A couple of months ago I was contacted by my cousin Paul. He wanted to have me teach his two sons, Dave and Andrew, how to play role-playing games. I was delighted to get chance to bring a second generation of gamers into the hobby. When I was very young I actually taught several advanced placement students how to play Champions. Over the years I have taken many people into the fold but it had been a while since I worked with teenagers.
My first question was what system I would use for the session. After much thought I decided on Savage Worlds from Pinnacle Entertainment Group. To folks who know me this selection may be a surprise. Aren’t you a Hero junkie? I decided that Savage Worlds’ ultra-fast learning curve would be perfect. It also uses the funny sided dice and cards which add to the fun for new gamers. I used the free Wizards & Warriors material from Pinnacle as the adventure. (Here is a link to that free material.) This made things easy as they provide sample characters, figure flats, and nearly everything I would need to run the session. Another advantage to Savage Worlds is the price of entry. The Explorer’s Editions are extremely inexpensive at a $10 cover price.
Now that I had the system, adventure, and all of the characters done I started thinking about how I wanted to run the actual session. To this end I created an outline of what I would discuss. Before I started the actual adventure I wanted to discuss a bit about the hobby to give them a feel for where it has been and where it is now. I wanted to make sure this introduction was short and sweet so we could get to the fun stuff (aka the adventure). I also thought my cousin Paul might be interested as he has not gamed in many years.
When I arrived they has setup a nice table with plenty of food and snacks. To my surprise two of Dave and Andrew’s friends turned them down at the last minute. The good news was that my cousin Paul and his wife Shahrzad decided to play. This gave us a nice number of players (i.e. 4). In the long run I think having Paul in the session really helped. Having role-played in the past he could take the lead at times to show the other how things work.
I started by talking very briefly about the history of the hobby. I made sure to hit only the highlights so I could go quickly through the material. After that I went over the main companies in the market (WOTC, Paizo, White Wolf, etc) and the new indie games that are hitting the market. I ended the intro by going over some basic terms. For example, player, NPC, PC, GM, dice abbreviations, etc.
Having gone through the introduction I briefly reviewed the characters then handed them out. Paul played a necromancer and the thief. Andrew and Dave played a barbarian and an archer. Shahrzad played a dwarven priest. After giving out the PC I went over the various parts of the character sheets carefully. As I went I asked if people had questions on the various sections or on specifics on their sheets. I also highlighted various parts of the sheet and how they pertained to each characters. For example, Agility is how quick the character reacts and represents hand eye coordination. The elven archer has a very high Agility. I also intentionally asked Paul to play one of the characters with magic as they are a bit more involved than the other characters.
At this point I started the session. The opening scene involved the PC returning to a small village after saving it from a hoard of goblins. After entering the town they head towards the inn. Once entering the characters are acknowledged by the bartender. Not being sure where to start the players paused. That is when Paul took the lead and in character as the necromancer talked to the bartender about getting rooms and some food. It worked out really nice having Paul take the lead and throw out advice during the run. Often he might give the other minor advice on different things that they might do. It really helped having him play that inside angle during the session. I definitely plan to keep that in mind if I ever conduct sessions like this in the future. One really great scene happened when a small girl comes into the bar looking for help. When she became scared of the necromancer one of the other players stepped up and did a great job talking with her. I actually changed this lead from one of the junior priests in the village to a little girl to make it more approachable and really drive the PC to help. Who can resist a scared little girl who is looking for help?!? It ended up being a good change.
Initially there is a tiny mystery for the PC to figure out revolving around the little girl’s guardian, a local priest. It is up to the PC to gather clues about what might have happened to him. This worked out really well as it let the characters use some of their skills and helped ease them into the role-playing.
At this point the adventure started rolling until the first fight scene. The adventure has a great opening fight to get the players warmed up. It was against some zombies. Although it started kind of slow it quickly picked up speed. It was not a surprise when Andrew playing the barbarian started flying all over the place with his axe. Leave it to teenage boys to get into the hack-and-slash.
It ended with a climactic fight against a large skeleton and the corrupted priest. The battle was climactic and turned several times. Everyone had fun in the spotlight during this scene.
The adventure closed with the little girl asking the PC who will take care of her. The conversations were great with various players throwing out their thoughts. It allowed me to highlight how it might play out over a longer campaign where one adventure might affect the next.
Overall I consider the afternoon a resounding success. I had tons of fun and I know they did as well. Hec…that is what this amazing hobby is all about…having fun with your friends.