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Matt

How To: Join an Existing Game

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Matt    20

What advice would you give to a player wanted to join an existing game?

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What are some of the challenges that a new player will need to overcome to be successful in the game?

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Dawn OOC    56

I think one of the biggest challenges is players letting go of their expectations for a game. This is both in what their PC will be doing and in the world setting. I've seen players be too rigid on their perceived endgame for their PCs and end up disappointed. I've see players who have had trouble with a home brewed setting struggling to fit a character concept into the story, and either the GM has to bend or the PC gets tied into knots to fit. Then there's disappointment when the PC still isn't a great fit for the world.

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The best way around this is to have a talk with your GM early on in the character creation process, before you've become too married to any part of the character. Approaching the GM with a bare-bones concept can allow you to flesh out the idea with setting-specific details that will make the character feel like a natural, organic part of their world.

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Also, just as GMs can't plan plot because the PCs will blow it out of the water, players need to remember not to set their character's progress in stone. I'm not saying don't have any plan at all. Instead, make sure that your plan can adjust and change over the course of the game is important. Letting character growth happen according to a flexible plan that will allow for the plot and world to shape the PC will make for a character that fits and doesn't create friction.

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tl;dr: I think player expectation can make or break a game. If a player wants to be successful, they should approach the GM with a concept rather than a fully-fledged idea. Most GMs would be happy to help adjust a concept to fit their game. Also, they shouldn't expect that a game will go according to a perfect script* they've worked out for their character.

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*That is calling telling a story, not playing in a game. Just as fun but very different process and outcome. :D

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Dave ST    17

First: Have a presence. If you'd like to join a game, be around to participate in it. We all know real life happens, but if we here on the forums only 'see' you once every three months or so, it makes it difficult for you to commit to a game. I'm not saying you have to hang out 24/7, but if you can commit to a 1/week posting schedule, then please do so or at least communicate when you can't. Have a presence in the OOC so the ST and other player know you're around.

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Second: Talk with the ST. I mean more than just 'can I join? I have a PC in mind'. Actually talk with them in chat, PMs, text, write a letter, whatever, but take the time to actually talk about the game, their expectation, yours and what you will be walking into. Be prepared, because any ST worth their salt is going to have several questions lined up right after you say 'I have a PC in mind'.

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Something I've noticed is that a lot of newcomers to a game tend to come in like a battering ram. With the other PCs having already proven themselves in previous stories, new PCs sort of come in and try to proclaim their presence however they can. Sometimes, this irritates veteran players and puts a bad taste in their mouth. This frustration can lead to distancing that can sometime drive newer players off. I try to think of it like a T.V. show... most new players aren't quite in the credits right out of the gate, the get a few 'guest starring' roles before the viewers finally say "That character is awesome! Bring him back next season!" Work with the players and PCs to make your characters assimilation into the cast easy (unless you and the ST arrange for your entrance to be grand, that it.)

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One minor thing, as an ST, from a nit-picky point of view, I tend to not like 'special snowflakes'. A lot of submissions I get from newer players into a game is someone who just has to stand out, be different, get something no one else has, or whatever. I tend to make each PC a special snowflake in time, but I need a regular template work with first. I want a character in my game not a list of 'how cool are you compared to me'. People who tend to submit those sorts of character generally are asked to rewrite them and I've had a few players just walk away because they're not getting they're way. If the PCs are patient, each of them will become a unique power in their own right.

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Sailor OOC    4

I would advise that patience for a joiner is a definite virtue.

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Making a only to have to wait until the next thread might be a bit painful. Sometimes, though that can't be avoided. It's best to at that point take a breath, talk with the ST/GM/DM with what needs to be done with a character if there still needs to be polishing done to your character, and simply wait.

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SkyLion    1

I relate to all of what's been said, and it goes both ways. ST's should take the time to communicate their expectations to prospective players.

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Also echoing patience. I've been waiting for days for Jeff_ST to get back to my PM. I'm currently inquiring about my concept to make sure it fits. I've learned the hard way in the past that spending the often tons of time it takes to write out a compelling character can be time wasted if it doesn't fit. Jeff was very curt in his responses so far, saying "just send me your character" but I'm loathe to get too deep in the creative process without a good amount of feedback from him, so I'm practicing the patience while I await his response to my tentative concept and said inquiries.

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Jordan    3

No offense Sky, but most GMs do that in the original character creation portion of starting thread, or a specific, character creation thread. as a Person who is asking to join an already in progress game,, you should have at least taken the time to read that. In my experience GMs tend to make clear what they expect from characters both mechanic and story-wise.

As far a Jeff in specific, I believe real life has swallowed him for now, so hold your horses.

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Vivi OOC    2

Also echoing patience. I've been waiting for days for Jeff_ST to get back to my PM. I'm currently inquiring about my concept to make sure it fits. I've learned the hard way in the past that spending the often tons of time it takes to write out a compelling character can be time wasted if it doesn't fit. Jeff was very curt in his responses so far, saying "just send me your character" but I'm loathe to get too deep in the creative process without a good amount of feedback from him, so I'm practicing the patience while I await his response to my tentative concept and said inquiries.

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This is something you should probably address elsewhere, since this thread doesn't seem to have been created for discussion of specific players, STs, or games.

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SkyLion    1

No offense Sky, but most GMs do that in the original character creation portion of starting thread, or a specific, character creation thread. as a Person who is asking to join an already in progress game,, you should have at least taken the time to read that. In my experience GMs tend to make clear what they expect from characters both mechanic and story-wise.

As far a Jeff in specific, I believe real life has swallowed him for now, so hold your horses.

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Yes I know, that's why I was echoing patience. ^_^ As for your first point...there was/is no such thread, so I created one in PM. The only guidelines were standard creation, and a month after N-Day (so no factions yet etc.). So, what I did was make a character discussion PM thread for us.

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This is something you should probably address elsewhere, since this thread doesn't seem to have been created for discussion of specific players, STs, or games.

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Well, this topic about joining existing games, which is what I'm going through now, so sharing a brief anecdote of my experience may be helpful to others down the line. It seems on topic to me.

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Aside from agreeing with what has been posted, my additional contribution is to add to Dawn's admonishment about player expectations, that STs also have a responsibility to make their expectations clear.

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In the end, it's all about good communication. And patience.

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Vivi OOC    2
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Yes I know, that's why I was echoing patience. ^_^ As for your first point...there was/is no such thread, so I created one in PM. The only guidelines were standard creation, and a month after N-Day (so no factions yet etc.). So, what I did was make a character discussion PM thread for us.

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Well, this topic about joining existing games, which is what I'm going through now, so sharing a brief anecdote of my experience may be helpful to others down the line. It seems on topic to me.

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Aside from agreeing with what has been posted, my additional contribution is to add to Dawn's admonishment about player expectations, that STs also have a responsibility to make their expectations clear.

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In the end, it's all about good communication. And patience.

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No part of your anecdote about the particular game you want to join addressed the actual questions Chosen posed, but instead framed what looks like (regardless of your intent) a personal grievance with a specific ST. That's not potentially helpful to people down the line; if anything, it looks like a complaint about your own issue with one person and one game, not a discussion about joining new games in general- particularly if you were, as you implied, already aware that the reason for the delay in your case was RL issues.

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To keep this on-topic, if I were running a game, I would prefer that players have at least minimal knowledge of the ruleset being used, and make themselves familiar (either through their own research or through discussions with other players and the ST) with the setting in question, whether home-brewed or canon. Oftentimes the ST has to focus on helping players develop their PCs, create plot and storyline, and work up a reasonable format for the game, so any work the players can do to educate themselves streamlines the process immensely and takes a huge load off the ST. It's easier to concentrate on running a game if you don't also have to teach everyone how to play at the same time.

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Dawn OOC    56

Actually, this thread is all about what the players can do when joining a game - what STs should do is off-topic.

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That said, I wanted to +1 Dave's thread - his points about being around and taking care when you enter a game are all good points. I've seen two games greatly affected by an influx of new players, Dead Rising and Children of Quantum Fire. With Dead Rising, most of the new people fit into the existing game really well and enhanced it nicely but that wasn't planned. It was pure dumb luck that everyone's concepts fit to well (though DR was admittedly a game that was much narrower in scope - to be involved in play, you were limited by geography and character type). In CoQF, you see the usual issues cropping up - the expectations of the old guard and the new guard collided rather harshly, leading to OOC infighting and a certain bitterness that lingers to this day. QF's playground was the whole world once it stepped outside of the starting 8 or PC's. While they played in the world, they were less part of it, while the new players that came along were heads of countries, Terats, etc. It added to the isolation of two 'factions' of players. So adding new players can be a bit rough, unless everyone is on the same page.

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Actually, that might be a good rule: if you're joining a game, look at the existing PCs and try to find a concept you like that fits with what has already been made.

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SkyLion    1
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No part of your anecdote about the particular game you want to join addressed the actual questions Chosen posed, but instead framed what looks like (regardless of your intent) a personal grievance with a specific ST. That's not potentially helpful to people down the line; if anything, it looks like a complaint about your own issue with one person and one game, not a discussion about joining new games in general- particularly if you were, as you implied, already aware that the reason for the delay in your case was RL issues.

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Noted. That was not my intent, however. It seems I am perennially misunderstood around here. :)

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Actually, this thread is all about what the players can do when joining a game - what STs should do is off-topic.

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Also noted. I suppose then the flipside of what I meant with my anecdote was that in the absence of information about the game, it is always wise to ask and run your concepts and build ideas with the ST *before* committing large amounts of time. Again, I had to learn this the hard way with more than one character in the past...I would labor over creating a perfect polished sheet, only to find out that for one reason or another, it wasn't suitable. I learned my lesson, so now I always ask first. :)

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Is that more helpful and on topic?

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Jordan    3

Another suggestion. Read the game threads. Logic would say that if someone is asking to join a game that they've been keeping up with what is actually going on in the game yet I am continually surprised by how often that is not the case, even for players currently in games. If you are interested in joining a game then inform yourself on it. Read the current threads, read what's gone on before, read the independent fictions other players have written.

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