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Roleplaying with a child?

I've been playing roleplaying games since about 1994, and now have a 10 year old daughter. She's been around my wife and I playing RPGs all her life (though we play after she goes to bed for ease of play/reduction of interruption), and has taken to reading through my game books in the past year or two (reading through, well, looking at the pictures and reading bits here and there Wink ). In the past bit, she's become more and more curious about playing and really wants to give it a try.

I've had some concerns in this department, mostly in terms of creating or finding a child-friendly system and setting, and in terms of attention span and creating an engaging story and level of game complexity for a child. My first thought was to find a super basic rule system, something that's really easy to grasp, rather than bringing her into a system like Dungeons and Dragons 3.x or the like, where there are many rules for many situaions. I did find a couple systems that were simplified, even meant for children, but I sometimes found them too simplified, or I didn't take the time to learn enough about the setting to create a game scenario. Since beginning to consider running a game for her, I think she's matured a bit more, however, and we've decided to introduce her to a "real" system, using the Pathfinder Beginner Box, an introduction to the Pathfinder game system and setting that we play every week, but simplified somewhat, with a pregenerated dungeon/adventure included!

So, now I'm reading through the Box Set Game Master's Guide and learning how the adventure should play out to prepare for the game, and to see how the rules have been simplified. As I work out of town, I'll have my wife go over the Player's Guide with our daughter through the week, and they can work on character generation, and learning the basics of the rules before we get around the table. It should be interesting to see how the game goes and whether or not our daughter actually enjoys the game and experience.

The Beginner Box includes a number of pregenerated characters for players to play, but leaves the door open for creating your own. This is an area that our daughter seems particularly interested… much like me Wink One of my favourite things to do relating to roleplaying, aside from actually playing, is to imagine and create characters, and it seems my daughter is the same. Half the fun of playing is simply figuring out WHO/what your character is; how do they behave, where did they come from, where did they find the training they have… who are they?? I've made hundreds of characters I've never played, simply because I enjoy the imaginative exercise of creating them. My daughter has never played, yet, she's already designed a couple characters, even creating back stories for a couple. Really, it was the storied characters that she's recently created that spurred me on to actually get her involved in a game and make the effort to run it. This may be the start of a life-long hobby and creative endeavour!

8 blog comments below

So, it turned out that my sense of time was off when I began this, and my daughter was already gone for a month long visit with my sister on the other side of the country. But, she's home now, and we're going to start the game tonight!

It looks like my daughter is planning a Sorcerer, maybe multiclassing in to Druid so that she can have an animal companion (a very important aspect of her character, it seems! She is 10 after all Razz ). We'll be rolling up the character this afternoon before the game. Should be interesting Smile
Ankhanu on Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:36 pm
I've never been into that paper based stuff myself.

Personally I was playing Diablo II online when I was 9. Maybe it wasn't very suitable in hindsight lol
Josso on Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:41 pm
LoL, yeah, Diablo was a bit dark for a kid... but the game play wasn't really inappropriate, I think, just the themes in the cut scenes.
Ankhanu on Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:50 pm
I can't even remember when I first started playing games (video games that is).

Though I can pretty much remember playing games for as long as I can remember (not that I remember much from when I was 10 and under).

I used to play Zelda on the Nintendo 64 back in the day, I think I might have been around the age of 10 or so. I may have been a bit older, but that is really the only time I can remember playing video games. I of course played other N64 games like Mario and such, some other shooting games that I don't remember the names of.

I didn't ever play actual PC games up until about a year ago.

Just curious Ank, what PC games you you actually play?
Ghost Rider103 on Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:20 pm
I don't play many video games, I'm far more interested in table top.
Currently, I've been playing Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas and will be starting in on Star Wars: the Old Repubic again soon. Generally, I prefer RPGs and action games, and a few racing sims... and Star Wars based games often get a go by default Wink I don't tend to care for shooters.
Ankhanu on Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:52 pm
I think that it is a great idea to play these games with a child. It encourages them to be creative, but within the bounds set by the rulees of the game/scenario. Besides it keeps them social and interactive thereby encouraging them to be social elsewhere in their life. I hope your daughter enjoys the game and that you and your wife can find enjoyment while playing with your daughter.
pauline123 on Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:14 pm
She had a blast. We ended at 10 minutes to bed time, and she wanted to keep going. If you've read the Starter Box Set, we did rooms 1, 2, 3 and 8 in about 2 hours.

We started the eve with some pizza, and my Saturday night gaming friends joining us, who she complains about never being able to see, since we play after she's gone to bed. Right off the bat, that's two positives for a kid Wink
She and I went through character creation earlier in the day, in which she rolled up a first level Elven Sorcerer with a (blue) draconic bloodline. Everyone else just played the pregenerated characters from the box; my wife playing the cleric, friend 1 playing the rogue and friend 2 playing the fighter. All in all, a well balanced adventuring group!
It took her a little bit to get into the basics of adventuring; searching rooms, looting your enemies, investigating statues, etc., but she picked up on the fact that you have to actively try to find things if you want to find them. Other than a couple instances, she maintained pretty good focus through the session, and seemed to get the rules as they were explained.

All in all, the evening was a smashing success, and we'll likely be delving deeper into the dungeon next week.
Ankhanu on Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:23 am
Fantastic! Great to hear. Hope the fun keeps on going. Might just have to change her bedtime, so your game friends don't have to come over so early. I guess, you might be able to persuade them to come over earlier on a regular basis too, though.
pauline123 on Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:30 pm

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