Not that long ago I got one of the biggest shocks of my life...
My sister in law, her husband, my brother in law and his significant other all approached me one day and asked me if I would be willing to play a role playing game with them. Now, the age difference between me and the oldest of the group and the youngest range from 15 to 20 years of age. The two inlaws and their significant others never once in their lives played any form of tabletop RPG. In fact, the closest experience they had was from watching a episode of "Community" or something. And they all got together and thought it would be a fun thing to try out.
So, what did they do? They came to me, as I am the resident "game geek" of the family so.. what did I do.. I said sure.. why the hell not?
So, what did I decide to do with them? Well they wanted to capture a fantasy game feel. So, I decided to run a fantasy game using savage worlds as the ruleset. Now, they had no idea about what to be or play so I decided to give them full reign on the story and I told them that what ever they wanted to be, just tell me. Ill pre gen the characters for them, so all they had to do was show up. So, they all got together and came up with a story each and then presented it to me.
I cant recall the character names, I really cant.. But I am sure one of them was as silly as Princess Bunny Ears, or some other foolishness. But I knew I was in for a ride as a GM, when they told me what they all wanted to be. A male assassin, a male centaur, a female half elf and a female naga.
A Naga and a Centaur? Really!? starting out in their very first game, 2 of them wanted to be something totally outside of the box? OMG! But all thing considered, it was their game, they really wanted to play it, so I kept my comments and concerns to myself and decided to run with it. I made each of their characters and presented them on the game night. They were thrilled.
Next, I had to figure out how such a band of misfits got together in the first place. Well, if its not in a A) tavern somewhere. It is B) in a cell/jail of some sort. So for fun I picked option B, and away I went.
What I am about to tell you, is a story of 4 new players in a game in which I made up on the fly with no prep work or pre game design..
The Tale of Four: The Dark Portal.
The four members started to come around. The last they remember was answering the call for volunteers to help fight back the massive orc hordes from the north. On the road to the castle, they were waylaid by thugs, drugged and then end up waking up in a jail cell.
It didn't take long for them to feel the motion of the ocean, and they determined they were on a vessel of some sort. After luring the brig guard into a trap and tricking him to set them free, the group make an attempt to flee. They quickly find out that they are on a slave ship, and try to start to rescue the slaves. Suddenly the slave ship was set upon by a Kraken, and giant tentacles start raking the ship.
The group quickly realize that they have no gear and no way to defend themselves, so they run to the top of the deck to look for equipment, only to see the ships crew fighting against the beast. They make a run for the weapons locker to grab their weapons, only to be attacked by the angry sea slaver captain. While fighting off the Captain, and lopping off tentacles from the Kraken the group decide to abandon the vessel. Just in time too, the Kraken finally pulled the ship below the water along with crew and slaves alike!
After a few days adrift in the lifeboat they wash ashore a strange jungle island. Desperate to find food and water they discover a ruined walled village. After exploring they find clues saying that the villagers went into hiding from a strange attack that came through some sort of magical portal. After some more exploring, the group find out that this town was once the trade hub for the old world and used a series of dimensional gates to port their goods until one day, something else other then goods came through the ancient trade portal.
After finding the dried husked and webbed bodies of the villagers in an underground complex they inadvertently awaken the creatures that killed the villagers, giant mutated spiders! The group flee to where the trade portal was located, and try to activate it so they can escape the horde of spiders attacking them.
In a climatic battle, which ended up with the death of my NPC the group reactivated the portal and escaped the spider infested island..
And this is where this adventure ended... not knowing where they were going be on the other side of the portal.
End result... they loved it. And they look forward to the second adventure.
I find the trick to providing a good experience to first time players, is not to get them bogged down in game rules, but get them hooked on being in a story, making them forget they are around a table. As the games progress I'll slowly add more and more of the detailed rules. But starting off, let them do crazy things, make them feel heroic! I wish I was able to record the audio so you could of heard the cheers as they chopped off the final tentacle as they lowered the life boat!
It brought me back to the time when I got hooked on roleplaying games so many years ago. Good times. :-)