Adding A New Player – Rocks in a Pond

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I got a text message a handful of weeks ago letting me know that my excellent pal Jim was moving back to town, soon after 20 years. Jim was the very first gamer I met when I moved to Buffalo in the mid-’90s and we played a quantity of wonderful games collectively. Then, one particular day Jim moved away for perform, and he never ever came back. I had honestly never ever anticipated him to come back, and we kept in touch more than the years on-line and meeting at the occasional con. Needless to say, his return is thrilling, and I began speaking to him about gaming with him once again, excited to have him join the games we have operating. But I also knew that getting Jim join a table was going to be a disruption to any game, no matter how cool Jim is and how cool the group is. So I began to believe about that transform and how it could be mitigated. 

So let’s speak about adding men and women to gaming groups…

Group Dynamics

A provided group of men and women who game collectively for any period of time create their personal dynamic which contains points like: 

  • A social hierarchy (who leads, who supports)
  • Communication paths (frequency, platform, tone, and so on)
  • Acceptable and unacceptable behavior (missing games, language at the table, and so on)
  • Conflict resolution (controlled discussions, arguments, and so on)
  • Shared experiences and stories (vital stories to the group, funny points, and so on)
  • Social touchstones (inside jokes, favourite quotes, and so on)
  • Playstyle (murder hobos, speak to all NPCs, higher drama, guidelines orthodox, and so on)

This can be a point that a group consciously creates via active discussion and deliberate action (e.g. a group may well actively perform not to be murder hobos). Other components will come about organically via interaction (e.g. the day prior to the game every person begins chatting on-line to keep in mind what occurred final session). 

The finish outcome of this is that any established game group has a dynamic regardless of whether they know it or not, and as extended as that dynamic is healthier, it is then comfy and types a sort of comfort zone for the group. It is, in essence, how that group plays and gets along. 

Modify and Equilibration

 Change is inevitable when a new particular person joins a group. So the query becomes how you manage the disruption till the new dynamic is formed. 

So, if an established group’s dynamic is a pond, a new player is then a rock who is dropped into that pond — the outcome of which is that waves are produced for a whilst and then the pond settles out and accommodates the rock. 

The arrival of a new particular person into the group will force a transform to the group dynamics, no matter what. This is not avoidable. A new particular person comes into a group with their personal thoughts, outlooks, stories, playstyle, and so on. They also arrive with out the shared experiences, stories, and touchstones that the group has made use of to bond collectively. 

At very first, a lot like dropping a stone into the pond, the disruption is massive — but more than time as the new particular person integrates into the group (assuming that the particular person is compatible and the group is not toxic) the disruption becomes smaller sized, and sooner or later, the group dynamic equilibrates to a new norm, and a new dynamic types.

Modify is inevitable when a new particular person joins a group. So the query becomes how you manage the disruption till the new dynamic is formed.

How Significantly Disruption A Individual Will Lead to

The very first point you want to think about prior to you add a particular person to a group is are they a excellent match? What we imply by that is how huge of disruption will that particular person be to the group. Likewise, is the group a excellent match for the particular person?

The way we ascertain that is by hunting at the variables that make up the group dynamic and assessing if the new particular person aligns closely to the current dynamic, or if they are radically various. 

For instance, if your group has a playstyle of becoming lawful characters carrying out excellent, and the particular person you want to add only plays evil characters and is a murder hobo, then the disruption will be bigger. 

A different instance: your group has a de facto leader one particular of the players winds up playing the leader character in all your games. The new particular person you are adding was the leader particular person from yet another group. You are probably to have a disruption as the two leaders figure out how to perform collectively.

You can do this exercising alone, by speaking to the new player, by speaking to the group about the new player, or all of the above. You really should go via this exercising. Not every single addition to a group is going to be a excellent one particular, and not every single group is excellent for a new player.

Decide How Effectively Your Game Supports Modify

The subsequent point you have to have to think about is if your existing game will help the transform of adding a new character mid-game. Some games have an open structure exactly where the characters have a opportunity to meet new men and women and go adventuring with them, such as a fantasy game exactly where you return to town prior to exploring the subsequent section of a mega-dungeon.

Examine that to an ongoing political thriller at an isolated space colony. The addition of a new character will have to have to be worked in, but also that player has missed so a lot of the politics and intrigue that came prior to.

In some circumstances, you are going to locate that the game will not have a dilemma adding in yet another player, but in some other circumstances you may well make a decision that it is most effective not to add the new player to the existing game, but rather wait till this game concludes and add them into the subsequent new campaign.

Test Drive

If a new particular person appears like a excellent match on the surface, and every person is prepared, have a one particular-shot game to let every person get to know each and every other. You can start off with some socializing prior to the game so that every person can get to know each and every other, and then you can play out a one particular-shot adventure.

This offers every person a opportunity to meet and verify each and every other out, with out any sort of commitment. The socializing will support to see if personalities mesh and the gaming will support to see if playstyles are compatible. 

Realize that one particular game does not reveal almost everything, but it will support you figure out if it is worth investing far more time to locate out. If the game goes properly and every person had a excellent time, you can continue discussing adding the particular person, and if the game was a disaster, then every person can aspect strategies. 

Consent

So if the particular person appears like a excellent match for the group and vice versa, your game is capable of taking on a new player effortlessly, and the test drive went properly, you can then have a handful of discussions. The very first is with the new player to see if they want to join the group. The second is with the group to see if they want the new player to join the group.

The outcome of these two discussions wants to be an enthusiastic Yes in order to add the particular person to the group. If either the new player or the group says no, then it is a No, and if either is luke-warm or hesitant then it really should also be a No. Like almost everything else with consent, you can’t push via with out the consent becoming enthusiastic. 

I have been in games have been we added men and women and the group or the particular person was not enthusiastic — and sooner or later, points didn’t perform out. Trust people’s instincts. If they do not have a excellent feeling, then it is probably not going to perform (now if that is a self-fulfilling prophecy or not, I do not know). 

You Look Trustworthy… 

Adding a new player to a group can be a wonderful point. Group dynamics are the sum of the men and women who make it up. A new player can bring about good adjustments to a group, and move a group in directions you have been not expecting. But often a group can’t withstand the transform a new player brings, specifically if they are quite disruptive. Likewise from the new player’s point of view joining a group can either be quite supportive or not. 

The point we do know is that adding a new particular person to a group is going to bring about a transform to the group. It is naive to believe otherwise. By carrying out a bit of perform, not rushing to push somebody into a game, and getting excellent discussions, you can make positive that the disruption you do lead to when adding somebody is manageable and leads to a fruitful new group.

What are some of your disaster stories and accomplishment stories about adding new players to a group? Do you test drive new players with your group? What games make it less difficult or tougher to add players? 

This post is brought to you by our great patron Suzanne Cabral, supporting us considering that August 2016! Thanks for assisting us maintain the stew fires going!

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