In my years of GMing, I've been able to bring a couple of new players into this wonderful hobby. Some of them had earlier experience, but for one reason or another they left this hobby, while others were completely new to the thing. Today, I want to go over how I present this hobby to new players.
- First of all, I say it's an RPG game. I don't believe in pretending, and so I just say it plainly and proudly. "Yes, I play some RPGs, it's like reading a novel or watching a movie, but you play the hero." I'm try to answer their questions, no matter how foolish they are, as patiently as I can. This is the point that should show that "hey! I may be a geek, but I'm not that strange or anything".
- Then, I suggest to them a quick example, about 15 minutes of time, an example of what it is like. I always start by letting them choose what genre they want. I give some examples, sure, but they are diverse enough that it won't seem like a fantasy/sci-fi only activity. "Do you want an historical game in the French Revolution? How about a Mafia Game? Politics? Star Wars? Something else?" This point should show how diverse this hobby can be.
- Then we go over a quick character creation. I help each player get a concept, and a little bit of background, like a very important and life altering event. This is a quick part, which should help them feel that they are playing something else, and that it can be a very different person. "Oh, I always wanted to be a crime boss!"
- Then we start the game. The first scene is one of the 2 most important ones, and I usually try to bring a grandiose thing. The fall of the Bastille, the explosion of a spaceship etc... You need to catch their attention from the first word. Something big with a lot of enthusiasm (but not too much, or nothing will be left to the end of the game) will do the job.
- Then we play a few scenes leading to the end. I try to never say no, and to let them roll the dice a few times. This is where they should understand that the only limitation is their imagination, while also learning why and for what we use dice.
- Then we get to the twist. This is where they should feel like this is a movie or a book. It doesn't have to be big, but unique, special, and unmentioned in books or novels. After they become the new queens of France, Napoleon arrives and frees the original king. The Robot they tried to kill pulls out the nuke weapons...
- Then we get to the big end, the climax. This is usually the point where I raise my voice and bash on the table. All the enthusiasm should be utilized to here. The goal is to catch them with the same enthusiasm. I usually finish with a BOOM.
- Always ask at the end if they had fun. If they do, suggest a few ways to play RPGs at home: where should they start, prices (if they ask), etc... If not, thank them for trying and remain polite, at least till they are gone.
And that's how I do it. Nothing spectacular or too big, just what you'll find in a good story. One thing to note, though, is that player input is a really important thing in here. That's why it's improvised, and short: That way, there's no need to deal with consequences.
A few examples from my own games:
- Female wizards during the French Revolution, trying to help the poor people against the nobles.
- Last survivors of the starship Enterprise, after a computer virus destroyed all of it (based around the Exsurgent concept from Eclipse Phase).
- A fantasy game where the characters tried to catch a serial killer inspired by Jack the Ripper.
How about you? How do you present this hobby to others?