The Play’s the Thing

The Play's the Thing

Some roleplayers are childish - why aren't more?

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Brilliant story, actually makes me wish I knew some roleplaying folks. Despite my many years of cRPGs, I've never played PnP ones.

Grand message here for MMORPG developers. Also, one should never be surprised when roleplaying happens in a roleplaying game, no matter the age or medium. Imagination is the key, and everyone has one and can make use of it to some degree. All that's needed is an opportunity. Bravo to you, Matt, for making one for those kids!

This article was really interesting, and it was (for want of a better, less wet phrase) heartwarming to see a few friends being introduced to the game. The only experience I've had of DnD is the stripped down version in Neverwinter Nights, but I've always wanted to have a go at in a proper setting. Can anyone recommend a way to get into the hobby?

What was wrong with setting the forest on fire again?

This article was really interesting, and it was (for want of a better, less wet phrase) heartwarming to see a few friends being introduced to the game. The only experience I've had of DnD is the stripped down version in Neverwinter Nights, but I've always wanted to have a go at in a proper setting. Can anyone recommend a way to get into the hobby?

There are a lot of ways to do this, but here are three that work pretty well.

Way 1 - Go to a local hobby shop (or even a Barnes and Noble) to pick up some base books and get a couple of friends willing to put in the time it takes for you (and them) to get used to the concept. This requires a lot of trial and error, but it leads to some of the best gaming moments you'll have because they are so random.

Way 2 - Your local PnP gaming store sometimes will have groups running pickup games on weekends. In Atlanta we had a great place called the War Room that was notorious for this. The good is that people tend to be willing to help out newbies. The bad is that you are usually getting a dungeon crawling experience that is very stat and combat based. A few good moments, but nothing that will really stand out once you get your footing.

Way 3 - Find somebody older, in my case it was my friend's older brother when he came home from Tech on the weekends, to GM and teach the rest of you how to play. Having them handle most of the mechanic calls early on will help you learn how to actually RP first. This is pretty much in line with the original story here. The GM usually has their own book collection as well, so this tends to save a bit of money in the short run.

D&D is a good "first system". Eventually you'll move on to something more suited to your tastes.

Edit: Oh, and don't let a bad first experience spoil things for you. The quality of the experience is a direct result of the quality of the people involved. It may take a few tries, but eventually you'll find a group of people who click well together.

Hahaha, excellent story, loved how it ended.

Warms my heart.

Yay, Kids that will grow up with a healthy imagination! Reminds me of playing Hero Quest as a youngling. It teaches you lots of interesting little skills like maths, problem solving and social interaction. Role Playing Games can be great for kids in a structured enviroment like that where the DM is trying to entertain and get the kids thinking in an abstract way.

You have to have a future quest where the goblin chief pays his debt a la Krull

Really cool :)

I'd like to see this spread.

It's good to see people getting into the act of actually roleplaying in an RPG. It's pretty sad that roleplaying in MMOs (RPGS!!) is seen as laughable by the majority of the brain dead player community.

Reminds me of playing Greyhawk with the DM's younger daughter that played Druid so she could have a pony. It was so much fun!

Excellent story! It reminds me of something happened a few days ago. I was reviewing the new Star Trek MMOG for my magazine, and there were some people advertising their fleet (clan) on the chat, saying they need "mature" people and "roleplayers". I answered "I can't join you, because I'm childish, because I still play video games, and I ENJOY THEM!"

I think "mature" and "roleplayer" are mutually exclusive things. To be a good (or any kind of) roleplayer, you need imagination and a knack for the unexpected. Children by far have the most imaginative thinking and they don't have the inhibitions of adults, that means they say whats on their mind, what they feel is true. That makes them the best roleplayer candidates. Sadly, I started RPGs a little too late, and I do tend to rely on the dice a little too much. I really had to train myself back into a "child-like" state for true immersion and roleplaying.

A fair warning: if you want your kids to be good roleplayers, start training early, they will thank you for it later :)

Its good when people of all ages get and stay in character.

Few years back I ran a game where the characters got locked up by an evil cult, the group leader was seperated from the rest to be tortured (at this point I asked the other players to leave the room). He decided he wanted none of that so proceeded to use his high srength score to try and bash down the door (high Str low Int), he failed both checks then he tried the door handle, the door wasn't locked. Coming upon a second door he again tried to bash it down twice, and failed twice. Sure enough the door wasn't locked. He reunited with the rest of the party and they all asked "What happened?" "How'd you get free?" To which he answered "You can't break down an unlocked door."

I commented on your first post about taking these kids through their first games, and what I said then still applies: a great DM makes the game. I would pay money, alienating both my wife and friends, to sit in on a professionally DM'd game. I played for a bit when I was younger, and though I enjoyed it I was always in the DM's position. This occured for various reasons, all of which don't matter to the story, but I can't help buit feel as though I missed out on being on the otherside of the game. I don't know if your young players know how lucky they are to have someone of your pedigree and calibre running their game, but I do know thatI'd love to be in their shoes. Keep the dream alive my good man.

A wonderful series.

That was a great tale of adventure about a tale of adventure!

I was 10 when I first played D&D (circa 1981 AD&D, actually, with the Basic Set coming a bit later) but as the DM and other players were all 10 as well our overall understanding of the game's mechanics were considerably limited...however, it meant our games were filled with wild, wacky adventure. We'd roll some dice, consult some tables, and play; fun was paramount and it was definitely had. 30 years later, I can still say that fun is paramount in the game (even when I've had the worst of dice-luck days.) As long as I can leave the session and say I'd had fun, it was a good day at the D&D table.

Aye, great story. But do not underestimate the roleplayerness of younger boys... girls, sure (hehe), but I used to play lots of DnD sessions over the net using Neverwinter Nights. You know, with a DM making up stories in a user-created world and so on.

What was wrong with setting the forest on fire again?

No idea. My character's first instinct (a bit insane mithril golem slash human Wizard/Rogue/Fighter, level 28) would be to launch a Hellball on their camp. Sure, it would probably nuke the forest in process, but it would get job done. And when it came to killing the leader, I would just use Greater Ruin.

Yes, I was insane about Epic Spells. But hey, I was in 4th grade myself.

i enjoyed this artical. i bought some starter set jsut because i realy like the idea. now all i have to do is find someone to play with... lol ^_^

Made me wanna play RPGS again :)

good read

As an old-time pen 'n paper gamer, I think roleplaying games have "outgrown" the kids that should be playing them and it's really sad. The games we play grew up with their players and out of the reach of kids that we could be playing them with ... not that we need games that go out of their way to be IMMATURE (lol HOL) but there's no reinforcement of the simple themes and adventures that got our generation of gamers started years ago.

It's like what you said about the adventure's "in-joke", you had to explain it because the kids don't know from regular old brain-dead dungeon raid adventures. Why do core rules have three different kids of elves need some kind of explanation to a 10-year-old? TSR used to have entry-level D&D as a separate product line from Advanced D&D, I still have the rulebook for it and miss the days when pen-and-paper games were that accessible.

Looks like the kids had some fun. Isn't that the purpose of games in all forms, rather than obsessing over trivialities?

Kids don't even need rulebooks to get going in a role-playing campaign, that's just what they do. Of course you'll find out *why* there are rulebooks for these sort of things shortly into your kid's first campaign... they're really helpful in cases like Rocket Launcher (Where Did It Even Come From?) v Two Giant Zombies.

Don't you love it when your players think of the craziest thing... and it works.

That's why I always liked Palladium, I was never stumped on how to roll for something. If it wasn't in the rules, it was easy enough to make up.
D&D is better for kids though as it has more structure.

What was wrong with setting the forest on fire again?

I can think of a few things wrong with it. For starters, living wood actually doesn't burn very well, so starting a forest fire is a lot harder than it sounds. Even if you could get a fire going, what does the fire accomplish? It's certainly not going to kill the goblins, they will simply leave before the fire gets to them. I also I can't imagine the local village or lord will appreciate you burning down their hunting grounds, granted often over zealous responses to simple problems are a staple of RPGs.

It's a classic over-thinking of a simple situation. Just come out of the woods, take your surprise attacks/round and mop up as needed.

it's really sad how older players let in game arguments bleed into stuff out of game and vice-versa. The article was a good read. You work hard to keep good role-players and not rules lawyers or min-maxers. the world has enough of those.

Thanks for sharing, Matt. Your story fills me with hope for the next generation of P&P gamers.

Great article. It reminds me of the first game of D&D I ever played. I was so confused by it all, but there was also something magical about it. Your story about the treatment of the goblin chief brought to mind just how compelling gaming can be when it makes players think about their own values. As for accessible games, Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying is an excellent choice for gamers of all ages and experience levels who don't want to get bogged down in minutiae.

It's a classic over-thinking of a simple situation. Just come out of the woods, take your surprise attacks/round and mop up as needed.

Over-thinking has it's uses, though. Take, for example, your typical Rogue, especially when the Complete Scoundrel came out (3.5). Prior, I would regularly keep bags of salt, chalk, mirrors, ropes, hidden weapons, poisons, potions, and all manor of things to match up for any situation. I believe the phrase/term is "ridiculously over-prepared", but it fits with a Rogue. Once that thing came out, we had even more that we could do on top of whatever else we could come up with.


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