New Player Advice: Curb Your Expectations!

So you have watched a season of Critical Role (or another high profile Actual Play series by professional actors/voice actors) and now your are interested in joining a tabletop roleplaying game? Great!

But my first advice is: curb your expectations. Many new players expect that any TTRPG session is run like the ones you have watched on Critical Role. This is of course not the case. Most players and GMs are not professional voice actors. Some players (and GMs) are not comfortable with acting out their characters, using funny voices or referring to their characters in the first person. This is totally normal and not something which makes the game worse.

If you expect every TTRPG session to look and sound like one of the videos on the Critical Role YouTube channel, you’ll of course be disappointed. I could recommend checking out a couple of Actual Play series which more closely reflect the kind of gameplay I’ve experienced over the last 30 years or so, but I won’t. Why? Because it’s usually terribly boring to watch people play. In my opinion tabletop roleplaying games are NOT a spectator sport. It’s the most fun if you are one of the players, when you immerse yourself in the game together with your fellow players instead of being a consumer of content. The games you play in might not be as well acted as the one’s you watched on YouTube, BUT they’ll matter more to you, because you’re part of the story.

There’s also another thing: not every game needs long sessions of interactions between the PCs or the PCs and NPCs like in CR. The playing style seen in the CR videos is not for everyone. In my opinion their pacing is way too slow and there’s way too much acting out their characters instead of moving the plot forward. What I wanted to say is: your group is not “doing it wrong” if they focus more on other aspects of the game. My advice: have an open mind and give your fellow players and GMs a chance.

The tabletop roleplaying game hobby is awesome. It’s a lot of fun, usually cheap to get into, very creative and social. Groups like Critical Role have helped a lot of people to learn about the hobby but their sessions and play style are not a good representation of the majority of games out there. If you keep this in mind, when joining your first game, you’ll probably be fine and have a great time!