How to Bring a New Player Into Your Roleplaying Campaign
...If that headline doesn’t make you wince a little bit in sympathetic pain, I envy you: because you have apparently led a charmed life when it comes to roleplaying games (RPGs). The rest of us all know how a new player can be a (either temporary, or semi-permanent) problem player. Some of us have even been that problem player, although nobody really likes to admit that they were once the bad guys, however unintentionally. Still, getting new blood is part of getting the RPG hobby (dare I say, ‘lifestyle?’) to grow. So let’s make it as painless as possible, shall we?
We’ll break this up into three sections:
If you are the gamemaster (GM): congratulations! You sucked in another player for your campaign! Well done. Now try to keep him. First off, if it’s “let’s keep her:” you can have your girlfriend play. You can have your not-girlfriend play. But if you’d like your new player to be your girlfriend then GMing for her is not as optimal a method of achieving that result as is simply, well, asking her on a date or something. Substitute genders as needed or desired here, but the advice remains the same: your potential love interest is primarily there to play. So play*.
Aside from that, the most practical thing that I can think of when it comes to bringing a new player in is to have that player first show up at the table by roleplaying some of the non-player characters** (NPCs). Doing this will give that player an idea of the existing group dynamic, what the party is looking for in a new player-character (PC), what the party needs in a new PC, and a direct look at how everybody plays and acts while around the table. Plus, it can provide exposures to both the regular and house rules for the game, which will hopefully save time later. And, of course, it will help everybody get to the point where they all decide whether this new player is really going to fit in, or not. Which is kind of important to resolve early.
If you are already playing: congratulations! You guys have somebody who can join the group! Well done. Now don’t scare him off. Moderation is one of your touchstones for this sort of thing: you don’t want him to feel like he’s intruding, and you definitely don’t want to make him feel like he’s in a cult. The other touchstone? Patience. Sure, the rules of the game are right there in the book, which you’ve of course read twenty times or so because reading RPG books for fun is what gamers do. But not everybody does; and not everybody can. It will probably take your new fellow party-member as much time as it took you to get up to speed -- and if you think that it didn’t take you any time at all to get up to speed when you started roleplaying… sure. Whatever you say. Be patient anyway.