RPGaDay2016: Introductions

Day 2:

Best game session since Aug 2015?

There hasn’t been that much time for playing over the last year, but I did run Blades in the Dark quickstart for some local friends who are generally very traditional in their RPG consumption. More importantly we had one person who’d never played at all.

Everyone got on with it. They liked the playbooks, they got the stress economies, they understood downtime. The biggest hitch was getting the idea that no, you don’t need to plan the heist in advance, you use the flashback mechanics.

This raises the question about the need for introductory games. Certainly some games are complex enough that they’re hard on new players, but generally new players aren’t viewing a system critically — they’re looking for a way to participate with another group of people, so learning the system is a cost they’re willing to play to be part of the culture.

Blades isn’t the easiest game — it tripped up some of the experienced players too — but it is a game, and it is consistent, and our newbie learned fast.

I had exactly the same outcome with a new player playing Penny For My Thoughts. They had no trouble at all. What seems to matter is

  • the rest of the players want them to participate, so the reward for participating is greater than the cost of learning
  • the game is consistent, with outcomes they can predict and an order of play they can follow
  • the game has good handout material on the table that reinforces consistency