Tips on starting RPGs

So you finally decided that you want to try role playing games for yourself. Good! We are a very welcoming bunch and are hardly known to turn down players! I love RPGs because they encourage thinking on the fly, storytelling, and having fun.

I’d recommend joining an established RPG group to learn the ropes. They can be found among friends, local game shops, etc. However, if you want to be the pioneer among your friends you can be the one to pick it up. Here’s some tips.

What you’ll need:

At bare minimum, you will (generally) need:

-A game master/storyteller/dungeon master. Whatever game you choose needs someone to lead it.

-Set of dice, the type of which depends on the game

-Players

-A core book for a game (book with all the rules for the game)

The first thing to do is to pick a game. If it’s your first time, I’d recommend The New World of Darkness (NWoD) core book. NWoD is a horror game, but the core book can really be used to play any kind of game. The system itself is very simple and revolves around the use of 10 sided die. If you find you like it, NWoD expands into all sorts of additional games, like Vampire or Werewolf.

Additional games I like: Call of Cthulhu
(horror), Traveller
(space opera), Dragon Age (action/dungeon crawler).

Once you’ve found a good core book, read it. Then re-read it. Then try and make a character. Making a character for the first time can be extremely confusing, so don’t hesitate to search for game message boards. Generally, if you have a question, someone will have already asked it. Character creation will help you get a grasp on the system, and help when your players make characters.

Then, get together your group of players. This may be easy or difficult depending on your age and location. RPGs can have a stigma to some people, but most people will just think of them as nerdy. Let’s face it, it’s the new millennium and nerdy is sexy. Usually 3-5 players is good for a group. Any more than that can get unruly for a first time GM. One interesting thing I’ve noticed: way more people want to try RPG’s after college than ever did in high school. I’m closing in on my thirties and am running into the problem that I have more people that want to play than I have spots for. It’s a great problem to have, since you’re usually guaranteed to have a group any time you want to run a game.

Then come the dice, just buy a few sets of whatever your system uses. Players can share dice, and if they enjoy the game, will generally buy their own shortly after.

Then, set a date and location, and you’re good to play! The first time will be rocky, so just focus on making a simple adventure or using a sample one from online/the core book. Just so you know, your first session may be all character creation because it can be a long process. I can make a NWoD character in 5 minutes, whereas it can take up to an hour or more with in depth Traveller or Pathfinder if you’re unfamiliar with the rules.

Finally, it’s okay to say no. Some players will want to be gods among men, others will want to play your average person. Try and manage the expectations of the group if you want the game to be realistic or over the top. At the same time, it’s okay to say yes.

Most importantly: Don’t let the rules stand in the way of a good time!

Next time: The Importance of Atmosphere

Let me know what you think!