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I'm about to run some intro sessions at our school's offline gaming club and there will be people who will rock up just to check out the game and decide whether or not they'd like to invest their time in an actual campaign.

Essentially, I'd be developing an experiential advertisement for D&D 5e. I want them to be so engaging that participants would forego their online gaming addiction and opt into social skill building RPG.

What RPG concepts should I prioritize?

  • scaleability?
  • de-emphasis on rules?
  • emphasis on ________ ?

Aroha nui.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This one will probably also be seen as too broad, and is probably a better fit for a forum. \$\endgroup\$ – Ladifas Jun 9 '16 at 19:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you clarify what you mean by "scalability" and "de-emphasis on rules"? D&D exists as a collection of rules informing a social contract describing a game. And it's MUCH less scalable than online games, things start getting hairy once you get above 6-7 people in a session. \$\endgroup\$ – Ethan Jun 9 '16 at 19:32
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You shouldn't necessarily prioritize anything. Just run a fun adventure and they'll want to come back for more. There are several great modules existing that can be run as introductory campaigns or one shots. Don't go into it with an adversarial mindset towards online games. They are derived from tabletops, and modern tabletops have parts derived from online games. Each one makes the other better. And one can CERTAINLY enjoy both.

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The advantage of D&D (over online gaming) is that players have a much greater range of options for solving their problems. You can give them an open-ended problem and have them make up their own plan for solving it. (Or, if you give them a problem with an Intended Solution, be flexible if they come up with some other solution instead.)

"What's a good open-ended 5e scenario for first-time players?" might be good as a separate question -- but it might also be considered too broad.

One disadantage of D&D is that sometimes you get players who aren't interested in solving the problem at all. People will say: "I'm roleplaying a thief who steals from the rest of you! That's okay, because I'm roleplaying, and this is a roleplaying game!" People will say: "I'm a druid, and I don't believe in civilization, so I'm setting fire to the village!" Make sure to talk beforehand about what sort of game you want to run. Try reading the Same Page Tool or something similar for background.

I agree with you that the rules should be de-emphasized. Try not to say things like "you can't get there because it's 30 feet away and your move rate is only 25 feet".

You asked about scale, so I'll suggest that the game is more fun with four players (plus DM) than with six.

Don't forget to bring pregenerated characters.

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