Forum > Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion

Introducing children to gaming/roleplaying

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willpax:
I am the proud father of seven and almost five year old boys, and thought it might be fun to slowly introduce them to our hobby (knowing that they will either like it or not, and not planning to force them into anything here). But I was wondering if the brain trust here had any ideas about introducing children to role playing and other gaming. Age appropriateness, genre, systems that would work well--how would you approach this issue?

I have some ideas, but I'll hold back and let things develop naturally in the thread.

tleilaxu:

--- Quote from: willpax ---I am the proud father of seven and almost five year old boys, and thought it might be fun to slowly introduce them to our hobby (knowing that they will either like it or not, and not planning to force them into anything here). But I was wondering if the brain trust here had any ideas about introducing children to role playing and other gaming. Age appropriateness, genre, systems that would work well--how would you approach this issue?

I have some ideas, but I'll hold back and let things develop naturally in the thread.
--- End quote ---



I really loved that Dungeon board game back in the 80s. That's what I recommend. Start with the periphery stuff. Hold back on the PnP w/ books and all that. When I was a kid, that shit was a complete mystery to me, because my older brother played it, but I didn't have access to it. This made me extremely interested. So, play games that are oriented towards dorky stuff, then when they're 12 or so they'll be dying to play 'real' rpgs! :)

CleanCutRogue:
I have three children.  They all play - we do it maybe once per month as time permits.  I don't push them, and in fact often they ask if we can play and I decline because of time problems.  We play OD&D.  They're around level 2 now.  Slow progress.

My daughter - age 10 - is interested and asks to play, but is more interested in how her elf princess looks and what she's wearing to actually play much lol.  I try to give her plotlines analogous to teen romance movies - the stuff they're seeing on movies & TV.  She has recently used a tactic from one of our sessions in real life... a girl in school and her both were wanting to befriend a third girl.  They were competing for her attention.  She realized how similar this was to a plotline from our games, and had a heads-up on one possible outcome.  She and the other two are like best friends now.

My eldest son - age 8 - is VERY interested in gaming, but primarily the butt-kicking side.  He has a fighter in D&D who berserks at the drop of a hat attacking everything in sight that isn't wearing a white hat.  For him, I make the stories involve consequences of actions.  His character was in prison and he had to sit out our last session for attacking a merchant over the price of a helmet.  He cried, and it almost made me stop playing with them altogether except that he later came and told me that he was sorry and he knows it was a stupid thing to do and he won't do it again... he gets another chance now.

My youngest son - age 6 - is probably too young to understand everything.  He just doesn't want to be left out.  He doesn't write on his own sheet, and he doesn't grasp any rules.  But he has fun with his Halfling anyway.  Surprisingly, he is really good at the role-playing side of things.  He's very charismatic.  I'm hoping he develops theatrically.  I'm not sure I would have noticed this talent in him without giving him a platform from which to practice and develop.  Time will tell.

RPGPundit:
This depends... do you actually want them to be roleplayers as adults?

In that case, I would strongly advise you NOT to let them roleplay now.  Let them play with action figures, maybe even miniature games when they're a little older (like heroquest), but no matter what you don't let them play RPGs with you "Until they're 16". Make a point of saying that.

Odds are that just to defy you, around the age of 14, they'll start running their own campaigns.

Then make a big deal, when they turn 16, of inviting them to your regular gaming group.

Its a plan for the future, but I can guarantee you that its far more likely to see you roleplaying with your kids in your old age. If you start roleplaying with them now, the second they're 13 they'll see it as the "lame thing dad does" and be totally uninterested for the rest of their lives. I've seen it happen.

Whereas if you make it a forbidden fruit and a trial of manhood, they'll be hooked for life when the time comes. I've seen it work, and made it work in my own case with my younger brother (who's a decade younger than me, and now also a lifelong roleplayer).

RPGPundit

Maddman:
I occasionally play D&D minis with my daughter, without worrying about niggly rules too much.  She's also played Buffy a time or two, because she insisted.  Rather cute, but doesn't hold her interest very long (she's seven).

I've played with kids that age before, and a good way to handle it is to let them play a henchmen or something.  They get to sit at the table and roll the dice with the big people, but it's no loss when they run off to do something else.  I don't think I would do that again though - my games tend toward adult matter these days.  I mean we're not rolling a d20 to see who gets to lead the mantrain or anything, but things like sex and drugs do come up often, and may not be appropriate for children.  I'm not exactly a prude about this stuff, but I don't want us to feel like we need to censor ourselves.

I like RPGPundit's approach myself.  Introduce them to the hobby and encourage them to play on their own, but don't invite them to join until they are adults, or very nearly.  To be honest when your kid is 14 there's little chance that they're going to be interested in the same kind of gaming as you anyway.

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