Monday, December 9, 2013

Welcome to Left Field, the lesser known game issue.

So, you've had a bit of system burn out. Big popular game X has been on your plate for years and years and frankly, you want something new.

You go hunting and pecking around various places looking when you run across a new system (new being subjective to you) that looks fun, fast, weird, and exactly what you've been itching to play. But...no one seems interested in playing it with you.

Welcome to Left Field. Or as I sometimes call it, the Land of Misfit RPGs.

There is a LOT of great undervalued RPGs out there. Sure they may not be as well supported, edited, or colorfully illustrated but they're all functional and interesting if you dig into them. Hell, I buy RPGs just for setting material some times. (See. GURPS, the grand high Poo-Baa of setting books. At least during the 3E era.) Sometimes I buy a variant rpg to rip ideas from it, d20/OSR cousins and d100 variants are perfect for this....as any OSR or Runequest player will tell you.

The catch, the biggest catch, when it comes to these games is finding players. Man, nothing rips my love of a game out than not being able to play it. See my love and frustration with GURPS. Love the system, hard to find local players. But, if your heart is set on the game here is how you get the players attention way out in Left Field.

1. Be willing to play online. Yep, thanks to the internet you have the biggest game table of all time. Get a Roll20 account, find a friendly IRC server, G+Hangouts, SKYPE, whatever it takes. This has issues if said game is map heavy, but Roll20 is a good solution to fix this. I know a lot of gamers, myself included are not big into the online experience due to lack of real time face to face, but while you can't find enough players locally to run Game X, odds are you'll find enough online.

2. Be willing to sale the game. Learn the fine art of writing a pitch. Remember, a lot of players are coming at this cold. Just saying you are going to run XYZ setting isn't going to get you any players. Consider writing up possible "highlights" of the game. Take this for example:

"Come join us for Chronicles of the Void where it's Javelin on Javelin Brawling! Will your crew win in the Planet Null's Battle Arenas and make it off planet with the data cluster of your Aqasoo's lost family cache? Will the contact you reached out in the Neuro Labyrinth be willing to pony up on your competitions weakness? Only you can find out, but joining my game this week! 2-3 players WELCOME!"

Sound like a TV advertisement for a new show? Yep, that's exactly what it is. The best sales I've seen of a game sound like pitches for TV pilots. Play up the action, the roleplaying, whatever feature the game you are going to pitch has that you want the players to enjoy. Other good things to do is list off possible character types, play focus, make sure to showcase the game for the player. Better yet, if you can get the game for les than $5 in pdf somewhere like say FATE CORE, or such? Post links to get the pdfs!

3. Be willing to demo the game. Nothing gets new players like a good, free, low effort fast play. Seriously, cook up some pre-gen characters, offers 2-3 demo games either at a local game story or online and let players hope into character X and then showcase the system. Pare back the rules and do most the heavy lifting for these players. (After all, you make the pre-gens you should know what they can do.) Let the players ask questions, be helpful. Just run it like a con demo. Once you get a potential player interested, THEN make your ongoing game pitch. Also consider running demos to get more players for existing games.

4. Buy pdf copies for trusted players. This is my last and riskiest option. Say you have a friend who is a borderline potential players. As long as you can afford a pdf copy as a gift (say nothing over $10) then nab them a copy! I've found that pdfs carry some weight with players. While they might never guy a hard copy of game X, if they have the pdf they might be willing to roll up a character and play. Why buy a copy vs just sharing your pdf? This way the pdf is theirs, not yours. This is important, you are basically using the sunken cost fallacy as a player fishing trick. Weird as it sounds, it works.

Whatever you do, keep the pressure on. Be willing to showcase and teach the system. Let players make suggestions and listen to them. Spread the word with Let's Plays on the various forums! Raise awareness of the game! It's the only way to support the line and play the games you want to play.

Left Field sucks, but you can works your way out of it.