September 20, 2010

Is there an authentic experience?

Recently an old groupmate of mine has just returned from his studies in England and has shown an interest to start DMing again. Back then we used to play 3.5 but he's eager to try his hand at 4E this time. So he's been gathering up some players to run a one-shot this week.

One of the players that will be playing in the game is a friend of mine who has observed us play 4E on many occasions before but this would be his first try at any form of RPG.

While I think this is a great thing since a potential new player is entering into the fold but I do have some little qualms. Mainly because I have played under my old groupmate as a DM before and he has an....'unorthodox' way of running his games.

What concerns me the most is that my DM groupmate is a real rules hacker. I remember when we played in one of his 3.5 campaigns, he had hacked the rules with his own houserules that it felt like we were playing a different game altogether.

I know every DM is bound to have their own houserules and it wouldn't really bother me if it was minor rule changes for the sake of running the game smoothly. But I'm starting to worry what sort of effect this would have on the new player, seeing that this will be his first impression of the game where he gets his hands dirty with the mechanics.

If his first impression is wrapped into something that doesn't have any resemblance to what is being played by RAW, he might fall into the trap of 'one wayism' and it would be harder to 'undo' the damage rather than preventing it in the first place.

So my real question is, is there really such a thing as an authentic gaming experience that should be introduced to new players? Should there be some kind of 'base model' of gaming, so that new players will eventually learn what he likes and dislikes about each DM's style that he plays under and will choose accordingly? For the benefit of the greater gaming community?

Another question would be what makes an authentic experience of gaming (or in this case, 4E)? Do you think it's possible to run any RPG system without any houserules, whether from the trivial to the outrageous? Or there's another way to teach RPGs to a new player where he learns to tell the difference earlier on?

Tell me what you think in the comments.


Dennis N. Santana said...

If there's dice, rules and roleplaying, to me that's an authentic RPG experience. It's not anyone's prerogative to try to steer a new player into some vague mold of what a perfect and gregarious rpg gamer is. It's not anyone's responsibility to come up with an optimal first time for a newbie unless they choose that responsibility. Your GM just wants to make a fun game, let him have at it.

Unknown said...

If newbie has fun, isn't that enough? Sometimes in case of newb players rules are made lighter, or they might play rules light D&D clone or even another game and system than D20 altogether.

If you don't want to "ruin" D&D altering rules so newb gets wrong idea how rules work in that particular game, introduce the newbie to rpg's with totally different game.

And explain, that there are houserules and what houserules mean. And that rules books aren't like bible, you can use them how you see they work for your purpose best.

Questing GM said...

Thanks for your thoughts, guys.

I agree with Wyatt. At this stage, I guess it's more important to introduce the newbie to the idea of an RPG than what are the rules...

I'll jumping into the game so maybe I (and one other player with more experience) will guide him along.