Kids RPG Journal – #2 System Requirements

I’m thinking about how to best select a RPG system to run for the boys.

I’m most familiar with D&D, with over twenty years experience DMing, and there is a lot I love about it, particularly the job they’ve done with 5e. However, I don’t believe it is suited for younger kids, definitely not six-year-olds. Too many rules and an emphasis on resolving conflicts by hitting them with a sword takes it off of my list. While I’ve run some very creative encounters, it is all due to extra effort by the players and DM, not built into, nor particularly encouraged by the system, meaning that most scenarios lean towards combat, and combat can become somewhat tedious.

So that means I need to find a RPG system that will suit the style of play I want, and that means I actually need to move away from a vague notion of what I want and have some solid requirements:

1) The game should be rules-light and story-heavy

2) The game should encourage creativity, without the onus all on the GM.

3) The game should not focus on combat. There are a myriad solutions for encounters without ever drawing weapons. Violence should not always be the preferred method for dealing with monsters and adversaries.

4) We should be able to run a game/play characters without reading large blocks of text. The boys are just getting into reading on their own and difficult texts will only frustrate them and slow the game down to a crawl.

5) I should be able to easily integrate ideas and practices from my own work on monsters and folklore. This is obviously a purely selfish requirement, but I have a lot of research already done that I think would be fun to play with.

6) Finally, we should all be able to focus on having fun, not continually checking to see if we can do the things we want or not. The game system will need to be flexible enough to make changes on the fly if it means a better experience.

Tomorrow, I’ll start looking at some possible systems that may work for us.

Kids RPG Journal – #1 Motivations

Recently, my twin boys turned six. It now feels like a good opportunity to begin working on something I have wanted to do for a long time: write and run RPG adventures for them.

We’ve played a couple of games with them in the past, mostly Monte Cook’s No Thank You Evil!, which the boys enjoyed. This time I wanted to do something a little more tailored to their interests as well as my own.

In order to do that, I decided to take a step back and look at the reasons why I want to do this and what I’m hoping everyone gets out of it.

Learning Experience

My first reason is purely educational. I am a long-time believer that RPGs like D&D are great educational tools and how they build problem-solving, literacy, history, math and social skills. Most of my youth was spent researching games, monsters and cultures for D&D, so naturally I gravitate towards sharing it as a learning method.

My boys are just now really digging into learning to read on their own and doing basic math. It feels like a really good time to go for it.

Interest is High

The boys are really into the How To Train Your Dragon and Harry Potter. They like Alexander’s Prydain books, and loved the Black Cauldron movie. They are excited for  us to read the Spiderwick Chronicles soon. I think they are just a bit young to make it through The Hobbit, but they go through a lot of my illustrated monster manuals and books on folklore to check out all of the strange creatures. They like the monster drawings I do and make requests for their favorite beasts.

I naturally associate all of these subjects of monsters and wizards and Vikings with gaming. Why not strike while the iron is hot?

Storytelling

Like most kids, my boys are awesome at creating tales and situations. They are natural storytellers. Creativity and improvisation are required for RPGs and will only improve their skills.

It’s something I want to foster and give them permission to carry that on into adulthood.

 Coming Together with Passion

My wife and I make a point to read, draw, and play with the boys. One thing we haven’t done is make time for regular family game nights. This is almost entirely my fault as I just don’t like board games all that much. I have a difficult time getting excited and passionate about them. I feel like I’m faking it for them and that isn’t how I want the game nights to go.

I don’t know what it is about games that I don’t like, but I get really uncomfortable and put out when I have to play games meant for more than one person.  Ask me to participate in a trivia night, a board game or even a white elephant gift exchange and I’ll show you my magical disappearing act. The exception to that is RPGs.

I’ve been passionate about RPGs for decades since I first discovered D&D in the mid-eighties and can show true passion when putting a game together. There’s no better subject for me to play with my kids than this.

Versatility

RPGs are really only limited by our imaginations. Anything we want to add, we can. If there is something that the boys are having trouble with or are really interested in, then it can be integrated as a parallel subject/character/adventure within the game.

Ownership

Finally, I want to give them the chance to play characters that they create themselves. Not something from a TV show or comic or toy that they have, but from their imagination. Since they are six, the initial characters will start off pretty derivative (So far the requests have been to play Toothless or Thor), but with time, they will develop their own personalities and histories of failure and success.

This is a lot to put on a simple game night and I don’t intend to focus on all of these for every gaming session, but I’ll try to have a specific goal in mind when we sit down to play. No matter how the game evolves, I know that we’ll all have a lot of fun and that is always be the number one goal.

Mummy

mummy

The mummy is a dusty old walker originally hailing from the hot lands of the far south. Opposite of the ghoul and other abandoned dead, the mummy is unable to make the journey to the underworld because it is bound to our world by elaborate funerary rites, either intentionally or by accident.

Sometimes less is more when saying goodbye, particularly when removing and pickling parts. These rites must be undone if the dead is to find peace.

Wraith

wraith

The wraith has spent so much of its life twisting every thought and every discussion back to itself that it failed to notice its own death. Its form has become as warped and wracked as the shriveled black heart inside, obsessing about losing their skill, power, or beauty.

Not only do they do this creepy backwards walking crawling thing, but their very touch, and I dare say five minutes conversation, will drain one of vigor and will to live.

Draug

draug

The Draug is what you get when the biggest jerk in town finally eats grave-dirt. These people were so vile in life that it corrupted the body so much it refuses to die and turns into a big, bloated, blue-skinned monster.

They are vengeful wights seeking to do harm and guard wealth they hoarded in life. Unfortunately, being nasty has given their corpses some pretty sweet powers, such as ability to walk through walls, light fetch fire, the evil eye, and shape shifting.

Ghoul

ghoul

The ghoul is the walking corpse of a person abandoned in the wild who likes to consume both the living and the dead. These leathery, eyeless husks seek revenge on those who abandoned them through snacking. They cannot end their eternal buffet until they receive proper burial rituals.

Vampire

vampire

 

The vampire is an extremely bitey Walker who uses seduction and mesmerism to drink the blood of those whom it knew in life. Quite the flirt, these creatures can draw in victims through longing, guilt and the allure of eternal death, though they’re constantly leaving grave dirt on the floor and have dank carrion breath.

Barrow Wight

barrow wight

The barrow wight can be found in old tombs or lonely moors trying to warm themselves with fetch fire. While they are one of the hungry dead, instead of flesh and blood, these wights seek the warmth of human touch.

Do not take pity, for they are deadly and the merest touch will chill you to the bone, much like the winter nights when someone—you know who you are—tries to slide their icy rump under the covers and stick it right on you.

On Ghouls

On Ghouls comic

This is the first in a series of comic pages I’m developing for a project that I hope to have out later this year. I’ll post these as they are completed.

Transcript:

This is a Ghoul.

Created from corpses abandoned in the wild or on battlefields, it lacks the rituals of burial to move on.

It seeks human flesh to fill the emptiness of undeath; particularly from those it knew in life. Woe be to any who wronged the Ghoul before its lonely death, for they are sure to be its first snack.

However, this misguided desire for final rest makes the ghoul particularly susceptible to items associated with burial rite, such as church bells and consecrated earth.