Ideal Introductory Adventure

by Hawke Robinson published 2019/02/02 17:04:00 GMT-7, last modified 2022-09-28T11:20:39-07:00
This is for discussion and heavy revision from everyone (whole world welcome!) as we try to nail down these recommended guidelines.

Outline of Ideal Drop In & RPG Intro 1-shot Adventure
Revision 20190202a
Criteria, parameters, notes, recommendations, requirements, outlines, and other details.
Initial draft by W.A. Hawkes-Robinson
Additional review and submissions by:

Table of Contents
Introduction 2
Drop In & RPG Program Requirements 3
Tiers 3
Tier 1 3
Tier 1 Offerings List 3
Tier 1 Introductory RPG Requirements Checklist 4
Tier 2 5
Tier 2 Offerings List 5
Tier 2 Requirements Checklist 5
Tier 3 5
Tier 3 Offerings List 6
Tier 3 Requirements Checklist 6
Tier 4 6
Tier 4 Offerings List 6
Tier 4 Requirements Checklist 6
Tier 5 6
Tier 5 Games List 6
Tier 5 Requirements Checklist 6
Rejected Tier 6
Rejected Games List 7
Rejected Tier Requirements List 7





At RPG Research, in addition to our research programs and volunteer training programs, we have a number of community outreach programs designed to be as accessible and inclusive as possible in the hopes of raising awareness and introducing the joys and benefits of collaborative music and role-playing games to as wide an audience of possible.

RPG Research is a 100% volunteer-run peer-learning/training, open international community research and human services 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization. We provide an open, free community website with open international research repository of information. We focus on the effects and potential uses of collaborative music and games to help improve lives.

The Drop In & RPG sessions are also the next stage in training our volunteers. They start training in our in-lab protective “bubble”, and then step-by-step apply that training in the “wild” under supervision with these programs. This incremental immersive learning approach then better prepares them for running programs in unsupervised settings and their own endeavors worldwide.

We especially try to target new audiences to encourage them to try something they have never done before. While we welcomed existing musicians and gamers, we have a rule that the most senior players are expected to give up their seat for the newest ones, especially those that have never played before, if we are at maximum seating capacity.

We welcome all audiences typically from ages 5 on up. So far our youngest has been 2.5 years old (with guardian assistance), and oldest 82 years old.

We encourage folks with all levels of functioning and/or disabilities to join in the fun, and try to have as much equipment and training on hand to accommodate as many people as possible.
These sessions are typically 3 hours maximum play.

NOTE: While this document is focused as a discussion specific to the Drop In & RPG Programs freely offered through the non-profit 501(c)3 RPG Research, as it is with all of our programs, we are not in any way suggesting our way is the only way, or best way, for everyone else. We are just trying to establish a minimum standard as a starting point for suggestions and guidelines that hopefully will help us standardize volunteer staff training and services provisioning on our end, while at the same time we hope sharing these documents will help other individuals and organizations, whether professionals or non-professionals, have a starting point that can then be modified to better fit their specific needs and preferences. We hope everyone will share, so that the rising tide of shared knowledge “floats all boats”.

We really want and appreciate input, suggestions, ideas, (friendly & constructive) critiques, etc. So please do speak up!








Drop In & RPG Program Requirements
Your requirements will differ from ours depending on different goals, backgrounds, perspectives, participants, etc. We hope what we’re doing is helpful and applicable to others, but we know that it is impossible to have “one size fit all”, and are not trying to do so in any way.

Our game offerings are frequently updated online here:

Drop in and RPG programs are typically limited to about 3 hours of activity time. Volunteer staff show up about 30 minutes before start time to set up, run the sessions until about 15-30 minutes before end time, and then wrap up and try to have everything put away at the top of that hour, and have a post-session debriefing (processing) discussing what was observed, lessons learned, notes taken, integration into the research repository, etc.

Currently, our game offerings are broken into several tiers based on expected GM experience/training level, and the likely target participants in that tier.

The majority of games offered at Drop In & RPG sessions will be Tier 1, with some Tier 2 offerings. Tier 3+ are generally for targeted research and other special programs outside the scope of RPG Research’s Drop In & RPG community outreach program.

Tier 1

Level 0 to 1 Game Master Trainees. From zero to many years GM experience.
Expected to be training and working toward internal diploma list of goals that includes 5 game system 1-shots and 1 campaign. These are not in any specific order, but are only listed numerically for easy of tracking.

Tier 1 Offerings List
2. D&D (Basic BECMI or 5e) BECMI may be preferred for at-risk & high-risk because better built-in heroic behavior modification rules than 5e (non-existent).
3. AiME or TOR
4. Doctor Who
5. Super Hero system (we are heavily researching & evaluating which one).
6. 1 campaign from one of the above.





Tier 1 Introductory RPG Requirements Checklist

Focusing on the role-playing game program requirements.
3-5 players per table preferred (we’ve squeezed in 8 per table if absolutely necessary but not ideal at all).
Must be complete introductory adventure in 2.5 to 3 hours maximum, complete “1-shot”.
Introductory adventure. Doesn’t have to be first level, but does need to assume the players have never participated in any kind of role-playing game previously.
Must assume that the players have no prior knowledge of the setting at all. Doesn’t ruin anything if they do, but must not be required to know anything about the setting to be successful and enjoy.
Built-in core-rules heroic play behavior modification preferred for all populations, but especially important with at-risk populations, and required for high-risk populations.
System must be simple enough to pick up in just a few minutes, but able to grow to be enjoyable for many years if they decide to start playing regularly. (See SWFFG vs. Dr Who example)
Must offer enough game play for up to 3 hours of fun (even if several adventures completed in that time).
While campaign option is not required, it is better if there is an easy progression from the introduction adventure into an ongoing campaign.
Game system rules must be currently in physical print and easily purchasable by the participant (PDF is nice addition but not sufficient if no Print on Demand (PoD) option readily available).
Game rules should be introduced in layers, starting out with the bare minimum to get the game underway as quickly as possible (preferably within 5-10 minutes), and then layering in the additional rules as they become necessary. If it requires more than 5 minutes rules discussion about how to start playing, then it is too long.

Maximum 30 minutes to make new characters, versus just picking pregens.

Ideally (though rarely exists these days unfortunately) any “Starter Kits” should include a solo adventure module to let a player start learning the basics on their own without requiring anyone else to play. (See section on Frank Mentzer BECMI Red Box 1983)
Also ideal (and far more rare), is a walk-the-GM through step-by-step introduction adventure that does not require reading through ahead to start running a game for friends. (See section on Frank Mentzer BECMI Red Box 1983).


Tier 2
Level 2 Game Master Trainees. Game Masters that have completed their Tier 0 & 1 level training and diplomas, and are now working on (or completed) their level 2 training diploma. Currently these are not in any specific numerical order requirement, but are numbered for ease of tracking and assessment.

Tier 2 Offerings List
Call of Cthulhu – Accepted for Tier 1. Not for many at-risk, and not for any high-risk populations, but great for many others. This is Tier 2 because of the at-risk/high-risk criteria.
Star Wars, FFG – Accepted for Tier 2. Not eligible for Tier 1 due to 3 reasons:

Star Trek Adventures (new, to be assessed)

Shadowrun (being assessed)

Dresden Files (being assessed)


Paranoia – Accepted for Tier 2. Not for most at-risk, and no high-risk, populations.

Firefly/Serenity. Prefer Serenity over Firefly, but problem is out-of-print issue. Debating.

Old West RPG – Prefer for Tier 2, but having difficulty finding one that meets all criteria. Still researching.

Steampunk. Researching.

GURPS Cops. The only police procedural we have been able to find in print. Evaluating.


Tier 2 Requirements Checklist

Tier 3
These are especially for educational targeted games.

Tier 3 Offerings List
1. pending

Tier 3 Requirements Checklist

Tier 4
These are especially geared for “heavy” topics and/or heavily focused on therapeutic goals.

Tier 4 Offerings List
1. pending

Tier 4 Requirements Checklist


Tier 5
These are targeted for “Alternative Populations”. These are the highest risk factor and/or most complicated systems that may still have some benefit for very small minorities of specific populations. Requires the highest levels of training to maintain efficacy and not either cause high levels of group devolution/dissolution or potential harm to participants. Despite their risks, they must have some kind of significant value to still be included, otherwise if no value will not be in any tier offering.

Tier 5 Games List
1. pending


Tier 5 Requirements Checklist


Rejected Tier
The list of games that we have evaluated and decided do not fit any of our goals and are not planned to be offered at any level, or that the licensing requirements are too prohibitive for us to use in our programs.

Rejected Games List
1. All Green Ronin products (licensing)
2. pending

Rejected Tier Requirements List




The Theoretical Ideal Introductory Adventure Outline

























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