MG for absolute beginners

Hi all. I purchased MG a couple of weeks ago and have read through it. A wonderful book and an apparently well-designed system. I say “apparently” because I have not yet tried to run a session. I have mentioned to some friends that I would like to introduce them to RPGing (I did a lot of D&D and GURPS as a player many years ago) and there is some interest.
This will be my first time as a GM. I have lurked here for a bit and your comments have helped me to better understand how to run a good session. In another thread Luke mentioned that in the initial learning phase the GM can and should make suggestions about what the players should do and what traits or skills to use, etc. to lead them along. That is good to realize because my group will not really be able to read the book. (I live in Germany and so the play will be “auf Deutsch”. This will be additionally challenging because German is my second language.)
If any of you have similar experience or can add to the process of guiding a group that has no familiarty with the book or even RPGs, I would be interested to hear about it.

1: Don’t focus on more than the basic dice mechanic prior to play.
2: Don’t try to have them write up their own characters for first time.
3: if Deutsch is their primary language, ser gut. I’ve RPG’d in Russkij yazik, once. Don’t be afraid to drop to English if you can’t express the concept in German; odds are they speak better English than you do German. Bilingual sessions are no big deal; comprehension is.

4: Describe, Describe, Describe. Make them describe their help, their combat action, etc. No description, no dice.

Thanks Aramis. I was thinking about having them create characters (to provide greater degree of ownership) but you are probably right and I will use the pre-gen’d characters with the sample missions. I just want this to go well and give the players (and myself) a positive experience. I really want to get back into RPGs and MG seems like such a good way.
And I will definately take your suggestion 4. to heart. Good advice.
Actually, my Deutsch is very good (sehr gut) having lived here for the last 14 years. But you are also correct that many of my friends speak Englisch well. “Bi-lingual” will almost certainly be how this goes.

  • Michael aka Hummel

You need not KEEP them to pregens, but if you have the original comics, they should have a concept of the characters already, and being able to see them in game stats really helps… and seeing how those extant levels work in play is useful for generating new ones.

Likewise, in FASA Trek, having the Enterprise Bridge Crew as a first run gave players clear hooks… but it was always better in the long run to switch after a scenario or two to one’s own characters.

Also, first timer’s charaters in BE and MG tend, IME, to be underpowered becuase players don’t have a feel for Level X, especially if they have been playing games like WWG’s Storyteller, MGP’s Traveller, or Classic Traveller, where 1 level of skill is competent…

I started with my daughter (who is 6) and my wife (who has played a handful of RPGs but nothing designed by BWHQ). What I found was that playing with with helped me learn the system. None of us knew it very well and so when we’d run into an area that I wasn’t familiar with I’d usually make a judgement call and then look it up after the game. With each new session we understood a bit more how things work.

As Aramis said, use the pre-generated characters. In fact, I’d use the whole pre-generated missions. It ensures that the characters match the adventure.

One last thing, practically all the rules are on the character sheet. Before you go to look up anything in the book, check the character sheet first. It’s probably there.

Thank you Aramis and Sean! I realise that I should be more conservative at the beginning. This is driven by my desire to “hook” these folks so that we can establish an real on-going play cycle. But, they will either find this fun or not.
Sean, your advice is well taken. I will learn, too.
I hope to bring the group together in the next couple of weeks. I will post back about the results.
Congratulations to all involved with Mouse Guard for your recognition on winning the Origins Award. Well deserved!

Mouse Guard characters are very dynamic. You add a lot of stuff to the sheet every winter phase, and you take some stuff off as well. One option is to start with pregen characters in Fall, so that Winter’s just around the corner. That way you can get a running start with the pregens and then instill that sense of ownership pretty quickly as well.

My pleasure Hummel,

I hope your MG game is rocking.

Thanks, Devin
That is a good idea. As I mentioned, I think that “ownership” is important. I will start with pregens but with a “twist”. I will give them blank sheets and tell them what to fill in. If they click with the whole RPG thing they can fine-tune their characters over the winter.
And I am pretty sure I will do the ‘find the grain guy’ mission. Short and sweet. It looks like I will have two, maybe three, players.
Thanks again for your help, folks.

  • Michael

Thanks a bunch Sean. I hope so too. I had so much fun RPGing years ago. It all comes down to the few seconds in a play session that you really are that character. I have my (potential) players curious and I do hope they have fun.
I’ll be sure to post back and let you all know how it goes.

  • Michael

I am personally looking forward to hearing how it goes. I am considering running my first MG game via IRC. I think it may be over my head at first as I am new to both the system and IRC. Hopefully it will go the way Sean said… with making some judgement calls and correcting any faupas at the end. I wish you luck and hope to hear you had a good session!

The Bane