Choosing an RPG for a New Group

I’ve got a lovely opportunity coming up.  Some old friends are interested in trying out a roleplaying game and I’m delighted to be their GM.  I love GMing.  I like playing RPGs, but GMing is where my heart is.  I like telling stories and working with the players to really create something special.

Thing is, the groups I’ve GMed for before have always had at least a little experience in the genre.  When I ran Vampire, most of my players had previously played Vampire.  When I ran D&D, some of my players had played D&D.  When I ran Paranoia, Dread and The Dresden Files (FATE), nobody had played these games, but most had played other games and were able to pick these games up with little trouble.

So, the question then is, what game do I play with this new group?  Do I go with something I know or something new to me?  Here are my considerations:

dresden rpg title.png

I know some of the group enjoy Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files book series, so this game would be a real winner in terms of interest in the setting.  The problem is, character creation can be a little lengthy and I’m not sure I have enough FATE Dice to comfortably supply the group.  There is also Dresden Accelerated which simplifies the system considerably, but I really prefer the core FATE system.  I want to play more of this game this year, but for this one-shot I will give it a miss.

dnd title

One advantage of Dungeons & Dragons is the cultural resonance it has.  I’m playing a lot of D&D just now, as well.  This means that I’m steeped in the rules and can explain them pretty well.  My hesitation with this game is the amount of back and forthing between game books and character sheets will be needed.  I could solve this by getting character sheets and making up an extra sheet with all of the player abilities and spells on it, but seeing as we’re doing character creation on the night this becomes tricky.  No, I think I’ll go simpler.

dread title

Now, Dread is the picture of simplicity.  It uses a Jenga tower in place of dice and so there is no fiddling around with numbers and stats.  But then, it also loses that little bit of structure.  As GM, it’s my job to provide structure, obviously, but the goal of this session is to give an experience of a typical RPG and Dread does not fit that bill for us.  Good game, just not what I need this time.

vtm title

Oh, my beloved!  Vampire would be amazing to run.  All of the players also like the idea of Vampires and other supernatural beings.  Character creation can be done relatively quickly, especially if I help and guide players to flaws and whatnot based on their character concepts.  This is a strong contender, with my only reservation being the tone that Vampire games normally take.  I’d like this to be quite a light session, which isn’t really how I see this game.  It’s a possibility, though.

paranoia title

Another game that I love!  I’m actually playing this tonight and have done a lot of prep with a couple of new decks of cards.  The way we play this is pretty flexible and rule-lite.  The setting is also pretty accessible, with missions easily tailorable to specific interests because of the randomness of a lot of it.  My concern here is that Paranoia is perhaps a bit too random and relies heavily on references to other systems.  I think this is a good game for subverting expectations and conventions of RPGs, rather than as an introduction to the genre.  Yeah, not Paranoia.

dungeon world title

I haven’t played Dungeon World, but I think it would be a decent call for this group.  Tests and whatnot are pretty simple.  Everything you need for your characters is on a couple of sheets.  The GM doesn’t even roll a dice.  It appears to be pretty accessible, but also seems to capture the feel of the classic, dungeon-crawl RPGs.  Strong contender!

discworld rpg title.png

This is a homebrew conversion of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of novels to the FATE system.  My thoughts on this option are pretty similar to my thoughts on Dresden Files.  Some of the players like the setting already and the rules are, overall, pretty straightforward.  Then again, the same issue with character creation exists.  I’m also not as sure on this one because I’m still working on it and there are some parts I haven’t worked out yet.  I think my first game of this should be with a more experienced group.


It should come as no surprise, given what’s written above, but I’m going with Dungeon World.  It will give me simple character creation that I can do on the night and a good system that lets me use ideas I already have and will allow for flexibility.  Really looking forward to giving it a spin and I hope my group enjoys it when we play in a couple of weeks.  This also gives me time to learn the rules!


  1. That’s a tough one. I’ve ran games that fell pretty flat, because some of the players didn’t understand the genre they were playing in, or flat out didn’t like it. You have to really know your players to pick the right thing, and even then you probably won’t make everyone happy.


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