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Role Playing for Kindergarteners

July 3, 2017

Not Age Appropriate!

When I started this blog, I thought I might have more to say about being a father (hence the name). But as it turned out, I feel a little weird talking about that aspect of our lives, and anyway there hasn’t been a lot to talk about. It’s a lot of work, it’s exhausting, it’s amazingly rewarding. There hasn’t been much fatherhood/gaming intersection, either. My daughter is young – she’s starting kindergarten in the fall – but even so she hasn’t shown a lot of interest in games to date. She likes to make up her own games with her own rules, and she’s constantly coming up with her own stories. She can spin these imaginative tales that go on and on and on and on, and will write the parts for other people to play in them (she’s not so great at accepting other people’s wishes at this stage, but that’s normal for her age). A budding railroad GM, perhaps. 😉 Our attitude has been to encourage her where she shows interest and don’t push her (unless we have to) where she doesn’t, and she just hasn’t shown much interest in “Daddy’s games” so far.

That may be changing? Who knows. I took her to the local comics/gaming shop this past Free RPG Day. I was mainly there to grab the Torg Eternity intro scenario (now downloadable for free here), and picked up a few other items that looked interesting as well. Complete tangent: one of them, the 13th Age offering, I took because I’ve long been curious about the system, although it ended up just being an adventure with no rules. So, not so great at bringing new people to the game, I would say. It came bundled with a “TimeWatch” scenario, which is apparently a GUMSHOE-based game that I had never heard of before (also no rules included, so not terribly useful to me either). But I recognized the TimeWatch author’s name from somewhere… Eventually I remembered that it was the real life name of Piratecat, a poster/moderator at the EN World forums, where I had spent much of my online gaming discussion time in the 2000’s. Piratecat had DM’d this long-running D&D campaign that had started in 2nd edition and got moved over to 3rd edition when those rules came out, and it was incredible. I was blown away by his session writeups, and by his amazing players. His game was practically everything I had ever wanted from tabletop role-playing, and had rarely experienced, and even then only as a player. If you like my Kingmaker writeups here, if you think our campaign sounds like a good one, you have Kevin “Piratecat” Kulp to thank for that, because he and his group unknowingly inspired me to be a much better GM. So, maybe check out TimeWatch. It’s written by a great DM.

But I digress. After getting home, my daughter was really fascinated by the covers to the Torg and TimeWatch/13th Age booklets and wanted to know more about them. I explained that they were games where you chose a character and decided what that character said and did. We talked about it some more over a couple of days, and eventually she told me that she wanted to play (with absolutely no prompting from me)! She chose Torg, based on the cover.

There was no way she was going to understand how Torg’s rules work, not at her age and not with her lack of experience with games, so I figured I would just run it like an interactive story. I also simplified Torg’s complicated and mind-warping backstory into “New York City is being attacked by dinosaurs and lizard people.” I showed her the pregen character portraits and explained who each character was. She picked the “movie star”, my name for the “quasi-celebrity” pregen, and picked a name for her and her dog. She has a dog? She did now! I wish I could recall the names now… Then I ran her through the non-violent encounters in the scenario. When her character saw a triceratops attacking a woman in a car, she had the dog bark at the dino, distracting it enough for her to climb on its back and ride it around! Then the woman escaped from the car and said that her son was trapped in the nearby building, and begged the movie star to rescue him! The celebrity stood on the triceratops’ back, and thus was able to reach the kid at his window and pull him to safety. The mother sobbed as she embraced her boy and then thanked the star, and everyone cheered for her! The end.

She loved it! She had me tell her who all the other pregen characters were again, and said that she was going to play the paramedic next. Maybe when we do that, I can introduce her to dice-based conflict resolution. But first I’ll need to come up with a slightly different dinosaur scenario that would be appealing to an almost-kindergartner that loves stories.

I did start to wonder if there were more age-appropriate RPGs out there. I found a My Little Pony RPG that seemed to be aimed at young kids, and she does like those characters. So I hope to pick that up soon and play it with her, if she’s interested. The session writeups for that would probably be pretty funny… to me, anyway. Her humor might not translate so well outside of the family! 😉


  1. Good luck with infecting the daughter 😉

    Also; linkie to Piratecat’s campaign log?

  2. Chris permalink

    Check out “No Thank You, Evil!” By Monte Cook. Just won Origin awards for RPG of the year. I haven’t tried it myself but looks to cover what you are looking for.

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