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  • Running a game for almost new players

    Ok folks,
    So a former co-worker of mine asked me about this "role-playing thing a mine", he's been asking for quite a while and I told him (and his brother), let's do it, and I'll show you what it's all about. Okay, so far it's a classic. The thing is: I'm a grognard (I've been into the roleplaying games from Cthulhu, RuneQuest, Vampire the Masquerade, Vampire the Requiem, the World of Darkness and God only knows into what many others) since I was 18 and now I'm 53. I've been running for my regular group (crew, homeboys ... see I'm not that old) for decades (or maybe I am). So, the pitch is: my "new" players are around 70-year-old (yes they could be my fathers ... but they ain't ^^) and it's a one-shot scenario, plus I really want to show them RPGs are cool. I have one session to do it. I'm thinking about running the games I love the most (RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, Vampire Masquerade/Requiem). I think I'll create characters upfront since it takes one session to create those.
    Well, that's it, I'm asking for advice. Vampire is a very complicated world but I think I can pull it off. They don't know anything about RPGs or gaming in general.



  • #2
    I think you need to first scout what they know, and what they think they know, about the worlds you could play in. You want them able to get immersed from the word go, and one of the worst things for immersion is having to ask how the world works.
    Classic fantasy is generally easy to work with, as most people have seen Lord of the Rings. They know they are brave warriors out to slay a dragon.
    Sci-Fi settings are also easy to get into. Abandoned space stations and seedy starports make for easily immersive settings, as the players can themselves come up with how to act.

    I would advise against playing in WoD. I love WoD as much as the next guy, but I don't think it's a good introduction to the hobby for complete newbs. There is too much stuff, too many unwritten (and written) rules, for players to get comfortable in a reasonable amount of time.

    Personally, I'd recommend some sort of sci-fi horror game. A team has been assembled to investigate a distress beacon sent out by one of their company's star cruisers. What happened on the ship?
    Slowly it escalates from a search party to a rescue party, to an escape mission. It could be a good intro to how to roleplay, with combat, puzzles, character moments and a clear, defined goal to grow everything else around.


    Furthermore, I believe Carthage should be destroyed.

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    • #3
      Yas that's what I way worry about, maybe a simpler setting maybe Vampire or RuneQuest won't do

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      • #4
        Vampire is a perfectly fine intro to gaming. Just resist the urge to throw in a bunch of stuff from the metaplot or wider setting. Focus on the unlives of these characters and what they want to do with them. Just deal with one neighborhood if that’s what it takes.

        Also, be clear about the assumptions built into the rules. And yeah, making them characters, possibly based on their input, is a good idea. It’s hard to make decisions when you don’t even understand the world or the rules yet.

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        • #5
          For them, everything will be new (they're still stuck with Bram Stocker's vampires) so I may go totally cliché and it will be amazing for them. Playing the Embrace, their first night out etc.

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          • #6
            Clarify all rules ahead of time, at least to yourself.
            Make cheat sheets for them. I used cards with text.
            Encourage them to read the genre a bit.
            I use cards to help myself and them keep track of people, places, and things.
            You can have each player track on aspect of the game for you, such as them having the humanity chart and notifying the table of any acts that may require a conscience roll.
            Have them watch vampire movies out like before session #1.
            Emphasize the style of game you want so you don’t have people trying to hack and slash when they’re supposed to be sleuths instead or vice versa.
            New players do stick to the stereotypes presented in the main book if you let them read that. Play that to your advantage.
            During session zero go over ground rules and custom house rules you like to use.
            If they dig it during session 1 you can ask them to contribute for further sessions.
            Be generous with xp so they can explore more of the system.

            Most of these is based on if they wanna go past a one shot. Vtm is hard for one shot unless you pre planned well or got some material from somebody else.

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            • #7
              Cheat sheets for them is a great idea (I think I will tune the rules down quite a bit). Speaking of sleuths, I entertained the idea of having them play mere mortals for this one shot (but playing kindred will probably be more fun/different).

              As for the genre, I’ll have a presentation (possibly an introduction folder) and I’ll ride along (even if it’s not canon it’s not that important and I can always clear that for them in a debriefing session).

              Thanks for your insight

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              • #8
                May I suggest you ask the players what their favorite genres are?

                Most people have a preference for the sort of tv shows and movies they enjoy. If they love Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, try D&D. If they enjoy Walking Dead and Romero movies, check out All Flesh Must be Eaten. If they like Harry Potter or the Magicians, consider CJ Carella's Witchcraft.

                Let them guide the decision.

                This might be useful.

                Personally, I think an excellent choice for new players is the Buffy the Vampire Slayer game. It runs on the Unisystem, and is quite flexible. It has a simple, but adaptable, magic system. It also has combat rules that are fast-paced and easy to explain. As a bonus, the rules for it are easily adaptable to almost any genre.

                I'm not sure why you would avoid having the players make their own characters. With a simple enough game system, an easily explained setting, and a lot of input from you on the mechanics, this should be do-able in an hour or so. They'll feel a lot more invested in the character if they created it.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                  May I suggest you ask the players what their favorite genres are?
                  (...) If they like Harry Potter or the Magicians, consider CJ Carella's Witchcraft.
                  Or Mage : the Ascension, of course .

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                  • #10
                    I have always found that running the game from the point of view of mortal hunters to be the best way to introduce the WOD to new players. They are every day people who stumble into the world of vampires and then decide what they want to do. It is easy for them to play normal people who know nothing about vampires because that is who they are. As their characters discover the world so will they.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Redwulfe View Post
                      I have always found that running the game from the point of view of mortal hunters to be the best way to introduce the WOD to new players. They are every day people who stumble into the world of vampires and then decide what they want to do. It is easy for them to play normal people who know nothing about vampires because that is who they are. As their characters discover the world so will they.
                      It doesn't have to be persons who want to harm Vampires that would be the player characters. ( I always found the term 'hunter' , 'vampire hunter' , or 'werewolf hunter' in the World of Darkness to be ridiculous. I thought at first that the title of the "The Hunters Hunted" book refers to Vampires hunting the so-called hunters. ) I think it works much better if these are mundane humans who end up interacting and involved with Vampires because of ( for example ) attending a social event, a chance meeting on the streets, or working on a business project.
                      Last edited by Muad'Dib; 12-27-2018, 03:44 PM.

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                      • #12
                        I’m thinking mortals put to the test by the Camarilla and eventually Embraced (no clue by whom) so, after they become kindred they’ll try to join with the Anarchs. When it’s done they’ll be Camarilla’s pawns infiltrating the Rabbles and, if they perform well they might be accepted into the Camarilla. It’s a bit fuzzy but it’s getting clearer ^^

                        As for asking they favorite genre, yes definitely

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JPS View Post
                          I’m thinking mortals put to the test by the Camarilla and eventually Embraced (no clue by whom) so, after they become kindred they’ll try to join with the Anarchs. When it’s done they’ll be Camarilla’s pawns infiltrating the Rabbles and, if they perform well they might be accepted into the Camarilla. It’s a bit fuzzy but it’s getting clearer ^^
                          One way to make the session simpler, if you need to, is to have all the player characters Embraced by one Vampire. Though doing so is a limitation in regard to the Clans that the PCs can be.

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                          • #14
                            I'm generally in agreement with Pang4 -- Vampire would not be my first choice for intro games. A good vampire one-shot is hard to do. It's in the nature of the game -- literally written into the rulebooks -- to play with in-depth, developed backstories, complex relationships with NPCs ex ante, and a general familiarity with a setting that is -- and sometimes its hard to remember this from inside the bubble -- kinda niche and outre.

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                            • #15
                              I would not choose Vampire or any other RPG where the PC would be anything other than a normal human. Now maybe a WoD game where he plays a mortal who uncovers one of the supernatural conspiracies and has a supernatural as an antagonist (the plot is to kill the one vampire that is discovered) would be OK.

                              You don't want him to have to learn a bunch of lore before he can play. You want a game where he can get into his character and then explore the setting. And not everyone would find it fun to roleplay a monster. They need something more identifiable and comfortable.

                              But as for genre, I think it really depends on what your player is interested in real life. An actual hook into the genres he likes is more likely to keep his interest. Does he like westerns, mysteries, hard boiled crime, military, horror, science fiction, fantasy?

                              Call of Cthulhu would be a good choice. There are lots of one shot scenarios for it, and some would be appropriate to a brand new player. And as an investigative type scenario, there is more to do than just fight. And some scenarios can be very Mythos-lite. Or not even have anything supernatural at all, just pure detective type stuff.

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