[RPG] Advantages and disadvantages in using a one-shot pre-gen to introduce a new system


In questions about how to learn new systems, or teach them, a common suggestion is to run a single-session game with pre-made characters and a pre-made scenario.

  • In your experience as a GM and/or player, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach, compared to simply jumping in with character creation and running our own campaign from day one?
  • I'm sure the answers vary with the group involved; what are indicators that it would be a good choice for a particular group?
  • Does the efficacy of this strategy also vary with the system?

Answers from experience are preferred, please.

Best Answer

I started with pre-gen characters for a single session twice (GURPS IOU, and Serenity). I found it very helpful, and those systems are very different in crunchyness. It helped for three reasons:

  1. Campaign: we got the feel of what the campaign world was going to be like. It's telling the players, "these are the types of characters that would fit in in the campaign." If possible, try tying in the one-shot with the main campaign (for example, I had the players play a group hunting a runaway bride -- that person showed up later in the campaign).
  2. Rules familiarization before character creation: I made sure that we entered combat and had skill checks during the one-off. This helped the players when they created their own character. "When I played, I had a DX of d6 and Dodge of d4, and I was always getting hit, so I better have a better Dodge skill." You get a feel for how the rules work.
  3. Chance to skip: There's the chance that someone just won't like the game system. This gives you a chance to switch systems before you invest a lot of time into it.
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