Quick idea for introducing players to a new game setting

1 Dec

I’ve been toying with running a new campaign when I’ve wrapped on my Vampire the Requiem chronicle. I quite like elements of the Cthulhu Tech setting, but its system is a dog. Recently I’ve come across Eclipse Phase, which is a bit more ‘out there’ in terms of setting, but from an initial skim of the rulebook, seems like a fun opportunity to mess with player expectations.

While this decision is some way off, I was struck with a quick idea for introducing players to a radically different new setting…

The first session is played with pregenerated characters. Characters that are, say investigating some kind of dire event. Through the course of the first session, the world setting is revealed, key ideas introduced, and lo and behold, they solve the mystery but die heroically in the process. That’s ok, though because these were pregens.

The players then create new characters, their actual characters, with a better understanding of what we are playing (not only setting, but style of game).

The second session starts with the funeral, or memorial, of the pregens and the characters get to interact with many of the same NPCs. They then take up the investigation where the pregens left off. Investigating their deaths amongst other things.

This makes things interesting as

  • The new characters have the same NPCs to interact with, ie head of the investigation team, cops, corniers, so the background of the first session is still relevant.
  • They may have had relationships (friends, enemies, lovers) with the dead pregenerated characters leading to good roleplaying opportunities.
  • It all builds to a stronger narrative and draws the players right in to the investigation, as they seek revenge/want to solve the pregenerated character’s deaths

This could work across any number of settings (investigation is often at the heart of most roleplaying sessions) or even work as a hook for a new campaign using a setting/system that the players are already familiar with.

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7 Responses to “Quick idea for introducing players to a new game setting”

  1. Harald December 1, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    I think your idea of using pre-gens for the pilot is a really good idea. Additionally, posting an introductory post is also a good way of supplying info before you start. That way, the players can read through it on their own time, and ask any questions they may have before you start.

    • RPG Plotter December 1, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

      That’s a great point there Harald. I often send out some info prior to the game and agree that it often assists in matching the player characters (and player character’s expectations) to the kind of game you plan to run.

      I really like your calling this first session ‘the pilot’. I might steal that if that’s fine by you. It really does neatly summarise what we’re talking about.

  2. Adam Jury December 3, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    Hey Plotter — you may want to investigate the Quick-Start Rules for Eclipse Phase: http://eclipsephase.com/qsr

    Since characters can “die” and be resleeved in Eclipse Phase, well, it’s only natural that such a thing factors into our introductory adventure, and that dovetails nicely with your idea. 😉

    • RPG Plotter December 4, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

      Thanks for the pointer Adam. I’ll check it out. Very amenable of you to drop by the blog with a personal message. Eclipse Phase has really captured my interest, in particular I really appreciate that you guys have distributed the InDesign and Illustrator files of many of the key play aids!

  3. Monstro October 31, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    In my first GMing session ever (some 3 years ago), I had only one player (two were willing to play my adventure, but only one available that day). I had him make his character sheet, but I already planned on killing the character in that same first session. The thing is, I did so in front of his (now orphan) son, and then told the player: “when you were a child, you saw your father die in the grip of a werewolf, and no one since believed you. Change whatever you like on the sheet and add Jr. to the name, and you now have this life-long trauma.”

    Neither of us have fonder memories for any other character, and there have been a few from both of us.

    • RPG Plotter November 9, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

      That’s a nifty idea Monstro, a really clever way of setting up a background. I might have to steal it off you some time 😉

      • Monstro November 10, 2012 at 7:30 am #

        Don’t mind at all if you do! My campaign was a horror one, so there were actually monsters even tho people didn’t believe in them. You could, however, have it so it was actually just a wolf, and the combat was enlarged in the child’s head.

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