Role-playing games for beginners

Customer: “We’re interested in Role-playing games. Do you have anything like D&D?”

Me: “We sure do. PC or console?”

Customer: “No, I mean tabletop role-playing games.”

Me: “Oh, ok then. What kind of game are you looking for and what’s your prior experience with role-playing games?”

Customer: “None. We’re four people, and none of us have played any tabletop role-playing game before, but we’d be interested in starting.”

A customer interested in role-playing with no prior experience, and with no one to “show them the ropes”, out shopping for a good game for beginners. How rare is that in this day and age? I’d dare say virtually non-existent. I don’t know of anyone having started role-playing in the past 10 years with this kind of background. The usual case is at least one in the group (usually the Game Master) has played before. Or the newbie joins a group of veteran role-players.

So, there’s no way in Hell I’m going to go: “Sure, D&D is currently in its fourth edition. The rule books are about 35€ each, and you need three of them. That’s about 700-900 pages of material at least one of you guys needs to be familiar with before you can get playing. Need a bag for those?”

What I did was I gave that particular nice couple a brief introduction into what tabletop role-playing is, and a very brief recap of some of the history of role-playing games, specifically D&D. After which I recommended Dragon Age RPG Set 1 as a great starting game for a group like this (specifically interested in D&D). It has everything a beginner needs, its easy and fast to learn, it is reasonably priced at around 30€ for a complete game (albeit one that only covers a fourth of an adventurer’s career), and they had prior experience with Dragon Age: Origins, so the setting is familiar right off the bat. They seemed quite happy with their choice of game, and I sincerely hope they stick to it long enough to develop into full-time role-players.

We desperately need more of those, after all.

To clarify my initial response to the customer’s question: I work in a gaming store specializing in tabletop wargames. Our second biggest seller at the moment is console games. We DO have some role-playing games, but the sales on those is virtually non-existent, a sad fact, which I will do my best to rectify in the hopefully not so far future…

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Where’s MY weekly game that lasts for five years?

Yeah, the topic says it all really.

Lately my playing has been sporadic at best. Game sessions are few and far between. I’m involved in what, three different role-playing groups at the moment, and I still haven’t been able to play more than once  or twice a month. The problem is mostly people-related. The group(s) of people with which I’ve role-played for the past few years have all developed what is usually called a Real Life, meaning no one seems to have enough time to play anymore. Me among them. Since I started working regularly (on three weekdays ’till seven pm and on both days of the weekend as well) I’ve had precious little free time for much of anything hobby-related. Then again, I work in a hobby-related field, so at least I can get my fixes from tabletop wargaming. I’ve got three different army projects in the works at the moment; a WH40K Ork army, WHFB Lizardmen, and Warmachine Khador. My painting speed and skill is coming back to what it was when I was more active in wargaming, and the various armies are shaping up quite nicely.

But it isn’t really the same thing, is it.