Help! Running a campaign for some new to dnd players.
So some parents we met through playdates have expressed an interest in learning dnd and I have offered to run a 5e campaign for them. We had character creation night, and they were OVERWHELMED. We spent all night getting them to build their characters, but I could see their resolve wavering with each proverbial minute.
I haven't run a game for first-timers ever and I felt as though I probably overwhelmed them in jargon and ideas. So I'm asking for any advice you may have for running with newbies and or tips/traps that seem to work with new groups. I want this to be a positive experience, but I think maybe I need to lower my expectations a bit?
I haven’t actually led a campaign, but I have been the new player to the game more than once. I say that because the first few times I tried playing D&D I was scared off, either by senior players who weren’t patient with me or GM’s who wouldn’t let me play my character as I saw fit. It wasn’t until met a GM and group of friends who sought to help me and let me work on my characters story that I learned to love the game for what it is.
Be patient, be kind, embrace the rule of cool and be there for them when they are struggling to figure everything out. Being new to anything is like drinking from a firehouse.
P.S I have read through your RP game on the role playing server. You got this
@mianngu I would have suggested letting them choose from pre-built characters instead of building them from scratch. And just let them know that once they get into it after a while, you can rebuild new ones. They can choose classes and species and that's about it. There are pre-built characters now in the D&D Beyond system to choose from.
Probably too late now from the sound of it!
@mianngu I've got some new players in my Sunday group. While I prefer sprinkling in some players who know the game to help things flow and reduce rules burden, there are still things you can do.
The previous advice here is good. A lot of patience and I would probably lean on letting them choose pre-gens because the game throws a lot of unfamiliar blather at newbies. I'd also limit the pre-gens to less complicated classes. For example, I think if were talking 5e here, Monk is a little too much on managing and awkward rules explanations.
Have a helpful npc in the party who can either tank or heal. This guy can give in game guidance and direction while protecting the others. However, I wouldn't use Paladin since they can overshadow others as a sort of do it all class and newbies aren't going to remember the paladin's save aura gimmick.
Focus on role play and having fun before aggressive rules comprehension. Lead the players in on situations regarding how skill checks are done naturally so they get the idea and take initiative.
Give everyone a little something to do, via NPCs interacting with them or fun activities, but don't push players who are trying to learn or feeling the game out.
Give story but don't drown them with exposition and world building, those can come later. Don't ask for backgrounds or shoot for anything epic in scope... epic happens on it's own or not at all. Keep home brewed stuff in regards to rules minimal to none.
Are you running this from a house in person? Consider bringing snacks and drinks. It's more of a fun atmosphere than just staring at weird numbers on paper.
If you have minis and they don't, let them pick from a handful of ones you might think works best for their character. Choice and agency create attachment!
Keep the first few sessions as 'softball', meaning there is no serious chance of any serious failure or character death. Roleplay and describe often.
Oh pre-built is such a good idea! One of them was on the ropes about their class, so I'm gonna casually mention this. Thank you!
Oh I didn't think about the Paladin overshadowing them. My partner was going to play a paladin because of the versatility. But maybe now he should reconsider. Thank you!
@mianngu it does make it a lot easier for beginners! Then you can focus on the roleplaying and gameplay.
@mianngu The paladin is definitely going to be a fine line exercise in how useful it will be as team backbone (tank, heal, and burst dps in one highly survivable package) versus some players wondering why their characters don't seem to have as many powerful dynamic options and abilities, ala the super simplistic auto attacker that is the Champion Fighter. Power levels are pretty uneven at early levels which might give erroneous impressions to new players.
The group so far is a dwarven ranger, half-elf rogue, elf sorcerer, and human paladin. We ran session 1 and it went well. I started with combat because I felt like that would be less intimidating. Some people aren't great at improv and I wanted everyone to get a feel for their characters. I think it went well. It helped that they rolled amazingly. Nothing makes you love DnD like a bunch of hits right off the bat.
@mianngu That's good to hear. No stumbling blocks, eh? Combat can be a solid way to get the gears moving!
I woke them up in a cave, how very DnD of me. They got to explore, fight (baby owlbears), and stumbled upon a secret door. Who would have thought? I was a little disappointed though. I had a color puzzle that I had seen on reddit and thought was fun and simple. Purple Door - Red/Blue/Yellow Torches. Light the right ones (red+blue = purple) the door opens. I didn't even get done describing the room before they had figured out the puzzle. Shrugs. Could have been worse. At least they got it.