Looking into the “adult” RPGs, I already know that I am going to completely avoid any with a bunch of rules that the players have to deal with, so that means D&D and Pathfinder are automatically out. I’ve never felt compelled by the Savage Worlds system, and I simply haven’t had time to get into Burning Wheel, though I’ve had the Mouse Guard on my wish list forever.
There are other lesser known games that I have enjoyed, but just don’t have enough meat on the bones to help me run the games I want, like Seven Leagues.
So what I have on my list is FATE, Powered by the Apocalypse games, and Gumshoe. All three are not strictly combat-oriented and encourage different modes of play.
Honestly, even though FATE was my first exploration into less rules heavy games, I have only played it a couple of times. That has not kept me from being really fascinated by it. I love the cinematic nature and freedom that Aspects play in all encounters. It is definitely my speed when it comes to story-driven RPGs.
However, I fear that it might just a little too freeform for the kids. Since I would be putting most of the situational Aspects on the table, I fear that I’ll end up railroading the group unintentionally. The kids often latch on to my suggestions, and I don’t know that I want the direction of every encounter to be limited by my own imagination. Or that they’ll pick on particular character Aspect and try to hammer that in all situations.
PASS: Maybe I just haven’t had enough actual experience with FATE to properly wrap my head around how to run it with the kids. I’m moving away from it with more of a gut instinct than anything I can put my finger on.
I am really drawn to investigative games and I really like some of the dynamics of Gumshoe. It is, however, essentially a resource management game and I don’t know how much fun that would be for six-year-olds. Also, I may be tempted to unintentionally make any mysteries too difficult for them to solve, just by the investigative focus. Maybe when they’re a little older, we can try out Bubblegumshoe.
PASS: Like I stated above, Gumshoe might be more my thing than something I do with the kids at this point.
Dungeon World (Powered by the Apocalypse system)
I really like PbtA games. For this, I’m only really considering Dungeon World, though I could make some interesting adjustments to Monster of the Week. Aside from the flexible story-telling focus of Dungeon World, and the incredible GM tools (which I already use pretty heavily when I run D&D games), the biggest point in favor for using this with the kids is the concept of Moves.
There are a limited number of actions that the players (and GM can perform) called Moves. While the small number of moves, may seem limiting, it actually allows for very broad interpretations and inspires creative usage. What I like about them is they can represented with a couple of key words and graphic representations, which will prevent any hurdles for the kids. The game will start with no more than a dozen actions they can perform in all situations.
I would need to create all new classes (playbooks) and their corresponding moves to go in the game, but that’s nothing really different from what I would have to do for any other system.
ACCEPT: Dungeon World is simple enough that I can easily modify portions without worrying too much about ruining the play experience. I think the boys could easily grasp the mechanics of the game and not be overwhelmed.
Final Verdict: I believe the best solution will be a mashup of both Sidekick Quests and Dungeon World with my customized classes and moves to encourage other solutions for monster and adversary encounters. Primarily, I will use the mechanics of Dungeon World, but will keep a lot of the presentation similar to the setup for Sidekick Quests.
Tomorrow, I will talk a little bit more of what I imagine that will entail.