Last week, for the first time in over 20 years, I sat down to enjoy an evening of role-playing. My girlfriend, her 16 year-old son and a couple of his young friends made up our group. I had spent the past couple weeks preparing a Savage Worlds adventure and working to help my players with their characters. The stars aligned on Thursday evening and I finally had everyone ready to roll.
Living in the middle of nowhere as I do, there are no gaming stores (or even bookstores) nearby. As I hadn’t yet received the dice that I’d purchased online, we settled on using a “dice-roller” application for our iPhones. Some generic figure flats (courtesy of the Pinnacle website) served as minis and I had taped together some large hex-paper as a battle-map.
The boys were ready to dive in (though not overly eager) and my girlfriend was prepared, though quite nervous. It had been rather curious to watch her over the previous weeks. While she had certainly expressed interest in giving it a try, she seemed a bit apprehensive. When I questioned her about this, she explained that she was afraid that she wouldn’t be “any good at it” and was afraid that she might do something wrong. I assured her that she would be fine and instructed her to simply picture herself as a character in a movie, taking whatever actions that she would feel most fitting.
Once getting everyone settled in around the table, my group seemed eager enough. All brand new to the world of tabletop RPGs, they sat there waiting to see what all the fuss was about. During the character creation, we had decided that the party all knew each other, from earlier travels. However, I started the evening off by having everyone go around the table and introduce their characters.
This took a bit prompting as nobody wanted to go first. However, once the ball got rolling (and with a few probing questions), they each took their turns and did a rather nice job of it. One by one, they described their physical appearance, as well as dropping in some background information, which we’d either already decided upon or stemmed from their Hindrances.
From there I proceeded to explain to the group that their party was in the wilderness, en route to a city to the north. From there, they would be able to strike out in whatever direction they chose. They had made camp for the evening and settled in for some much-needed rest. Without prompting, one of the boys suggested that they keep watch during the night, just in case some nasty thing came shambling out of the woods. While this is a fairly standard practice, I took it as a good sign that this little group of novices would think of such a thing. I guess, as with other examples to come, it showed me that they were already putting themselves in the shoes of their characters.
As the first light of morning slipped into the forest, I notified the party that they were interrupted in their slumber (or watch) by cries for help in the distance. Each sat up and listened and again I informed them that without a doubt, someone was screaming for help, further up the road. “What are you going to do?” I asked them.
“I want to go see where the noise is coming from,” responded my girlfriend,”but I’m going to have to pee first.”
“I thought you just went to the bathroom before we sat down.” I asked.
“No, I don’t have to pee, my character does.” she looked confused. “I thought I was supposed to do what my character would do.”
Her son rolled his eyes, while the other boys giggled. “Mom, there’s no peeing in role-playing games!”
“Now wait,” I corrected him, “She can do whatever her character would do.”
By this time, we were all laughing a bit and I again poised the question “So you’re sure you want to stop and pee, before running off to see who’s calling for help?”
“Look, I’m a 40 year-old woman, who just spent the night sleeping in the forest!” she exclaimed. “I’m gonna need to pee before I do anything!”
I’m still getting a chuckle out of the exchange. Not only was it a bit of lighthearted fun, it again showed that she was really thinking out the role-playing thing.
The boys clamored off down the path, weapons in hand. Coming to a clearing, they viewed a small caravan being attacked by a band of wildly painted savages. As expected, they immediately charged in to join the fray and we broke out the cards for initiative.
Upon catching up, my girlfriend was less certain of the situation (but with an empty bladder). She questioned the wisdom of diving into battle and wondered whether it would be wise to get involved, seeing as “someone could get hurt and we don’t even know what this fight is all about”. Again, very logical thoughts, especially from one who was new to adventuring. Ultimately, the savages turned their attention on the newly arrived PCs and she sprung to action, helping her comrades.
I had done some “test” combats while I was considering using Savage Worlds, but this was my first in-game experience with the combat system. I must say that I loved it! Despite being new to the rules, I never once had to slow things down by flipping through rulebooks or consulting tables. The Fast! Furious! and Fun! tagline certainly applied.
The opponents consisted entirely of extras and the battle played out quite nicely. A number of Skills & Edges came into play without slowing things down a bit. The whole thing was very easy to narrate as the adventurers cut their way through the savages. Most importantly though, the room was full of “oohs & aahs” while the players waited for dice to be rolled and we all laughed quite a bit.
As the combat wound down, a number of questions arose regarding the savages and the caravan. This gave the PCs a chance to interact with both each other, as well as the surviving NPCs. The seeds were sewn for a possible follow-up to this encounter, should the party decide on this course of action.
With that, I wrapped up their baptism into role-playing. I purposely wanted this first session to be short. The boys start to wither if they’re away from World of Warcraft too long, and I don’t want Savage Worlds to seem like a chore to them. I believe my girlfriend genuinely enjoyed herself. She’s a busy woman though and it may take a while for her to actually be drawn to it. Ideally, if I can keep spoon-feeding them, them will come to a point where they are begging to play as long as possible.
That night when we crawled into bed, I poked her and said, “Would you do me a favor?”
“What’s that dear?” she replied.
“If I’m ever mowing the yard and you hear me screaming for help, please check on me before you pee.”