How would you run a "tutorial" for a new player?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


Say there's just one but they've never played before so they don't really know the rules. What would you do? I think it would be cool to have the herald of whatever god they follow show up and teach them. You'd obviously have to metagame since you would have to explain game terms and how stuff works. I also think each herald's teaching style would be different depending on the god i.e the First Blade would probably be like a drill sergeant while Thais would be more flirty and snarky.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The Player needs to learn the rules, not their character. Having the GM use an NPC to teach the rules to a Player's character, so the player will learn it seems really weird to me.

Much easier to just have the GM talk to the Player.

Creating a solo adventure for them to take their character through while you explain the rules is fine, but trying to teach the rules 'in character' when they are something the player, but not the character, needs to understand will probably just create confusion.

Grand Lodge

I generally agree with Dave. I think it's typically best for new players to just jump in the game, and enjoy the story. Pregens or DM assisted builds can help here, as creating a character can be daunting.

The game can pause itself as a rule becomes relevant, and the DM can explain the mechanics, and the player's options at that point. I think this is best done out of character. I do recommend that new players start at lower level characters so that the learning curve isn't as harsh. I have found that for most players there are really only about 5 rules they need to know immediately: High Numbers are better, Skill checks, movement rules, attacks rolls, damage rolls. The rest comes up naturally and differently for every character.

If your other players are concerned about waiting for a character to learn the rules, a solo adventure makes sense. I have typically not seen a problem with this, other than experienced players can overwhelm new players by trying to provide too many rules at once. I do recommend that new players sit closest to the DM so that rules can be explained, and finding things on character sheet is easier.

I would also allow a free retrain of their character after the first 2 levels, as they decide what character they really want to play based on their experience and expanded knowledge of the rules.

Grand Lodge

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I think the best way to do it is just run them through a very simple scenario (i.e. you are going through this jungle/forest/cave system/city and have to catch/escape from the BAD GUY) that allows you to show how skills work and such, with one simple combat at the end, while you explain the game mechanics while their character does each thing.

"You're running through the jungle/forest/cave system/whatever and you come upon a fallen log/pit/ledge blocking your path! How do you get away from/catch up to the BADGUY(TM)? climb over? Cool! Here is how you roll a climb skill and why your character class is better/worse than other at that (i.e. class skill, etc.). Jump over? Cool! Here is how acrobatics works. Smash it with your weapon/fist/forehead/a herring? Cool! Here's how attacks against objects work. You come upon a village/guard post/campsite, there are villagers/guards/campers are there who may have seen the BADGUY(TM) or who might help you hide from the BAD GUY. Do you try to get help from them? Here is how diplomacy/bluff/intimidate works. Here is how bluff is different from intimidate. You catch the BADGUY(TM)/The BADGUY(TM) catches up with you! He/she/it looks like *description*. Explain how the knowledge skills will let them figure out things about the BADGUY(TM). Do you try to sneak away from/sneak up on him? Cool! Here is how stealth/perception work. Have a locked chest somewhere with loot in it. Here is how disable device/sunder/knock spell works. Basically expose them to the simple concepts of the gameplay mechanics in a very simple way, but one that lets them choose how to approach the problem in their own way, and then explain how the rules allow them to do the thing.

At the end, have a simple combat so that you can illustrate the combat rules, including movement, 5 foot step, attacks, AOOs, etc... Make it something that they will prevail pretty easily, but use it to show the different core concepts of combat. "As you enter the area, the BADGUY(TM) shoots at you with a crossbow! Here is how ranged attacks work, and what can affect the attack. You were behind a tree when the BADGUY(TM) fired? Cool! That makes you harder to hit because you have cover, and here is the penalty that BADGUY(TM) has to hit attempt to hit you. You snuck up on him and smashed him with your herring before he saw you? Cool! Here is how sneak attack works. Explain flanking and how that works by having some other NPC join the fight against BADGUY(TM).

That should give a basic understanding to your player without overloading them with too many things all at once. I basically did this thing with two folks who never played before and joined my weekly game, and they were able to pick up the basics pretty quick. I just took a PFS scenario, simplified it for my purpose, and ran that for them. They are still learning more of the intricacies of the game, but they had the core concepts down after that first session. With very complicated rule sets, I find that learning-by-doing is much better. I would stay away from the lore aspects of things until they have a firm grasp of the mechanics of how the game is played.

Most importantly, I encourage them to ask questions whenever they are not sure about how to mechanically do something, or if they CAN do something (the answer is almost always "yes, here is how you can try to do that thing you just asked about.."), and encourage the other players in the group to help out as well answering questions. Heck, I ask a lot of questions of the players in my game as they have a LOT more experience with pathfinder than I do.

My personal opinion is that using an NPC in-game to convey mechanics of the game system could be confusing the difference between role playing the character and discussing the results of game mechanics.

One last word of advice: Don't let a first time player try to learn the system with a caster. Magic rules just add an extra level of complexity to an already intimidating rule set. I learned this the hard way. Your mileage may vary though.

Just my $0.02, take it for what its worth.


I guess I was thinking about how videogame tutorials usually work (with an NPC in game telling you how things work). Though, you're right, that doesn't really translate well to Tabletop.


I'm about to start a group for Skull & Shackles in about two weeks and am thinking about running a short dungeon before the AP actually starts. The group is 3-4 new people that haven't played Pathfinder, but are at least a little familiar with D&D 5e. The plan is sort of a rats in the tavern cellar situation, with some other creatures a little deeper that chased the rats out into the cellar. I also plan to include some obstacles that have multiple ways to clear them, to demonstrate the different skill checks that may apply to different situations. I think if it goes the way I'm thinking it will work better than just saying you can do all these things with no actual experience doing them.


This is a great place to use a 5 Room Dungeon. Small, self-contained and easily digestible even to new players, even at low level.

The "dungeon" can be any setting made up of 5 formulaic encounter types:

[sploiler=Rooms in the Dungeon]Room 1/Entrance: where the party comes into the situation; sets the tone for the adventure.

Room 2/Puzzle or RP Encounter: a good way to throw a curve ball at your players with a "thinking" challenge; generally if they faced some sort of physical/combat encounter in room 1, this room serves as it's opposite type.

Room 3/Setback: the end is in sight but your party needs to get past this to get there. This room hopefully builds some tension before the end of the adventure.

Room 4/Boss Fight: the big set-piece fight scene or encounter of the adventure, where the mission comes to a head.

Room 5/Resolution or Plot Complication: this can either be the treasure/reward for completing the adventure or perhaps some new twist the PCs need to deal with.[/spoiler]

Here's an example for level 1 PCs:

Goyle and Vanya:

Setup: a local city Ratcatcher named Goyle has asked the party to accompany him and his niece/apprentice, Vanya, through the sewers to an underground ruin in order to raid an old cache of hidden wines and valuables there. They've hired the PCs because there are signs a Reefclaw lurks in the waters here.

Room 1: Oh, rats/CR 1

Goyle and Vanya are leading from the back so the PCs are the first to face a trio of giant rats (x2 Dire Rats, 1 Donkey Rat with the Simple: Advanced template) barring passage into the briny inlet tunnels

Room 2: Dread Remains/CR 1

After defeating the rats the party presses on into an intersection. One of the four grates has been smashed, likely by the Reefclaw's pincers, and the ravaged remains of several rats have been left here to rot. The direction the party wants to go has been so damaged that there is a Collapsing Floor Trap in their way. Curiously, the water level is much lower here than Goyle and Vanya think it should be.

Room 3: Diversions/CR 1

Following the shallow seawater inlets to what should be a narrow crack in the wall the PCs instead find a section of masonry and floor which has caved in. Where there should be a long, vaulted hallway leading up into the abandoned wine cellar is instead a rough pool of murky seawater which has been flooding the chamber for days. PCs must navigate the pool between piles of shifting rubble; falling into the water, which acts as a Tainted Water hazard, delivers a Fatigued effect if PCs don't manage a DC 11 Fort save

Room 4: The Flooded Cellar/CR 2

Upon finally reaching the far end of the vault the water churns with the movements of the Reefclaw lurking here. The monster has been digging into the silt beneath the brick floor in order to prepare a spawning bed. It will defend its new lair with its life.

Room 5: Treasure and Trouble/CR 1

A few sections of the wine cellar are still above the frigid brine. The walls are honeycombed with niches containing many valuable bottles, as well as a small coffer of valuables, casks of brandy, and sealed containers of trade goods. However with all of the damage the Reefclaw has done, the walls have become unstable; if not properly braced, removing the treasure will start the place shaking and cause a cave in within 5 rounds (giving the PCs time to grab some things before fleeing). One way to run this encounter is just to describe what's going on and work off of initiatives; another is to run it like a Chase Scene, with grabbing items or taking actions being minor obstacles to overcome to beat the cave-in to the "finish line" where the party escapes with their lives


Either help make a PC or make one and give it to the player and then run them through Crypt of the Everflame. It was designed to introduce players to the game and is a super fun module.

The only way to learn is to play. Give them dice and tell them when to roll.


The easiest way to teach a new player is to help them make their own character. Make sure they understand the numbers well enough that when you ask them to make a to hit roll they know what the number is, and what dice they use for damage.

Then just throw them into the deep end. The other players will help them along, and even experienced players need to talk to the GM about what rules to use where on lots of occasions. That too is part of the game.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

The PF beginner box is a great way to show a new player.


We had two new people join our Pathfinder group and we just ran a 9 month campaign. That's the best way imo, just full immersion. You learn about 80% of what you need to know to play the game in the first 3-4 sessions anyway.


My first introduction to Pathfinder (and Tabletop RPGs in general) was at a convention where they ran those little adventures that only take an hour. The GM gave me and the others at the table a pre-gen and we just played the game. Since every stat and bonus was printed on the sheet, it was easier to figure out than it might have otherwise been.

You could try doing some little solo sessions with a couple different characters to show the different combat styles - melee, ranged, magic. Skills should be easy enough to explain.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Maybe instead of a deity's herald they should be instructed by a higher level mentor from the appropriate class? For an easy example, a 5th or 6th level wizard could be teaching a prospective 1st level wizard how to do magic.

If the character has any interesting non-class abilities, maybe their parent of other family member could be offering instruction in that before sending them off to their apprenticeship.


I know this seems really basic but it may depend on whether your noob is an experienced roleplayer or just new to RPG in general.

Definitely make sure they know what we are talking about when we say d20 or d8 or d6. I don't know how many newbie's I've seen who are confused by what we are used to and take for granted. Explain to them what d% are and what they might be used for.

Also. I would explain things in much more basic terms at first.

HP = how much you can get hurt before you die
Attack roll = how easy it is for you to hurt someone
Damage roll = how much you hurt someone

Not that I think people are stupid, but new players often need to have some equivalent that makes it easier to understand before sitting down at the table. Otherwise you tend to tell them when to roll dice and that's about the limit of their involvement.

At the same time, never be afraid to stop the game for what I call "A teaching moment". Experienced players will understand that these are necessary sometimes. For example: I had to stop and explain to a fairly new player about his character's alignment and how it was possible for him to do certain things that did not violate his lawful good status.

Don't stop for every single thing but it's ok to hold up the game for a few minutes for big major stuff.

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