posted Saturday, October 27th 2007 by
Dungeon Mastering Advice
One of the tricky things about introducing new players to Dungeons & Dragons is that the bewildering array of options that the game presents can easily overwhelm new players, as well as making it very difficult to describe in a way that sounds both straightforward and fun. Like with modern videogames, a solution is to introduce the game one element at a time. At its core, D&D can be described as follows:
“Dungeons & Dragons is a game played with dice. One player controls a dungeon, which is like an underground maze full of monsters and treasure. The other players control one character each, maybe a wizard or a warrior, and their task is to work together to beat the dungeon. What’s neat is that if you’re successful, you can keep your character along with any treasure they found, and use it the next time you play.”
Forget any of this crap about “collaborative storytelling”, at least for now. Yes, it’s part of the game, but storytelling and improv acting are their own game elements, and it’s important that players are comfortable with a solid concept such as a competitive dice-based game, before moving on to the more subtle and perhaps unusual aspects of what we call roleplaying. Let your players pick between a set of pre-written character sheets, give them each a box of dice, and run them through a dungeon of your own devising to let your players have a feel for how the traditional “dungeon crawl” element of the game runs.
Eventually, however, you’ll want to introduce players to the concept that their characters are more than a collection of statistics. This is where character background generation comes in. Stay tuned and I’ll fill this in next time.