If you're like many of us in the geek-sphere, tabletop roleplaying games are an exciting part of your existence. And if you're a parent, you want your children to be able to share in that experience.
Now, as the creator of the Animus world, my children are no strangers to the lands, personas, and adventures in my universe. After those times, here are my 3 tips I have for roleplaying with kids.
My children know about the stories of the Animus world, and help shape them as well. They have their own characters with which we roleplay and take part in the Animus world. We use a freeform, almost ruleless system.
In the video above, the host for the "aFistfulofDice" YouTube channel, argues that roleplaying (playing Dungeons and Dragons, specifically) can have many benefits for children—including learning to share, and have compassion on each other.
paint vivid—“all sense” pictures
Often times, describing battles, scenes and scenarios will suggest a depiction that goes beyond a mere prosaic description of the facts, and often even beyond a verbal description. Use your whole body to demonstrate expressions and logistics of where monsters are, how characters walk, the way things move, and so on.
Of course, be concise—maintaining children's attention is key—but also trust that children are built to learn from and pay attention to scenarios delivered to them in this way: they're hardwired to it for survival!
say "yeS" as often as you can
Children love to be swept up into adventure—roleplaying affords them an opportunity to transcend their finite "Little Person" situation, and soar into as yet unknown possibilities. However, that same phenomenon can be a double-edged sword. Children are very sensitive to their own smallness, and if they expect to play in a world of limitless possibilities and encounter unending obstacles and "rejection" of their ideas, their moods will sour.
The solution is to say "yes," as often as possible. (I wish I could remember where I heard this bit of advice—geared for adult game-tables—so I could give credit where credit is due.) But the secret is—to preserve your table, fairness to other players, the mood, tone, and/or flow of the game—use your creativity to bring each things with a twist. Kids typically love chaos, twists and surprises, so if you say (for example) that "Yes, you can catapult yourself across the gorge" you can add the twist that "you still had your shoelace tied to your firefish and he catches the forest on fire as you go past." It's not just "yes," but it's "yes, but…" or "yes, and…" or "yes, however…"
let the game world expand in a transmedia way!
Of course there are always concerns about kids separating fantasy from reality, but if you feel you've got a healthy home life in general, this next tip should be no problem. Follow my lead with Animus—I incorporated my kids' characters into more than just games.
I made them have roles in my comics, card games, novels... and if that's too much, you can always do what I did and do coloring pages and the ever interesting bedtime stories. (It's just important with that last one to make it clear how interactive they will be!)
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