Player Skills: New Players Learning

Hello everyone! Today I am going to answer a question from MickeyPanda. Mickey asks if I have any suggested ways for new players to become more comfortable playing with veterans. Great question and thank you for the request!

While there are a number of things that I think can help I will try to focus on a few things.

New, No Problem!

Dungeons and Dragons, unlike many other games, often is not harmed by having inexperienced players. I have found that fresh perspectives on the game actually helps stirs up creativity within a game. Veteran players, especially ones which have been gaming together for a while, get stuck in ruts. They view problems in similar ways, and react to threats in predictable ways over time. New players, lacking the years of expectations, can bring fresh insight to a group, a rebirth of the experience as a whole.

I also have found since D&D is a joint story telling venture, not understanding the rules isn’t always a problem. Other players  should be offering advice and tips to help walk a new player, which should help ease the burden of rules knowledge. The most important traits I try to encourage in my players are imagination and role playing, neither of which veteran players have a monopoly on :).

I also think many D&D groups are more then happy to assist with someone starting the hobby, I know my college group started only with myself and one other person having played; however, over the course of the last 7 years Fizzywinks and I have initiated almost a dozen people into the game, and we were not actively recruiting.

Read, Read, and Read!

To prepare for a D&D session, new players (and most players for that matter), should always review their character class. Read over the description of the class, read all the abilities, spells, and skills you have. You don’t necessarily need to know them by heart, it just helps if you are aware of everything your class is capable of. Most of the time, if you have a veteran player at the game and you say, “I want to do my sneak attack, but I don’t remember exactly how it works,” the veterans will jump in and explain it.

After each session, try to look up a rule or spell that you were a little unsure of. This can help reveal the mechanics which created the events during the game.

Do not try to read the whole Player’s Handbook, unless you are the type of person who likes to read a whole rulebook (I am, maybe that is why I am always the DM). Instead; focus on your class and then expand out to the other classes in your party. The combat section is also a good one to read. Reading in piecemeal makes everything a lot easier!

Ask Questions

As a new player everyone else in the group should expect a good amount of questions from you. Try not to bog the game down with too many questions during play, but before a session, afterwards, during down time, or during your turn feel free to pick other players’ and the DM’s brain. Veteran players are a resource there to help you, use them! After all the more comfortable you grow with the game, the better you will play, and the more you will enhance the game for everyone.

See if you can join alongside another Newbie

While it can be daunting to take the plunge into D&D, another new initiate can help alleviate some of your anxiety. If a group is made up of other veterans, and you are feeling a little nervous, see if you can arrange it to join at the same time as someone else. With a second person asking questions you should feel less awkward.

Play with an Experienced DM

If you are worried about playing alongside veterans, the best piece of advice I can give is to try to play with a veteran DM. Grizzled DM vets should know how to entice and pull out the best from every player, even the fresh recruited players. They also have most likely helped people learn in the past.

Start at Level One

Perhaps as important as an experienced DM, start at level 1! You will have less abilities, but this gives you time to learn the game and your characters, before getting into the more complicated aspects of play.

Well Mickey hopefully that helps! I would love to hear if you begin playing some D&D :). It can be a little overwhelming, but rarely does everyone know the full rules of the game, that is why we keep the books handy :).

As always I would love to hear peoples’ reactions and thoughts. If you have a request for a topic feel free to post it in the comments.


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