Getting your Friends to Love Roleplaying Games

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A common situation: you’d love to get going with a roleplaying group and have a few friends who might have fun doing it, but you’re just not sure how to get them to take the plunge. Spending money and time on a geeky version of “let’s pretend” isn’t always the easiest sell. Let’s go over a few tips on enticing your buddies into taking up swords and spells against imaginary foes at your tabletop.

Offer a Chance to Get Together and Be Creative

Sometimes we don’t see our friends for a while. Sometimes we need a reason to get together and hang out and we need something to do. Roleplaying fills the role of social duct tape. It’s a reason to see your friends on a regular basis. You get to defeat foes, eat snacks, and just generally have fun without the distraction of a movie or show hogging the spotlight. For a pastime that’s considered nerdy, it’s an incredibly social event.

Pitch your friends on the idea that RPGs are a creative outlet and a memorable way to pass the evening. They can be something to look forward to all week long, plotting out just what your character is going to do and how they’re going to do it. Those of us with a love of theater, writing, novels, or other story-driven intellectual pursuits often find a regular chance to indulge in creativity in this way as great practice and a way to share those talents with others in a more sociable way.

Play to Their Interests

Everyone has some book, movie, show, or video game franchise they love. It’s not hard to find an RPG to capture their imagination. Star Wars, The Dresden Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Doctor Who all have their own games. If a few potential players all love the franchise, you’ve got a great place to start. Just grab a game along those genre lines and go to town.

  • Fantasy. Obviously Dungeons & Dragons is there for you and has enough of a following that it’s not hard to find books and other necessities. Many other games follow in D&D‘s fantasy footsteps. Check out Dungeon World, Exalted, or Fantasy Age for starters.
  • Scifi.  Star Wars and Star Trek both have RPGs that shouldn’t be too hard to find. A few other thought provoking scifi choices include: Numenera, Shadow Run, Traveller, and Eclypse Phase.
  • Superheroes. Comics publishers Marvel and DC have both put together their own RPGs: Marvel Heroic RoleplayingDC Heroes, and the more recently published DC Adventures. Those are decent choices, but there are other options as well, such as: Champions, Mutants and Masterminds, and Icons, not to mention the plethora of more generic rule systems you can play within, such as GURPS, Cypher System, and Fate.

Look to Fantastic Gamers

An excellent way to let your friends see just how great gaming can be is by showing them great gaming. These days with YouTube and Twitch, it’s easy to find video and streams of gaming. Actual play podcasts are becoming a big thing and you can find some amazing shows here on Geek & Sundry as well.  Here are a few places to start:

  • Critical Role. Matthew Mercer leads a group of fellow voice actors on epic Dungeons & Dragons campaigns.
  • Nerd Poker. A podcast by comedian Brian Posehn in which he and his friends hilariously play games.
  • TableTop. Wil Wheaton and other nerd culture celebrities playing games, including a few episodes featuring RPGs such as Dragon Age, Dread, and Fiasco.

Wil Wheaton’s Titansgrave is another great example of a roleplaying game done right. Episode 0, below, is perhaps the finest introduction to roleplaying games ever constructed:

So get out there and start recruiting players. As long as you pick games people will love, give your friends a chance to grow into gaming, and emphasize fun over the rules, you’ll likely find yourself the center of a thriving gamer community. If you get stuck, don’t hesitate to look for online communities for your chosen game or local RPG clubs with experience in organizing groups. Let us know how it goes in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: Diacritica on Wikipedia via CC 3.0

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