Top 5 Tips for Tabletop RPG Newbies

Dice tray with dice, and a Pathfinder RPG character sheet.This post originally appeared in the Terminal City Tabletop Convention program booklet. See my recap of the weekend here. 

Six months ago I dove into the world of tabletop RPGs. If you’ve never played, or are relatively new to it like me, RPGs might seem a little intimidating. Over the past months I’ve discovered a fun world of storytelling, laughter, friendship, and fun. If you’re thinking about getting into tabletop RPGs, but are a little uncertain, here are my Top 5 Tips for Newbies.

1. It’s all about the group. Who you game with can have a big impact on your experience. I tried to get into RPGs several years ago, but the experienced players were impatient with newbies, and they didn’t appreciate input that was outside of their already defined box. I’ve since learned that groups like this are the exception; not the rule. The two groups I game with now are encouraging, and are keen on spreading their love for the game to new players. If the group you’re in isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to find another.

2. Character sheets are not that scary. The first time you roll up a character, you may feel a little overwhelmed about all the things you need to consider – skills, traits, race, alignment… Don’t worry: if you have a good group (see #1) they will walk you through what you need to know and why it’s important. Each time you play, you’ll find it easier to remember what to roll and what stats give you what sorts of bonuses.

3. Don’t be afraid to sit back and listen. There will be a lot to take in the first few games you play. If you aren’t sure what or how the heck you’re actually supposed to contribute, sit back and soak in the game. Watch how experienced players add to the story and interact with the Game Master. You’ll absorb a lot in the process.

4. Don’t be afraid to jump in. You may feel a little out of your element when you first start playing, because you aren’t a rogue, cleric, or druid in ‘real’ life. But nobody expects you to know all the magic user spells the first time through. Jump in and see what your mind can come up with.

5. Ask. Gamers are a friendly sort (generally, but see rule #1), so if you have a good group they will be happy to answer any questions you might have. Sometimes experienced players forget what it’s like to be new to the game, so if you don’t ask, they might not realize you need help. If something isn’t making sense, don’t be afraid to speak up.

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