A new player has cast slow on my game


Gamer Life General Discussion


So, I've been running a heavily modified AP for my group for a couple of months now and have been making good progress towards finishing all six books. In fact, we just finished book 3, so huzzahs are in order. Now, my group usually doesn't make it to the end of most campaigns/APs, and that we've managed to maintained momentum so far is heartening. But, I've come across a hitch. I've had one player, a veteran of 3.5/PF, leave due to completely reasonable circumstances and another player, an entry level gamer, join after being recommended by the rest of my gaming group. Though he had played in a few one shots before, it was a rough start and it required a lot of time to him roughly up to speed with my gaming group, who each have taken Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Pathfinder. But, he has a willingness to learn and his system mastery has improved to the point where he doesn't slow down encounters, which is great.

So with that basically squared away, we pushed onward into my actual problem. We started the big dungeon at the end of book 3 and my newest player's girlfriend showed up to play, no warnings given. Writing her into the story was a minor inconvenience, but hey, more people playing? Awesome, she says she knows a little about the game and she wants to play. Unfortunately, only one of those things was true. So, a very young, entry level player has been inserted into my now relatively high level game with character made by another player. I've added mythic tiers into the game, only to further my own frustration it seems, as the function of her class (Paladin) seem to elude her. I've no doubt her skills will improve, she's sharp, but she's also slowed down the game considerably with questions regarding mechanics, her character's own abilities, and plot. It can be very frustrating to have a well written out scenario undermined by a "Who's this guy? Who cares?" attitude. She seems to not do her homework, so to speak, between sessions and thus her progress is slow.

I don't think she's going anywhere, and she's a nice enough gal so whatever, so my question isn't, "How do I get rid of this noob?!!!?" rather is it my responsibility as a GM to foster an atmosphere of learning during the sessions I run? I don't really like the hand holding and having to go easy on the noob, gosh darn it, but I don't want to scare her off of the game. But, she's slowing down my game, and in my group that is an omen of campaign failure.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I think this is a delegation problem. You, as the GM, simply don't have time to be explaining (and possibly re-explaining) rules all the time.

Let the other players know that when she has a question, you would appreciate it if they fielded it, in a hushed tone so as not to distract from what's happening. When you need everyone paying attention to you and not talking about rules, make sure you have a good way to get everyone's attention.

If her turn is taking a long time because she doesn't know what she's doing, just put her on delay and move to the next person. Once she figures out what she's doing, she can go.

So yeah, try to delegate the rules talk and use your own time to keep the game moving.


I'd almost suggest she sit out a few session and talk with her boyfriend/other players about what's going on. Maybe start up something little on a different day or time to go over things so she can be in that and start to get a feel for what's going on. Or have her play an "NPC" or bard that tags along and does stuff in cities, but doesn't do much/anything in combat. as a bard/evangelist cleric she can but useful in a fight for her team, while not needing to know a ton of what's going on.

Grand Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Take a break.

Run a short 1st level one-shot.

Newer players will get a chance to get more comfortable with the rules, and older players will get a chance to get more comfortable with the new players.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I secound the one-shot. Learing the game at a higher level is a lot harder, because you don't even know the basics. Just play a "learning session", where she can ask all the questions. After this, if there are questions in your real campaign, don't explain everything in the session, but afterwards. Just tell her quickly what she can do and let her decide, then tell her what to roll. True, it will confuse her sometimes, but I think thats better then keeping everyone waiting to explain every detail.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

There are also easy ways to speed things up, when the player has a hard time deciding what to do.

Something like "would you like to move into a flanking position?", or "would you like to cast a buff spell?, or "would you like to sneak past the guards?".

It gives them choice, but may help them decide faster.


If you're at a gaming table (as opposed to PbP), then yes, a one-on-one session at Level 1 is the best way to teach a person all the new rules in Pathfinder. I'd even be tempted to use a Beginner's Box session.

If the new player is being added to a high-level (12+ game), then have the person sit down and completely, utterly write out their character sheet. From scratch. Bring a calculator if they don't have a PDF/fillable version on their smartphone. Be able to cross-reference skills, feats, and multiple attacks with them using books during this second one-on-one session.

What I have found helps new-ish players is 3x5 notecards. For spells, attacks-with-effects, and general actions. They're a buffer? Make "Buff1", "Buff2", "Buff3" cards. They're a summoner? Make "Summon Meatshield", "Summon Resistance", "Summon Flanker" cards. The same for Druid spells, Wildshape, Save vs. Suck debuffs, Counterspelling. Or ranged attacks vs. melee attacks - "Bow1" and "Sword1". It will speed up the player during battle, which is when everything slows down at the table anyway. You can also make "Lockpicking1" cards and "Perception1" cards for skills.

Keep the dice to a minimum for new players. They should only have the basic seven - D20, D8, D12, D6, D4, D10, and D100 (percentage). Even if they're rolling 6D6 damage by themselves, they will see the need for more dice and not get confused by the boyfriend's/others' bag(s) of 1,000 dice when it gets handed to them.

Gift them with their own Players' Corebook. Pricey, but this will encourage them to read it and to carry it with them to the games.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Here's a few ideas I think will help...

1) Note cards on what her character's ability's are.

2) Maybe a nice recap outline with the plot thus far. For her she is coming into the middle of a first viewing of the movie, worse it's Rocky Horror.

3) If the attitude continues ask to chat with her after or before the game. Sometimes you just have to ask if someone is having a good time and if she is not see if there's anything you can do to improve that. If that doesn't work out simply ask her to respect everyone else's good time, generally I find that people will behave better when they realize they are having an impact.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Definitely second (or third) the level 1 one-shot option. Alternatively make it a mini-campaign. Several free adventures right here on Paizo. Master of the Fallen Fortress, We Be Goblins, etc. Even the retired Pathfinder Society Intro adventures may work for your purposes.

It may be a motivational issue. What is the player's motivation and what's the character's motivation? She may have trouble relating to a character she didn't create.

I posted elsewhere but whenever I start a new game I like seeing player's write a background for their character. If they don't then I make them answer a few basic questions that vary but are usually along the lines of:

1) Why is your character an adventurer?
2) What is her/his tie to the group or other adventurer?
3) What is the character's dark secret?

Just a few bits of info to fluff out a character sometimes help the player get more of a buy-in to a game.

Good luck!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Goblingreen wrote:
my newest player's girlfriend showed up to play, no warnings given.

This is the point where you should have done something. But, since it seems that is ancient history now, I endorse the lower level game idea, but running perhaps three sessions instead of one. It will make a better learning tool. Are we to assume that the female player has a character made by her boyfriend? You didn't say which other player made it. For this short-term game, do what you can to make sure she makes it herself or that someone with less personally involved helps her. Bearing more responsibility for the creation of the character herself will also help.

Make sure that the third session ends decisively, and that the players know ahead of time that it has a limited life span. If you are intent on continuing this AP (I know I would be), then make sure it happens. No loose threads to follow. TPK might be fun for the noob too. ;)


Wow, you are so hosed. Class IV Girlfiends have killed more games than dragons.
My suggestion is to do a 2-3 session backstory mission for the group and paladin specifically. Have your experienced guys roll up support players and make the story suitably paladinesque. Great hook would be her mount or weapon. Then if you need to, you also have backup PCs when you need (accidentally of course...) to do a TPK. Tell her straight out you need her to step up and be the leader, as whatever happens in the micro-game will affect her current character. Make your experienced guys WAIT for instructions from her before acting.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I really like jhpace1's suggestion of having her completely write out her character sheet from scratch.

When someone just hands you a character sheet, you both don't learn the rules and don't learn the character. If she calculates her own AC and CMB, writes down all her abilities (like "Smite Evil 2/day +4 attack +4 AC +6 damage") she will be forced to learn her own abilities.


I really like the idea of a low level one shot to teach her the basics, but I'm not sure if sending my group on a tangent quest is a good idea. We've done that sort of thing before and its how we ended up switching from a home game to an AP to a different home game. Maybe if I can conjure up an extra day to do this it wouldn't affect our progress. I know it seems extreme, but I am very determined to finish this game.

The other players have tried to catch her up on the plot and she has had a few moments of great roleplaying, but she also seems to fall into the trap of the lawful stupid paladin. One of my veteran gamers and I have tried to give her different perspective on the paladin's alignment and code, yet she often tries to bully other characters into doing what she wants. It doesn't work, of course, but it doesn't do much for party unity.

And, I know I should have said something when she first showed up, but we were playing at their house and I felt rather, what's the word, obligated? Yeah, lets go with that, obligated to let her play.

The Exchange

Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Goblingreen wrote:
my newest player's girlfriend showed up to play, no warnings given.

This is the point where you should have done something. But, since it seems that is ancient history now, I endorse the lower level game idea, but running perhaps three sessions instead of one. It will make a better learning tool. Are we to assume that the female player has a character made by her boyfriend? You didn't say which other player made it. For this short-term game, do what you can to make sure she makes it herself or that someone with less personally involved helps her. Bearing more responsibility for the creation of the character herself will also help.

Make sure that the third session ends decisively, and that the players know ahead of time that it has a limited life span. If you are intent on continuing this AP (I know I would be), then make sure it happens. No loose threads to follow. TPK might be fun for the noob too. ;)

yeah, have to agree with this. As a DM I approve players who play in home campaigns. I didn't invite you, you're not playing. bringing in a new player is usually fine though, but you needs to give a heads up to see if there would be an issue. bringing in an unskilled new player to a high level campaign is discourteous to the other players, high level games aren't for teaching in my opinion.


BBT nailed it.

you can't put a new player into a high level, complex game and expect them to be able to hang. They need to get comfortable with the basics first.

Does your party have any followers, or low level NPCs that they are familiar with?

You could do a few sessions of putting those characters in the spotlight. Stat them up yourself and let the players pick which NPC they'd like to play during the little side-story. Make sure to give the new people NPCs who's classes match the ones they usually play. Slightly different builds are fine, but they should be mechanically similar.

Use it as a tutorial for the inexperienced folks, and to show the kinds of things the regular people in the story have to deal with when the big heroes arent around.


Goblingreen wrote:
I really like the idea of a low level one shot to teach her the basics, but I'm not sure if sending my group on a tangent quest is a good idea. We've done that sort of thing before and its how we ended up switching from a home game to an AP to a different home game.

TPK them in the last encounter, and then have the party in the normal campaign stumble across the battlegrounds and use their higher level characters to avenge their deaths. :)

Goblingreen wrote:
And, I know I should have said something when she first showed up, but we were playing at their house and I felt rather, what's the word, obligated? Yeah, lets go with that, obligated to let her play.

I understand how this would be an awkward situation if you refused. Still, the BF should have talked to the group about it beforehand.

Sovereign Court

Putting the GM in this position in the first place is very disrespectful.


Sit down and talk with her. Just her, not her and bf.

Rebuild the character, and ask her a LOT of questions. She might make different choices now that she understands the game a bit more.

She might benefit from a simplified character sheet. Be careful with choices that add complexity, like power attack, and if you have to have it, wtite it out as a second weapon.

That way, she needs to select the appropriate line, not redo the math from scratch every turn.

She might benefit from simplified rules. For example, she doesn't take or recieve AO's, or she gets to move and attack twice every round, nothing else.

I've also had good results with post-it notes under figures, so that you can SEE threatened areas.

Shadow Lodge

As several people above have said, make her sit down with you and work up her character in her own hand. Another useful tip;

One of our players worked up a purely combat sheet for his use with different weapons. He's a two weapon ranger so there are lots of options with different bonuses applied to different attacks. Our paladin had a similar problem with various attacks using different weapons, feat combinations, and smite. So I helped her work up a similar sheet that shows the stats for each of her weapons when attacking as a full round or standard action one handed or two handed, when power attacking, when smiting, or when doing both. Now our DM asks her what she wants to do and she references her combat matrix, sees the numbers, and picks her option. And at each level she can update the sheet easy so there's no delays helping her update her character.

I also highly endorse making sure that she has her own rulebook. Preferably by getting her to buy it herself. Nothing motivates people like having a personal investment in the game. If she balks at buying something as pricy as the core book find out if she has an e-reader of some kind (Kindle, iPad, whatever) and arm twist her boyfriend into buying her the download as a gift.

And definitely make sure she has her own set of dice. I bought the pitcher of random dice from Chessex at GenCon the other year and any new players get to riffle through it for a set of dice. Only one set. Now they have dice specific to their first character's needs. You might even recommend mixing up die colors so that finding the right die becomes even easier. Yes, I'd hate that too, but finding the blue 4 sider is easer than finding a 4 sider among all blue dice.


I think there are points where you have to make a decision

do I want to see my hobby grow
sometimes at the expense of my own time and enjoyment

or do I want to maintain my game's status quo
and focus on what I want out of my games to make myself and my closest players the happiest

Paizo Glitterati Robot

Moved and removed a post. Attempting to give this kind of relationship advice is pretty unhelpful and irrelevant to the advice being sought after.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Lamontius wrote:

I think there are points where you have to make a decision

do I want to see my hobby grow
sometimes at the expense of my own time and enjoyment

or do I want to maintain my game's status quo
and focus on what I want out of my games to make myself and my closest players the happiest

This is an excellent observation, Lamontius.

However, you don't necessarily have to choose one or the other; you might be able to do both. What's good in one game might not be good in another.

I run PFS at a couple of local games stores and a number of cons throughout the year. At these public events, I'll game with anybody. I'm patient with, and enthusiastic about, new players.

In my regular home games, I'm very selective about whom I game with. My group brings in players by invitation only, there's a trial period, and the group has to unanimously agree for the newcomer to become a permanent part of the group. Experienced players are preferred. The only exceptions are for spouses.

In the latter group, if I were running a campaign that was already at high level, I'd invite an interested new player to come and observe, but I'd also prefer they wait until the campaign ends and we start a new one to jump in as a player. In fact, a buddy's wife comes to hang out for my ongoing Carrion Crown game, now in Chapter V. When that campaign concludes and I start whatever's next, she'll be invited to play. She did start playing in my other home group, a Kingmaker campaign, when it kicked off.

There's a good reason I'm not asking her to come in for Carrion Crown, even though I enjoy playing with her and I feel she's a good addition to the group. It really hoses new players to ask them to come in at high levels. There's already a pretty steep learning curve just to learn the basics of the game: movement, actions in combat, spellcasting, etc. Adding on a whole big pile of class abilities on top of that tends to overwhelm most new players. It's much easier to learn the basics at low level, when you have fewer options.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Usual Suspect wrote:
One of our players worked up a purely combat sheet for his use with different weapons. He's a two weapon ranger so there are lots of options with different bonuses applied to different attacks. Our paladin had a similar problem with various attacks using different weapons, feat combinations, and smite. So I helped her work up a similar sheet that shows the stats for each of her weapons when attacking as a full round or standard action one handed or two handed, when power attacking, when smiting, or when doing both. Now our DM asks her what she wants to do and she references her combat matrix, sees the numbers, and picks her option. And at each level she can update the sheet easy so there's no delays helping her update her character.

This. This was extremely useful for helping me learn things-- I built my own Character Sheet in Excel. Under the Weapons heading I have the same weapon listed multiple times for different occasions. For some characters that's Crit or no Crit (when they mix damage doubled on crits with static damage), for others that might be one-handing vs. two-handing or Power Attack vs. not or whatever. It also means that I can update on the fly (any level-dependent stuff, besides HP, will auto-update), and if I need to I could create a second sheet for a commonly-Polymorphed form, or a Rage or some such. And I learned a lot about good choices vs. bad ones in the process of building that sheet; it made me revise a lot of my build.

It also taught me lots of little rules like an Armor bonus from a Force effect being applied to Touch AC.

I'm not suggesting have her make her own, unless she has Excel or something similar and is good with it, but having her fill one in can do a lot to explain how the pieces fit together.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ciaran Barnes wrote:


TPK them in the last encounter, and then have the party in the normal campaign stumble across the battlegrounds and use their higher level characters to avenge their deaths. :)

And then watch as they survive the TPK. Because players.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Ciaran Barnes wrote:


TPK them in the last encounter, and then have the party in the normal campaign stumble across the battlegrounds and use their higher level characters to avenge their deaths. :)
And then watch as they survive the TPK. Because players.

Yeah, this would be my group up and down the line. They stomp over the hardest challenges, yet are often brought low by the simplest things. Fun buncha people.

I've offered my group the ability to change most anything about their characters now that we've hit the halfway point via a time altering artifact, and recommended that she maybe change up her character to something simpler. It seems a good idea to have her write it out, like many folks have suggested, so maybe I'll try and start the session early and have her work on her character with the full force of my veterans at her disposal. With that being said, what class could I offer that keeps it simple, but also has enough to keep her interested?


Sorcerers aren't too bad—they have fun options, but not so many as to get hard to play. But the "three-sesson sidegame" is a really good idea.


I'd let her play and get her bf to tell her what/how to do if it comes down to a cheesy logjam because she's new or whatever, until she gets her feet under her.

Also, tell everybody that that's what is happening beforehand so nobody gets cheesy about it.

This sorta/almost came up with me; one of my players was like "how do I get my wife involved in gaming/is there a low level game anywhere;" I was like "lol....I'd invite her to ours but we're 17th level..." and everybody agreed that that was kinda too much.....

I think 5th or 7th level....I'd try that there.


dungeonmaster heathy wrote:


This sorta/almost came up with me; one of my players was like "how do I get my wife involved in gaming/is there a low level game anywhere;" I was like "lol....I'd invite her to ours but we're 17th level..." and everybody agreed that that was kinda too much.....

Which made me sad because that would've been awesome.

Shadow Lodge

Letting everybody in the group sit in on the rewrite could be problematic. Too many cooks syndrome is not a good thing. Even letting her boyfriend sit in is bad and without even thinking about it he is likely to steer her into a character more to his liking when she should be making one to her liking.

So make everybody else work on their characters in the other room and sit her down at a table and let her describe what she wants so you can help direct her to the traits, feats, and skills that make it work. Have her read them and chose what she wants; all while the experienced players are doing the same things for themselves. They don't need help but she could use some guidance without pressure to help her get comfortable.

Your little Temporal Edit is a great idea for letting the party all tweak characters. This way she gets a chance to rebuild with a little more experience and the vets don't get left out either. I'll have to remember that for later.

Community / Forums / Gamer Life / General Discussion / A new player has cast slow on my game All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.