Episode 142 – roleplaying with kids

* Dan’s not quite long enough.

* Chris introduces his son’s friends to D&D.

* We ponder why video games aren’t held to the same product standards common to every other industry.

* Roleplaying with your kids.  The toy company Pat mentions is Schleich (WARNING: this site plays music when you open it).  The roleplaying game Chad keeps referring to is QAGS.

Hosts: Chad, Chris, Dan, Pat

Comments (10)

SimonApril 9th, 2009 at 4:40 am

Re. Video Game Rage.

It depends on the audience the game is made for. The audience Empire: Total War is aimed at, harcore PC gamers, are used to games requiring work to, well, work (remember making custom autexec.bat files?).

Then there’s Nintendo. Which makes their games now towards an audience which very much is used to stuff working. And Nintendo stuff works.

Diffirent audiences, diffirent priotities. People who buy Nintendo want it to work. people who buy Total War want tons of hardcore features first.

Also: which launch version of windows ever worked right? Most games are made by software companies, with a software attitude.
Nintendo though is historically a toy company, and has a diffirent attitude.

Re. RPG sequence for kid gamers into adulthood.

You’re basically describing a similar process. To evolve a person into a gamer, the most effective process is the way RPG’s evolved in the first place.
First there’s the boardgame. The wargame Gygax & co played.
Then add story. Gygax & co. made their fantasy wargame.
Then continuity. The fantasy wargame got heroes going from battle to battle.
Then leave the board. And Chainmail turned into D&D.

Why games are important:
Life is abstract, human made abstract. RPG’s are training wheels for the abstract world we have created for ourselves.
Through RPG’s kids learn to deal with and quickly grok these complex, created systems. From understanding rules in these kind of games, it’s easier to comprehend the rules of society.
After all, the games recreate reality in all it’s aspect through a system of interconnecting rules. RPG rules provide a complex world, but also the framework that clearly explains how this complex world works.

For instance; it’s easier to deal with the rules of school if you can figure out how the rules work together, their purpose overall beyond the immediate effect.

Or another parallel (and a familiar one to those who have read ‘Hogfather’): belief in Santa are training wheels for belief in other things, like bigger religions.

Teaching kids that there’s an evolved, construced system behind things can be a huge help in an increasing abstract life.

GeekoidApril 10th, 2009 at 8:52 am

The reason people scream about a Car that doesn’t work is a manner of money scale. It is much easier to get angry enough to sue when your 20K car doesn’t work, vs a 60 dollar game.

I think we need to remember that auto’s didn’t exactly work as advertised for years. They would over heat, perform well under advertised until about the 50’s or 60’s. What happened was people organized lawsuits, talked to congress and got active. Someone has to pick up the consumer flag, rally the people and get active. Perhaps someone with a gaming podcast.

And it’s not just games, it’s software as a whole. From Games to large enterprise systems like SAP, features fail to fear, and if it’s broke, they buyer is screwed.
I’ve seen SAP installation that the customer had to pay millions extra for a feature thatw as supposed to be included.

The cause for this issue is greed and lack of professionalism; which is what should be expected from an industry where 30 is the old man.
Software developers need to understand engineering and how to implemented engineering standards.

Oh, and Consoles are becoming PCs. I said this when they started adding hard drives to consoles: they are becoming PCs with less options and all the problems. Games used to be pretty solid, but as more and more people got connected, the sloppier they got because they could just update the program.

I ahve an 8 year old girls and an 11 year old son; so I am learning a lot about kids and gaming. They are more imaginative, and really nice. They don’t look to destroy and take, they look to solve the problems.

I find savage worlds is a system they can get easily and enjoy, plus I can easily use it for different game. I ran a pokeman game for them last summer.
Went extremely well. And a month ago my 8 year old daughter ran me and my wife through a pokeman adventure. It. was. awesome.

BurrowowlApril 11th, 2009 at 1:49 am

Quick observation while listenin to the wrap-up on this episode. Don’t throw a Heroes book at a child. Or at anybody, really. It’s a big book. Somebody could get hurt.

Magnus NygaardApril 16th, 2009 at 1:23 pm

(Since I’m apparently not allowed on the Forum I’ll leave my comment here)

I’ve had a lot of experience playing with kids, especially aged 7-12 since I work and teach at a school, one of the subjects being… Roleplaying games… I run 3 bi-weekly games for the smallest (7, 8, 9-year olds) and supervise the running of 2-3 groups of 10-12 year olds every week. In addition to that I run a game in my Roleplaying club for 4 girls (9,9,9 and 10) and two boys (11 and 12) every other week, with breaks during the summer holydays and Christmas. I challenge you to find anyone who has more experience with kids and pen&paper RPGs. :)

I agree with most of your comments.

Systems: I originally used a percentage game (similar to RuneQuest) mainly because the rules were available in Danish. But since I discovered Savage Worlds I haven’t looked back for several reasons:
Exploding dice – kids see it as a personal victory rolling 15 on a six-sided die, even if it was just a climbing check to see how fast they could go up a tree, or killing a goblin doing 43 points of damage when 8 was needed.
Extras/Wild Cards: Most kids love to wade through throngs of opponents, but you can suddenly challenge them by making one of them a wild card (though don’t let the bad guys soak damage too much, the kids often feel cheated if they finally did good damage and it all goes away)
Bennies: It’s instant reward for good roleplaying or cool descriptions, rather than waiting ’till the end for an xp bonus (which often upsets the others, who didn’t get one).
Initiative Cards: Makes it easy for everyone to figure out when it is their turn, and there are no discussions or “oops, the dice turned”.
Extreme ease in changing genres: Star Wars sci fi, LotR Fantasy, Indiana Jones pulp, SW takes very little “translation” from genre to genre, and they can make their own rules & edges up (though you sometimes have to explain “game balance” to some of them).

Girls/Boys: Don’t type-cast girls! If there is one thing I think you got slightly wrong on the show it is that. They may prefer slightly more furries than boys do, but I’m not entirely sure (I’ve had plenty of boys who wanted fuzzy little pets for their character… all hail Pokemon). The big difference, if there is one, is not in their choice of genres, but rather in that they often approach RPGs from the social angle, more than from the individual coolness angle that boys do. I have about 1 in 2 girls to boys ratio, but it is getting closer and closer to 1:1, especially since the girls often go in groups of 2,3 or more at a time.

Adventures: As you mention on the show, the adventures don’t have to have much story, and there is virtually no need for a plot. Bad guys motivations are accepted no matter how lame. Recurring villains are even better to use with kids than with adults, who can see through your attempts to keep them alive, kids actually believes that “we almost had him before he teleported away!”

Why?: The RPG class I teach is a secret tool to get at some kids that would otherwise be hard to reach with other teaching methods. It is a great mixture of Danish and Math with a large social aspect put in there as well, and for the older kids, it is also a way to learn English when they expand their horizon.

Wauw… I better stop now.

Anyway, great show.


Lee GaugeApril 19th, 2009 at 7:47 am

This is more of a wargaming resource, but worth the read:

J. Surdu, R. Dean, “Big Battles for Little Hands,” LMW Works, 2002. ISBN:1-889584-10-X.

The blood and swash rules work great with Playmobile Pirates.

Michael PhillipsApril 20th, 2009 at 6:40 pm

A great game for getting kids into role playing is Fuzzy Heroes. It starts out as a war game that uses your toys (not just the stuffed ones, but mostly) to represent the conflicts between the forces of King Swineheart and his Fuzzy Heroes and The Eye King and his Naughty Boy Toys. The basic game is quick and easy and straight forward, and all sorts of fun. (It is my favorite con game. I got to play Taz once and did not speak a single word IC for 4 hours. About as much fun role playing as anything I’ve ever done.) but then after your kids master the basic game, you can add on the expansions, especially Fuzzy Sooper Heroes and Fuzzy Heroes Under the Covers both of which add a lot more role playing. (I’d say that by the time you have those two books up and running in your game it is a full fledged rpg… why you want your rpgs to not have their downy feathers I don’t know, nor am I sure I have ever seen an rpg with feathers, but that’s me.)

WJWaltonApril 21st, 2009 at 8:54 am

A great episode on a subject that is very relevant to my interests.

If I can be forgiven for plugging something of mine – I maintain a page on roleplaying with kids that you may like to share with your listeners. It’s called The Young Person’s Adventure League, and it’s part of my roleplaying advocacy site, The Escapist (www.theescapist.com/ypal). I’ve got articles and tips on roleplaying with kids, an ‘atlas’ of RPGs to play with them, lots of links to resources and news (including a link to this episode!).

Check it out and let me know what you think. And thanks for a great episode!

SpikeApril 21st, 2009 at 9:33 pm

I’m still listening so I’m sorry if this gets mentioned later on in the podcast, but there is one publisher who has made a game for kids … called Kids, Castles and Caves ( the link >> http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=58575 )

Might be worth a look for those of you out there looking for a good intro to RP.

TengokujinAugust 20th, 2011 at 6:52 am

Man, I keep coming into any sort of discussion a year late and a dollar short, since I’m trying to catch up through the archives. But for an example of DRM gone wrong, false advertising, and a distributor making things right:


tl;dr, Ubisoft promised one-time activation DRM, it wasn’t, Steam will probably refund your money.

Suchit GuptaApril 14th, 2022 at 4:46 am

A very good attempt at creating a podcast. Roleplaying for kids. I actually find this very insightful and informative. Thanks for posting it.

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