A curious but rewarding experience of club life is guiding the first steps of new role players, after all, each of us rolled a dice for the first time at some point. Whilst it must seem like a whole jumble of numbers, narratives, rules and pictures the first thing I try to do is keep the character sheets away from the players as much as possible for their first go and get their attention. Everyone has a character sheet in front of them of course but I take ownership when I run the session as strictly speaking they are primarily there for the GM to resolve mechanics - yes there is all the character based stuff but that can be just ignored for the first few goes.
It is interesting to see how the brain fills in the blanks though; small teams of people do start to cooperate instinctively and when challenged with simple tasks new players will tend to brainstorm naturally just like a project team at work, and occasionally individuals do try things out. In the DnD for example, the party did spend a lot of time trying to open a city gate -but to be fair they didn't really know what the consequences or rules were but if confidence doesn't spur someone on then boredom will - simply climbing over the gate and unlocking it from the other side would not normally be a lengthy affair. But when presented with an alien game it can be a slow realization that you can actually manipulate things in the same way as you can in real life.
Things of course began to click quickly after that and the players really started looking around, investigating their environment and had their first fairly passive encounter, albeit with a mad person. With a brief introduction to a strong but innocuous personality, the penny starts to drop and the players wandered confidently into a city tavern rich with atmosphere and bustling with adventure and intrigue. The party weren't quite delegating tasks properly as they were all sort of wandering around together as a single entity but given a couple of small combats, emphasis starts to differentiate their roles and subsequently I introduced some simple choices for the players as a first step to handing them their own responsibility and destiny - choices after all have consequences and it will be time for some tough love soon enough.
It will be interesting to see at what point their individual characters begin to dictate actions in opposition to both the group dynamic as well as against their personal opinions, which is sort of the end game of a role playing beginning. The real real trick though is not just to stay alive in any given situation but to avoid being at each others throats when things really get dicey.