A lot of gaming groups don’t like to introduce inexperienced players to the group because their inexperience tends to slow down the game – new players don’t know all the rules, so they may ask questions that seem stupid to more experienced players, or they may need certain mechanics explained to them over and over again. That said, I’d like to offer a few reasons you should consider letting a new player into your game, and some tips to help you integrate a new player into your group.
New Players Bring Fresh Perspectives
A new player who has never played the game before has a very different experience – they don’t have a wealth of previous game sessions to draw upon to influence their in-game decisions. While that means that they might not necessarily take a course of action that would be obvious to a more experienced player, it does mean that they tend to be more inquisitive and adventurous than seasoned players – they’re more willing to take risks and to try out fun mechanics that experienced players might dismiss as inefficient.
New Players Don’t Get Bogged Down With Nostalgia
A lot of groups that have played together often have a tendency to break off on tangents to reminisce about old beloved characters or memorable scenes and events in previous games. While these moments can be fun to recall, they do slow down the current game, and in some groups, it can happen enough that it keeps things from moving along. New players don’t have that kind of background, so they’re less likely to stop and want to talk about the past – they want to focus on the events currently happening in the game and to see where they lead.
New Players Don’t (Typically) Have Big Egos
Experienced players have a habit of developing big egos about their gaming. They like to boast about their exploits, and they can have a tendency to try to steal the show from other players, whether by showing off their copious knowledge about the rules and supplemental texts, or by trying to engineer scenes that are bigger and zanier than the last. New players tend to be more interested in exploring the basic dynamics of the game, and while they’re okay with being in the limelight some, they don’t mind sharing it with other players.
Integrating A New Player Into An Experienced Group
It can take a little maneuvering to successfully integrate a new player into a seasoned group, but as long as you and the players keep a few things in mind, it shouldn’t be too difficult.
No Question Is Stupid
Veteran players should never make condescending remarks or scoff at a new player’s question. Don’t act like the player is stupid for not being able to comprehend a mechanic quickly – most players probably didn’t pick it up all the fast their first time either. If your group tends to do this, it might be best to institute a rule where only the DM is allowed to answer the new player’s questions. It’s often best to let one person do the explaining – if different players have different understandings of the rules, it can be confusing for the new player.
Avoid Stigmatizing Them As a Newbie
Constantly calling a new player a newbie can be stigmatizing, especially if it comes across as meaning “the dumb kid who doesn’t understand the rules.” It might be in good fun to call a new player a newbie for their first session or two, but it shouldn’t continue for very long. You want to welcome them into the group – not isolate them as different. That said, I have seen one instance where the term “newbie” was used in such a good-natured way that the new player ended up embracing “Newbie” as a nickname – one that he and the group continued to use for several years, even after he’d developed into an experienced player.
Take Your Time
Don’t be afraid to slow things down a little to help the new player along. This might mean progressing the campaign’s story at a slower pace, or it might mean injecting a slightly less challenging adventure into the story to ease the transition, but it’ll give the new player time to catch up and learn some of the dynamics that the more experienced players have learned by heart. This shouldn’t take very long – most new players, if given patience and thorough explanations, can pick up most mechanics in two or three sessions.