• Ian James

That shiny new RPG & four ways to keep it from gathering dust.

(This blog is part of series dedicated to the experience shard between myself and others on Weave The Tale as we prepare, write, play, and recap our 10-part Chew RPG actual play. I strongly urge that you get Chew if you're interested, as they have been a sponsor of the show and make shows ands blogs on the network possible) There it is, the glowing book on your shelf. Surely something had to come of it — your pockets wouldn't have burned holes in themselves for no reason. It arrived in the mail, and you had that little mid-evening unboxing video playing out in your imagination when you first cracked it open.


But now what? This kickstart, this hyped-to-no-end something-killer of a product is ready to play and you're missing the tribe to engage with it. You've only just peeled the plastic off the book and now you're worried it'll gather dust. Are you looking for a GM? Are you too busy to dive in and learn to run it yourself?


I see this happen too often, and there are steps to remedy it.


Step One: Decide first, then reach out


Having wiling players, especially for popular systems, is not enough to get a game together. We're all busy and the good games of the world often die in scheduling conflicts and the perpetual "let's try for next week" email. The same goes for many other details about your game, and any solid details you can provide will help you produce the pitch you need to get players to make time. Everyone has a friend that is trying to "get a fifth edition game together", but if you have a real and solid pitch for your game — even as a player — you'll have a fighting chance at getting players and a GM. Pick a time, pick a desired game, and shoot your shot.


Step Two: Find your tribe, and find every tribe


This blog is pulling inspiration from the TTRPG Chew (here), since brand new games are often burdened the most with the task of finding it's roots. If this were a decade old game, you'd have a precedent and a player base ready to hop back into play — but often we're tasked with pulling parties together to play games that haven't even had a full release yet. When you have step one complete and a cohesive idea for what you're looking for, look for online communities and subcommunities related to the game to begin outreach and churning out ideas with likeminded individuals. My counterintuitive advice here, and one I don't too often see used, is that you break from TTRPG communities a bit to reach out if you can. I found players for Fallout and Skyrim (both games I played in tabletop form) in non-TTRPG gaming communities, and the same could be done for other budding systems like Chew by taking to it's strong comic fanbase. I promise you, the gap to bridge between tabletop fans and comic book fans is much smaller than you might think.


Step Three: Make your niche


I know you probably exercise enough caution in your engagement online anyway, but communities can be sour sometimes and not every online meeting place is positive and productive for you in the same way that it might be for others, and for that I strongly urge that you ask yourself if communities online are doing what you need them to do for your needs and if not to consider making one yourself. When Fallout 2D20 was first gaining traction, it took a few proactive GMs to hoist together the unofficial communities that now keep it strong. If a game doesn't have a platform where you want it (Reddit, Facebook, Discord, your local library) you have an opportunity to help form it and let the depth of the fanbase meet it's potential through the breadth of it's coverage. More communities means more accessibility and mobility and you might be surprised at how fast it grows. There are larger communities that may provide broader reach to more generalized topics, but I suggest that if you feel a need you should absolutely create more specialized communities that you feel would better fir the needs and wants of it's members.


Step Four: Know your writers


Nobody wants you to play these games more than the people who made them, and it is quite fortunate that the people who make TTRPGs are often willing to talk about their ideas and in reaching out you're making a connection, directly or indirectly, to the heart of the work and the people involved in the formation of a new and evolving system. Do not underestimate yourself and what you mean to them, as I have personally witnessed writers and creators take inspiration from what they see at the table and this is especially so with Kickstarters and unreleased games.


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