There’s no master here
Now that I’ve introduced Fill in the ____ Fridays, a concept for customizing your own adventures, it’s time for me to address another, related idea that I’ve been thinking about for some months now.
Tabletop roleplaying games.
I’ve never really played tabletop RPGs. I’ve done a one-off session a couple times but never been involved in an ongoing campaign. Hence “Dungeon Novice” – I’m still a beginning player, forget hosting!
But the concept is really appealing to me, especially now that I have kids. It fits the same kind of role as the fill-in-the-blank story, but on a much grander scale for everyone involved. The game master has a rough outline of a plot, but the choices the players make will determine what the game actually looks like.
Traditional games like D&D obviously have themes and game mechanics that aren’t well suited to small kids (especially pre-readers), but the idea in general of roleplaying and a game that is governed almost entirely by your imagination – kids are better at that than anyone else!
In fact, that’s a large part of what has held me back from embracing RPGs. There’s this obvious stereotype of nerds sitting in their mom’s basement playing D&D because they are too shy and socially inept to go meet girls like any “normal” boy.
But that shows a clear misunderstanding of how tabletop games work. They require a certain amount of vulnerability. You’ve gotta put yourself out there!
For some people with social anxiety that’s easier to do through extreme roleplaying, but for others we go ahead and internalize that as well and are worried that we aren’t imaginative enough or quick enough to keep up with the improv skills of the rest of the party.
In my early 20s I went to an improv show and got pulled onstage, where they asked for a relatively easy suggestion and I literally collapsed in a puddle of performance anxiety. This is what I’m working against.
And this weight can feel even heavier for those of us socialized as girls trying to join a party of boys because in geeky circles we’re expected to be a perfect representative for the entire two-X-chromosome-carrying population.
Hero Kids RPG
Luckily, in addition to vast expanses of imaginations, another thing kids have in abundance is tolerance. They don’t know what a game master is supposed to do or say or sound like, so they have no reason to think I’m messing the game up. They don’t care how much of a dungeon novice I am.
Enter the game Hero Kids (available at DriveThruRPG) which I bought for my own kids this holiday season. It’s a very pared down, simplistic fantasy-themed RPG where the adventurers are all meant to be little ones.
The game includes Hero cards for the pre-designed characters (but you can also make your own if you’re advanced), and uses only d6 (that’s your standard sixed-sided dice) instead of the fancier many-sided dice that Dungeons & Dragons is famous for.
Plus there’s guidance in the rulebook as to how much freedom to give your little adventurers. Little ones around the same age as my gal Friday may need lots of suggestions: “Do you want to look around in this room before you go through the next door?” but older kids may have you guessing which of their three attributes governs cooking the perfect souffle. (Yes, intelligence is needed to know the recipe, but you also need dexterity to be sure it doesn’t collapse!)
We haven’t played yet, though MGF has chosen her character – she wants to play the healer – so I’m excited to try it out!
Here’s wishing everyone loads of critical successes in the new year!
Let me know if you want to get involved with a game of Hero Kids RPG – Skype and/or Hangouts is an option! Hit me up in the comments or on Discord!
Also, if you are a Game Master yourself and have advice, tools, or resources that can help a dungeon novice like me (including books that you find particularly invaluable) then please let me know! I definitely need the guidance!