New players: your recruiting standards

Jd Smith1

Explorer
This came up in another thread, but I didn't want to drift the topic, so I thought I would start a new thread.

For face-to-face groups, what are your dos and don'ts for new players? What do you look for, who do you avoid or seek, what standards do you apply?

My current group is a bit older than average; the core members have been gaming weekly with me since 2002. We tend to be vulgar, abrasive, and incorrect. As roleplayers, the players are motivated by petty-mindedness, spite, greed, and illogical reactions to random NPCs; this cuts across all settings.

Our recruitment standards are, in no particular order:

1) Be male. The reason for this is that back in the 80s when I was dating my wife, she joined my gaming group, her only tabletop RPG experience. From that experience, she carried away the conviction that gaming was a means to meet women. So when we relocated to our current location, and eventually I formed another group (in 2002) she vetoed female participation. I haven't bothered to check if the ban is still in effect because we've never had a female gamer inquire.

2) Be on time. If you are going to be late or can't make it, let me know in advance.

3) Be involved. No experience is required, but if you can't be bothered to do a little between-session reading to learn the rules and basic setting data, we don't need you.

4) Have a thick skin. Most of us are veterans, and everyone is from a career field that caters to the terminally insensitive. Our sense of humor is vulgar and abusive.

5) No alcohol at the table.

6) There is only one GM. The GM never changes. All hail the GM.

7) Have a laptop. We use a VTT.

8) Bathe before each game. You wouldn't think in this day and age this would be an issue, but it has been. Briefly, at least.

9) No PvP, no stealing from PCs or party. You can bad-mouth the party leader, but you must follow orders. You can talk smack about players and PCs, but no harming the latter.

10) The party leader changes every campaign. You will have to take your turn. Griping about having to do it is expected.

11) Work together; if the group dies, they die as a team. Recriminations are acceptable, whining is not.

12) Arguing about events that happened in a different campaign eight years ago is acceptable in moderation.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
Recruitment Standards:
  • Don’t be a jerk. This covers a plethora of things: be on time, no pvp, team player, etc.
  • Be prepared for some silliness. We do NOT take RPGs seriously.
  • Be prepared for PG13 language. I cuss. F-bombs will drop. I don't try to rein it in. Deal with it.
  • If F2F, don’t smell.
  • If VTT, have a mic. Camera is VERY optional.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
@Jd Smith1 , I see that you're in Texas. I'm in San Antonio which has a huge number of Veterans so my groups tend to have a fairly high percentage plus a lot of Health Care Professionals (as I administer Anesthesia). Damn, do we have a macabre sense of humor! Language can be quite blue.
 

Bagpuss

Adventurer
1) Be male. The reason for this is that back in the 80s when I was dating my wife, she joined my gaming group, her only tabletop RPG experience. From that experience, she carried away the conviction that gaming was a means to meet women. So when we relocated to our current location, and eventually I formed another group (in 2002) she vetoed female participation. I haven't bothered to check if the ban is still in effect because we've never had a female gamer inquire.
LOL so many weird issues going on there. If you want to meet women a RPG group in the in 80's was the last place you should look.

We haven't recruited anyone in years (there are just the four of us). So I'm not sure what our recruitment requirements would be. I think the main one would be

1) Willing to play to 1am on a Sunday evening, with possible 30 minutes drive home after. Although admittedly we try to finish by midnight most weeks. I think that is enough to put most people off.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
1) Be at least 16, preferably 18.
2) Listen to my spiel about DMing style. Understand I'm not blowing smoke about being disinterested in party direction, not having an expected narrative, and not protecting PCs from themselves or the world. Be comfortable with that.
3) Listen to my spiel about the campaign. If it isn't to your taste, say so and step away. I'll invite you back when it next changes.
4) Understand and accept the table expectations (arriving sort-of on-time, being prepared, and be civil).
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
LOL so many weird issues going on there. If you want to meet women a RPG group in the in 80's was the last place you should look.
Back then my group was half or more girl gamers, and no less than two marriages came from the group. That was a unique situation, and never replicated before or since. But since is was my wife's only gaming group...

I doubt she would care now, but the situation has never arisen in any case.
 

John Dallman

Explorer
We rarely need to recruit, since our turnover is slow: three out of seven have been in the group since it started in 1998. Generalising from the last few recruits:
  • Be someone known to a group member, who they think will fit in. That filters out the dicks.
  • Be decent at the performance side of roleplaying; system knowledge is much easier to teach.
  • Be quick-thinking and have interesting ideas.
  • Be reliable about turning up.
 

Ulfgeir

Explorer
I can't remember when we last took in a new player (group of 8 so technically too large group as it is), but it was a number of years ago. No idea how the player got in contact with the GM at the time (the guy whose apartment we always play in).

* I don't think it is a requirement, but all the people in my group are guys. I know some of the others have played in a different group where there were some women as well (including the wife of one of the current players, but she does not get along that well with one of the other players as far as I know. No idea of the reasons). This of course does lead to some jargon.

* Should be someone who doesn't clash with the group (too much). Yes, we have conflicts sometimes. One of the players recently asked that we didn't talk politics when gaming or in the discord-channels we have. He felt it could potentially lead to too much drama, which could ruin friendships. He does have a point, but I do think he is a bit thin-skinned in that regard.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
* - Be already known outside of the game to at least one current player (or better yet, the DM) so both you and we sort-of know what to expect

* - Be thick-skinned enough to handle some 'foul' language and ribald humour at the table; and to handle bad things happening to your character(s) in the game because it's inevitable that they will, sometimes frequently

* - Be willing and able to keep things in character particularly when the in-party firefights erupt (and be willing to accept that they will erupt now and then) - keep the drama in the fiction

* - Have a sense of humour...repeat, have a sense of humour

* - Be willing and able to show up for the games when you can, knowing that if you don't your character will still be involved just as it normally would be, with its rolling done by someone else
 

the Jester

Legend
Basically, are you compatible with our play style? This means you need to be okay with a bunch of things:

  • We have frequent drinking and pot smoking from some members of the group. You don't have to participate, but if that's a deal breaker for you, we're not the group for you.
  • I am a tyrant DM of the old school, and maintain strong control over details of the setting. You want to define part of the setting? The way to do so is through your actions in game. If that's a deal breaker, we're not the group for you.
  • We cuss, make inappropriate jokes, and are often juvenile. If that's a deal breaker, we're not the group for you.
  • My campaign, by 3e standards, includes "vile" content, including cannibalism, human sacrifice, sexual content, etc. It's not that that stuff is the focus of the campaign; it's that it is in there and I don't shy away from it, and even offer some player-side content to support it (such as a cannibalistic druid circle). If that's a deal breaker, we're not the group for you.
  • I run an "Everyone Starts at First Level" (ES@1) game. Even if other pcs are higher level, when you start, you are first level. If that's a deal breaker, we're not the group for you.
  • I use fumbles (albeit designed to not screw over higher level pcs because they have more attacks). If that's a deal breaker, we're not the group for you.
  • I don't allow content just because it's published by wizards. Drow aren't pcs in my game, they are monsters. Healing spirit? Not just no, but F no. If that's a deal breaker, we're not the group for you.
  • We play irregularly but fairly frequently, though I run multiple groups. (Most have significant player overlap with the others.) If that's a deal breaker, we're not the group for you.
If you aren't down with any of that, no hard feelings, but we're probably not a good fit.

On top of that, are you a jerk? If so, we're not interested in having you join our group just to screw up the dynamics we have developed over (mostly) years of playing together.

EDITED TO ADD: Oh, this is an important one- I am a high-lethality DM who doesn't intervene to save the pcs, and I run a pretty hardcore sandbox. If your first level pcs go to the dungeon no one has returned from in two centuries, expect to die.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
  • I am a tyrant DM of the old school, and maintain strong control over details of the setting. You want to define part of the setting? The way to do so is through your actions in game. If that's a deal breaker, we're not the group for you.
  • My campaign, by 3e standards, includes "vile" content, including cannibalism, human sacrifice, sexual content, etc. It's not that that stuff is the focus of the campaign; it's that it is in there and I don't shy away from it, and even offer some player-side content to support it (such as a cannibalistic druid circle). If that's a deal breaker, we're not the group for you.
  • I run an "Everyone Starts at First Level" (ES@1) game. Even if other pcs are higher level, when you start, you are first level. If that's a deal breaker, we're not the group for you
EDITED TO ADD: Oh, this is an important one- I am a high-lethality DM who doesn't intervene to save the pcs, and I run a pretty hardcore sandbox. If your first level pcs go to the dungeon no one has returned from in two centuries, expect to die.
Sounds like excellent GM'ing.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
Basically the only rule we have is that everyone in the group must give the okay for a new player.

We also have an unstated rule to the effect of don't be a jerk. Largely this has been handled by the GM stopping the action and handling the issue out of game with a brief discussion like an adult. Fortunately, this has very rarely been an issue.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Not sure if I have any recruiting standards. Most of the players in the group's I'm involved with are people I know or people that others know. We don't advertise for other players, we just trust the judgement of our current players when they ask about bringing in someone else.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
1. Be committed. When I DM I spend hours every week prepping for the game, and I expect the player to show up and be on time. This also includes leveling up your character on your time, not session time. The only thing I require is seeing the HP roll if you don't take the average.

2. Develop your characters. I am not here to spoon-feed you a story for you to react to. I play like real life: have goals, dreams, and things you want to accomplish. Otherwise, why would your character risk their life?

3. Be respectful. Everyone's voice should be heard and their ideas matter. When someone else is talking, let
them finish. If you continue to interrupt to steal the spotlight, this will become a problem.

4. Know the rules. I don't expect you to know everything, but you should know your race and class features, especially spells, without having to look them up all the time.

5. No drugs or alcohol. I don't do them and don't want them around. My friends don't do drugs either. If you smoke, you do it outside or in the garage, we don't allow smoking in the house.

6. Keep in-game problems in-game. I am fine with characters messing with other characters, stealing, killing even, if it is appropriate to your character and in character. If you are upset and do something like this just to get the other player, I won't allow it.

7. Keep out-of-game problems out-of-game. Same principle. If you have an issue with another player, leave it off the table. If you bring it to the table, you'll be asked to leave until the problem is resolved.

8. HAVE FUN! I run a serious game, but it is just as important to enjoy yourself at the table. We joke, and such, and sometimes it is a bit off-color or inappropriate, but we never mean offense. If you are at the table, try not to be too sensitive about it, it is all in good fun and we laugh at ourselves a lot.

As far as my style of DMing, I let new players know:

1. The dice rule. If you do something stupid, I'm not going to save you if the dice go against you. Even if you do something smart, I'm not going to save you. Risk is part of the game, and without it you might as well just go read a book.

2. I am traditional. I don't like crazy races as PCs unless you have a VERY good compelling story as to how and why you are trying to adventure with races who would normally see you as a threat.

3. #2 being said, not everything evil is evil. A party might encounter a tribe of hobgoblins, just trying to establish themselves and build a community. You don't have to kill everything you meet.

4. Bad stuff happens, but it is never graphic, only implied. Getting graphic about such things is never necessary. They happen, sure, and we all know it--so let's leave it at that.

5. Your characters can do whatever they want and are capable of doing, but expect the consequences--for good or bad.

That's about it.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
Our strongest rule: Do they mesh well with the group in terms of temperament, sense of humor, and commitment.

Group A: has one woman in it (married couple), and age ranges from early 30s to late 40s. Used to have another woman, but she had to stop playing due to health issues. All are pretty easy going with very rarely interpersonal conflict (party conflict yes, but only In-game RP.) humor is More Robin Williams level of Blue than Andrew Dice Clay. Commitment is pretty open, we need to check schedules week-by-week due to real-world commitments.

Group B: has no women (more a matter of circumstance than a rule). All save one person are in their 40s to 50s, most are parents whose children are grown, most are longtime grognards with decades of gaming history each, all are VERY committed to schedule (due to life circumstance we’re most all in positions where we can arrange to keep a specific block open) and maybe break twice to three times a year tops. Humor-wise, very little is off-limits, though constrained by social queues and sense of timing at the table, the kind of thing that hanging around the same people for a decade or more teaches you. 😀

assuming the group was open to it, I’d more readily invite someone to group A than group B, because it’s a little lower key and welcoming. Group B is a bit more insular mainly due to us being so close-knit for so long and knowing each other’s tolerances and social queues so well. We’ve had to kick people out before for being too competitive, or having trouble with us being a bit RP-heavy at times, or in some cases being (technical term) “a massive douche“ that we did not realize until later.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
When I got back into the hobby when 5e came out and was planning my first campaign, I recruited a couple of old high school friends who were interested and available, then I posted a call for players on an active Meetup for D&D in my area. Mostly I focused on explaining the campaign setting, some character limitations on classes and races, that it was a no-chaotic-evil campaign.

I had some lengthy back and forth e-mail conversations with a number of interested players. I was a bit nervous because I was hosting it at my place, so I was trying to not only make sure we were on the same page about the kind of game we would be playing but also to get a feel for their personalities.

It worked out well, nearly all of the players have remained steady members of the group over the past five years. New players who have joined to replace the couple of players who left or who join occasionally as guest players are generally friends of existing players, which makes it easy.

My current requirements for a new players has been influence by the preferences of other players. Some things that don't bother me as much, bother them. If I were to write a set of rules/requirements, they would likely look something like this (even though I would hope some of these would never need to be explained to people):

1. NO REAL-WORLD POLITICS

I enjoy socializing with diverse groups of people, and think it is important for society that we not wall ourselves off from each other. But too many people don't share this world view, at least not in their actions and behavior. The US is very politically divided these days and, especially during election season, some people just can't seem to keep their politics to themselves. Political arguments can quickly ruin a social event and derail a game. Game day is a day where current real-world news and political arguments have no place. There are plenty of social events and venues where I'm happy to engage in these discussions, but not in my house on game day.

2. BE HOUSE TRAINED

I'm pretty laid back. I'm not a neat freak. But basic etiquette in terms of personal hygiene and respect are expected.

3. ONLY GAME-RELATED ELECTRONICS AT THE TABLE

DnD Beyond and digital character sheets are fine, but not playing mobile games or checking social media. If someone needs to take a call for home or work, that's cool, we can pause the game, but when we are playing we expect the focus to be on the game.

We do demand physical dice, however, when playing in-person games, and rolling in front of everyone.

4. NO CHAOTIC-EVIL CHARACTERS

The only game worse than one with a party of CE characters is a party with only one CE character.

5. CONTRIBUTE TO SNACK / POTLUCK TABLE

For in-person games, everyone is expected to bring snacks for the groups. We usually break for lunch to go get food at nearby restaurants, but now and then have pot luck days. On those days everyone is expected to contribute something more than chips.

6. HAVE THICK-SKINNED SENSE OF HUMOR

I find it easier, for a home game, to give a heads up to those looking to be offended. If someone is a jerk and purposefully trying to be offensive or singling someone out, or is being hateful, that person will not be invited back. But we all enjoy a sense of humor that is not office appropriate.

7. BE READY ON YOUR TURN

Occasionally a situation will present itself that is complicated or involves a spell or mechanic that is not often used and some discussion and rules look up is necessary. That's fine. But consistently slowing down the game because you have not thought about what your character will do until it is your turn is not.

8. DM MAKES THE FINAL RULING

When I run a game I don't mind a bit of rules lawyering. I enjoy creative application of rules and respect rules mastery. I'll often rely on my players to remind me of certain rules, especially spell effects. But the DM makes the final decision. Any further debate needs to happen between games.

I can't think of much beyond that.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
1) I can't smell them or their hygiene products across the table.
2) can read, write, and listen.
3) can play nice with others
4) show up.

I warn new players that there is no PC script immunity, that I restrict PVP, and that I, personally, prefer PG-13 language and subject matter.
 

pogre

Adventurer
1. Be a solid human who is interested in playing the game.
2. Be a team player - stealing from other PCs, going way off the tracks by yourself, hoarding treasure, PvP, and evil alignments are all counter to the norms of our table.
3. No drugs and very limited alcohol.
4. I run a PG-13 game. An occasional curse or crude joke is OK - as long as those remain occasional.
5. Some players drive a long way to be at the table - be respectful of their time and avoid excessive off topic conversations.
6. If you play with an unpainted miniature - prepare to be mocked. I have thousands of decently painted miniatures - you are welcome to use one. My boys are merciless in taunting those who use unpainted minis or pre-painted figures. I expect you to mock me when I occasionally substitute a monster - it's all part of the fun for us.
7. Be respectful. We have people at our table from all walks of life and lifestyles.
 

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