Coord 262: Mentoring Players

Being a mentor to your players involves more than showing someone how to keep a Prestige Log. Being a mentor is about building personal connections, becoming a resource, and building an organization.

Making Connections

While I’ve had a few new players find us through the web, very few contact the organization out of the blue. Most new players join the organization through a friend. And then, dear coordinator, it is your job to make sure they get more than that one connection, to make sure they have a few other brains to pick. This ensures that the new player, a Storyteller, and their friend isn’t out of game for half the night.

Our goal is to make a connection with the new player so that they don’t get lost in the paperwork that comes with being part of an international organization. So often we find ourselves the person that players come to when they don’t know who to talk with — this is not a bad thing.

When you get a new player, establish a personal connection right away by learning their name quickly. Use steady eye contact, note memorable physical features, and speak their name at least once and up to three times within the first conversation to pin the association down.

Plug them into the Domain list quickly, get their contact information onto the sign in sheet right away. This way they feel included immediately, and you can follow up with a thank you the week after game. Engage the new player in conversation briefly, focusing on them — why they they came to game, what they want to experience, and how you can help them jump in.

Once you’ve gauged what kind of game experience the player wants, connect them with what they want. While getting the player a character is the Storyteller’s job, a good Coordinator will enable the Storyteller to tell stories — to get the player playing.

The Storyteller team, can build a cache of pre pre-generated characters from every clan/path/seeming with one of the Mental, Physical, and Social builds. Nothing is more overwhelming to new players than a massive information dump. Keep it brief, and keep it specific to the build they’ve chosen.

It’s a good idea to encourage the team to either leave off covenant/order/etc. or establish a backstory that will let the new player ease into a political faction — a Dragon who has been in torpor, a Guardian of the Veil with amnesia, etc. — if they don’t want to come in as a “new embrace” or “First Change.” It is so very vital to get players going right away or they’ll leave confused after half a game and never, ever come back.

While the Storyteller gets the player their character sheet, a good coordinator will be finding a couple of established players that have characters that will mesh well with the new player’s concept. The good coordinator will connect them with the new player, or will be sure to have a few members at every game ready and willing to help with this, so that they have connections to plot and new friends right away. Aside from a massive information dump, the worst thing you can do to a new player is leave them — often even without their one friend! — to sit all by themselves in a corner.

Be a Resource

Helping a player find the right connections is only the first step to becoming a resource in the Domain. Doing this helps to make you a trusted leader, which not only makes conflict resolution easier, but also makes it easier to recruit volunteers!

To help establish your reputation as a resource, there are three things you need to be: open, honest, and available.

Being an open coordinator means that you are first to the game site and last off the site. This way you are there before game to engage with the people before game, and you can at least try to greet everyone who comes. Announcements need to be published at least two weeks ahead of time, with brief reminders at the game site so the buzz can be built and maintained. Messages should go out over the list from your office once a week to keep up that buzz.

Honesty is absolutely essential. Admit when you don’t know something, but let them know you’ll find out. Don’t be afraid to go up the chain for advice, that’s what the chain is there for.

Be available. You’ll want to run a Domain meeting every month, half an hour before the flagship game will keep it brief and maximize attendance. Office hours are also an excellent idea, try to hold them at least once a month office hours, online or in person — a local coffee house works quite well. When people know they can get a hold of you, they’ll know you care. Most of all, do your best to maintain a fast turn around. If you can’t reply to e-mail within a week, hire an assistant who has access to your Coordinator account who can maintain that turn around in standard.

The technology aspect of the club can be daunting, and that’s another reason you are there for the players. The first step a new player needs to take with our tech is to get an account and a membership — temporary or otherwise.

Check with the Storyteller staff about who still needs to get their characters on the Approvals Database, and ensure that new players get their characters up there so it won’t seem so intimidating.

A video may help.

Please note this is slightly out of date. While access to the approvals site is now through the MES portal, the approvals system still works the same:

Building an Organization

Once you have helped the players build connections in game and guide them through tech and bureaucracy, now you turn towards making the players into an organization.

Many of the things I’ve written about are, in hindsight, obvious. What is not so obvious is the importance of Domain socials. Establishing a regular schedule of Socials will be good for established and new players. This can be as simple as encouraging the domain to all hit a diner together after a game for Afters (or betweens if you run two games and people have time to eat in a big group).

Many of our games have strong elements of Player versus Player in character, so it is absolutely essential to build out of character relationships. We may all have a firm grip in reality, but an accumulation of negative associations with a particular face hurts our relationships in real life whether we like it or not. If the Domain doesn’t have regular socials or regular chances to get to know who these people are in real life, you’ll have a weaker Domain.

The ultimate goal is to help the players become so invested in the Domain that they become a regular volunteer. Be it narrating for a favorite venue or running the Domain’s Charity events as an Assistant Domain Coordinator, a player who is truly invested in an organization will work for the organization.