Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Gaming with kids - part two

Following on from my previous observations about role-playing with your kids, this post is all about fun.

This I believe should be a major part of kid orientated games.

But what makes fun? To be honest, I'm not entirely sure, however my wholly inaccurate list is:

This nebulous concept is as good as useless, but almost sums up the whole 'fun' ethos. For my part this involves keeping the story going, putting on voices for NPCs (which serves me no embarrassment whatsoever for kids, different for adults), sound effects (whether made personally or music files) and making all the die rolls as exciting as I can make them. I have even tried a campaign theme tune (not had much opportunity to really put this to test, but it seems to have worked for the second session I did).

Avoid obfuscation
Adult players struggle with a convoluted plot, kids? Keep things simple, black and white works best, until that one time you really need it, and then BAM! it has the resonance you really wanted.

Almost part of the above, but kids sometimes need a helping hand. However, unlike with adults you can be pretty blatant about it, 'why don't you talk to that merchant?' and not suffer backlash, kids need focus, one clear goal followed by another.

This will be provided by the noises you make should you follow the atmosphere advice, but this also incorporates comedy characters who are almost there for no other reason. My kids love R2-D2 and C3PO, they laugh at the derided Jar-Jar Binks and the antics of The Clone Wars Battle Droids. As much as you may personally detest these elements George knew what he was doing.

Set pieces
You know when you are in the cinema and the good guys do something incredibly cool, or you see the massive scale of the enemy ship or the space battle, the moments that make you smile. These are the moments that your kids want to experience, they want to see the sweeping vista, hold power, enact things they never can, RPGs allow this happen so we should allow them to see and do them.

I love props, I love the ology books that allow you to see and touch spy documents, or spell components, or ancient mysteries. We can provide these too, with modern technology 'realistic' looking documents are only a matter of time (and FontSpace!), we can raid toy boxes and cupboards, and all of those other things you have collected along life's journey. Need a map? Grab an out of date OS map for next to nothing, need to search a suitcase for clues? Well who's to tell you what to do!

Two of my favourite and most simple props are poker chips and dice. In my Danger Patrol game white chips represent Plot Points (Fate Points, Luck Points, call them what you will) and Blue, Red and Black represent levels of injury, very simple and a tactile wy of knowing how a character is doing.

For my kids I also ordered a set of polyhedrals in their favourite colour, they are their dice, and it's nice to know they know where they are at all times (well almost). This was one of the reasons I chose Danger Patrol too, as it utilises all of the dice except the d20, one day I will buy them multiple d6 too but we are enjoying are gaming (when we can) so see no point at present.

This will be the point where I lose people I think, but I find my kids love miniatures. I have allowed them to choose rennaisance/piratical minis and spy-fi/sci-fi ones at present, and they are extremely happy with them. I have yet to paint them but that does not seem to phase them at all. Chuck in some terrain, cardboard, resin or whatever you have and they will respond to the action, in my experience more than when I did a pure 'talk-y' session. And if your first thought is that that seems expensive my kids are equally happy with paper miniatures.

I am planning a post on paper miniatures very soon, so stay tuned for that.

However all of the above is blown away by far by the most important element - setting, which is why I will discuss that in my next post.

Until next time Steve

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