With two long running games having come to a conclusion for me recently, it should come as no surprise that starting a new game is on my mind. I figure this may be a good chance to go step by step through the process - as I see it - of starting a new game. Today I want to talk about the first steps.
Do Folks Want To Play?
The first thing you need for a game is players. You need some number, greater than 1, of players and you need someone willing to be the GM. This is the first, and most important check to make. If you're starting a new game from scratch, do you have players who want to play and someone who wants to GM? If you just had a game end and want to start a new game, do the people involved still want to be involved?
Don't just assume folks are still going to be available. Lives can be complex, and while it is very likely your players/gm still want to play games, they may need the time game took back for other parts of their life.
Who Is GMing?
If you have players, you need to figure out who is GMing and who is Playing. The GM counts as a player, but they have a specific role in running the game. I'm fortunate to have a lot of GMs in my group, so usually someone wants to run, but other groups may not. It's not uncommon for their to be 1 GM who runs the games and almost never plays.
What Are You Playing?
The answer to this, and the previous question, is what my Friday group will be deciding this Friday. When it comes to what we're playing there are two general approaches. The most common one is someone who wants to GM has an idea for a game and is looking for players to play in the game.
The other way iis what happens when you have multiple GMs. Namely, you ask everyone what they're looking to play: what genre, what system, what type of game, etc. Then - perhaps - the potential GMs can make their pitches for what they want to run, and the group figures that out.
Either way, the what are you playing conversation and who is GMing is a conversation to have with the group.
Ground Rules and Changes
If you know who is GMing and what the game is going to be, it's time to discuss ground rules. A lot of groups have set ground rules that don't need to be discussed. This includes how serious the game is going to be, what content is not wanted in the game, what contest is wanted in the game, etc, etc.
Even in those groups with set rules it is good to re-affirm them and remind people of them. It keeps everyone on the same page.
It's also worth discussing any changes you expect as a new GM or as a player in a new game. Do you have more serious or lax attendance requirements? Let people know. Did the previous GM regularly e-mail game was happening, but you expect people to remember the schedule? Let them know. Having people on the same page is always a good idea going into the game.
Next you have character creation...but that's its own topic.