It’s a new year, students are going back to school, holiday decorations are being put away and tax season is coming up. In my experience this is one of the times of the year where people start up new campaigns. Why? Because while the holiday season does give a good bit of extra time to many it also breaks up games with people travelling and finals being taken by students. It just has a tendency to break up an ongoing game. With that extra time though, people get caught up on their shows and have the time to get ideas for a new arc plan out some npc’s and get a new game going sometime in January.
This is a great time to try a new system, or bring in/ join a new group of players. Many people will be more willing at this time of the year to try something new than they will be any other time of the year. For those of you who have kept up on our website and youtube channel you may have noticed that we have changed a bit of our content.
With the new year, we at Imperator Productions are trying some new things too. We are changing up our previous model and are going to be doing more how to videos and reviews of new products and events in the gaming world. We are also changing our schedule on the website. Two articles have been written every week for over a year now and it gives us a rather big back log of articles to check out with advice for running role-playing games in our GM’s Corner and some peeks behind the screen in how to make and house rule mechanics in a game in the Under the Hood section. Moving forward, we are going to be putting out a set of content once a month. This will be an article from each of us on a theme, this month’s theme being new beginnings. Tim talks about starting a gaming group on the campus of GCU in Phoenix Arizona, Scott gives some advice on doing a session 0 to start your new campaign, and Dan has a bit of a glitch as he tries to step out of his element to proselytize new players at a coffee shop.
We are also pleased to announce an upcoming partnership with Second Star Gaming a local gaming store in Prescott, AZ. We will be doing some recording in their location next to Park Plaza Liquor and Deli starting next month and look forward to further collaboration. We have several plans to work together but will have to wait to talk about them so stay tuned.
New GM on the Block
Last year At Grand Canyon University I tried running a game myself as the GM. During the spring / summer semester I ran the same game as I did for the Podcast, My Hero’s Welcome Campaign. I had a friend who really wanted to play and he knew some people who want to try it out themselves. So for this game I had a player base made for me. For that game we held the game in one of our dorm rooms and had a bunch of fun. However that game was more of me seeing how well I can Gm and testing out some of my mechanics like the Monster mutation and the like. I believe that we had three or four sessions before school got in the way and I lost four of my five players. Well my last remaining player still wanted to play so he called a friend from out of state and he skyped in to play with us. For the two of them I ran the same one shot I ran for the podcast where everyone was a prisoner being experimented on by Krov’.
For the next semester game August 2017 through December 2017 I was introduced to a person who wanted to play by one of my last players over Facebook chat. Not the best way to get acquainted to a new player but I still wanted to run a game. I had caught the Game Master Bug. So originally, I was just going to run a game for this new person and her brother which was okay, but I still wanted more players. So for our session 0 we met up at the cafeteria and started to play. While there we had four other people walk up and ask if they could join in for the next session. Talk about luck, all it took to find new players was to play the game out in the open where other people could see. From then on I had a full party of five players with more people walking up every day asking what we were doing.
As a side note because of this one of my players decided to start a D&D club on campus and when someone asked what we were doing she would give them a flier. Now on GCU campus there is the GCU D&D club. This is how I really got started as a GM and I love it. How did you get started? Let me know in the comments.
With a new year always comes certain things. New resolutions, New dreams, and often, New campaigns. So, as you dream up your new world and story, I want to encourage a new resolution: session 0.
Session 0 is chance to meet, encourage, and read your fellow gamers. To gage what they and you are looking for. It is a chance for planning, fun, and usually increases the depth of your campaign greatly. In a session 0, players get the chance to create their PCs together, to form bonds and backstories of how they do or don’t know each other, and give their initial input on the world and story. For you GMs, it’s a chance to learn your party’s abilities and weaknesses, to learn what your players expect/desire, and to share the common knowledge of the setting.
But why is session 0 such a big deal, especially if you play with more seasoned players? Because it, in essence, a team building exercise. It is one thing to make a character and bring him ready to a game, in whatever world and know where and what you want for said PC. but we are social creatures, and by extension, so are PCs. even the loner anti-hero PC has to interact with NPCs at the very least. By creating PCs together, our creative minds are kicked into high gear. There is just something special about the comments and ideas that fly around a table that can inspire small tweaks or large overhauls of a concept. It creates a bond between the players and the PCs, one that can add a richness to your story and add elements to your world. It makes things that much more real for everyone.
For you, as GM, it allows you the chance to explore backstories. To infuse those individual concepts into the world and your story. It also gives you the chance to get feedback on optional rules you may be thinking of using. As well as showing off your world to new players. You can describe the societies and atmosphere of your world, go into relevant lore, and tease the players with hints of things to come….
If you don’t normally or have never used the session 0 concept in your games, I encourage you to give a shot with your next game. I promise it will add a dimension to your games and interactions that will be worth it.
Finding New Players
I was hoping to have a tale full of positivity for you. Alas, due to my own failings, and perhaps the environment my fishing for new players came up empty. I heard though a friend's FB activity that a local coffee shop was hosting a game night, and I thought “That's the perfect place to recruit new players!” So, I packed up my D&D book, my random character generating stuff and planned to have an evening teaching new players how to play.
In exploring my failures on this mission, you may be able to avoid them, or even offer pointers. My first is that I am NOT a coffee drinker. AT ALL. I hate it. I have learned what teas I can stomach over the years, but I do not particularly enjoy tea, so the idea of paying $5-9 for something I don't even care about does not appeal to me. So, my strike one is I'm an outsider. The coffee shop is an alien environment for me, and I was probably giving off signals of my discomfort (despite my attempts to NOT do that).
Strike two: I was late. I was almost an hour late thanks to said friend coming over to my place and us having such fun playing Civilization V hot seat that I lost track of time. I think if I had been there before the start time I could have given my sales pitch as people came in looking for the board games and people to play with. Since I was late, I had to try and not interrupt what they were doing to ask if they would be interested in trying D&D (which only ate more time).
Strike three: people seemed to be there with friends, and had a predetermined plan for their evening. This is probably the biggest thing that sunk me (in conjunction with being late). I think all of them being set on playing Uno with friends basically torpedoed my hopes of nabbing new players. Maybe if I go back I'll have better luck.
I ended the evening at Second Star Games talking D&D and the show. Not a wasted evening, but not what I had hoped. I'm not sure I'm the right person to recruit players in a coffee shop; but I'll give it another try sometime soon; and you may be, so assimilate them. I hope it works out better for you.