Meeting for the first time in the now quiet classroom after hours, the four lads ambled in and settled around the two tables that had been pushed together and surrounded by 5 chairs. Greeting their teacher in the role of the arcanely named "Gamesmaster", they took their places. Characters were chosen, funny-looking dice tested and some basic "rules" of play outlined. Then, without much hesitation, they plunged into the Goblin-infested cave...
Bringing Light To The Uninitiated
When I first played Dungeons & Dragons, many moons ago now it seems, I was only very slightly younger than the three young chaps who met in my classroom the other night. I vaguely remember the excitement that emanated from the discovery of polyhedral dice and the musty smell of the "Red Box". To the outsider this must all sound quite sinister and strange... but it was really only the first taste of a hobby which has served me well for more than 30 years: roleplaying games.
At the inaugural meeting of my school's "Pathfinder Society" (as I have chosen to call it) four pupils met around the traditional table and played their first ever game of Pathfinder. To be completely accurate, we were using the rather excellent Pathfinder Beginner's Box.
Although I have fond memories from my own early days of roleplaying, especially given our frequent games played after school around my friend's house, I was unprepared for the sheer excitement and joy that I witnessed unleashed the other night. Four young lads, keen to explore the adventure from the set, were instantly able to pick up the basics and get down to slaying the first Goblins to show their faces. In the almost 2 hour session we explored the Goblin guard cave, a magical fountain and a trapped sacred temple... all with the vigour that only newbies can bring to the table.
I have to admit it, from the first moment of the game I ran the other night... I was hooked on introducing new players all over again.
Here's why the Beginner's Box was such a great idea.
Firstly, it had everything we needed to get playing right off the bat. The guys each had a full character sheet but with the additional information they needed (and precisely no more than they needed) to get playing.
As a GM, I had a fully prepared and detailed dungeon adventure with which to introduce the hobby. Pre-generated heroes, card tokens for the heroes and creatures, lots of useful notes, and all the rules right where I needed them on every page.
Finally, at the end of the session, I was able to lend the "Hero's Handbook" to the chaps so that they could go home and read up more on the game. They were keyed up to look at the cool options available once their heroes attained that all-important 2nd level of experience. Priceless!
Here we have a product designed to get new players playing, quickly and without much fuss. They can play through to 5th level and then switch over to the core Pathfinder rulebook. From conversation, these guys will pretty soon be itching to upgrade their heroes and take a look at the other 7 core classes and other goodies awaiting in the main product.
We've already planned to meet next week too.
The Greatest Honour
I've heard many GMs and roleplayers curse the idea of introducing new players to the hobby. For me, however, the honour of introducing the passion that is hobby gaming to another young person is one of the greatest blessings you can share. From the days of working in GW stores and "intro gaming" 40K right through until now, I've always enjoyed the light going on in fresh eyes as the hobby gene is activated.
How can we afford to deny the youngest generation of players and, dare I say it, GMs to miss out on this hobby? The four guys I talked to immediately spoke of the superiority of being able to choose their every action instead of being limited by the imagination and ingenuity of programmers. Ours is a hobby that unleashes imagination and creativity, fun and games. Who are you to hide it away in your hobby cupboard?
Right now, I hope that we can keep meeting and playing. In time, I hope that one of them will choose to invite another friend before asking how they too can step into the role of Gamesmaster. Until that day, however, I will enjoy running the games and keeping it fast, furious and fun.
Hunting Goblins might seem prosaic to you... but for those young lads it was like manna from heaven.
Labels: fantasy, Pathfinder