I recently convinced my friends to try out a table-top RPG. Now, being an almost complete novice to table-top RPGs, and adding the fact that I will have to take point and GM this campaign... Is there any way I can ensure my friends have an enjoyable first experience playing these sort of things? I'm simply unsure of how a campaign for beginners should be. I know for a fact that PC deaths on the first campaign would really cloud their opinion. I'd like to ease them into that.

We'll be playing Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, more than likely just getting the Core Set to get us started. Any tips and tales of experiences you had when playing WFRP for the first time, or from the perspective of experienced GMs when introducing beginners to WFRP or table-top RPGs in general.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ There are some great system agnostic questions and answers about this. Basically, your question is not about WFRP 3e as much as it is about can GMs have PCs in game? I would be very careful about this myself. There be dangerous mistakes a novice GM can make. \$\endgroup\$
    – javafueled
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 19:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding whether GMs should have their own character, we try to keep questions here to one question per post, so I've deleted that bit to maintain everyone's focus on how to set up a first campaign. (Normally I'd say post it as a new question, but it's already been fairly thoroughly answered in these two questions: GM developed recurring villain, and Should a GM be a Player?) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 20:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ WFRP3 has some issues most RPG's don't. This is partly due to the component heavy nature of the game. \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 18:52

3 Answers 3


Specific issues with WFRP3 as a novice:

  1. everyone needs to be close to the dice. Play at a single table is recommended
  2. it helps to have the dice symbol meanings page copied and sitting on the table.
  3. use the pregen/sample characters for the first session, as character generation is really helped immensely by knowing the value of attributes and skills in play.
  4. The core box only supports 3+GM.

Things you can ignore in the first session:

  • stance dice - use default stance for the character only.
  • magic - it's not needed for starting players.
  • Stress from indecision. - It won't help when learning. Especially for actions.

A couple tricks:

  • Make and use "I have gone"/"Waiting to go" markers - business card stock or 3x5 cards are fine. It really streamlines the initiative process.
  • photocopy the NPC/Monster sheets out before session, for easier reference (and to be able to make notes on them if you want.)
  • play the introductory adventure. It slowly teaches the game!

I am not familiar with WHFRP so my ideas my not fit the tone of the game, but these are some general ideas that I use.

One of the best ways, I find, to get new players into a game is to slant the game towards what their characters are good at. If you have a character who was built to hit things with hammers, let that happen and narrate it to make the character seem greater than his opponents.

Also, I find that starting in media res let's the player see their abilities in action and gives them a chance to try out dice rolling getting them used to the rules. This does not need to be a combat though, as it could serve as an extended introduction for the characters. Like, the thief could open the cell to start things off, followed by a scene where the faceman tricks the guards into handing over weapons and so on.

As a final point, if I'm playing a darker themed game, especially for new players. I let the horrible stuff happen to NPCs during the first session. In many video game RPGs this is the hometown burning while they watch from the nearby hilltop scene.

Edit: I forgot about the GM PC question. But it's been answered and commented on in the thread javafueled linked to.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Though this is all good stuff, I think the emphasis is wrong in your first point. Players (particularly novices) will always do what they're good at rather than what needs doing; if all you have is a nunchaku, everything looks like chaff. The trick is to ensure their actions actually do advance the plot, for example because an NPC is so intimidated by seeing the flail in action that he gives up the vital information the party were supposed to deduce. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 21:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ A fair point. That point meant that a player should be allowed to be good at what he is intended to do. As an example, I am playing a barbarian in a 3.5 game and after seven sessions, My barbarian has not been allowed to rage kill anything that wasn't an innocent person or six levels above the group. Had I less trust in the GM, this would leave me dissatisfied and likely asking for a new character or outright leaving. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bigeshu
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 22:15

Fran, in my comment I think the question is more about Should a GM be a Player too.

Here's a well answered question on this very topic:

Should a GM be a Player

I would still caution you as a novice GM that there are many pitfalls in good intentions and a desire to just have the same fun as your players. The GM is not an adversary, but he/she does present obstacles and often puzzles. As the GM you will have insight into all of these and a GM PC can become a crutch or, worse still, begin to overshadow the players.

WFRP 3E is probably a more tolerant game for a GM run PC by aspect of its card based and boardgame-esque elements, e.g., PC states and party tracker meters. However, a WFRP 1E or WFRP 2E game, taking more traditional approaches to GM tasks, much like D&D or Pathfinder, might find the GM PC a little more problematic for the novice GM.

Finally, here's a great question on finding advice for novice GMs:

What role-playing games have good gamemaster advice sections?

The link to Matt Finch's Primer on Old School Gaming is great, just for its feel, even if you don't agree with the topic and find "trad games" boring. There is a lot of great advice in the thread.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I think I'll try to get used to being a GM first, until I have a good handle on things and can objectively use a PC on later campaigns. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fran
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fran, I updated the answer with an additional link for finding advice for novice GMs. \$\endgroup\$
    – javafueled
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 20:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ why did this get down voted? \$\endgroup\$
    – javafueled
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 20:41

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