Wednesday, November 9, 2011

DM Advice - New PCs

Over the years I have been lucky enough to have multiple players in my games and have learned a little bit about what to do when adding new players to a game. Here's a quick breakdown of what I normally do.

1. Call or email that you are interested in having them meet. While talking it might be good to get some general characteristics and gaming styles from your prospective player. At this point you might decide to cut the deal right there but if the player seems to be a fit for your group move to step 2.

2. Meet in person. I suggest a neutral friendly place like a game store or eating establishment. I have found that a quick meetup in person can actually make all the difference. I mean who really wants to have people they have never seen before show up at their house to play a game?

While you are meeting in person you might want to go over some specifics such as play style, what they have experienced in the past in games that they liked and what they have experienced in the past in games that they did not like. It is best at this point to really get into what makes them gamers and why they like to play the game. If you have a roleplaying group and all the new player wants to do is hack and slash for instance you might have a problem. Pay attention to signs that your gaming styles are different. If you do not mind rules lawyers (and I generally do not) then be sure that you have some kind of middle ground as to where and when it might be appropriate in a game to discuss rules.

3. Talk it over with your group. If you have a democratic group (and most of us do) you may want to make sure that you discuss the idea of adding a new player to the group. Even as the GM you still want to make sure you do not derail the game. Also, talk with the players to see what kinds of classes or abilities might suit the game or be lacking. As the GM you should already know this but get some feedback from your players because involving them is part of the process for most of us.

4. Invite the new person to a game with the caveat that you are trying each other out. Have them make up a character if they want and throw them in or allow them to use your npcs either way the main point here is to get a game going to see how well the new person fits with the group and with your GMing style.

At the end of the game discuss with the prospective new player what they thought about the session and make sure to give them your feedback as well. Also talk with your players separately on how they felt about the prospective new player. Gather your notes and compare. At this point you should be fairly close to making a decision.

5. Decision time! Weigh the pros and the cons of having the prospective player in your group. Think about how well the person interacted with the group. Did they try to run roughshod over the players or did they fit in seemingly perfectly? Odds are it will be a combination of factors that you ultimately will want to weigh to consider if the new player will work or not.

I have tried this several times over the years with varying degrees of success. We have added people who have came and stayed for awhile and we've had people who just came and stayed for the day. It is not always going to be possible to please everyone and obviously sometimes the group as a whole plays a very important decision in the process. You might really like someone for instance and think that they do OK with your style but the group might not like how they continually outshine everyone. In the end it's nothing personal and it's just something that your group will have to figure out on their own.

Happy gaming!

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