Monday, September 29, 2014

Stuff for novice PCs to know and do

When I was 10 or so, I'd gotten my hands on a Spider-man text adventure game that I could run on my Commodore 64. By then games had far outpaced the ol' texties, but I still wanted to play--this being my first of the kind. The game came with no manual, and therefore no entry point by which to understand what the frak was going on.

I remember not getting past the first screen for a LONG time because everything I typed into the computer was met with the same unblinking response from the computer: I DON'T KNOW WHAT ______ MEANS. Fun times! Ah, time to switch to playing Archon...

Anyway, it wasn't until many years later that I'd blundered into an online forum that laid out the options. I was stunned! You mean the game wasn't broken?

I imagine that's how my novice players might be feeling when we're in the thick of things. They've found themselves somewhere between not wanting to make a mistake (and get their character killed) and just plain, not knowing what should come next.

Mostly, they let me take the lead, but I've tried many times to encourage them to just start exploring.

The problem is, some of them don't get what that means.

So in the interest providing them a players' aid, I've started a list of things they can do. Now this sounds...stupid. I get that. And these are not uncreative people, by any means. In fact, they are enthusiastic, but usually just nonregular gamers. So this can be for novices and those players long out of practice.

I've posted and earlier list of things players need to investigate when they're learning about the campaign setting. This is different. This is literally a (not nearly exhaustive) list of tasks and tactics.
  1. GOLDEN RULE: Ask the GM questions and try stuff. Have fun!
  2. Talk to each other, you're a team so get to know your teammates.
  3. Look around at your surroundings, try to be aware at all times.
  4. Listen - this means both you as a player and your PC in game.
  5. Learn about your abilities, see Golden Rule.
  6. Look in your gear bag, learn about your stuff, see Golden Rule.
  7. Check for traps - decide if they should they be disarmed or sidestepped? Left for enemies to run into?
  8. Always be searching for clues, information is as valuable as treasure!
  9. Record any clues you find or hints you might suspect are being dropped.
  10. Learn about your enemies, keep a record in case you run into more.
  11. In combat - look for cover and take up key positions when possible.
  12. After combat - loot the bodies, see #7, and see #8.
  13. Remember to get paid, collect treasure, and then convert it to liquid currency if needed. You earn XP for spending your income.
  14. Return to HQ/town/etc. and get information on what you've found. Refer to previous clues discovered.
  15. Heal yourself and other teammates whenever possible (this includes rest and nourishment).
A few other, general pieces of advice.
  • Besides sticking to your class and/or race attributes, determine who's doing what on the team --(e.g., is one of you the group's "leader"? Who looks after team-owned gear, etc.).
  • Learn about basic tactics in combat (flanking, etc.)
  • When in doubt, ask the locals. Brush up on bribing, interviewing, and intimidating NPCs. Even if encounters appear to yield nothing, there could be a clue in their temperament or mood. What aren't they saying?
  • Try to determine who might find value in the treasure or information you've discovered.
  • Always review your character sheet -- look for ways of improving yourself. How will you spend your XP?
I want to add much more, so feel free to add to this list (or suggest any links) in the comments. I'm thinking I'll post a "final" list on the Rad Astra players companion blog. Thanks!

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