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Starting new game to teach new players

Nemsoli

Member
Wizard of Adventure
So I started a new campaign of the Lost Mines of Phandelver (I ran it once before and really liked it) with the intent to teach 3-5 people how to Play D&D. A friend of mine is also in the campaign as a player so I'm not doing this alone.

What I'm asking for are some tips and tricks for the best ways to introduce new players to the games. What should I be focusing on in session zero? how to I ease them into it. What should I be looking out for?

This is going to be on Roll20, and I did the recruitingin the r/Roll20LFG subreddit on Reddit.

Thanks!

Nem
 

JohnnFour

Game Master
Staff member
Demonplague Author
Wizard of Adventure
Beta-Tester
Adventure Builder
Gamer Lifestyle
I started a similar campaign last year as part of a D&D free day in my town. Here's what I did:
  • Provided pre-generated characters
  • Googled for player cheat sheets and shared them out
  • Focused less on the rules and took care of them. Just asked them what they wanted to do and I ran with that, fitting their actions into the rules (5E's action economy seems complicated at first for new players)
  • Basic rules like what initiative means
Because you're adding Roll20 into the mix - a whole different learning curve - I'd make half of Session 0 about that.
  • How to roll dice
  • How to chat
  • How to view char sheets if using them
  • Whose token is whose
  • Etiquette (don't move your token until GM approves stated action, be patient as people talk over each other a lot, etc.)
  • How to roll initiative if using that feature
  • Any stuff you want them to use like macros
Anything you can take care of on your end to automate or relieve players of tech, rules, tropes, and play. Let's call it Flattening the Learning Curve. :)
 

Nemsoli

Member
Wizard of Adventure
There are pregens included in the adventure, but Charactermancer makes it easy to make your own.

I also plan on doing session zero on Zoom so I can show them using my screen where to click, how to use their character sheets etc.

But good ideas, thanks JohnnFour.
 

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin
Staff member
Wizard of Adventure
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
A colleague of mine just told me her impressions on her first roleplaying session (Call of Cthulhu). There were some great insights.
In addition, I think this topic is still valid and will be important for many of us in the future, so I revive it hereby:

What I'm asking for are some tips and tricks for the best ways to introduce new players to the games. What should I be focusing on in session zero? how to I ease them into it. What should I be looking out for?
Normally I would choose pre-generated characters and shortly present them to the players pointing to locations on the brief character sheet.
The GM that night didn't use pre-generated characters though, but had the players choose a job for that character. The rest was decided by chance. The player rolled for height, attributes and stuff. This way, my colleague wasn't feeling any stress to decide correctly, she said, and she knew that it was fair for all and she was also involved in the creation process. I will try this the next time. I find it thrilling and reminds me of my early days with roleplaying and my very first AD&D character who I wanted to make to a paladin, but for whom I rolled so badly, that I only ended up with a fighter. So I made it into a fighter who badly wants to become a paladin. This was a great motivation and deeply influenced by roleplaying.

For further great advice on how to introduce new players, see Guy Sclanders: How to introduce a new player to role-playing.
Basically he is saying to give them everything in chunks: A skill encounter to introduce tests, a roleplaying encounter to introduce the setting and roleplaying, and in the end a combat encounter in which the player already knows how to do tests and can act from their PC's point of view. But again, Guy is explaining this so much better than me, just watch the video.
 

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin
Staff member
Wizard of Adventure
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
I have a human cleric
A half orc Strenght based bard
A Ranger Spy who likes to negiotiage
and a mountain Dwarf Fighter.
How did the next session (and those after) go? It is a very interesting group! Who of them are Newbies?
 

ExileInParadise

RPG Therapist
Staff member
Wizard of Adventure
Adventure Builder
  • Provided pre-generated characters
  • Googled for player cheat sheets and shared them out
  • Focused less on the rules and took care of them. Just asked them what they wanted to do and I ran with that, fitting their actions into the rules (5E's action economy seems complicated at first for new players)
  • Basic rules like what initiative means
When I was starting up a Cyberpunk Red game in 2019, it was for a group of workmates who had never tabletop RPG gamed before.

They were interested in Cyberpunk because of the upcoming (at the time) console/PC game.

When I showed them their game was based on a book from the 1980's they wanted to give it a try.

So, I got the Jumpstart Kit when it came out - in print box set and as PDFs.

The Jumpstart was basically a set of pregen characters, a simple adventure, 3 additional adventure seeds, a lite rulebook and lite worldbook.

Using a pile of Linux tools and other hackery-fu I broke the PDFs down into "chapters" around 3-4 pages each.

Then, for a couple of months, I sent out one chapter a week with a "cover email" that explained what the chapter was about, and what they needed to do with it.

For the worldbook, the chapters were bites introducing them to a setting they were not at all familiar with.

For the rulebook, the chapters were bites introducing TTRPGs, character creation, equipment, skill checks, combat etc.

Then we did session zero where they grabbed the pre-gen they liked, we customized it, and then talked about how everyone's characters fit into a team... which included them telling me why they were a team and what their team goal was.

We also did a lot of hand-holdy session zero stuff like "lines and veils" "x-card" and things.

Then I had to put together "teaching sessions" where everything was explained before they did it.

For example:
Here's the situation, what would you like to do?
Okay, to do that, look at your sheet and find this stat, then this skill.
The thing you are trying sounds about this difficult.
So, now roll your dice, add your stat, and your skill and see if you get a total higher than how difficult that is.

For each major rule system as they came up.

Part of the point was to also introduce them to core "GMing" at the same time by doing a walkthrough of the new mechanics with them to "expose" the how it works under full broad daylight.

All that groundwork worked very well for me and the group.
 
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