Well done, my young apprentice


Every do often I talk about my own methods, but a lot of them tend to be of the game mechanics sort. It has been a fair while since I talked about what happens at the table. Or rather, what happens before we get to the table. So what am I blathering on about? How I break in new players.

As a Level 1 GM with no gaming stores near me and therefore no established networks to recruit from, most of the players that I fine are green. And I have to admit, the attraction is not gaming in itself. It’s Star Wars. They come to my group because they want to play Star Wars, liking gaming as a hobby in itself comes later on.

Of course, in the very rare occasions that I do meet an experienced gamer who is familiar with the system, I do not go through this with them. They more or less jump straight in.

So, what do I do with these little Padawans?

Consider this your Apprenticeship

Firstly, the character that they play in that very first session is one that I have rolled up for them. Not that I just plonk them with any old character (well, I used to but no matter) but I ask them what they would like to be playing and try and stat out something not too difficult.

This character does not have to stay around after the first session, for reasons I will go into later.

I also ask for no permanent commitment from the new player beyond the one session they agreed to come to. It’s a sort of foot-in-the-door technique, agreeing to one night is not the same as agreeing to come every fortnight. And, I am usually confident that the player will enjoy themselves and will come back. And they may even buy their own set of dice.

Between the first and second sessions, I make sure they have access to the materials for character creation and the sheet is constantly reviewed by me during that time. Character creation is rather complicated the first time, particularly without the nifty little programs that Star Wars Saga does not have. It’s not only to make sure the mechanics are done right, but to ensure that the player is not including rules that I am not using in the game. Jedi

No Jedi Allowed

I usually am open to whatever the player puts in front of me, within reason, yet there is one rule that I refuse to violate with the player’s first character: the Jedi class is out of bounds.

This sounds rather mean, since Jedi are not just iconic but they’re just so cool!

I enjoy every time I have to roleplay a Jedi NPC as a GM, and now the Republic is over I am sure going to miss saying “may the Force be with you” and attempting to keep a straight face. It is rather difficult, as Samuel L Jackson himself once said.

Many people come to the game with the desire of playing Jedi, and while this is understandable so are my reasons for not letting them.

Firstly, playing a Jedi puts an additional level of difficulty on a new player. They are already learning the system, learning how the system works and the minutiae of Force powers, points and the various bells and whistles like the ones outlined in the Jedi Academy Training Manual is rather challenging. Far better to learn the system and then when they pick up Jedi levels or roll a new character, to do it well.

The second reason is that Jedi do tend to dominate the campaign world just by the very nature of what they are, this has been noted by others as well. I doubt you would have any other sort of character with the word ‘hero’ emblazoned on them more than a Jedi, even if your name isn’t Obi-Wan Kenobi or Luke Skywalker. And the ‘alignment’ of a Jedi can tend to drive things more than you want them to.

Giving a new player that much influence over the campaign is just plain wrong.

You Have Learned Well

Of course, this ban on Jedi in my games is temporary. If a player who has been there a while comes up to me later and wants to be a Jedi, I will be far more accommodating.

This may change the nature of the campaign for the above reasons, and the player may also have some restrictions put on their characters (can’t take certain feats, talents or powers without a Master), but I will go with it.

And I have always said, player suggestions tend to make better campaigns.

But, it’s not as if anyone has actually done this, my group has gone Jedi-free for so long that no one wants to be one, particularly after they are all dead.

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~ by katanageldar on March 2, 2010.

One Response to “Well done, my young apprentice”

  1. Having played Star Wars SAGA Edition extensively — I was a Duros pilot whose bizarre personality made his peers question his competence — I can’t help but agree with your Jedi ban.

    I like how you’ve parsed it down to matters of both fluff and crunch, though honestly, I think in terms of tone, I’d rather have players start out as non-Jedi before becoming Jedi if only to give them time to find their characters personality before having to wrestle with choices of alignment.

    As for pre-built characters, it’s been my intention to get people hooked on 4e by doing the same, but so far I’m encountering more difficulty from corners of enthusiasm (I am so tired of ‘I don’t know to play’) than just preparation and logistics.

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