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Patrick Zoch
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What is your experience joining an RPG group hosted by your friendly local game store?


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Strike Force was robbed!
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I don't think I could ever do that.

I remember having considerable trepidation years ago when I joined a group hosted by someone else I knew pretty well who gamed with several people I had never met. A game store would likely be too much for me.
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sdonohue wrote:
I don't think I could ever do that.

I remember having considerable trepidation years ago when I joined a group hosted by someone else I knew pretty well who gamed with several people I had never met. A game store would likely be too much for me.

Yeah, I can relate to that. Probably too much for me.
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Mark Wilson
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Never done it, at least for a campaign. Did a few one-shots in a couple local stores, is all. I don't stay away from shyness. Just haven't needed to. Why roll the dice (pun intended) with strangers if you can pull a group of known friends together? At this point, even if that fell through for me, I'd probably turn to online play.

Also, this is anecdotal, but some of the more onerous individuals I've gamed with (either in RPG one-shots or, more often, board games) were encountered in such settings. FLGS's can get an undeserved bad reputation, and I like a few local ones, but your experience is your experience. So I'd prefer to avoid if possible.
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Bob Coffey
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Games ng at my local store The Dungeoneer was one of the beat experiences ever. Aside from meeting some great friends old and new, it encouraged me out of my shyness and introduced me to many other aspects of the gaming community that I may never have tried. Roleplaying has always been my favouritetypeof gaming even though I was shy but I tried and liked other forms of gaming likeboardgaming, card games, live action,miniature painting, warhammer, war games and a social hub of like minded souls.

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Chuck Dee
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The only kinds of games that I've actually played in a store have been miniature games. I know that people run long-running campaigns in stores, but I just can't imagine it.
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Mike Holcomb
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I don't think I can answer this from the right point of view, but I still have some insight.

I have been running an RPG meetup for almost 7 years now. It's an open, public game that anyone is welcome to join, and for the past 5 years it's been hosted by our FLGS. I try to make it explicitly beginner-friendly and easy for drop-in gamers (pre-gens, game aids, dice and pencils provided, and a code of conduct.)

So it's a very different thing than what is essentially a private group that happens to play at the FLGS, or even Pathfinder Society or Adventurer's League games.

We've had plenty of new players drop in, play, and never return. But probably more who show up, play, and keep coming back at least to the end of whatever campaign I'm running. And of course, I never hear why people don't come back. Some of them, I assume, just wanted to try an RPG and then decided that it wasn't their cup of tea.

I think there are some things that can make the intimidating experience of showing up to play with a strange group at the FLGS less intimidating:

1. Introductions! "Hey everyone, this is Kyle. Kyle, this is Chris, Andy, Nick, and I'm Mike."

2. Teach the game as you play, to the whole table so as to not single out a new player. "Okay, we're getting into a combat situation so this gets to be a little more than a simple skill check. First, we're going to roll initiative..."

3. Have a simple code of conduct. Ours has explicit things spelled out, but can be summarized as "Treat each other and the game with respect."

It's simple stuff, but I'm always surprised how often these things are ignored or taken for granted.
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I "joined" two games at a FLGS.

One was run by our local Savage Worlds guy. He had everything - the initiative cards, the poker chips, loads of other merch that he never got the chance to take out of his backpack. It was a fun experience. I don't think westerns are really for me but I'm glad I did it.

And then there's the DCC game. Show up at the appointed time, no one's there, and I never hear from the dude again.

My local game stores are all too loud to meaningfully game in. You've basically got to shout, just increasing the background noise level for everybody.
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Brierley Hill
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Something I have never done.

While I wouldn't be opposed to joining in, I've never had the time, or the games are at times I cannot make it; normally clashing with other gaming group.

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Chris Abbott
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I left my contact info at the local shop, looking to play some 5e D&D.

There have been several long-running games played there to my knowledge. One GM sent me a note asking if I’d be interested; I was, but I couldn’t match their schedule due to my shift assignment. Games early in the day would be OK, but the shop doesn’t open until 11:00 or 12:00.
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I've played in four sessions hosted by various FLGS. So, I'm using "joining a group" pretty loosely.

My former FLGS had a demo for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (3rd Edition). My buddy and I showed up to find that their gaming person (who I knew very well) didn't expect anyone to show up. He wasn't prepared and tried to improv something. We thanked him after maybe 30 minutes and left. I've always suspected that he (or, ahem, the store) got a free copy of the game for hosting a demo night.

After a RPG meetup at a different store, my buddy and I played Lady Blackbird run by someone who is known in story game circles. It was... okay. I felt like he was steering the game towards the story he wanted to tell.

At a third store, my buddy and I played two sessions of Dungeon World with the Lady Blackbird GM. It was...okay. I felt like he was steering the game towards the story he wanted... Whoa, déjà vu. Also, I don't think he grokked the rules - we were rolling dice WAY too much.

So, not great, but I've heard much better and worse.
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Brian M
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The closest I've come has been visiting two D&D game days. It has gone...poorly.

I've been to two D&D game days, and played a total of 3 turns.

brumcg wrote:
After a RPG meetup at a different store, my buddy and I played Lady Blackbird run by someone who is known in story game circles. It was... okay. I felt like he was steering the game towards the story he wanted to tell.

At a third store, my buddy and I played two sessions of Dungeon World with the Lady Blackbird GM. It was...okay. I felt like he was steering the game towards the story he wanted... Whoa, déjà vu. Also, I don't think he grokked the rules - we were rolling dice WAY too much.

Well, to be fair, it isn't like the Lady Blackbird rules begin to tell you how to play.
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William Hostman
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I'm one of the GMs running at my FLGS.

Several successful campaigns: 4 D&D AL seasons. over a year of FFG star Wars. Half a year of d6 star wars. 6 months of Pendragon. a couple months of DT&T, a couple sessions of WFRP 2E, and both a playtest campaign of 3 months and a now longer than that of release L5R 5E.

A 1 month attempt at the new Robotech RPG's playtest was enough to kill it. Some nifty ideas, but interspersed with enough bad ones to render it infeasible.

The biggest issue is noise.
The next biggest is the expectation of the store that, on RPG nights, the campaigns are not "closed"...

My sat regulars are silly, but usually good.
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I am not sure what is meant by hosted. I have found groups that play at one.

There is one case where it might have been done by the game store. They had their own meetup page. Someone on there hosted an introduction to new RPG group. I am not sure how much of this was the game store versus that this is what someone wanted to do and used their meetup page.

In any case, it went like this:

1. There was the GM and two other players. They introduced each other to me and my wife. We talked for a bit. They were interested in the games I wrote. I went out to the store's bookshelf and showed them the game.

2. Just as we were about to start, 3-4 other people showed up.

3. We played the game. It was OK. My wife really didn't like it. There was one of the original two waiting players (people who come every week) who was annoying.

4. The session concluded. I do not think it wrapped up or anything. Maybe it did. It wasn't memorable.

5. We decided to never go back.
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Dan Conley
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This is quite a timely thread as I’m running a Call of Cthulhu session tomorrow evening hosted by my FLGS.

I’ve run loads of games hosted by stores over the years. I’ve always tried to keep it open to all, especially those who are new to the hobby. So I always have extra dice, pre-generated characters, etc.

Of the five players signed up for tomorrow’s game, I know one has never played an RPG, one has played once (in a one hour session I ran very recently), two are very experienced Keepers, and the other is unknown to me. As a teacher who spent most of my career in elementary school, I find that I enjoy teaching games even more than I like playing or running them. This has been true for at least the last ten years. I’m very much looking forward to introducing a new player to the hobby.

I’ve played in a number of sessions at stores, often on Free RPG Day. Those have generally gone well and have been lots of fun!
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Patrick Zoch
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SteamCraft wrote:
I am not sure what is meant by hosted. I have found groups that play at one.


"Hosted" was meant mostly in the general sense that the game was played in a local store. However, I was also more inclined to hear about those games that the store sponsored or supported with the intent to grow hobby interest and customers. D&D AL falls into this category. Advertised "Game nights" also fit.

I was surprised to find a few RPG groups that play at the FLGS and they do so on their own and with the store's blessing. There is not an expectation from anyone that the group is open to new players, but I am sure it can happen and that they do not mind spectators. This type of group would be an exception to the question.
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Alan, "Son of Hett"
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One of my favorite local game stores has a room dedicated for RPGers. My other FLGS hosts regular D&D Adventurer's League nights and has another general RPG night on the weekly schedule. Every time I visit either, I see the same faces playing D&D or Pathfinder or something; obviously it must work well for them.

I joined a session once for D&D AL. I had a little trouble at times hearing everyone, but the session went well (for what it was, confirming my opinion of D&D). Occasionally, when it was convenient, I entertained myself by listening in on the other tables to hear how other players and characters were reacting to the same situations.
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I've played some local Pathfinder Society games at the FLGS. I'm involved with regular games elsewhere but sometimes the stars align and I go along. One of the reasons is that I am usually the DM. And I'm always the DM for pathfinder. So its nice to sit on the other side of the screen and follow along, see what others do differently.

PFS used to be smaller and at another location, but as my last two games were at this FGLS I'll talk about that.

I agree it is loud. And nobody introduced their own names.

It's also very testosterone filled, with there being 10-12 people and sometimes one female. At least one player has an allergic reaction to deodorant (I'm being charitable here) so it's fulfilling the stereotypes.

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Clark Timmins
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It's been all over the map, really. I've played in lots of groups. Most are just pick-up games of a single session. Some have been longer than that, but I've only ever played in one that became a long-term, stable campaign. And that (I suspect) because the core group were all pals before. That campaign lasted for a year or so and was a lot of fun - but it moved out of the FLGS and into guys' apartments after the first (maybe) six sessions. And, two of the players met in the FLGS dropped out early-ish.

What I really like about FLGS sessions is a wide exposure to play styles, and good exposure to new systems. It's quite nice to drop into a new game and be taught by experienced players how it works, instead of reading the rules. It's also nice to hit a zero-prep game.
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Rebus Carnival
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As a teen I met a lot of people pretty easily at The Game Parlour and played with random groups there regularly. As an adult I have only been to one, a DCC funnel. It was not uncomfortable but I could not get the other players to engage much with me; everyone seemed like they wanted one on one with the DM and didn't want to do much P2P roleplaying.

The DM was hoping this would become a regular game, but no one's schedules seemed to mesh.

I would do it again, but it is low on my priority list. I would rather play board games with strangers, as they tend to mask the performance anxiety issues.

PS That said, I have never had some one flip out playing an RPG but I have witnessed a few meltdowns pushing cardboard.
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I worked at Wargames West in Albuquerque between 1993-1997 and was paid to host RPG's on the weekends. I can resume my experience.
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Shardra The Castrator
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I played in a group that met in an Albagame back room after the shop closed. It was good. I was invited by another player. The campaign lasted about six months and then the store decided they didn't want to do it. I didn't continue with the group when it moved to the gamemaster's home (he lived in a bad area). It was for Deadlands (Original Edition).
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I’ve done this twice.

Once was joining the D&D adventurers league or whatever the 4e equivalent was. I was new in town and desperate for gaming. It was okay; I ended up DMing after the original DM moved away. Met some local people and most of them were fine.

The other was joining a Pendragon game, which was my introduction to the system. The GM turned out to be one of the original west coast roleplayers and became a great friend. And, it turned me on to Pendragon.

So overall it has been mostly positive. I’d rather play with friends (and that is what I do now) but the various horror stories one hears have not been part of my experience.
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Peter Robben
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Most of my groups started at the FLGS I own...
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William Hostman
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dysjunct wrote:
I’ve done this twice.

Once was joining the D&D adventurers league or whatever the 4e equivalent was. I was new in town and desperate for gaming. It was okay; I ended up DMing after the original DM moved away. Met some local people and most of them were fine.

The other was joining a Pendragon game, which was my introduction to the system. The GM turned out to be one of the original west coast roleplayers and became a great friend. And, it turned me on to Pendragon.

So overall it has been mostly positive. I’d rather play with friends (and that is what I do now) but the various horror stories one hears have not been part of my experience.
I should note that the 4 problem players at public games I've had since 2000 are out of several hundred players in the venues.

in the last 8 days, I've had a total of 16 players at 5 sessions - 3 at a con, 1 at a regular RPG night at the store.
3 for FS
5 for MLP
7 for STA, one of whom was in MLP
4 for L5R Sat, 4 of whom were in MLP (and one of those was the one in STA)
4 for L5R Sun, none of whom are in the other sessions.
So, I've seen 18 players in 2 weeks. 4 of whom were not in public spaces.
But that doesn't count the others in the regular Saturday space (half of the STA players are regulars at the store.)

See, my 4 (and the 3 other store regulars) are part of a routine 20 players at the game night. That group rotates about 5 players each quarter.... and at times has bloomed to 30+. So, let's just run with 20 new faces a year... that's 60 new faces in the last 3 years, not counting the 20+ in convention games over the same timeframe.

And, at my old FLGS, there were 20-30 in attendence, and it rotated a bout 10 people each third of a year... (UAA has 3 terms per year, and there is a correlation.) And I was running games there for 3 years, too... so that's another roughly 120 people...

It's not that many bad apples.

Let me think...
The one who got banned for being a misandronystic nutso.
The one who got banned for being intentionally disruptive. (After several discussions with him by me, the store coordinator, and the manager, he was eventually let back)
The guy who couldn't take any kind of levity poking fun at him, but dealt it out routinely. (Wound up at another table)
The creepy guy who later got convicted of rape & sodomy.
The player who (consciously or not) cheats on his dice, can't math, and probably took a few too many bullets to the helmet in the gulf... Nice guy, great to boardgame with. Not fun to have in the RP group.

So, I'm looking at 5 out of around 200 to 250?

Not bad at all. About the same rate as "Hey, I've got this friend who wants to join the game..."
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