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Halloween – The Perfect Holiday To Turn Non-Gamers Into Gamers!

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!

7 Comments (Open | Close)

7 Comments To "Halloween – The Perfect Holiday To Turn Non-Gamers Into Gamers!"

#1 Comment By DrAwkward On October 31, 2008 @ 8:25 am

Excellent ideas and advice! I’ve posted a link to this over on my site, since I’m all about making new gamers – [1]

#2 Comment By Patrick Benson On October 31, 2008 @ 11:09 am

DrAwkward – Awesome! Thanks for the link love!

I really hope that this approach works for some GMs today. I’ve had lots of fun with it every Halloween since I started doing it, that occasionally I even throw non-gamer Halloween parties where the whole plan is top play an RPG.

I also have tweaked this approach to get others interested while at Gen Con (you’d be surprised how many non-gamers want to know what Gen Con is all about when it comes to town). I’ve yet to get the “Christ wants to save you evil gamers!” guy to agree to play a game though. I collect the cards he hands out every year. They are good for a laugh.

— Me in heaven years from now (hopefully). Going through the pearly gates checkpoint. —
Angel: Cheat on your wife?
Me: Nope.
Angel: Beat your kids?
Me: Absolutely not!
Angel: Kill anyone?
Me: Nadda.
Angel: Play an RPG?
Me: Oh yeah, baby! Love them! Brought my dice even! Don’t ask how.
Angel: Sorry, but you are going to be damned to hell for playing RPGs. Didn’t you read those cards agent #45876 hands out at Gen Con every year?
Me: You are fucking kidding me, right?
Angel: Swearing really doesn’t help this situation for you.
Me: …Fine. The devil probably has a cool minis collection anyhow…

#3 Comment By Swordgleam On October 31, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

I suggest Toon. It’s like being a cartoon character! Totally harmless and non-threatening. Nothing to be scared of. Just come a little closer..

#4 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On October 31, 2008 @ 10:18 pm

I like this idea…

“Wanna try an RPG? C’mon, the first one’s free…”

#5 Comment By DrAwkward On October 31, 2008 @ 11:25 pm

[2] – Someone actually hands out gamer-specific tracts at Gen Con? If so, I’d really like to see them. Please drop me an email – RPGadvocate*at*gmail*dotcom

#6 Comment By Patrick Benson On November 2, 2008 @ 8:53 am

DRAWKWARD – I should have been more precise when I used the word “collect”. I collect them while at Gen Con, but throw them away upon getting home. I’m sure others who have gone to Gen Con saw them too. This year the guy gave out a card with the face of Darth Vader and a couple of light sabers on it, and said something like “Are you in touch with your Dark Side?” and then went into the same old “Because you do X you are a sinner. Jesus saves.” routine.

I’ll search for these on the web and see if I get any results. If not, I’ll look for him again this upcoming Gen Con (yeah, it’s gonna’ be a while) get some cards and make sure to send you some scanned copies.




#7 Comment By Patrick Benson On November 2, 2008 @ 8:57 am

SCORE! Googled “Are you in touch with your Dark Side?” and on flickr someone scanned and posted the exact card I was talking about. He had more than just this one, there was a yellow and orange one too, but this one I remembered clearly.

Check it out: [3]