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Author Topic: Rapid deployment rpgs  (Read 16638 times)
Walt Freitag
Member

Posts: 1039


« Reply #30 on: September 10, 2004, 06:52:28 PM »

Rusell, you're a genius.

What he said. That just crystallized the nagging reservations that have been in the back of my mind throughout the recent threads on this topic.

A lot of disagreement about what games, design techniques, and/or instructional styles do and don't "appeal to newbies" or "work for newbies" are really just differences of opinion about which of Russell's varieties of newbie one is likely to be dealing with the most. This is probably true even if that exact enumeration of newbie types is inaccurate or incomplete.

- Walt
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Wandering in the diasporosphere
M. J. Young
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Posts: 2198


WWW
« Reply #31 on: September 10, 2004, 11:52:39 PM »

Well, Russell may be a genius, and certainly his distinctions between types of newbies is excellent.
Quote from: However, I must object to part of what he
I don't know any groups of adults who learned role-playing with each other as non-gamers.  I know many adults who learned by joining role-playing groups with experienced players.  This seems the more typical way that non-players evolve into players.  (I think this is largely true for card and board games as well.  I've rarely played a game straight out of the box with no one that's played before.)
Our gaming group was four adults who played mostly board and card games together, sometimes did bowling, pinball, and miniature golf, and had our eyes on the then-emerging world of video games. We read about D&D in Psychology Today, and tracked down the boxed Basic set somewhere (a Farmers' Market, I think), other books in book stores later. I played for five years with no more contact with other "experienced" gamers than a couple conversations with a guy I met at work.

Of course, we were also exactly the kind of people who would buy an interesting looking board game and play it out of the box. We still are. We very much enjoy Malarkey, but I don't much care for Cranium. I expect that Tom Vassel (who reviews several board games a week in various fora) buys a lot of games and teaches himself to play them. We're also the sort of people who have several times replaced worn out copies of According to Hoyle so we can learn new card games no one else knows.

Someone has to be that person. We do exist. Now, of the maybe fifty or sixty people who played role playing games in my home since then, I can think of four who learned how to play from someone other than us, and only one who learned their first role playing game cold as we did. (However, I think just about all of those who ever played any other role playing game developed the habit of buying such games without knowing someone who played them, and learning the rules themselves.)

In a previous thread on this subject, I pointed out that it's standard among all gaming groups of any sort that one person reads the rules and teaches everyone else how to play. That's the way we do our card games, our board games, our parlor games, the few war games and bookcase games we've played, our individual sports, and, yes, our role playing games. As John says, usually there's someone in the group who is happy to read the rules and be the authority on how the game is played. In most role playing game groups, that person becomes the referee, and everyone else plays characters--and the traditional game setup is very supportive of that model.

Multiverser has a rather steep learning curve for whoever wants to be the referee. But guess what. The other players don't need to know squat. To create your character, you don't need to know anything about the game rules. Answer a few questions, and write what the referee says to write, and you're ready to play. If I've got one person who can run the game, the rest get a free ride.

In that sense, the game is very friendly to newbies. It just needs one person who knows what he's doing.

--M. J. Young
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Eric Provost
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Posts: 581


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« Reply #32 on: September 11, 2004, 06:32:33 AM »

Quote from: John Kim
I completely agree that sample scenarios are very important.  Maybe this is just a disagreement in phrasing, but I don't like how that sounds.  Rather than thinking of them as "training wheels" for "the real thing", I think you should think of those quick-to-play games as "the real thing".  i.e. They should be fun for themselves.  Now, I know you're not suggesting that they should be un-fun, but I think the fun-ness should come before the training.  


I think we're very close to seeing eye to eye on this, if not for some minor details.

I think that the fun is in the pre-written scenarios, and the training is in addition to the fun.  If the intro scenarios ~feel~ like training, then one's failed in making them fun (I imagine).  

I also have to disagree with the idea that the training wheels prepare one for the real thing.  That's certainly not what I meant to imply.  The training wheels are part of the real thing.  There're just there to give you a little momentum, and should be removed when they'd just get in the way.  I had a blast on my first set of training wheels.  But eventually I wanted to take them off, as they were just getting in the way.

*ponderponderponder*

See... now, I think I'm imagining something that I'm having a hard time communicating.  Lemmie see if I can get my brain to boil it down the essential bits...

1)  I don't know of any adults who learned to play straight from the box without experienced gamer assistance either (even though I'm sure they're out there), but isn't the objective of this thread to contemplate ways to get them to do just that?

2)  I propose that, if one intentionally builds learning the game into playing the game, then you wouldn't have to sacrifice anything to be more noob friendly.

3)  It seems to me that Character Generation is something that some noobs may want to do, but just as many others are intimidated by.  With that in mind, I propose that a game that has a substantial number of interesting pre-generated characters that a noob may choose from will not only keep from scaring off some noobs, but will also decrease the delay between opening the book and playing the game.  This is especially true in games where CharGen might take a substantial amount of time.

4)  Just as the players' prep time can be severly cut down by providing PreGenChars, the GMs prep time can be similarly reduced by providing interesting PreGenAdventures to choose from.  If we're talking about Noob GMs, then the PreGenAventures should have step-by-step instructions on how to run them, such as the ol' Read Me To the Players boxes.

5)  If the game is fun enough to keep playing, then noobs will not remain noobs.  Players will want a method to make their own characters, or to modify the pregen char they've become attached to.  GMs will want to write their own stories, or at least, they'll want some of the noob-level instructions kicked out of their way.

5b)  None of the games I've played have ever had useful instructions to the GM on how to write his own adventures.  I believe that a good set of instructions would increase the chances of continued enjoyment from that particular game.

6)  Finally, I feel that minimizing box-to-play time for any new player is valuable.  I'm sitting here, remembering all the times over the years that I've introduced new players to new games.  Heck, it's really the same for all the experienced players I've introduced to new games.  Someone always gets stuck in character generation.  "What skills (feats, spells, powers, etc) should I take??"  I can't even seem to count in my head the number of times a player has languished over character creation the first time through.  On the other hand, I remember quite a few really fun sessions where I knew that we wouldn't have time, so I made up a handfull of characters for the players to choose from, tossed them on the table, and given the players ten minutes to pick one and come up with a name for the character.

*re-reads a couple times*

Okies... I think that covers what was in my noggin.

Looking forward to more,

-Eric
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Doctor Xero
Member

Posts: 433


« Reply #33 on: September 14, 2004, 02:51:03 PM »

Quote from: M. J. Young
Well, Russell may be a genius, and certainly his distinctions between types of newbies is excellent.
Quote from: However, I must object to part of what he
I don't know any groups of adults who learned role-playing with each other as non-gamers.  I know many adults who learned by joining role-playing groups with experienced players.  This seems the more typical way that non-players evolve into players.  (I think this is largely true for card and board games as well.  I've rarely played a game straight out of the box with no one that's played before.)
Our gaming group was four adults who played mostly board and card games together, sometimes did bowling, pinball, and miniature golf, and had our eyes on the then-emerging world of video games. We read about D&D in Psychology Today, and tracked down the boxed Basic set somewhere (a Farmers' Market, I think), other books in book stores later. I played for five years with no more contact with other "experienced" gamers than a couple conversations with a guy I met at work.

I have to agree with M. J. here.

I knew nothing about roleplaying games when I came across my first SF RPG.  All I knew was that I loved SF books and films.  I took it home and recruited several other friends who all loved SF books and films and who all had no familiarity with roleplaying games, no familiarity with war games, no familiarity with RenFaire or MedFaire, no familiarity with Collectible Card Games nor any familiarity with computer games beyond arcade style.  The one relevant thing we all knew was impromptu theatre from working in college plays and community theatre.

But we were intelligent enough to figure out how to operate a roleplaying gaming system, and I created a space opera campaign in which we played for a number of years, only breaking up when our youngest player headed off to university at the same time that I headed off to earn my Ph.D.

Doctor Xero
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"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
Callan S.
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Posts: 3588


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« Reply #34 on: September 14, 2004, 03:24:38 PM »

I can't help but think that some newbs don't learn to operate an RPG so much, as they are capable of percieving (to some extent) the extra infrastructure needed to use this RP book.

That infrastructure consists of various skills and self discipline. But I'm not sure it's generally acknowledged that RP actually consists of quite a range of skills, and someone might come up and say "Nah, running a game is a doddle, I don't feel I'm using any skills at all. And after 10+ years I should know' which is kind of ironic to say when your talking a decade or whatever years of experience.

Quite frankly, if your on the forge I think your a person with a knack for RPG's and quite an interest in them. Note how there are plenty of roleplayers who aren't registered at the forge or not even registered at any RPG forum. So this whole 'Ah, I started with no help and look how well I've done' is kind of pointless. Look how far you've come...most don't get that far. So lets focus on that majority of newbs who don't come so far or even gave up at the starting post, rather than the minority who made it all the way to the forge.
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Philosopher Gamer
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ragnar
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #35 on: October 06, 2004, 02:11:20 PM »

Hi all...my first post on the forum. :)

I'll get to the point now. I got started in role-playing through (the other) Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy pick-a-path books. After having read through a pile of those, me and a friend found a D&D basic set and took it from there. The point being is that I think using a pick-a-path story as part of the rule book can be a good way to teach new players about role play and about the game. You can run them through how to handle some situations, give them a taste of role playing and at the same time entertain them (i.e. getting them interested in discovering the rest of the rules). It's not perfect, but at least it gets the player interacting with a story early on and making choices for his character. The only rule book that I can remember taking this approach was GURPS 3rd edition (maybe only early printings), and it worked fine there...even though GURPS is a rather complex set of rules covering 250 (now 500+) pages.

Personally, I think a rule lite system is preferable when introducing new players to role play, especially if that system has plenty of samples of play, ready made scenarios, sample adventures and usefull GM info. I believe complex rules can just confuse them or get them to focused on getting it right, rather than focusing on the creative part of role playing and on making an entertaining story for everyone. The fact that you haven't role played before, does not mean you're new to story telling...at least as an audience (films, books etc.). If you want to look for an element that everyone knows instinctively, than a good story would be it. This is of course entierly a personal preference based on the kind of role playing I like to do, and in the hope that new players will find their way to character and story based role playing from day one.

 Ragnar
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