What should make up a pitch about a new game to a prospective group of players? What does a good RPG pitch entail? What should go into the case for why a game should be played (and why that GM is the right GM to run it)?
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I'll assume you mean a verbal pitch, like you're sitting with your friends at a burger place and want to sell them on your new game idea.
This is sales, right? Not because you want to sell them a bill of goods, but because you have something that you think is valuable and that they will want.
Here's how I pitch my D&D 4E setting, Caldera:
And discussion points:
And so on.
And after discussing it with them--when the discussion is starting to slow down--I close with, "I'm looking for players. Would you be interested in giving it a try?"
The most critical information to interest prospective players in a new game, or new campaign, is less what the rule system is or what the world is like, and more who the players will be—what roles they'll take—and what they'll be striving to do.
Background information that puts those things in perspective is important, but subservient to the answers of how and why a player will be badass when he sits at your gaming table.
A pitch, like any social presentation, should be short, sweet, concise AND INFORMATIVE. Don't put a word limit like some kind of wanna be elevator pitch or twitter slogan because of that last thing. Don't leave important information out because otherwise you are really doing harm (deceit or the more benign, wishful editing is not a good way to start a group endeavour).
As for if the gm is the right gm for the job or not, I really think the gm is better judge for that than anything. I always really felt the benefit of the pitch is that it rather actively avoided meetings and committees and dockets of activities to determine the proper state of affairs and instead just relied on gumption and person interest to get the job done.
Things I like to put in my Pitch:
Example, here's a pitch I'm thinking about putting on the internets for an internet game:
As always have more information available, some people may like details of what the system is exactly or Whether I mean DC Supes or Marvel Supes or what I mean by community service.
Maybe try to have a nice tagline (is this what it is called?) in the first email or some other kind of message you send them. For example look at Eclipse Phase:
I make a campaign sheet for my players. The idea is described in Listen Up, You Primitive Screwheads!!! for Cyberpunk 2020. I made quite a few for World of Darkness campaigns, and I start each of them with a premise - just like one you can find on the back of book or a movie. This way players quickly get what a game is about and what climate they can expect. I would post one, but all of them are in my native language.
A pitch should not be used to decide whether this is the right game to play or whether this is the right GM to run it. What a pitch should accomplish is to pique the interest of the prospective players—if they're interested in the pitch, then that's the time to look at more detailed questions.
A pitch should be no more than about a few dozen words and three or four sentences at most. It should briefly describe the game's central appeal—the core theme, quest, sandbox setting, or conflict—as well as anything necessary to meaningfully frame that central element. It shouldn't belabour new race or class options unless they're central to the game's core appeal.
Importantly, it should take a few seconds for players to read or under a minute to speak: long enough to paint an evocative image, and short enough to put no demands on the players' patience so they can focus on its coolness (or lack thereof).
If you have already created the game or are using a pre-made module and you have planned who you are going to ask ahead of time, then literature can work really well particularly if you are not good at the sales pitch voice.
This last June I ran an Introduction to Changeling: The Lost and I gave my players this invitation. It was part of an email with the rest of the campaign details if they were interested.
A DND game was this Obsidian Portal page. It was formatted in the ebil of .pub so it was printed as a high gloss booklet with the last page containing building changes and house rules, the vampire game much the same with city statistics, etc.
If not the point is put together a booklet/ pamphlet/ picture of some kind that would would be psyched to get or would intrigue you and then give to your players to ask questions about. It works for me...
The pitch needs to be different if you are presenting to friends, potential players, writers, artists, publishers and bank managers. But the main advice I can give you is be to the point and grab their attention.
The Dresden RPG does not need a snappy pitch. If you're looking at it, chances are you know the books.
Eclipse Phase does need a snappy pitch since few know of it even if they many know what transhumanism is.
"You play as X characters trying to do Y things in a Z world!"
"You play as heroes trying to topple a corrupt empire in an post apocalyptic fantasy world!"
"You play as spies trying to escape Nazi Secret police in WW2"
"You play as anime Ninja Scroll type heroes struggling in a sci-fi warring states Japan."
"In this game you have to X (choices) and get (points/reward) for doing Y"
"In this game you have to constantly bargain with evil and your character gets more powerful when you decisively choose one way or the other."
"In this game you have to use your powers tactically as a team and get more powers when you defeat monsters."
"In this game you tell good stories and get rewarded by the group when your roleplaying is fun and entertaining."
Obviously, you can go into details from there, but these are the two things to cover that sell a game. I usually like to pitch how long of a game I'm expecting as well - "This is going to be probably 3-4 sessions." etc.
With most people I know, there is exactly one thing necessary to do a perfect pitch, and that is saying:
I will take over DM duty