Since I know a bunch of folks play tabletop and either have kids or have family that have kids, I thought I'd share some investigation that I've done into kids and RPGs.

Now that I'm married, I have nieces and a nephew, and I want to share gaming with them. One of my nieces and nephew are coming to visit, so I thought I'd investigate RPGs for us to play together.

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The rub is that they're at an awkward age (9/10), in between child and teenager, and they aren't fluent English speakers, nor am I fluent in their native language. A challenge for sure!

I looked at "No Thank You Evil", "Hero Kids", and "Tiny Dungeon", as well as my knowledge of game systems, ranging from D&D (2ndR-5), Pathfinder, MSH, Gurps, Call of Cthulu, Savage Worlds, Dragonborn, Phase 4, Freeform Universal, and others I'm sure I'm forgetting at the moment.

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No Thank You Evil is great, but the built in material ages out at around age 10/11, making it a good candidate, but less than optimal.

Tiny Dungeon looks super fun, like a more organized version of Freeform Universal, and I'd love to run it at some point, but the freeform nature might actually get in the way with the language issue, especially for their first RPG. I actually hope we can play this in the future.

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Hero Kids is optimized for kids aged 8-12. It comes with lots of visual material- maps, character cards, item descriptions, standees, etc.

I think these visual elements will be important, since very few English classes teach terms that are common in a fantasy setting, and the items will help ground the concepts in something the kids can understand, while the standees will help them visualize the situation.

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Follow

While I'm not always a huge fan of buying supplements, in this case they will help smooth out what I think might be a significant language barrier and help the kids enjoy the fun and spirit of the game.

So Hero Kids is our winner!!

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@emacsen We played #HeroKids (there’s a German version!) and the kids liked it instantly (my daughter actually started creating and running her own adventures). But it is very dungeon-crawly. It feels pretty bare-bones and it has little outside fighting. On the upside, it’s always clear to the kids what they can do, and that is a big strength.

Having adventures with maps at hand helps a lot for this play style.

@ArneBab

Thanks for the info!

We'd considered No Thanks Evil for the other niece (who does speak fluent English) but I think the adventures are too child-like.

I'd be happy to run a more thoughtful adventure, but I think the English is going to be a pretty big impediment.

That, and we don't know these kids very well, and I worry about their attention spans.

@ArneBab @emacsen My kids are 6 and 8 and.we started with a pen, paper, board game figures and a few dice. That's it. "Image you're in this room *drawing a rect*". A few minutes later they were armed and then they tried their best to push my improvisation skills to the limit.

@zwergi @emacsen Very cool! I’m also struggling at times with keeping up and staying open enough.

There are some problems where it’s actually good when I prevent them (mainly when they are “I can do everything in every way”), but in other cases I see the world and think “no, that can’t work” — just to realize later that it would have been better to just say yes.

@ArneBab @zwergi

I think this is at the core of what makes a game distinct from collaborative storytelling.

"I slay all the monsters" is easy to say, or inventing duex ex-machina, as is common with kids "You shoot me but I have bulletproof armor."

Constraints are useful in providing structure.

I have a similar push/pull in my superhero game, where powers and skills are laid out, but they need limitations that some players are always trying to break.

As an example...

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@ArneBab @zwergi

One of my players has shadow movement- she can move through shadows.

Another player (not her!) spent timr trying to convince me that she should be able to travel far past the area she was in because when an NPC walking, his shoes cast a shadow, and she would be able to travel from shadow to shadow.

This was clever, but in my opinion moved the ruleset from "comics" to "toon", and I disallowed it (especially at the level of her power, which was the minimum level).

@emacsen We had that, too … (even with movement through shadows, but in a fantasy-world). I think “minimum level” is an important thing to use there: “yes, you can do that — when you reach level X”. That brings “I want to progress” into the game loop, but it also takes some attention away from the game world. But I think the game loop is important, too. @zwergi

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