The Riddle of Steel's Spiritual Attributes. And now I'm not so sure of that concept at all. I think it's cool, but I tried to create a TROS character last night, and I couldn't really come up with good SAs. Now perhaps with players coming up with them, it would be easier to play to them, but at least some of the NPCs would need them.

Ah, here I am being all negative. Part of my problem is finding something right now to be positive about, and that lasts (I've had several "ahas" in the past few weeks, and every one of them has turned negative as soon as it was poked). I probably just need to take a vacation from gaming, but that's more the story of my past 15 years than gaming is...

Frank
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Frank Filz
ffilz
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« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2004, 02:02:45 PM »

Hmm, realized I kind of ignored one piece of more helpful information...
Quote

This is exactly what you need to be telling your players. Have you considered writing up a 1 page "brief" for your game that includes what it is you are running and what it is you are looking for from the players (characters with definite goals and agendas, players who are willing to take the initiative and strike out for thier goals without being led by the nose by the GM).

I've tried such in the past, but I'm not sure I'm getting the right stuff in. Maybe tonight I'll post up some of the notices I've used in the past for critique. The recognition that I could probably do better was why I started the How to describe my play style thread. I'm probably not asking the right questions...

I haven't posted notices at the local game stores yet, partly because I didn't realize the closest one actually has a bulletin board.

Frank
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Frank Filz
Madeline
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Posts: 11


« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2004, 03:02:29 PM »

Wow, Beaverton?  You're in the midst of a truly excellent cadre of Amber gamers...  I'm not sure whether any are in need of more gaming right now (nor am I sure whether or not they'll like Tekumel, though I suppose since Guardians of Order picked Tekumel up, and GoO is run by old-time Amber players, there's bound to be some crossover in interest), but if you like I can get you some e-mail addresses.  

I don't think you should worry too much about players you steal away from some specific system...  I think if you make an interesting game, system is going to be unnoticed (unless it really sucks and keeps throwing people out of the flow of things).  Obviously, anyone who's going to habitually blow off sessions for whatever reason (be it "Oh, there's a Vampire game" or "Oh, I have tickets to the Monster Truck Rally") isn't really going to be good to have in the group, but it's not like you're going to find more flakes in one type of gamers vs another.

Like jdagna says, conventions are excellent places to find gaming groups, and in fact, the only places I've ever had success hooking up gaming groups.  You get to meet people, see if you like them, and pass around e-mail addresses so you can arrange a time to meet after...  And they're less likely to just stop answering mail and drop off the face of the earth if they've actually met you.

Now, you're particularly lucky because coming up in mid-November, at the Edgefield in Troutdale, is AmberCon Northwest, which is cheap, atmospheric, and packed to the gills with good gamers.  I highly recommend you check it out.

As for other places to try, perhaps you could put a posting on the Portland craigslist in the activity partners section?  You could cruise the Forge or RPG.net and find other Portland people...  Or you could put a posting on the Guardians of Order Tekumel forum, "I'm in Portland, looking to start a game where people explore the world of Tekumel..."

If I were you, I'd try to find a reliable group, and then slowly shape it into a group of gamers who harmonize precisely with your style.
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jdagna
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« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2004, 05:32:13 PM »

If you're in Beaverton, you've got some good resources available to you.  Ory-Con (November) and Gamestorm (March) are both held in Portland.  Additionally, September 18th will be the Gamestorm mini-con - a one-day meet at a game store there (see http://www.gamestorm.org for details).  I can't recommend Gamestorm highly enough.

I'll have demo people at both conventions and I'll be at Gamestorm myself, but we're all up in Seattle or Tacoma, which is a little far to go.  I do have an artist who lives in Beaverton, but I'm not sure how much actual gaming he does.
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Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2004, 06:30:23 PM »

Hello,

Let's move all networking to private message, please.

Frank, I'm having a hard time seeing where this thread is headed. It's not really actual play, either. In the past, threads on this topic ("How to start a new group" or similar) work better when they're posed in the abstract in RPG Theory, with the person's situation as an example rather than a group fix-it project. So I think that it's probably better to re-cast it there.

Best,
Ron
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