I was talking to my wife Jenn recently about my current campaign and how I wish I could break my players of the habit of relying too heavily on the dice. The search for traps and secret doors are the most commonly used in our game, which works but I wish they’d try to interact with the terrain more. Searching for secret doors with a die roll is only a 1-in-6 shot at success, while experimenting with the walls where you’ve correct deduced a secret door likely exists yields much better results. But I digress, I didn’t want to talk about why I don’t like secret door and trap rolls, but rather her comments about my complaint. The conversation when something like this:
Me: “I wish they’d stop always asking to roll for stuff and just interact with the world.”
Jenn: “You’re fighting years of trained behavior from other systems.”
Me: “True. It’s just a shame the game progressed in a way that taught them that stupid behavior in the first place.”
Jenn: “This must be why you like to play with new players so much. They never learned those bad habits.”
Huh, though it seems pretty obvious, I never put that together before. My con games are always listed as open to any age and skill levels. Even so, people often seem apologetic bringing someone along whose only played an RPG once in their life before, or never, or is rather young. The fact is I love playing with people like that. I love seeing new players learn the game before me. They always come up with the best stuff. Sometimes it’s the same stuff old hands have learned to do after playing the game for years, but seeing them discover it for the first time is really entertaining. And sometimes they come out with something out of left field that’s just brilliant.
I do seem to get a fair amount of kids at my con games. I’ve wondered in the past if I should think about putting an age limit on my games, especially as I’m not always conscious of the age-appropriateness of my material (one con game featured rescuing a girl who had been taken in by the local madame, fortunately no small kids came to that one). I suspect I get them because my game is one of few that is open to all ages though, and a lot of DMs exclude them simply because they don’t want to deal with children. Perhaps when the content is bawdy like that it is appropriate to put an age limit on the game, but otherwise I think I’ll keep leaving things open. A young player is more likely to be a new player, and I just love having new blood at the table.
Anyway, I have no brilliant conclusions to cap off with here. I’ve always known I liked playing with new players, now I have a reason for it. If you’re signed up for one of my games at a convention and considering bringing your friend or family member whose never played before, do it. I can’t guarantee they’ll survive, but I do promise they’ll have a great time.