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Dr Berry
10-06-2009, 04:28 PM
Sooner or later, every GM has to teach D&D to a new player. In these circumstances, what do you do?

This can be very tricky, especially when you are trying to introduce the player to a higher level campaign. Do you even try to explain all of their monk's dozens of powers level by level, or do you hand them a level 1 human fighter named Bob and throw them into a 9th level campaign?

Personally, I know that I have done way to much "hand holding" when I GM with new players. Since I knew they would probably never put the time into learning the rules, I would just crunch the numbers for them all the time. Obviously, this tended to slow things to a crawl, and put pressure on me to know my players' characters better than they did. However, they probably wouldn't have enjoyed it enough to stick with it had I not done this.

What do you think is the best approach? Also, what system would you use? I have invested heavily in 3.5e, but am thinking about trying Pathfinder, which might be even harder to teach.

Thoughts, opinions, etc?

yukonhorror
10-06-2009, 05:29 PM
from what I hear, 3.5 and pathfinder aren't that different. So the level of complexity doesn't change.

You need to establish the audience first. If they have never played an RPG video game or any pen and paper game, the learning curve is going to be much larger than someone who played D&D 1st ed.

In any case, my best suggestion is to sit down with them outside of the game and slowly go over the details. In terms of character creation, the best approach is to let them describe their character to you (how they look, play, work, etc...) then match up the appropriate mechanics to that. They want to play a healer, well most likely that is a druid or cleric.

Some suggestions are to say, do want to casts spells or be more in combat or .... THen narrow it down by specifics like what type of spells or for combat lots of health, lots of armor, or lots of damage, etc...

In short, convey the mechanics in qualitative terms vs. quantitative.

Once you have a class/race down (in terms of play style), calculate all of the numbers for him, but then explain what each means and how you calculated them. Show them why they have a +6 to hit (and what "to hit" means). The other thing is to go through some example combat rounds with him. Maybe just walk through the combat chapter of the player's handbook with him, but using his character in the examples.

Finally, do these explanations sober (both of you). Have visuals ready. Most important, try to think back on how YOU learned the game and convey that to your new player. Also, don't let other players play the new guy's character (i.e. why are you casting XXX, you should be flanking the orc so I can do my sneak attack?).

Good luck and be patient.

But I would avoid trying to make them a master before you play. The best way to learn is to just play. Concepts like flanking and bull rushing can be casually suggested throughout the game.

As for ninth level, that is tricky at best. What may be best is play them through a lower level and once you think everybody is comfortable, bump it up to 9th. But that's my opinion.

Grimwell
10-06-2009, 06:45 PM
I try to keep it very simple and avoid over explaining things. New players are new, but not stupid.

I put the focus on helping them create a character they will enjoy and then keeping the play of the game focused on "What do you want your character to do?"

Rules be damned. It's my job as DM to figure out which rules apply, and then I can walk them through the rule itself - what's important to me is that the new player feels like they can try anything they want for their character, and that they are given many opportunities to participate and choose.

Reading the PHB isn't even required for me. I just want them in with an idea of their character, and then I encourage them to try everything they can think of and see how it works.

I also sit them next to a veteran who's good with people and patient. That way they have someone other than me to ask simple questions of.

cpljarhead
10-06-2009, 07:05 PM
i have to agree with yukon. in my opinion i'd take them asides before you actually play and explain as much as you can aboutthe character and the basics about spellcasting and combat. then the best isto jump right in (my opinion best to start as a fighter then progress to spellcasting) have patience til the player learns basics and then just have fun. with a group of helpful players as well it will take no time to get into the groove and then all will on the move to complete whatever campaign there is to conquer

traesin
10-07-2009, 06:22 AM
What we did was stick the newbie with me. My DM knew I would help them out with what to roll and what to suggest to do. We always started our newbies at 1st lvl. I helped the newbie out with everything for the first few sessions. We played 2e with a lot of house rules.

Skunkape
10-07-2009, 07:28 AM
I believe it's very important to communicate campaign world, play style and game rules as best you can with your players, whether they're new or not. Also, most of the time what I try to do with new players and even current players in new campaigns is to allow the player 3 game sessions to try out the character, allowing them to adjust the character if there is something about it that they don't like. That way, if I wasn't clear about something or if they didn't take something into consideration, they aren't stuck with a character that they'll be unhappy with.

MortonStromgal
10-07-2009, 10:19 AM
If I was going to teach D&D I would use Castles and Crusades, or 2e because there are less choices for players to make.

If I am just going to teach roleplaying [edit] game [edit] I would pick WFRP 2e or Mouseguard depending on the age and interests of the players

1958Fury
10-07-2009, 10:24 AM
I've found D&D 4e to be very easy to teach. Our newest player is the wife of an existing player. I had her husband roll up a new character for himself (so they'd both be level 1), and ran the two of them through a short adventure. It was loosely based on "Hall of the Spider God" in 4e's "For Dummies" book.

IRL, the new player has a very maternal personality. So I changed the hook to involve kidnapped children being used for sacrifices. This really brought out the role-player in her. She wasn't just playing to get through the game, beat the boss, or find treasure; she was doing everything in her power to rescue as many children as possible. She really took to the game, and is now even learning to DM.

(More details from the session can be found here (http://1958fury-campaignjournal.blogspot.com/2009/08/praktas-small-sacrifices.html).)

WhiteTiger
10-07-2009, 10:47 AM
Teaching... NO teaching... Trial under Fire!!! :flame::rofl:

yukonhorror
10-07-2009, 11:01 AM
If I was going to teach D&D I would use Castles and Crusades, or 2e because there are less choices for players to make.

If I am just going to teach roleplaying I would pick WFRP 2e or Mouseguard depending on the age and interests of the players

I would have to say you can't "teach" roleplaying, as there is no set mechanic defined approach. Just encourage it. Relate it to acting and "getting into character."

Maybe that is why my friends and I never had RPing issues.

tesral
10-09-2009, 02:35 AM
The best way to learn the game is by playing the game. I never worry too much about the mechanics. I usually all but create the first character for a new players. I much prefer to start them at low level.

At that point is learning by doing. Something rule book just will not give you.

Etarnon
10-09-2009, 03:37 AM
I try as much as possible to have new players start as a first level group, unless the game is skill based like Mechwarrior or Traveller.

For level based systems in a high level game, the sheer volume of feats, spells, or powers can be overwhelming, depending on the system.

I also take my time in a single one on one session to go over things.

I also try to interpret according to the rules, what the player whats to do.

Finally I don't generally encourage a new player for D&D say, to use a spellcaster, or anything that's going to have voluminous references to spells and the like.

Dytrrnikl
10-09-2009, 04:35 AM
Generally, what i've done over the years, is start newbies with playing a fighter. I've found that it helped them to learn the basic mechanics within a session or two. Once I know they had the basic mechanics, then I'd let them create whatever type of character they wanted. Usually, the onyl one on one that would take pplace would be with me explaining what the different stuff on the character sheet meant. I admit to stressing to learning the mechanics, not so much the rules (which as a DM I reserve the right to discard/ignore based on the situation at hand for the session - no player's ARE NOT allowed the same privelege), the mechanics as in when and why a die is rolled. We failed to do this once, and this one smooth-brained idiot would say "I'm using my endurance", without fail 4 to 6 times a game session...mind you this was during 2E days of DnD. I still shudder to think of some of the stupidity that came from this guy, worse, we kept allowing him back each session just to see what he'd do. So, I guess the real question was who was the real idiot US or HIM. I'm putting my money on us.

Etarnon
10-09-2009, 12:35 PM
I'll jump in here again and suggest it's better to use simpler games than say d20 to teach new players the basics of roleplaying, going with systems that are both simple and have a canonical licensed property behind them, that they've seen in a film or something...

...Like Star Wars d6, and Star Trek FASA or Star Trek Last Unicorn games.

But in the past when Mechwarrior was a big PC platform game, we had luck with introducing peole to Battletech and Mechwarrior RPG.

I've also had luck with the basic intro TSR 80's era Games from the past, such as Basic D&D [Cyclopedia] (Basic/Expert/Masters/Companion), Star Frontiers, Gangbusters, and Gamma World.

MortonStromgal
10-10-2009, 11:05 AM
I would have to say you can't "teach" roleplaying, as there is no set mechanic defined approach. Just encourage it. Relate it to acting and "getting into character."

Maybe that is why my friends and I never had RPing issues.

I forgot the word game... though you can teach roleplaying but thats more of an acting class as far as i know I don't know of a rpg that does.


Teaching... NO teaching... Trial under Fire!!! :flame::rofl:

Trial by STONE!!!!! :lol:

Ishcumbeebeeda
10-17-2009, 04:44 PM
I also sit them next to a veteran who's good with people and patient. That way they have someone other than me to ask simple questions of.

I think this is a good option. I've never tried to teach anyone from the DM's perspective (I don't really like DMing) but when some of my friends were first learning 3.5 (actually, I'd just learned it to, but I went at it with the zeal that only a semi-bipoler person with mild OCD like me can muster) our DM put them next to me, who tends to try really hard to rein in my inner rules lawer. It was actually a really good way for my friend to learn and it really helped keep my rules lawering under control. (I'm going to end this post with an apology for what I'm sure are numerous and atrocious spelling mistakes thanks to my lack of ability and my work computer's lack of spellcheck. I also apologize for the rambling digression driven aspect to it, but I've had a lot of coffee recently.... YAY CAFIEN!!)

Castagir
10-26-2009, 01:28 PM
My view is more simple I think. I have been called a few choice names before as I am not a big hand holder but...

If you want to play the game and you are new to it - read the rules before you play. Here is the Players Guide. Subtract all the spell pages and you really only have about 60 pages to read (D&D 3.5 e anyway). If, within 2-3 weeks you have not read it, or at least a good working portion of it, then I am done holding hands with you as you are not putting forth the effort to play in the first place. Not sure how to work your sheet - look it up. Not sure why you are rolling a Reflex save - look it up. You have all the same information the rest of us have. As a DM - get your crap together or sit on the sidelines and watch/read until you do know how to play at least the basics of the game.

When it comes time to actually play, and you have questions or otherwise not sure how to work something, then we (as a group) will help you by all means, but the bottom line is read the rules for yourself. It is an involved game and requires some time and patience to learn, if the newbie's aren't going to afford that time for themselves (and for the other players for that matter) then maybe you should play Diablo or something on the computer.

http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?p=116643#post116643

Sincerely - Disgruntled Purist Player

Dr.Dead
11-12-2009, 12:25 AM
Tell them to read the Players Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide. Once they have read those 2 books for whatever edition it is teach them as they go along. Or you can just teach them as you go along after you read the Players Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide. But be very clear on what you say and help them with the making of the first character for D&D. Once you've rolled the abilities for his/her character go to your Equipment and go along with them and ask them if they want to be an magic user, druid, cleric, rogue/theif, archer, swordsman, Tank, of a strait up pin cushin. once you got the gear help with the feats to go along with that class. Then do some roll playing to give him/she a feel for it and do some combat to give them a feel for that to. If they feel that its a crappy character tell them to stick with it so you can get use to the game. Then start your game. If they ask what are skills go along with them for that to.

This might seem a lot for you and your new player but in the longrun you guys will have a lot of fun. But you dont have to go with my advice

tesral
11-12-2009, 05:03 PM
I would advise they get the PHB. Reading it is a good idea. However, asking them to read some 600 pages of text before playing is too much front loading. I'm a firm believer in learn as you go. Star playing, then read the rules.

Eryiedes
11-16-2009, 07:05 PM
I say the best way to learn is just to jump in head first.
Learn as they play and watch others (who may or may not know as well)...some games can look intimidating with all the numbers....(can you say MERPS boys and gir-....well...just boys I guess!)
A bit of humor and a head on approach has never failed me yet.
Show them that making mistakes isn't failure....most of all....make it fun!

Peace & Light (...& Understanding)

Sascha
11-18-2009, 11:00 PM
...(can you say MERPS boys and gir-....well...just boys I guess!)...
Is it just me, or does MERPS sound like a communicable disease? :P

(We tried playing it in high school. Don't think it lasted more than one session, hehe.)

tesral
11-19-2009, 07:25 AM
I have to stay home, I caught MERPS.

TheYeti1775
11-19-2009, 10:39 AM
For my 9yr old, the BECMI has been easy to use for teaching.

He choose a Human Fighter. :biggrin:
He rolled his stats, we did 4d6 no drop for his first time.
Than we rolled his starting gold.
I let him buy what he wanted for supplies.

His first adventure was going through the Bargle one in the Red Box. I let him draw out a map and all as well.

Needless to say he loved it. But I did have minis that he loves anyways so it really set the scene for him.

IvanDragonov
11-24-2009, 10:34 AM
If I was going to teach D&D I would use Castles and Crusades, or 2e because there are less choices for players to make.

If I am just going to teach roleplaying [edit] game [edit] I would pick WFRP 2e or Mouseguard depending on the age and interests of the players


Being biased as I've never played anything but 2e I think it is easier. From studying the 3.5 and 4e that stuff looks like a lot of math, and I hate math! lol I think the most difficult thing about teaching 2e is THACO, for some reason people I've taught the game find that the hardest. I'm not exactly sure why, but that's been my experience.

DMMike
11-24-2009, 01:53 PM
I'm going to end this post with an apology for what I'm sure are numerous and atrocious spelling mistakes thanks to my lack of ability and my work computer's lack of spellcheck.

Seems to be a common problem around here.

Anyway, in defense of 3E, don't forget that there are starter kits presented for each class, which makes new character creation WAY too easy.

tesral
11-24-2009, 02:45 PM
Being biased as I've never played anything but 2e I think it is easier. From studying the 3.5 and 4e that stuff looks like a lot of math, and I hate math! lol I think the most difficult thing about teaching 2e is THACO, for some reason people I've taught the game find that the hardest. I'm not exactly sure why, but that's been my experience.

THACO requires you to add by subtracting. A plus to hit means you can hit further into the negative. An add to armor class lowers the number. I.E. plate armor +2 plate is a AC of 2 and the +2 gives you an AC of 0. Not exactly what we learned in first grade.

3.x did away with that with positive AC. A minus is a minus a plus is a plus. No more pluses that subtract and minuses that add.

IvanDragonov
11-25-2009, 11:37 AM
THACO requires you to add by subtracting. A plus to hit means you can hit further into the negative. An add to armor class lowers the number. I.E. plate armor +2 plate is a AC of 2 and the +2 gives you an AC of 0. Not exactly what we learned in first grade.

3.x did away with that with positive AC. A minus is a minus a plus is a plus. No more pluses that subtract and minuses that add.


Tuche! I never really thought about it in those terms. Does seem kinda silly.