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A Guide to Recruiting for Fantasy Grounds

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A guide to recruiting for Fantasy Grounds
Getting a group together for an online role-playing game may come with its challenges. If you are the Game Master, and have a group of loyal players, starting a new campaign will mostly likely consist of pitching an idea to the group. If you are the new ďplayerĒ in the world of online role-playing and donít have a group yet, this blog is for you.

I have been running online games for over six years now, both campaigns and one-shots of the convention format variety. While the way a GM prepares for each óand how they unfoldó differs, how you recruit doesnít have to be. Iíd like to share how I do things and explain why. I hope you can use some of these tricks to fill up the game YOU want to run.

The easy way to find many players for a game is to say the magic words: D&D 5e or Pathfinder. Youíll soon find a horde of bloodthirsty and dice wielding nerds knocking at your virtual doorstep. At this point you probably donít need any more help. Good luck!

What if you dare not say the magic words. You may be passionate about a different game, less popular, obscure or brand new. It may even be a homebrew setting. Passion is contagious and as a GM you owe it to yourself and your players to run what YOU want to run. Donít settle for less for the sake of being popular. Itís not going to work out for you in the end.

Be Clear

Potential players looking for a game want to know a couple of very important things right off the bat. First, they want to know when, how often, for how long and what timezone youíre in. Give it to them. Every other Wednesday 7pm PDT (UTC-7) until 11pm is a good start. If itís a one-shot, whatís the date? If itís for a campaign when do you want the first session to be?

Second, they want to know what rule system you will use and which setting it is.

There are many other details a potential player will want to know. Those are things like which voip you use or maybe you want to use text only, minimum and maximum number of players, combat/rp ratio, what experience/familiarity level you expect, character creation guidelines, etc. You can share those at the end of your ad or wait for them to ask. Those details usually are important to an extent but they are not what will pique someoneís interest in your game. I find most players very flexible with those details.
Be brief

Nobody wants to read a wall of text. The next article, cat video or shortcut to someoneís favorite video game is only a click away. If you canít grab their attention within the first few lines of your ad, youíre toast. Have you ever heard of the elevator pitch? Mindtools.com describes it as such:
ďAn elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in what your organization does. You can also use them to create interest in a project, idea, or product Ė or in yourself. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, hence the name.
They should be interesting, memorable, and succinct. They also need to explain what makes you Ė or your organization, product, or idea Ė unique.Ē

Needless to say, this applies to the ad for your role-playing game session or campaign. You should be able to convey what your idea is and what the players can expect in a short paragraph. It should capture itís essence and entice. If you arenít a writer and youíre using an existing campaign setting, look for the text at the back of the book.

Put on your salesman suit

You canít expect to fill out your roster if you donít get out there and let others know you are recruiting. Gaming forums, social media at large and especially groups or communities for that particular game youíre going to run are good places to put your ad. You donít have to spam. A well timed ad placement is usually enough. Week day evenings are usually best. I place my ads at odd times but thatís because Iím a cheeky vampire living at night. It works for me but itís not the smartest move. Use at your own risks. If your game still isnít full, give it another week and then post again.

Use artwork and pictures

Never underestimate the power of an evocative image. Make it the first thing they see. What this will do is make a potential player dream about playing in that universe. If youíre good with other media, a short trailer on youtube is also great.

Be reliable

Be there on time. If you have to cancel or reschedule your event let the players know as soon as possible. It takes time to build a reputation. Word of mouth is very powerful, donít underestimate it. If you have a reputation for cancelling many games or being a no-show the word will spread and it will become difficult for you recruit. On the other hand, if the community knows their Saturday night is in good hands when they enroll for your game they are likely to come back. Does that make sense?

Use pop and geek culture references

The game you want to run just blew your mind. Pat yourself on the back, youíre awesome. However, potential players still need to wrap their head around what is supposed to make your game so awesome. Letís say I want to run this gritty sci-fi game with a political corruption theme. Itís definitely clear but if I say itís like The Matrix meets Daredevil it automatically resonate with the reader. Chances are they know what The Matrix and Daredevil are and they get the idea. They know what to expect. Youíve used tropes everybody can identify with. Itís as powerful as saying the magic words. Everybody knows what to expect from a Dungeons & Dragons game. This name is powerful because itís been part of pop/geek culture for a long time.

Be patient

It takes time to build a strong and reliable player base. Donít be afraid to run a few one-shots to get your feet wet and let the potential players try you out. They are auditioning for a GM too. Joining a campaign is a big commitment and not everybody wants to commit to an unknown GM, a total stranger. Slowly but surely the word will spread around that youíre a good GM who provides a fun experience and it will become easier to fill up your games.

Put on your steel-toe boots

Did you think it was going to be easy? Work on your presentation. In face-to-face games GM will build terrains, paint miniatures and prepare props like scrolls or custom chits, tokens and beads. Go to a convention and watch people hover around these tables. Just because you use Fantasy Grounds doesnít mean you canít work on these. You can share props in-game on Fantasy Grounds. Develop other skills like writing letters, making maps or a custom skin for your FG table. Players will notice.

Be visible

So you advertised your game but did it actually run? Best way to prove it is to post a screenshot of your game or write a short report of what happened. The community will take notice. ďHey, that looks cool, I want to get in on that!Ē

Well thatís about it folks. Thatís all I got! I hope you can use some of these tips for your own recruiting purposes. Remember to always be courteous and helpful.

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  1. Drafter's Avatar
    Really nice article, and immensely helpful as well. As I'm still new, it gave me much food for thought. Thanks!
  2. Mask_of_winter's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Drafter
    Really nice article, and immensely helpful as well. As I'm still new, it gave me much food for thought. Thanks!
    You're welcome. Thanks for taking the time to give feedback.
  3. Morgentaler's Avatar
    Nicely done..maps a nightmare..that I'm slowly mastering..now about them custom skins..is there a where? And how to?
  4. Mask_of_winter's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Morgentaler
    Nicely done..maps a nightmare..that I'm slowly mastering..now about them custom skins..is there a where? And how to?
    Absolutely. Here's a tutorial I shot earlier this year that should get you going: http://youtu.be/iQogq06PJHM
  5. dulux-oz's Avatar
    As an adjunct to this extremely useful and well thought out post (well done Mask), let me mention some blatant self-promotion and draw people's attention to a Tool I developed (as an Extension) which should help in your endeavors to find a Game and/or Players - the Campaign Style Graph.

    This is a tool that show people visually the Style of your desired or expected game - the amount of Role-Playing vs Combat vs Problem Solving - I have found that over the years if I (as the GM) specify the relative amounts of each of these three aspects of the hobby I expect to have in my game/campaign it helps set everyone's expectations and makes recruiting that much easier.

    Jut my $0.02 worth, Cheers

    (Another Shameless-Plug(TM) brought to you by Dulux-Oz)
  6. whiteTiki's Avatar
    What about recruiting in a language that it’s not English?

    Fantasy Grounds is so limited on this aspect. So, If you’re a guy trying to find out some players for them to join your campaign, I’ll help you with that:

    1.- Go to Roll20 and make a single payment for $2.99 , this will initiate a subscription.
    2.- Make sure to have an ultimate subscription with FG
    3.- Immediately after, cancel your subscription and now you’ll have one month for recruiting
    4.- Open a public game and describe it using Mask of Winter’s guide
    5.- Wait for it to fill up, warn everybody that they’ll need to download FG to play. You can even put it on the description
    6.- Enjoy your game!

    I have made tests for Pathfinder campaigns and 5e campaigns and this are the results for filling up a 6ppl party:
    French - 2-3 days
    German – 2-3 days
    Spanish – 1-2 days
    Chinese – 1-2 days
  7. Kitilark's Avatar
    I realize this Blog is a year old, but I just had to say, as a very new member, and future DM it is one of the most helpful things I've read. I can see I am going to have to expand my teckie side and maybe even learn to Blog. My goal is to make this the kind of experience I remember from dark ages of AD&D; when 30 or so of my closest acquaintances and friends would get together for game night. Thanks for doing the work, Mask of Winter, I plan on making it a must follow - for my future LFG posts. Happy Gaming Kitty
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