How long do new players get before they're expected to know the rules?

Ulfgeir

Explorer
For my group knowing the rules, is know the basic stuff and how your most common attacks/powers work, then look up the specifics if need be.

My group we play a bunch of different games (and a lot of games with similar rules), and have played together for years and years (thus having gone through a large number of games), so for us it is more a question of how did that specific rule (for example grappling, critical hits) work in THIS game, as there are tons of small subtle differences even if they have the same engine. That kind of stuff is usually things we need to look up when they happen.

But then again, it is seldom that a player leaves and a new player comes in (we are already 7 players + 1 gm for every game we play), and have always 2 or more campaigns running at the same time, alternating between sessions (Right now for example D&D 5e, Starfinder, Scion 2e, and more that are on hold like Star Wars and Legend of the 5 rings 5e, Exalted 2e).
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
That’s a fair standard to have, but I’d call that more table etiquette than rules knowledge.
True, but in the end, isn't table etiquette what all of this is about? There's GMs who have posted that they don't care if the players know the rules so long as they are perceived as 'good' by the group.

Which I think is at the heart of the hobby at the 'table' level: the group needs to be compatible. Managing expectations is an important part of the GM's job.

For example, at my table the group are all employed in industrial or government settings except for one bouncer; most are veterans. None have shown any signs of sensitivity in the years I've known them (in some cases, since 2002). The humor level at the table is coarse, often vulgar, and abrasive. The expectations are that the group will assemble on time each week and get stuck into a long-term campaign. The players' in-game value system is based on the four pillars of petty-mindedness, spite, greed, and illogical reactions to random NPCs; this cuts across all settings.

We enjoy it thoroughly, but it is certainly not for everyone.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
True, but in the end, isn't table etiquette what all of this is about?
Yes, but specifically in regards to rules knowledge. How quickly one is expected to learn the rules (for a given definition of “learn the rules) is a matter of table etiquette, yes, but it’s also the question posed by the thread, while other matters of table etiquette, such as attendance or indeed setting familiarity, are not.

Not to say that those things shouldn’t be brought up in the thread, just saying they’re separate from, if related to, the pace of learning the rules.

There's GMs who have posted that they don't care if the players know the rules so long as they are perceived as 'good' by the group.
I have a suspicion that those GMs have a higher standard for what they would consider “knowing the rules” than I do. Like I said, the expectation when I have new players is that they will “learn the rules” after a tutorial one-shot with a pregenerated character. But also, my definition of “know the rules” is pretty much just understanding the core resolution mechanic and your own character’s abilities. I would assume most people who don’t care how long it takes their players to “learn the rules” are thinking of “learning the rules” as something more involved than that.

Which I think is at the heart of the hobby at the 'table' level: the group needs to be compatible. Managing expectations is an important part of the GM's job.

For example, at my table the group are all employed in industrial or government settings except for one bouncer; most are veterans. None have shown any signs of sensitivity in the years I've known them (in some cases, since 2002). The humor level at the table is coarse, often vulgar, and abrasive. The expectations are that the group will assemble on time each week and get stuck into a long-term campaign. The players' in-game value system is based on the four pillars of petty-mindedness, spite, greed, and illogical reactions to random NPCs; this cuts across all settings.

We enjoy it thoroughly, but it is certainly not for everyone.
Right on. That’s the nature of the game.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
There's GMs who have posted that they don't care if the players know the rules so long as they are perceived as 'good' by the group.
Correct.

I've made it pretty easy for someone to sit down and just play whether they know the rules at all. As long as they can play pretend, they'll do great.

If it's via Fantasy Grounds:
it's more learning to use the program than the rules since so much is automated. I'll get things like: "I wanna hit the goblin with my sword." I'll go, click on your character portrait at the top of the screen to open your character sheet. Don't close it the rest of the game. Now click on the actions tab. Double click on the spot towards the right of the sword entry that says +2. Great! You hit! Now double click on the spot to the right of the +2. Awesome! 10 points of damage!"

FG automates things that once they figure out where things are on the character sheet they don't have to remember which dice to roll and how many. It just does it.

For face to face:
I bought a large tub of dice that have all the dice of a certain size the same color. The d20s are red. The d6s are yellow. etc. Plus I have their character sheet in front of me and know their bonus. I just say: "Roll the Red Die. Great! You hit! Now roll the White Die (the d8. ) Awesome! 10 points of damage!"

For spell casters, I have spell cards for each of their spells that are color coded for their base level and it distinctly lists what happens if cast at a higher level which REALLY helps.


I find that with those even the dullest of participants start to get the hang of things after a few sessions either because of the program automation (FG) or the play props I've given them (F2F).

But it also helps that my players are suuuuper laid back.

As for the second part: It's way, way, way more important that the person is fun to be around. I think we've all played with that dude or dudette who knew the rules inside and out but was such a pain to be around that you were tempted to either kick them out or leave yourself.
 
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Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
But also, my definition of “know the rules” is pretty much just understanding the core resolution mechanic and your own character’s abilities.
Yeah. Giving it some thought, this is pretty much where I fall. I just have a fairly long time frame for that to happen, I guess.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
As for the second part: It's way, way, way more important that the person is fun to be around. I think we've all played with that dude or dudette who knew the rules inside and out but was such a pain to be around that you were tempted to either kick them out or leave yourself.
Tempted? I've booted a lot of players over the years. Gaming at my table is a privilege awarded only to the elite.

But you are right, at the core of it, a player has to bring entertainment to the table. But each table has its own standards as to what that is.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
Gaming at my table is a privilege awarded only to the elite.
😄 (<--but in a nice way!). I tend to allow just about any old sadsack to play as long as they keep us entertained and don't take us over the 5 players + 1 DM max. I guess I let the plebs play! 🧐 Ha!
But you are right, at the core of it, a player has to bring entertainment to the table. But each table has its own standards as to what that is.
Oh, most definitely. My sense of humor can make me a difficult player for some DMs. Well, at least one DM. And we still remain friends. Just not gaming friends, IYKWIM.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
😄 (<--but in a nice way!). I tend to allow just about any old sadsack to play as long as they keep us entertained and don't take us over the 5 players + 1 DM max. I guess I let the plebs play! 🧐 Ha!
Oh, most definitely. My sense of humor can make me a difficult player for some DMs. Well, at least one DM. And we still remain friends. Just not gaming friends, IYKWIM.
I have tried to be tolerant, but it isn't in me. I salute your aptitude in that regard.
 

Gilladian

Adventurer
Since I play with my 83 year old mother, who struggles to remember which dice to roll when, I give other players a LOT of leeway. We have a new player, who hasn't played since 1e; she's doing really well with picking up the big rules, and is even taking time to read details about skills, etc... so I think she'll know some things better than I do, soon.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
Since I play with my 83 year old mother, who struggles to remember which dice to roll when, I give other players a LOT of leeway. We have a new player, who hasn't played since 1e; she's doing really well with picking up the big rules, and is even taking time to read details about skills, etc... so I think she'll know some things better than I do, soon.
How did your 83 year old mother come to join your gaming group?
 

Coroc

Adventurer
Some of my players have difficulties with English material, since we all are no native speakers. For them it might take a little longer to decide e.g. what spell to use. But I do not mind, it is recreation time not work.
All of them are experienced in RPGs and some of them DM themselves. So I can rely on that they know what their character can do.
I tended to analyse things in advance, e.g. the spellcaster has this and that and that which can lead to an unexpected twist. I do not do this any longer. Instead for some campaigns I houserule e.g. no flight or no teleport or no both of it sometimes I do not. And then I let myself be surprised -after all that is the challenge for the DM so that is my fun part.
It is a great relief though that I do not have to track someone's spells memorized and slots used, they all do that themselves without willful cheating of course.
 

akr71

Explorer
Usually when I have new players, I try to have a few seasoned players at the table too. It give new players more than one player to ask, and the option to confirm things before play comes around to them. I do hope that after 2 or 3 levels, they can take care of leveling up and managing their character themselves.

However, we are all adults with careers, children, pets, etc, so game night is sometimes infrequent at best. I'm pretty tolerant when players knowledge of the rules is lacking, they are rusty, or whatever. We get together for fun, snacks and a few adult beverages.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
I am not too worried about players taking time to learn the rules. I think slowly gaining rules mastery over the course of play (rather than through studying the book) is fine, and even preferable to a degree. What I do discourage is players who are unfamiliar with the rules from playing characters that could be slow in the hands of a player who is not fully familiar with the system. Classic example in D&D would be a wizard where the player takes too long picking or reading over spell descriptions during combat. That kind of slow-down can be frustrating if it keeps happening. But I do keep things pretty laid back and easy going in my games
 

Mistwell

Hero
I never expect the players to learn the rules. It's nice when they do, but... meh.

They tell me what they want to do. I tell them what to roll.

What's FAR more important to me is: Are they fun to be around?
Yeah what Doc Klueless said, who is anything but clueless. I just don't expect players to learn the rules. If they do, that's helpful. But the game is ultimately players saying what their PCs do and me adjudicating it as best I can using the rules as a guideline. Them having fun is the most important issue.
 

Larnievc

Explorer
One of my guys still gets huffy when I have to again tell her she has disadvantage if she uses her long bow in melee or will take an OA if she does not use the disengage action after over a year of being an archery ranger 😫
 

Ulfgeir

Explorer
One of my guys still gets huffy when I have to again tell her she has disadvantage if she uses her long bow in melee or will take an OA if she does not use the disengage action after over a year of being an archery ranger 😫
As someone who shoots a longbow, and has done HEMA, I definitively agree that you should get disadvantage or be the victim of an opportunity attack if you are that close and shoot with a longbow. Of course, you can use the bow to wack someone over the head with it as an improvised staff, but I do NOT recommend it. ;)
 

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