I’ve been trying to write this post for a while now and originally it was spread over two posts. I kept writing about the same things though so here it is all squished into a much smaller space than I’d originally intended. I know I’ve touched on it before but I wanted to get both sides done.
Where do you go for new blood and once you get it what do you do with it?
Over the years I’ve been on both ends of this problem and it’s one that doesn’t seem to want to go away. People keep telling me that with WotC being part of Hasbro these days Dungeons and Dragons is being played by more and more people. If thats the case then where are they hiding? I’ve hunted high and low over the weekend and the only two shops I knew of in my town that sold roleplay books are either completely out of stock or just don’t sell them anymore. We used to have three chain stores that sold them as well as our local model/wargaming shop. The chain stores have all either closed up shop or just stopped selling the books and the local shop closed its doors earlier in the year after struggling for a long time to make any money. I need to travel to my nearest city to buy materials and it would seem to even get new players as well. I’ve tried organising new players online and the geographical distance means it’s impractical and locally I’ve tried notes on community hall walls, shop windows and classifieds and still nothing. How do you do it successfully?
When D&D 4th Edition was released it sparked a new interest in a few players I know spread around the area and they almost all had the same problems as myself. They at least found some new players willing to try it our for the first time but I’m still sitting desperately trying to find some new blood after my group went from 15 strong at one time to myself and two players. The local gaming club started out after a petition was ran in the local Virgin ‘Megastore’ to get one started. I put those wee things round there as the place was the size of my living room. I think they started running the group on a Monday night in the offices above the store but being the shy, withdrawn individual that I was, despite signing up or it, I never went along. Once the store shut down they moved about until finally resting in a local Catholic High School. It was at this point that I started going along.
This is how new blood should be brought into a group. We were all made very welcome, I think there were 5 of us that went along that night that had never been before and despite having to learn a new system the existing players and DM helped out in every conceivable way. Each new player was effectively giving an experienced ‘buddy’ from the group to help them out and right from the off the GM was including everyone in his game. There were no favorites amongst the established players and the new guys went away feeling as though they had been playing there for years. We’ve tried to emulate this approach with every new player we come across ever since.
Now on to how not to do it. I’ve joined several groups over the years and the only one thats ever left me with a bad taste was the group I joined when I started university. I can’t remember if it was the Gaming Society that I’d signed up for during freshers week or another group that I ended up going along to but in all honesty I wish I hadn’t. We were invited along one night at the start of term to a committee room upstairs in the Queen Margaret Union which is one of the two student unions in Glasgow University. I walked in to find four or five tables full of players with a different game going at each table. I knew we’d be coming in to established games and was expecting some sort of acknowledgment that we were new but was hoping we would be assimilated in without any hassle.
What actually happened was that all the new guys were ushered to an empty table in a corner where one of the regulars who really didn’t want to be there gave us premade characters to play in a game he was running for us. Each character was the most stereotypical rpg character I’ve ever had the misfortune to lay eyes on never mind play. Between the six of us we had about 10 years roleplaying and eight of them came from me so most of the new guys had either never played or didn’t have a clue of the rules we were using. The session went quite well but it was nothing like any of us expected and at the end of the night the guy said thanks for coming and that we should elect a new DM as from next week we’d have to run our own game. No one would be joining any existing games and if our game outlasted the others we couldn’t up and leave or disband the group to join in with any others either when they started back up. It felt as if we were being treated as something they had to put up with but we had to keep to ourselves. I never went back.