Thursday, November 21, 2013

Teaching kids RPGs, sounds a lot like the OSR way of play

Image copyright: Hero Kids RPG by Justin Halliday
Just saw this article by Ryan Carlson on GeekDad about teaching his 5 and 6-year-old girls to play Hero Kids, an RPG for little folk. There's some talk about crunch up front, but then there's this bit:
It was great fun; they always got rewarded for coming up with creative ways to problem solve throughout the game. In fact, I wish my regular RPG players would think outside of the box as much as my kids did that afternoon (I’d reward them just as well).

So my advice for parents wanting to run role-playing games for their kids is to keep an open mind and use the game for a teachable moments, not to teach combat tactics. I use the game to help reinforce simple math, teamwork, and problem solving.
Two take-aways here. The first being the creative play aspect and focusing on solutions to problems rather than combat (or at least, rather than solely relying on combat-based solutions). That seems like the old-school DnD way of thinking your way out of a mess (which I appreciate).

That's not to say that solutions can't be action-based. Indy wasn't packing dynamite when he entered that Mayan temple to steal the gold idol. He used his bullwhip and his own two feet! Or Luke shooting the control panel for the blast doors in Star Wars.

The other noteworthy point, is in rewarding players for thinking that way in the first place. Yeah, you can hack monsters and take their stuff, but what if you actually conned Smaug out of his horde--keeping the spoils! That's definitely worth a good-sized reward in experience points.

Anyway, it's nothing new to the OSR crowd, but still good advice to remember while I'm thinking on teaching RPGs to my kid one day. And if anything, it's nice to see that philosphy of play carried on outside what we think of the old school blog-o-verse.

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