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Author Topic: RPG System for Kids  (Read 3417 times)
Zak Arntson
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Posts: 839


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« on: May 21, 2001, 12:24:00 PM »

I take in a 7 and 10 year old every few weekends, and try to get some roleplaying into them.  Not only is it fun to play with kids, but my wife noticed that when we finish the game, the kids are much more imaginative doing whatever it is they run around and do.  Smiley

So ... here's a quick run-down on game I created (on the spot, with inspiration gathered from this forum).  All dice are 6-sided.

CHARACTER CREATION:
Think about the character you want to play.  You are a magician with a pet.  Your magician receives TWO types of magic they can cast, and the pet is an embodiment of ONE type of magic (which doesn't need to be the same as the magician's).

Draw a picture of your magician and your pet on your character sheet, and write down their magical types.

Examples: 10yr old created a Fire & Electric magician, with a Spike-type pet (a porcupine with thicker spikes).  7 yr old created a Psychic & Fire magician, with a Fire-type pet (a dog).

Now, with your character in mind, you get 10 pennies to divide among your Stats.  These States are:  Body, Mind, Spirit.  Body & Mind are obvious, but Spirit is your force of personality (ability to make friends, etc).  I first tried dice for tokens (I had a lot of them lying around), but the 7yr old got confused and started rolling them, so I switched to Pennies.

Somewhere on your sheet, write down how many Pennies you have in Body, Mind and Spirit (7yr old wrote numbers, 10yr old made dots).

Lastly, somewhere on the sheet you should make a big area called "Energy" and stick 10 dice in it (Body + Mind + Spirit).

That's it.  Character created.

RULES
Whenever a character wants to perform an action (magical or not), the GM decides on the Stat to use and it's difficulty.  The player then rolls as many Dice as she has in that Stat.  The HIGHEST rolled Dice is the result.  If the result > difficulty, it's a success. Any 6 rolled lets you roll an extra die.  Any extra 6's give a +1 to your result.

ENERGY
Special rules for Energy.  Energy represents your character's mental and physical resources.  When energy is at 0 (no dice in your Energy box) you collapse from exhaustion (but you don't have to be unconscious).

Any damage done to a character is taken away from Energy.  Most non-characters require one roll to defeat (easy = Difficulty of 3, etc).

A magician can cast a spell using her Energy.  You declare the spell you want to case (only restrictions are that it must tie into your Magic types), the GM gives you a difficulty, and you take as many dice out of your Energy as you like.  The GM decides when to replenish Energy, typically after a good rest.

Examples: Both kids wanted to light the dark forest.  The 7yr old surrounded herself with firey light, the 10yr old wanted a little ball of glowing fire to lead them along the trail.  Took 1 Energy, roll 2+.

Spiders wrapped a big web around their campsite, they discovered when they woke up.  The 10yr old wanted to deliver a big thunder shockwave to destroy it.  I said it would be a difficulty of 7 to destroy the whole thing.  He got to choose the number of dice from his Energy.

STORY AND LUCK PENNIES:
To let the children tell most of the story, I introduced Story and Luck pennies.  Each kid gets 5 Story Pennies.  Throughout the game, I would say, "What do YOU think happens next?" or "What is behind the trees?" or "What happened while you were sleeping?".

The kids then put their hands behind their backs and put X pennies in one hand.  They hold their hands out and whoever bid the most pennies gets to decide what happens.  You lose any pennies you bid.  Once everyone runs out of pennies, everyone gets 5 more story pennies.

In reality, their competitiveness led them to bid 5 pennies nearly every time.  Smiley

Players all start with zero Luck pennies.  Anytime they want, they can introduce an obstacle and earn a Luck penny.  A Luck Penny can be used to succeed at ANY roll of the dice.

Example: They came across a stone bridge, and the 10yr old got a Luck penny for stating that the bridge had long since fallen into the river.  The 7yr old then used her Psychic magic to levitate everyone across.  The 10yr old then used his Lucky penny to automatically destroy the spider web mentioned above (though it still took 4 or 5 energy).

CONCLUSION:
The simple Stat system (I think it's similar to the Tri-Stat?) and the Silhouette-inspired dice-rolling was easy for all involved.

Energy was a good mechanic, since it had a visual cue (the pool of dice) and concrete results (I use X Energy, I roll X dice).

Story Pennies didn't quite work as I expected, since the kids didn't want to save any for later.  They kept bidding 5 pennies each.  Next time I will probably only replenish Story Pennies on my whim, so the kids see them as a resource that should be saved and spent as truly desired, rather than every time.

Luck Pennies worked well, but weren't used as often as I'd hoped.  I will have to remind them of this option, a simple "  Do you want to earn a Luck penny?"

Lastly, Pennies worked well as tokens, but when we snacked, I had to get the kids to wash their hands.  Pennies are dirty!  I would recommend a cleaner type of token so you can have some apples or carrots handy during play.

----

I have to write this up and put it somewhere on the web ... (my own RPG site is coming sooner than later, with luck)
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james_west
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2001, 12:39:00 PM »

Really cool - that's a pretty solid system by any standard, let alone for using with small kids; nice metagame mechanics and all.

You'll have to tell us the sort of stories that you think are the right level of complexity for kids.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2001, 12:42:00 PM »

Hey Zak,

My main and most important point: It's a wonderful game. Amazing that when someone tries to make something "for kids," what they usually get is something - well - SENSIBLE. I really, really like it.

I especially like the Story and Luck pennies, which are stark raving Director and Author (metagame version) mechanics.

Minor point: I know you've basically stripped down the Tri-Stat character generation and added it to a stripped-down Dream Pod 9 resolution ... but you might be interested to know that you've approached very near to Sorcerer. No kidding. There are little differences in resolution, e.g. you have target numbers instead of opposed rolls, but the combo of that highest-die thing and the nifty pet is waaaaay Sorcerer. Great minds thinkin' alike!

Best,
Ron

[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-05-21 16:44 ]
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Zak Arntson
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Posts: 839


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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2001, 01:20:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-05-21 16:42, Ron Edwards wrote:
Hey Zak,

My main and most important point: It's a wonderful game. Amazing that when someone tries to make something "for kids," what they usually get is something - well - SENSIBLE. I really, really like it.


Yeah, I see kids as little energy-filled grown-ups.  They are very intelligent and brutally honest.

Quote

I especially like the Story and Luck pennies, which are stark raving Director and Author (metagame version) mechanics.


The Story pennies is a great idea (I believe), except I've got to reinforce the idea of saving them for when they really want to influence the story, rather then, "I'm going to keep my sister from telling this part!"

The Luck pennies are a mechanic I originally thought about for a d20 Baron Munchausen-like game.  It would promote the players coming up with ever more preposterous odds.  And spending the Luck pennies would allow for combating those odds.  Thus leading to the crazy Munchausen-type stories within the familiar D&D mechanics.

Quote

Minor point: I know you've basically stripped down the Tri-Stat character generation and added it to a stripped-down Dream Pod 9 resolution ... but you might be interested to know that you've approached very near to Sorcerer. No kidding. There are little differences in resolution, e.g. you have target numbers instead of opposed rolls, but the combo of that highest-die thing and the nifty pet is waaaaay Sorcerer. Great minds thinkin' alike!


Wow. Great minds think alike, eh?  Smiley  Yeah, I was thinking of Tri-Stat (though I'm not sure about the actual scores, having never played the thing.  My game has 3 being average and 4 being above average).  And I do some writing for DP9, which probably influenced my dice mechanic.

Close to Sorcerer?  Neeeet.  The pet thing is part of the Pokemon psychology.  A kid gets to control something, where in real life kids are always being controlled.  And it adds some depth to the game, interaction with pet type stuff.  Interestingly, though, my two players forgot their pets for the most part, being really excited about the freedom of magic.


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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2001, 05:28:00 PM »

Kewl.  I like, very much.
I don't have much to add other than that except perhaps instead of pennies, use bits of candy?  You get to eat whatever you have left at the end of the game (yum).

Of course, you'd have to resist devouring your luck and story tokens during the game, too.  Eat it or bid with it?  Eat it or bid with it...um, um, um...

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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Zak Arntson
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Posts: 839


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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2001, 07:20:00 PM »

Candy would make for good tokens, except these kids'll be bouncing off the walls if we did something like that.

I'm thinking those little bloodstone Vampire token things.  Or Mancala pieces.  Or um, marbles (though those would roll around to much).

Also, I don't know the jargon behind Author and Director stance.  I'm guessing that Author stance is where the players get to tell parts of the story.  And Director is where they influence the outcome.  But how do they differ?

Is there a good essay on this somewhere?  I'm still getting G/N/S (Which I think I grok) ... (now I write games thinking about gamist/narrative/sim!!)

___________
Zak
http://mailto:zak@mimir.net">zak@mimir.net
http://zaknet.tripod.com">zaknet.tripod.com

[ This Message was edited by: Zak Arntson on 2001-05-21 23:23 ]
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GreatWolf
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designer of Dirty Secrets


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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2001, 07:46:00 PM »

Funny, Sugar & Spice (forthcoming) is going to use candy as counters for Sweetness.  Of course, with a game about candies fighting to save their land from the evil Dr. Sugarfree, a little hyperness couldn't hurt.  :smile:
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
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