GM Struggles

Struggles, wins and losses of a gamer

Trying a New Game: Selling the System

This is the followup to the previous post, which you can read here: Trying a New Game: A Matter of Trust.

I talked about how trust developed through quality games plays a role in what a GM can present a group, how I don’t have that trust from half of the group, and I ended it saying that I want to GM them a game of Dungeon World.

In order to have them be truly willing to try something, and not just willing to prove to me that a new system is not a good choice, I have to sell them the system and the game idea, and sell them well.

System Update

System Update (Photo credit: bovinity)

The two players that I have to yet get the trust from are reluctant to even try a new system, and I can’t say they have no reason to. Gaming time is harder to get by as we grew older, and learning a new system takes time and effort. In fact when I talked about this to one of them he stated he is not really in favor of trying new systems exactly for that reason, time and effort spent for little gain, he doesn’t really believe in an evolution in game design, he believes in knowing a system. Both are the same in that regard, they are happy with the systems we played together, which are GURPS, Storyteller and D&D from 2nd edition to date.

The flaw in their reasoning, in my opinion, is the fact that none of those actually work well with the group we currently have, in fact in the last 4 years we had less than two good games and a lot of short term tries that didn’t quite cut it, and of the two, one required one entire evening of talking about the problems we were facing with the fun in the game and how we could go around it.

I am trying to find a system that works well for us. Enter Dungeon World.

Selling them into a Dungeon World game is a two part process, first I have to sell them on the idea of playing a medieval fantasy game, then I have to sell them on using Dungeon World to power it up. I will leave the idea of the game for later, but the seed for the game is already on the blog (linky).

Selling them a medieval fantasy might not be that hard, only one of the players has some resistance to medieval things, he likes modern too much, but the other one sees it the same as I do: it is all dressing. I don’t see much problem with this part at all, they all played D&D before, two of them like medieval games more than modern ones, the one that is left only dislikes D&D because he sees it as gasp a system and a game with little space for roleplaying gasp.

Elemental Mages

Elemental Mages (Photo credit: Dunechaser)

To him I will only say that this game’s focus will be what we roleplay, that the system is not gonna limit that, it will only come out when there is a doubt on what can be accomplished, and even then, dice rolls might not be necessary. I will tell him that his roleplaying will be more important than the system, that it can actually beat it, by not having to roll simply because they did well enough to avoid the dice.

Here I will win another player into the entire idea, he is an incredibly unlucky guy and loves anything that reduces his need to roll the dice.

That will be the easy part though, to sell them the idea that roleplaying will be core to the game, this will let them ride into medieval fantasy with little regret.

With that I will justify to them, why Dungeon World.

It might be an easier sell than most other systems I have read in the last few years, it is quite familiar to anyone who played D&D, you can bring your baggage with you: tone, style, classes, races, spells and swords, monsters, dungeons, castles, ships, dragons, everything is there. I will exemplify how there are differences, but how those are also true to the idea of roleplaying being the core.

I plan to start by explaining them the general rules, start with classes as their basic character block, how those have races and alignments as choices inside them and why, then I will go into moves, starting with the general moves, then with how those tie into fiction and finally pass to the moves their classes gives them. I will present it as broadly as possible, always emphasizing the fact that they are not restricted by those moves, that they are, in fact, free to do anything they can think of, their restriction is actually their characters, that their characters are filters, they can only interact with the world through them, in the terms that make sense to those characters.

That way I can show them how familiar it all is before we move into character creation. And I am hoping here that I managed to succeed in my attempt to make them try the game.

Here I have only some broad strokes, but not of a plot or story, I have some setups for them to draw upon, I wrote the basic ideas last week on a piece of paper and plan to elaborate, making a single paragraph in order to try and give them something to frame the game into.

These game pitches is what I will be posting next time, basic setups for a game that convey some general direction for the game, a little bit of where they are coming from and how they are part of the world.

See you next time!

English: Team of "adventurers" (play...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


5 responses to “Trying a New Game: Selling the System

  1. Undreren December 21, 2012 at 08:32

    I think pitching this gam is a little hard, but I think you are doing a wonderful attempt. I often talk way too little about how the dialog works, which has caused some confusion.

    The dialog is supposed to destroy the “which abilities does my character possess” mindset, but I have a feeling that I downplay its importance.

  2. Nifelhein December 21, 2012 at 09:01

    I will make a post around how to transition them into DW as a follow-up, which is probably the most herculean effort here, since years of D&D 3.X coupled with storyteller and GURPS have really made the mechanics first mind frame.

    • Undreren December 21, 2012 at 11:29

      Ah, yes, I suspect it is the traditional RPG’s that causes such problems. I read a post somewhere, where the author stated that “new roleplayers often get DW faster”. Can’t remember where though.

      • Nifelhein December 21, 2012 at 11:42

        We all started struggling with how to actually engage, but we often had problems because we couldn’t think in terms of mechanics. After you learn the first system you already have at least one to make choices from, and when you learn new ones, you try to find similarities..

        In DW new players only have to worry about doing something cool and fitting to the scene, old players though, have to let go of the habits they developed, sometimes from the very first game.

        My first memorable moment was on the first rpg I played at, the GM played with a goup of friends, we studied on the same class at school, he had the AD&D 2nd edition DMG and nothing else, so classes came from his memory. I was a cleric. My first spell was create water, which did d6 damage in an area around me as I summoned a wave of water that splashed into foes. Very alien to D&D and yet so epic I remember to this day, and even more when a cleric, as he explained, would avoid bloodshed even when attacking.

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