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Sing, o TRO, of younger teenagers and the games you ran for them.

Bliss Authority

Post-Apoc Magical Girl
Validated User
Right now I'm working on a game for a middle school-early high school audience, and I was wondering:

Who here has run games for their kids, or with their kids? Got any good stories about that?
What would you do differently when running a game for young teens?
What games out there would you recommend for younger teens?


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I ran a Warhammer RPG campaign that included a 15-year-old player. He was very smart, but had a habit of losing interest if the focus wasn't on him. He wouldn't pay attention until it was his turn to act... and at that point he'd try to do something that would have made sense only if the other players and NPCs/critters hadn't already taken their actions. Very frustrating. He eventually dropped out, and got involved in a CoC campaign where he continued the same behavior. Very frustrating to everyone involved.


Registered User
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I have introduced dozens of middle-school and high-school students to RPGs over the years. It's fun.
Here's some advice:
1. Don't run a group with more than 5 kids. Kids have lots of obligations, and even with a group of 4 or 5, chances are one kid won't be able to make it in a given week. And kids in a larger group won't want to sit around waiting for their turn.
2. Be prepared for silly and counterproductive decisions in-game. Young players like to poke the game world and see what happens. Don't interfere, just make sure that if players are having their PCs stab random villagers or swing a dead fish instead of a sword, their choices have consequences. Always let the dice fall where they may. In my current teens' campaign, two characters have died already: one from wandering off alone and getting killed by troglodytes, the other from turning traitor on the other PCs and siding with cultists who already knew he had murdered some of their fellows. Oops. Those players are learning fast.
3. Encourage responsibility and creativity. Reward players with extra XP just for showing up. Word will get around. Also give out XP for players who draw character portraits, keep a journal, bring snacks, or clean up.
4. Make the objective/quest/storyline really straightforward, so the players can concentrate on the fun and thrills along the way.
5. Don't have them roll up characters all at once and try to coach them all at the same time to fill in their character sheets. I do it this way: a week before the first game, I have them roll their stats, help them pick a class, then I do all the paperwork and have the sheet ready for them for the first session.

I hope you enjoy passing the dice to the next generation!


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I run Paranoia ever year at Origins and I specifically describe the game so kids are welcome. This year for one session I had a father* and his daughters (ages 10 and 14 I guess) and parents and their three kids (ages 8, 11, 12 I think). Only the father of the two daughters was familiar with Paranoia. It turned out to be a great game.

By happenstance the 8 year old was assigned as the Loyalty officer. This kid let the power go to his head and was fantastic. It wouldn't work for every Paranoia game but he was handing out Treason points to his older sister for things she did to him the previous week at home. He took notes on all the characters and enjoyed the job a little too much.

I don't have kids but thanks to cons I have gamed with them plenty. I live by the yes method with them. Whatever they think to do or come up with I find a way to make it happen. The parents really seem to appreciate it when they see their kids being engaged in a game seeing their creativity. It is a challenge though as some kids don't want a lot of the limelight. I try to get the kids to do things and come up with ideas but if they are not able then I either make something happen or go to one of the more experienced players at the table.

*I was curious why the father had brought his two girls to play Paranoia and asked him about it. He first played Paranoia back in the 80's and had not played in a almost 15 years and had great memories of it. His girls were just getting into gaming and he felt it was his responsibility to have them experience a game like Paranoia. They must have enjoyed it because they came back to play in my game the next year.


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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A troop of Boyscouts wanted to learn "real gaming".

I opted to teach them D&D 3.5, so they could go pathfinder or up or down a few versions. I did not run a traditional D&D mishmash of races, clases, and such. We are playing a game set in the time of English Chivalry (11th to 12th century). They are all squires (fighters), soon to be knights (if they level up a time or two), or are the sons of other key people in their Lord's Castle (ranger, ranger, fighter), or are part of the abby (cleric and cleric). They have realized that the DarkWoods (a magical domain inside the local large GreenWoods forest (east of Nottingham) was contained by ancient druidic wards and that these wards are being broken. So they are tromping through the forest mostly, looking for monsters.... trying to find out who did it and why... and trying not to get in trouble for shirking their duties at the castle.

Character generation was semi-random. Let me explain.

Players were given a list of character's their names, with one line describing their social position and their personalities. Everyone rolled 1d4+1d8+1d12 (teaching them the polys) and highest choose first... and down the line. This determined their first envelope.

Characters were created by combining three cards, each found in an envelope

Envelope 1 : Which was selected by picking a character name:

The First card was the Role Card: That had the following
1) Name, social class, and a quick handle for the personality.
2) Mini-History (3-5 lines of who you were, who you are related to, and who you know.)
3) Six Attributes
4) Character Class or options for Class Fighter or Ranger for example.
5) Skill Selection with most of the skill points spent. I also list how many skill points they have to use (to be spent after they get their feats)
6) A list of several Feat Envelopes See below
7)Character's Special Secret: Each one had one. Everyone was trying to figure out how and when to use it.
8) Character's Goals: Everyone should have goals. These were concrete goals that could of been met in game.
(These last bits are important for gamers and especially NEW GAMERS)

Second envelope was Feats
Each class (there were Fighter (which included the paladin), Ranger, and Cleric) has X+1 envelopes - where X was the number of possible members of that class. So they were listed as things like Powerful (extra damage), Tough (which had extra hit points and bonus to saves), swift (improve initiative, and that sort of thing), (Bow Guy (improved archery), and so on. Rangers had a Master Woodsman envelope which had the tracking feat (one of them had to take that card). The feat listed briefly what it did.

The third envelope was a lottery, who got an extra special. Nobody pulled that envelope as there were X+1 for the game group. Oh well.

Players would listen to me... we would transfer elements from their cards to their character sheets. Questions would be asked and answered. Clarifications.

When we got to skills, they knew they could add several points to their existing skills or take new ones. (some were suggested by their feats).

Players like that they have choices and could take what they wanted... adding it all together to make their new character.

This basic idea of partial generation and mix and match has worked for me in the past in various systems and variations... at both convention games and for new campaigns (with new people).

They got their first taste of combat as we had a small "boys will be boys" incident at the pells. As we have had an encounter, we have added more rules (tightening up what was possible or all the rolls and such). Then they had actual combat against The Boar that had been terrorizing certain folk in the county. They learned some history and the combat systems. They have found some clues, discovered that the local tavern and library has the same information they have... and that going to the Other Town has more information. Later we had them fight a few Orcs.

It was our new sessions, we are just about to begin a fight with many Orcs.
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Registered User
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I ran D&D 3.5 for my daughter. I kept it very simple, straightforward and stripped out things like alignment and anything that seemed too complicated (tons of backstory, for example) and resolved everything in the one session. I let her poke at things and do something's that more experienced players wouldn't do which made the game very unpredictable (& a load of fun to run)

Bliss Authority

Post-Apoc Magical Girl
Validated User
It's great to hear all the people who had a good time teaching kids how to play - and hearing about the failure modes around gaming with teens (sorry to hear about your bad experience, CodexofRome.)

I'm hearing a lot of people mention two things.

1: Simple and quick character creation is a good thing - doing it in advance is probably a good idea, or modifying a more complex system to be less so, or both.
2: Expect them to poke and prod at the setting in surprising ways, just so they can see what happens.

Are these about right?

And please keep sharing your stories! This is super helpful.


Cyborg Space Pirate
Validated User
I ran a game of Adventurer, Conqueror, King last year for a mixed group of Junior & Senior High students, aged 12-18. I found that running an OSR dungeon-crawling game worked really well; combat was fast and deadly, which was important for our short gaming sessions. Rules were simple to grasp, which was good because most of them didn't want to have to read a book before they could play a game. Also, running a dungeon crawl game allowed the players to take on roleplaying their characters as quickly or slowly as they wanted to - some leapt into their roles quite naturally, while others preferred to approach it as a tactical board game, which made everyone feel comfortable.
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