Recently, I ended an ongoing class designed to build skills used in a corporate environment. The techniques and focuses learned were to improve a worker’s capability to innovate, to recognize communication styles, and presentation methods. All of which, oddly enough, are valuable skills for a Game Master to learn. When I took my Presentation class, I used the opportunity to introduce a room of about 25 of my corporate co-workers to tabletop rpgs. I wrote an article on the topic, which can be found HERE.
Since my initial rpg presentation, eight interested persons stepped up to look into playing. A small group of them had played before, the majority had never played and some had never even heard of the hobby. Because of timing and other obligations, the best I could get together on any one night was a party of three, which thankfully meant I didn’t have to play with an overcrowded table and I get to run a few more games for other collections of my fellow employees in the future.
And so it came to pass, last Wednesday, after everyone’s various job duties ended and the day staff slowly emptied out, down a darkened hallway in one of the sub level conference rooms, we gathered. Eagerly, the players entered one by one and I began to break down the most basic concepts of the rules. Once some quick terms and understandings were explained, I presented three character options in the form of pre-built archetypes. First, the Reformed Bandit, a typical generic fantasy Orc that had repented for his evil ways, and sought to join the world of Elves, Dwarves, and Men, but of course he brought his gnarly axe with him. A Human Wizard, failed from his academy for pushing his training too far, that decided on whatever work he could find to sate his curiosity for magics. Lastly, the Elven Mercenary, an insular and ethnocentric bowman who, in the assumed adventures of the party’s past, learned to respect and care for his sub-Elven allies.
The premise for the adventure was that the group was hired as caravan guards. One of the great things about new players is that all the standard fantasy game tropes are completely new to them, so they can be used unashamedly. As I described the party and how they came to work for this caravan, I was met with gazes of wonder and intrigue, two of the players had no concept of tabletop gaming, so they were amazed by my storytelling, mediocre as my caravan guarding plot was.
As the adventure pressed on, the group suffered through attacks from wild animals, were sent into the woods to investigate, and discovered that a a magical explosion released a powerful monster that could enthrall other creatures and bend them to its dark will. This creature was using that power to compel other animals and monsters to attack passing caravans to raid supplies. As they played through the group hooted and hollered for each crushing blow or devastating miss, every slip of a skill or dramatic dance of acrobatics for a high success. They battled bird men in a room with a pulling gravity well that threatened to trap them forever and battled a prehistoric archeopteryx atop a damaged, hanging catwalk dangling almost three stories in the air. They loved every minute.
Sadly, all good things must end. Their battles finished at approximately 9:10 PM, when our agreement was to end ten minutes prior. We had decided that this would be a one-shot before getting together, so that there would be no commitment if they didn’t enjoy tabletop games and wouldn’t have to awkwardly back out. Before the battle with the jurassic fowl, I told them I could give them one of two choices: we could either skip straight to the end and run the final battle or we could play as far as we want to and then I could tell them the ending as a story, using exposition to tell what would happen if we played through. At that proposal, a player gave me one of the greatest gifts a for a Game Master. He said, “Or… we could just get together again and finish this”. It is a huge compliment to know that you’ve crafted an experience that leaves them wanting more. If you are a player reading this and you like your Game Master, this kind of thing goes very far to make him or her feel great about themselves.
After the last battle, the group packed up and we started our way out of the building. They recanted favorite scenes and great (or terrible) dice rolls as we passed through security (who no doubt wondered not only what we were doing there, but why we seemed to be laughing hysterically). My story, not the one about escaped Wizard’s pets, but the one about sharing gaming openly with those who might otherwise not ever have a chance to understand it, is turning out to be a success in the making. I have a new group,and I get at least least get one more session out of them this week to finish my adventure. I have others waiting to give it a try, and still others who have a much greater understanding of the game and aren’t so likely to write it off.
We must share this hobby if we want it to survive. I’ve known too many gamers that consider what we do as a dark secret, but the truth is that it is actually pretty awesome. We just have to find those with minds open enough to come sit down and give it a try. Anybody can play these games, everybody can enjoy them. Go find them, bring more creative minds to the table, and share the fun.
[tags]rpg, role playing, games, teaching[/tags]