Thursday, April 22, 2010

DM's Brew: Mixing Veteran with Beginner Players

Recently, I read a very interesting article on DungeonsMaster that prompted me to create this post. I won't mention names as it is a very old article and you may not think it relevant, however, I will show you it's "offspring": this post.
What happens when you take an experienced player who has been playing for ten years, lets call him A, and put him in the same game as X, a beginner who has only bought the three core books and this game is his first. I think there are three possible outcomes:
1)A helps X to understand the game
2)A scorns X and his own bad luck
3)X screws the game up and A is angry at X
Let us look at 1) first. We'll cover 3 parts(A skill check, an entercounter and the end of the game):
A:Hi X, I heard you are a beginner. Do you want me to help you out?
(A few minutes later...)
X:Er.. What is a Perception Check?
(X bends down to check core book)
A:X, there's no need to check the Player's Handbook. It just slows the game down. I can help you with it, okay? Now, a Perception Check is.....(Explanation of Perception Check)
(A few hours later...)
X: Hmm... let's see.. the monster has attacked me for 10 damage so.. wait. I have only 7 hp left? Oh no!
A:Don't worry, X. Remember the spell Z cast on the monster? That reduces his dexterity, so would you mind rolling again, DM?
DM: Okay then. (Rolls)The monster misses X.
(After the game is over...)
X:Thanks for your help, A.
A: Glad to be of assistance.
As you can see,with A helping X, the game ends positively.

Now let's look at 2):
A:What?!! I got stuck with a newbie?!! Now he'll slow the game down! Darned luck!
(A few minutes later..)
X: What's a Perception Check? Hey, A. Since you're experienced, maybe you can help me?
A:Hahaha! Don't you even know what's a Skill Check? Go figure it out yourself, idiot!
(A few hours later...)
X:This is bad. The monster hits me for 10 damage but I only have 7 hp left!
A:That's too bad then. Why didn't you attempt to avoid that dragon even when you were marked? What a fool!
(After the game is over..)
X(thinking to himself):What a selfish player A is. I think I'll quit and find another gaming group!
In this case, X is angry with A and leaves the group, so the game ends negatively(obviously)

What about 3)? Well let us find out:
A:Hmm.. looks like X is a newbie. Ah well, it's nothing much
Now we'll skip the Perception Check part because the main focus is on the Entercounter part:
X:I'm in trouble! DM, I want to cast my Comet spell
DM: A comet flares across the night sky, obliterating the trolls but also crushing your group(Yes, I know he's unfair, but that's not the point. That sort of thing is more the focus on the first post.)
A:Arghh! X! You fool! Why did you cast that stupid comet spell?!! Now we're all dead!
(After the game is over...)
X:Sorry about the comet incident,A.
A(who has by then calmed down):Don't worry about it. Just don't do it again.
Here, the game ends neutrally.

Now, if you were A, which option would you choose? One, right? Okay then. If that's the case, I'll end this post with a question:
If you were honest with yourself, would you reallychoose option one?

Edit:I don't always put a "visit this blog" in my DungeonsMaster comments but most of the time I do, especially for the long comments.

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