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I have a wonderful game that I love very much, “Lord of Gossamer and Shadow” by Rite Publishing, and I loved the idea, worldwalking, and that the game is a spiritual successor to Amber (so it’s an Amber-like setting without being Amber).

I have a few people who are on the fence, but because the game is diceless they automatically assume it’ll be “whatever the GM decides,” with no input from them.

I’ve tried to explain that, while the game lacks the random-dice mechanic, it encourages players to plot and plan and think ahead in some respects. (Your characters may not have the numbers advantage against someone, but there are things that a player & character could take steps towards, to change the outcome.)

But how do you nudge people to games that are diceless? Such as Lords of Gossamer and Shadow?

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What game or games are your folks playing now? Which games are they familiar with? –  Alex P Jan 24 at 16:45
    
For me, my first experience with roleplaying was diceless (to some extent): 50 hours of car rides back and forth to different historic sites, our only method of randomization a stopwatch (reading the hundredth-of-a-second digit). –  AJMansfield Jan 24 at 19:21
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Question reopened and answers deleted. You should be answering based on real experience (the Back It Up! principle, see blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective. If you haven't done this, please don't answer with your theoretical musings on the subject. I'm sure many people have convinced their group to try a game outside their comfort zone, answer with what's worked in practice. –  mxyzplk Jan 24 at 21:15

5 Answers 5

The way I found works is one step at a time. Get them to role play a "social" scene without dice. Then a combat. Then a one afternoon of adventure. Then a whole game. By introducing things slowly, everyone can get a good feel for how different things work. You could, and should, address any concern they have during those sessions. This is the same steps that you would use to introduce any new and unfamiliar systems.

Of course, diceless does not mean that chance never plays a part...

Another thing is to make sure you and your players are on the same page: Having fun should be the overall goal. If by having fun, it means building an interesting and dramatic story that involves the characters, then diceless (or systemless) will never get in the way. If, however, the goal is to "beat the GM's monsters", then a diceless game is not going to do it.

Finally, what I suspect is the problem is they see the GM as an antagonist rather than a fellow player. Why that might be and how to resolve it, are topics well out of scope of this question.

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My experience with diceless games is almost exclusively with Microscope RPG, but it's an excellent way to demonstrate diceless roleplaying. Never have I heard the complaint (before or after a game) that Microscope has no dice—though I've often heard people exclaim in pleased surprise, after the fact, that they didn't even notice the lack of dice at the time. Most of the time, the lack of dice is completely overlooked.

You could play a session of Microscope—it's an excellent game in its own right and, for some reason I don't adequately understand, is extremely accessible even to the most traditional groups—but that might not be necessary. The insight that Microscope gives me into how a game can still feel "right" without dice might be enough for you to convince them to try diceless...

Unpredictability is key, not randomness

In Microscope, the sense of not knowing what's going to happen next is provided by the simple fact that humans are unpredictable, and your fellow players are human. You never really know what your fellow players are going to do next, even when you could make a good guess. There are rules that constrain their choices, but which still leave the range of possibility pretty wide open. Flipped around, the constraints on your choices when it's your turn channel your creativity into specific directions, significantly reducing the "decision paralysis" that complete freedom can cause, while still giving you significant freedom in how to proceed.

So being around four or so other humans' brains is the randomising element. Out of the distributed decision-making comes a mix of predictability and unpredictability, which is exactly what dice are for in most dice-full games.

Explain that, and maybe your players will be able to imagine something a little more varied and interesting than playing the "GM storytime" that they're probably imagining and recoiling from.

And of course, you could always play a round of Microscope to break the ice. I have never yet had someone to shy away from it, including the most traditional players I know. It helps that it involves no more commitment or prep than a boardgame, making it an even easier sell.

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+1 for microscope. It's worth mentioning that it is a great way to build a history for a world that the players know. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 25 at 4:32
    
Another +1, although it should also be pointed out that there's no GM in Microscope, which makes it qualitatively different from most diceless RPGs. –  Dave Sherohman Jan 25 at 11:27

These are based on my experience selling Dungeon World & Fate (both dice-lite narrative driven systems). I feel that they have similar initial buy-in issues for people used to traditional RPGs.

Emphasis on player agency

Point out that crit fails, bad rolls, and system math will no longer stymie your players' actions. They can always succeed at basic tasks.

More adventure in less time

Not rolling dice means not spending the time to roll dice and do system math. It sounds small, but cutting those actions out have a cumulative effect which can add up to a significant amount of time saved.

Focus on the narrative

Diceless games allow you and the players to focus on the story you are creating together. You can always watch each other when talking and interacting, for a more intimate game session than when you have to watch dice. Players can lose themselves in the story/adventure.

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The core of this question is that you're trying to get your friends/group to try out a new system. The fact of it being diceless is not particularly different than any other type of system, and the reasons they may not want to play can boil down to these possible causes:

If you either have a copy of the rules to show them, or can find a good review/explanation online of how the game works, and they're not interested - then they're not interested. You can't make anyone like anything, anymore than you can make someone like the food you like or the music you're into.

If they don't have enough information, the best way to show folks is to run a one shot. It's low commitment and doesn't ask them to do a full campaign and they can see the system in action. After the fact, you can explain what/how the rules you were using allowed things to happen, including specifically addressing their concerns about the issue of whether the game is "Mother May I?" via the GM.

This one shot might be with only part of the group- if it goes well, they can sell other players on it or you can form a group just for this game for longer term play.

If you can't get enough folks to play this game, even for a one shot, they're just not interested - look online or elsewhere to get other players to play the game.

Remember - it's not a marriage, you can have fluid or multiple groups to play different games with. You don't have to convince all of your group to play this game. Which seems to be the underlying assumption in this question - you have some fence sitters? Ok, you also have some people down to try it, right? Go with the people who want to play - a game only works with the people who want to play it Find a different game to play with the fence sitters.

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The advice is the same as getting players to try any system:

  1. Remember that it is not systems that sell games to players, it's your concept, story/plot, and setting. It's not D&D that brings the players in, but the idea you have for a back-ally political game set in Waterdeep. Nor is it Shadowrun the system, but your dragon backed wetworks team looking to take down their old boss who betrayed them. It is not the system but the world that brings players into Dresden Files, a system tuned to the setting is icing. If your concept is something your players are interested in they are more likely to buy into trying a new system.
  2. Don't focus on the mechanics of the system, focus on how the mechanics serve the concept. While Dresden is a good game people don't play it for the quality of the system. There are better thought out, faster playing systems (like FATE Accelerated) than Dresden Files. However, it is the best system for playing in the Dresden Verse and telling Dresden Files type stories (at least until a FATE Accelerated version of Dresden comes out).
  3. Remember that until players are familiar enough with the system and setting they will not want to make choices. So your first game in this system is going to be a little handhold'y and a little railroad'y. That's fine until they get their bearings and open up.
  4. Find the right group for the game you want to run. Not all the people you play with will be interested in or enjoy playing every type of game.
  5. Oneshots and convention games are your friend. It allows players to get a feel for the system without having to invest much into it. When I am looking to introduce a new game I have these oneshots and convention games on hand for sessions when not all the party can make it. It allows us to get some game in instead of canceling without interfering with the current game.

This is how I have gotten my group to do diceless, FATE, d20, LARP (boffer and non-combat), Cyberpunk 2020 (what a bear that system is), Paladium (the mechanics are not the draw at all), and Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple.

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