[The Pool] Prepping for nongamers

edited May 2008 in Play Advice
I've got five people who are interested in trying an RPG for the first time. Two of them have very little exposure to the culture of fantasy and may actually find it hard to relate to. Nor are most of them familiar with anything more complicated that monopoly.

I considered Shock as four have some preripheral interest in science fiction. I considered Breaking the Ice and It was a Mutual Decision. But I decided I wanted to give them the traditional-structure experience of each playing a character and having a GM guide scenes.

I've decided to focus on The Pool, because of the traditional structure, the simple rules, and my preference for narrativist play.

Problem is, all the examples I find are fantasy-oriented. I'm not sure what would appeal to them, so I thought I'd start the session with brainstorming the setting and situation.

1) How have you done setting and situation creation for The Pool? What steps did you use?

2) Have you run any games of the Pool that don't involve fantasy or SF and how did you do the setup for those?


  • I've done Vampire: The Masquerade with The Pool. I guess that's more gothic horror rather than fantasy or sci-fi, depending on how broadly you define the terms.

    Here's my suggestion for setting/situation creation. Come to the game with one or two skeletal situations already prepped. It really doesn't have to be more than a few sentences about the setting and a few notable characters. Then let the players choose which one they want to play in and have them create characters attached to that setting. I've tried coming to the game with a blank slate with newbie/trad gamers before and it didn't work so well. They kind of got that deer-in-the-headlights look and I ended up picking the setting myself, after which they were perfectly fine in creating characters. Sometimes I think having a little structure upon which to hang their ideas really helps.
  • edited May 2008
    New players aren't going to care about the mechanics or player responsibilities so much. The thing will live or die on the content of the fiction. They'll talk about "that cool pirate game" they played, or whatever. So, it's important that the genre/setting/situation clicks for them, in the way that a good PTA show setup must click for everyone.

    I would do the setup pretty much exactly like PTA, including bringing something to the table as the producer. You might also consider running a show they're familiar with, using those characters, as a shorthand way of getting them into the mindset.

    "You all love The Wire? Okay, who wants to play Omar? McNulty? Avon?" and off you go. In my experience, new players have no trouble 'roleplaying' when they have easy access to a character in their head already. "Oh, I totally know what Buffy would do now."
  • What John said. I've only played PTA once so I didn't think to put it in those terms but that's a good way of developing the situation quickly. The key thing, at least in my experience with newbies, is to not come to the session with a perfectly blank slate. Give them something to latch on to. Even if that something is as simple as, "Hey... what kind of TV shows do you like? Let's play one of them."
  • I ran a game in a setting I thought up called Eden Falls. I pitched it as a religious themed superhero game with X-Men level powers and a Batman-esq tone. In play that concept drifted a little bit more towards a Neil Gaiman-esq urban fantasy but it still worked out well.

    What I did was bring to the table a one page description of the setting. This was nothing more than a bunch of color elements I thought was appropriate like, "New England small-city feel", "a huge water fall that cascades into a pit of unknown depth rumored to lead to hell itself," "a fire-and-brimstone preacher is the city's mayor," and so on.

    The players created characters from that.

    I actually prepped the whole game more or less like I prep a Sorcerer game. I actually combined the Relationship Maps from Ross MacDonald's Find A Victim and the film Way of the Gun. And then GMed the game in a relatively straight forward manner. I reminded the players that Monologues of Victory did not have to be drastically situation altering contributions. That a Monologue of Victory could be used simply to insure that the details of their success were to their liking (i.e. to insure that the defeated villain is decapitated or publicly humiliated or whatever).

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