Ah Halloween! Jack O’Lanterns, candy, kids in costumes, and everyone is just itching for something to scare them!
But you, oh dear GM, should be thinking of more sinister thoughts. Like a zombie crawling from its grave to feast on the living and bring them into the folds of the undead, you too should be turning your ravenous eye towards those non-gamers and scheming as to how you will make them lifelong slaves to the cold mistress of polyhedral dice! And Halloween is the perfect day to unleash your maniacal plans! They will never know what hit them until it is too late…
First things first, you should know a couple of simple RPGs. Complex rules and tomes of materials sends non-gamers running faster than a rabbit who hears a twig being stepped on. Fudge and many other subjective style games are simple to learn and easy to play. You want something that you can run off of the top of your head. Chuck D&D for now. You have to start them out on the soft stuff first.
Next, make sure to have your bag of dice somewhere handy, or be prepared to run diceless, but don’t show up and just plop your eight pound Crown Royal wrapped collection of gaming geek memories onto the coffee table. You are trying to lure your victim into a false sense of safety. Keep the dice out of sight, or leave them in your jacket or car if you are going to a party.
Wait until someone, anyone, suggests that people tell their favorite ghost story. If you are with friends on Halloween and nobody suggests telling a ghost story or two get new friends. Or at least get the friends you have out of the cave that they are obviously living in.
This is your moment to lunge for the throat, my fellow dice-rolling fiend! The non-gamer has broken the seal and has invited you to partake of their virgin imagination! Just say the following ancient spell:
“Well, how about if I could put you into a ghost story?”
Grab some pencils and loose leaf paper, or have some index cards ready, and create some very simple characters (truly devious GMs will have several pregens conveniently ready in their hip pocket). Keeping it simple is the key ingredient. That is why I highly endorse the Fudge system for this – it uses adjectives instead of numbers so cousin Betty knows exactly what it means when her character sheet says “Vampire Hunting: Good” on it.
Now take center stage and weave your GMing magic into a one-shot horror game. Play up the tension, ham up the monsters, and get those non-gamers involved! You’ll be surprised at how much fun a group of non-gamers can have with an RPG on Halloween night.
I’ve done this every Halloween for the last few years. Sometimes I get a big group, sometimes it is just a couple of people, but I’ve always been able to get some non-gamers interested in playing an RPG. It isn’t me you see, it is them. They are open to the idea on this wonderful holiday of being someone, or something, else. With costumes all around, and people turning their everyday dwellings into B-movie haunted houses, the atmosphere is just right for a non-gamer to step on over into the world of gaming!
So give it a shot this fine Halloween and let me know if it worked for you. And if you have your own tricks or treats for getting non-gamers into gaming leave a comment below. Happy Halloween everybody!