Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Teaching Young Gamers - Wizards of the Coast Article

This is a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately and have been meaning to write more on the subject. How do you run a game for younger players? There are probably tips and pitfalls and suggestions spread all over the place, but I had thought to collect my experiences into a post or two. But then along comes this article by Uri Kurlianchik and it gets right to the heart of everything I'd wanted to say and adds a huge heap more suggestions than I'd have thought of by now.

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I'm not sure where I got this image... But I recall being this age.

For some quick personal history on this, I've been running a game for my two daughters and our friend's daughter Zoƫ. I've mentioned this before on Adventures for 1st-Level Characters and New Young Players and Introduction: Solving a Kidnapping?. We've had one more game session that I haven't written about yet (darnit, make a mental note). But I wanted to share the link to the WotC article because I think it will help me and may be helpful to others.

Some of the first few tips involve character creation and choosing class, race and abilities. I admit that I did take the few basic decisions that the three girls made about what kind of character they wanted and completely filled out all of their powers and statistics. Looking back on it, this made things go faster but took away some of the freedom they may have had. Since they aren't aware they missed out on anything (yet) it hasn't been an issue. My plan is that they may create new characters at some point that they will have full control over.

One of the overall tips that jumped out at me as a mistake I made was starting play as soon as possible and NOT starting with a bang. My adventure idea included a bit of investigation first on the part of the PCs, but this just earned me some blank stares and confusion. Younger players should begin play with their characters fully locked into "the rails" of the story. Once they get a little more practice and familiarity with the rules, the feel of the game and their characters, they can start to wander from the ranch.

The section in the article on Race, Class, Skills, Attack Powers and Feats are all geared with examples from 4th edition, which I'm not using (yet?). However, I think the ideas are still valid regarding what to focus on and what to skim over. The whole idea of turning the equipment process into an interview seemed long and tiresome to me, but I've come to understand that gear is a very big deal for younger players. Also, they have taken much delight in their character's familiars and have asked for a pet Unicorn.

And the article ends with a recommendation to get a dry-erase board. I'm looking for one of these and plan to use it thoroughly. I thought for sure that I'd picked that out of the air as an original idea, but as it turns out it's mentioned here and ... as I recall now I'd seen it somewhere else as well.

I hope to see more posts just like this one. The game is, after all, for kids. And even as a so-called greybeard, I'm having a very good time teaching and playing the game with them.

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