WASTELANDS: Proving Grounds

ENTRY 3: The Proving Grounds: Helping new players into RPs

From Fifthwind Forums and The Wastelands.

One of the most important things I have learned in the course of running the wastelands threads is that it’s important to help the new players get into the game and keep it going. Keeping it going can be easy when you have a dedicated base, but it’s the new blood coming in that helps that greatly. New players bring new ideas and if you can work in those ideas, you can have an ever-expanding adventure!

Whenever someone is getting into something, not necessarily an RP thread, but anything, it’s usually a good idea to ask a lot of questions. Whenever a new player comes along for Wastelands, I encourage them to do so. This helps them get into the game and helps me build answers which help new players in return in the form of precedents.

When I first started, there were many questions. Most notably “what makes wastelands so different from a typical fantasy RPG?” The most obvious is setting. Like I said in the first entry in this guest-blog series, it avoids the typical sword-and-sorcery but it also is far grayer when it comes to the question of morality.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to questions that an RPer will ask the organizer though. Some of them will be very practical involving time and posting. Whoever comes up with the idea for the RP is going to be responsible for all the story and work. But it’s helping new players get involved into the story. They already know all the ins and outs (or most of the time) of what the RP is about, so they are responsible for helping the uninitiated get into it.

It’s a fine line though. Enough depth will attract people, especially those who love a rich world to play in, but too much will overwhelm the player (a problem that I have had with Wastelands. It’s gotten so big it’s kinda daunting for some people!) with all the information and background. If there’s too little, then it comes across as either half-assed or not entirely thought through, which makes the world feel barren.

Of course, this all depends on how deep the RP is. The more plot and story you have in it, the harder the average person will have to adapt to it. Wastelands has been lucky that it’s on a forum inhabited by talented writers who are interested in the story. Not just some wild action adventure story (though it can be if a player wants). The number one thing to remember is that it’s the new blood that will help determine an RP’s success. If there is one thing the internet is very good for, it is word of mouth advertising. If new players enjoy the RP you have created word will spread. Just like this blog is spreading the words of my host, in addition to my own.

Anyways, to close this entry, here are some quick rules for RP makers to remember when dealing with new players:

1) BE PATIENT!!!: I cannot stress this enough! If you are patient and willing to listen and answer questions, then you will be well-remembered, not to mention you will get to know your players, which can help you tailor the adventure to suit the players. Besides, you were new to it too yourself at one time!

2) Create an FAQ or Primer: Something like this can save you a lot of headaches as it is more or less a quickstart guide for players to access. The primer should contain basic information about the RP, including links to important parts, or everything a player needs to get started. This should include:

a. Character Creation

b. Available Threads to play on

c. General RP Rules (Sometimes the organizer will have set out special rules that must be followed. I don’t usually, but just in case)

d. What to do in the event of grievances

3) Help new players with their posts: I admit this shouldn’t be something an organizer does too much, because A) the organizer can influence the plot this way (which I admit can be useful if the players have gotten off-track) and B) it doesn’t improve a player’s posts in the longrun. However, helping a new player with their posts to get the feel of the world and even just help them with grammar and just basic writing skills.

4) BE OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS FOR THE STORY!!!: Again, another point I cannot stress enough, especially for the OCD in an organizer. You can try and predict the actions of a player, but you’re better off having a rough goal and path in mind that you can easily change depending on what’s going on. For example, your players may decide to go north instead of east. One thing I have found with new players is they are usually enthusiastic for the story and game, and that can be fertile ground for ideas!

And that’s it for now! For the next feature I’ll talk about keeping an interest going in an RP.

Happy wanderings!

-Havoc

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