Teaching the rules: how do you sell players on the system while running a demo or con game?
Until recently I’ve never tried to sell anyone on a system.
Actually, that’s a lie. I used to do it all the time when I worked at the comic store, especially since that was right at the very start of D&D 3.0 release. But that was a very different thing from trying to get my players to play a new game. When I was talking to my players, I never tried to sell them on a system, I sold them on the game and the setting. In general I’ve found that most players don’t care about the rules all that much, at least not until they’re up to their elbows in it. I’ve found that one of the advantages of having a steady group is that if you want to try something, they’re generally willing to trust you not to bring something stupid (rules-wise) to the table.
When selling an RPG system at the store, I would talk a lot about the changes made from the old system, or about what made it different from other games out there. Generally in these cases I was selling the game to GMs, who tend to care about rules more, but even then a fancy new mechanic isn’t all that important unless it does something at the table that either is new or fixes something that didn’t work well.
More recently (as I talked about at length) I ran a Labyrinth Lord adventure at Charm City Gameday. No one who sat down at my table was familiar with LL, though most were familiar with the newer versions of D&D. I went over the mechanics very very briefly, and we jumped into the game. I didn’t worry at all about trying to sell the game to them. As with my old standing groups, I sold them on the adventure, rather than the rules.
Thinking about the various con games I’ve played in, it’s been the same thing. I’ve tried out lots of different rules sets that I would have passed over otherwise because someone asked me if I wanted to be a god, or if playing an Alien style sci-fi game sounded fun.
This is post #29 in the 30 Days of Gamemastering Challenge.