Halloween

Halloween
5% of All Sales go to Support The Tavern

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Best Ruleset to Introduce Noobs to RPGs?

So, last night it happened. Well, actually, it started on Saturday night, but I was off so it really happened last night.

What am I talking about?

One of my Lts. and another Sgt. spent Saturday night tracking down my blog and attempting to track down my podcasts.

I was greeted by my blog shown on phones, +Douglas Cole 's interview of me playing on YouTube and questions about RPGs in general AND a desire to have me run a session. For cops that have never played before. Damn tall order, I know.

I'm so damn deep into RPGs I'm not even sure what would be the best choice to introduce them to the hobby. Free in PDF is obviously good, but I work with folks that want to READ the rules and come away with some knowledge of how it plays out.

So, I'm looking for suggestions from the fine readers of The Tavern.

49 comments:

  1. I would find out what kind of game they want to play first, and then pick a system that complements that genre very well. While of course, I could easily just shout GURPS GURPS GURPS like the Swedish Chef on crack, I think it would be better to have rules tailor-made to a setting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Basic D&D, of course! Mentzer might be the best version, as it assumes a 10-year-old who has never played.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Moldvay Basic or (if it must be free) Labyrinth Lord.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should mention they are all either detectives or their supervisors. I'm dealing with analytical minds, so the ability to put the rules in their hands prior to play is a must, which is why "free in PDF" is high on the list.

      Delete
  5. Hopefully they have a bit more of an attention span and ability to grasp new concepts as an average ADHD 7 year-old, but I have had a lot of success teaching B/X D&D to my son and his friends. Keep it simple. and treat it like a convention game or a one shot.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've had a lot of success with both Swords & Wizardry Core Rules (for fantasy) and Call of Cthulhu 7th edition (in general).

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think the choice is pretty obvious, especially for you. S&W. Easy, free, and your obviously already very familiar.

    ReplyDelete
  8. If fantasy RPG is the genre, BFRPG is a really good introduction. The rules are very clear, and coupled with Gonnerman's essay on RPG play and Finch's essay on old school gaming, your novice players would get a good sense of what a play session looks like. LL and S&W are both excellent games, but BFRPG succeeds best at laying the core elements out cleanly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words, Stuart!

      Delete
    2. You're very welcome. It's a fine game, and well-suited to Tenkar's purpose.

      Delete
    3. Yup. BFRPG. Free rules and accessories. Inexpensive hard copies. Great community.

      Delete
    4. You beat me to the punch. BFRPG is probably the best resource precisely for this scenario. It's as good or better (IMO) than S&W for quick streamlined rules and it's free in PDF and the hard copies are like $4 on Amazon. There is good module support, too. Not that it's needed. If it had Rangers and descending AC it would be the perfect system.

      Delete
  9. Quick question? Have they played any video game RPGs, or are those as equally foreign to them?

    For free intro RPGs, I think that Swords & Wizardry is a good idea for several reasons. It's minimalistic, it's one you've played a lot, and it won't overwhelm newcomers with option paralysis on all the choices.

    I heard very good things about FATE Accelerated, which is a PWYW on OneBookShelf. I should note that I haven't personally played it, though.

    Dungeon World I heard is something a lot of new players can easily grasp. I own the book but have yet to play it, but from initial impressions it's very quick to start up and run. It's not free, but there's an online SRD for it: http://www.dungeonworldsrd.com/

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dungeonteller. It's not just an "ok system" for what you need, it was designed from the ground up to be what you're looking for. "The RPG for Everyone." Available thru DTRPG. I'll send you a complementary copy if you're interested.

    ReplyDelete
  11. If you know it, I'd start with Call of Cthulu. Perhaps Delta Green to make it modern.

    Percentiles are natural to grasp. Modern background they already know. That's half the battle right there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Id also recommend prehensile characters and jumping them right in rather than explaining a lot. This applies no matter the rules. Character creation can be boring and confusing when you know nothing.

      Delete
    2. Prehensile = Pregenerated. Damn autocorrect.

      Delete
  12. I second the vote for Basic Fantasy by Gonnerman for the reasons stated above.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Basic Fantasy & Labyrinth Lord are great, but as they're analytical types maybe something a bit heavier like 5e D&D Basic - give them the HTML link - http://dnd.wizards.com/products/tabletop/players-basic-rules - and GM them something reasonably challenging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Call of Cthulu also a good idea, not sure if there's a free online version though.

      Delete
  15. What genre? In addition to the ones listed above, my default newbie game is Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Edition). The concept is bone simple ("You're vampires in the modern day, don't get caught"!), the setting is intuitive (modern day), you can be as narrative or free form as you like, and play up the crazy action, or gritty mysteries, or sexy roleplaying as desired. Of, and it's d10 bucket method, so the math is crazy easy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course, I'm aware that Vampire is anathema to everything the OSR holds dear, but I find it great for casual/ seat of your pants gaming. Not for everyone though.

      Delete
  16. Erik, didn't you get a bunch of softback Tunnels and Trolls deluxe edition recently? You gift a ton of stuff anyone, you should just give your co-workers those books and then run them in a game. Another option is Swords & Wizardry Complete or White Box. That's linked on your blog (at least complete is) and run them in that. Personally though, I'd run Castles & Crusades. Use their Quick-Start and run them through Blacktooth Ridge or Rising Knight.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I introduced my wife to the hobby via Fate Accelerated (pwyw) though it uses weird d6, but Savage Worlds can also be a good intro, it's action packed and pulpy. Both are generic games so genre is moot to a point. Savage Worlds does tend to be quite over the top with exploding dice and what not.

    ReplyDelete
  18. OD&D (S&W) or B/X (Labrynth Lord). That's the route I would go. There's always a certain feeling of nostalgia when DMing for first time players... might as well go Old School. Maybe run them through the Keep or Hommlet to intro them the game the same way many of us were.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  20. OD&D (S&W) or B/X (Labrynth Lord). That's the route I would go. There's always a certain feeling of nostalgia when DMing for first time players... might as well go Old School. Maybe run them through the Keep or Hommlet to intro them the game the same way many of us were.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Atomic Highway is free and is a great, easy game with a Mad Max feel which most people are familiar with, especially after the new movie.
    Hulks and Horrors and Warband! are kinda gonzo sci-fi games. Free also.
    LotFP also has a free version and is groovy to play.
    My favorite free game is D6 Fantasy. It's an easy game but I'm not sure if it's easy enough for a brand new player who has never played an RPG. I guess it depends on the players.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Erik, for NYPD after this last year, if these are your guys and if you decide to go with Swords & Wizardry we'll send you free copies of the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook for them as thanks for their service. (um, up to 6 copies, that's how many I have on the top of my shelf). I used to work in 2WTC 96th floor.

    However, I also think that Call of Cthulhu is a really good contender for an intro game, if you're good at running CoC.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yeah, these are my guys. good people, from detective thru Lt.

      Delete
  23. I'd stick with any classic D&D type of game. The archetypes are recognizable without needing any source material exposure (i.e. everyone knows about knights and wizards and dragons). The only other thing that is as easily understood might be a superhero game.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Swords and Wizardry is a great system to use to introduce new players to the game and it fits your criteria. The gang you describe would probably be good to start with the Complete Rules that Matt is generously offering.

    The S&W system gives people a good grounding in all the basic assumptions of D&D without a lot of fiddly bits to slow things down. It's complicated enough to give a GM lots of options without overwhelming the new players.

    I've also used LotFP with great success for the same reasons and I'm using 5e D&D right now because that is what my current NooBs wanted to play. All three systems have free versions and they'll all do the job. Honestly, I think your comfort level is probably way more important than what they'll get when reading the system.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Like I said over on G+, just pick a game you're comfortable with in a setting they'll be interested in. That's been where I have had my best experiences introducing people to RPGs - running my best system for them in a setting they like.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm gonna be a wiseacker and say Mutant City Blues ;)

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'd definitely start with Basic Fantasy. Best new to RPGs rules I've ever read.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Stepping away from the pack, while I think you could do well with any of the systems listed (I like B/X, LL and S&W), I've had great luck in bringing over card game and board game players with GENERALA, which is designed specifically for one-shots (no levels, you start out being able to do cool things, and you are introduced to the basics of roleplaying games). Character creation is basically "pick cools stuff off a menu and start playing", the magic system is the same as the talent/feat/shtick system, so you only teach one set of rules. Meanwhile, the core attributes are pretty standard and carry over, and the basics follow through.

    Plus it's D6 poker dice. Or Yahtzee. Which is easy for people to grasp as a familiar point.

    http://generala.playaarg.com/

    ReplyDelete
  29. Maybe Rotworld? Zombies are a thing now, right?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Savage Flower Kingdom? http://experimentalplayground.blogspot.my/2013/12/savage-flower-kingdom-version-2.html

    ReplyDelete
  31. I'm going to suggest Mutant Future. It's D&D enough to learn the terminology, but the characters start out high-powered enough to keep n00bs interested.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And mutations get to be rolled up so parof character generation has a game feel and doesn't require a lot of decission making.

      Delete
  32. My best recent experiences (consider the last 2 years) is Barbarians of Lemuria. Never had a problem with newbies and they were hooked.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'd go with S&W Whitebox or Labyrinth Lord. There are games I like better, but those are great rules sets for beginners. I flirted with FATE last year, but came away kind of hating it. I think it requires smart, skilled players to make it run well. Not a good choice for newbies, but maybe others have had a better experience with it.

    ReplyDelete
  34. If they are into Sci Fi then I recommend Stars Without Number. The PDF is free and I still prefer it over Whitestar.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Meant to chime in when this went live. You should use the Pacesetter system, of course! It worked well for Rach, didn't it? One table to deal with, and most of the games using the system are investigatory in nature, which would be right up their alley (Timemaster = find out why the timeline went wrong and fix it; Cryptworld = find out what's killing folks, and kill it right back; etc.)

    ReplyDelete