I’m starting off a new feature for the blog today. Role-Playing 101 is going to document the trials and tribulations that I face as I teach a group of teenagers to role-play. There’ll be some funny moments, occasional glimpses of glory, and a not insignificant amount of frustration (mostly on my part), but also a hell of a lot of fun. It’ll be updated on a very irregular basis, as it generally require me to have actually run a session for the group recently, and it’s not often that we actually get to play. The actual content will be a combination of a session recap and brief discussions about the system (though more in-depth reviews may come later on).
How did I end up running introductory games for teenagers? It’s my attempt to continue the chain that my uncle started when he bought me my first role-playing book for my twelfth birthday, the Player’s Handbook for D&D 3rd Edition. A bit over a year ago, I offered to teach my cousin to play. It took a while to get started, as he needed to gather a group of friends to play with, but eventually we were ready to play. The first session I ran for them was Pathfinder, where I quickly learnt that running for bunch of fourteen year olds is far different to running a game for adults. They picked up the notion of “kill things and take their stuff” very quickly, but were having a bit of difficulty with the idea of “talking to things to see if we can avoid killing them”. Now, to be fair, D&D/Pathfinder is at its core, the game of “killing things and taking their stuff”, but Paizo’s work with Pathfinder has really started to move beyond that, often allowing for other means such as diplomacy or subterfuge to be just as effective as barreling in with swords drawn. Trying to get this concept across sparked an idea, that maybe I could help them learn that there are multiple approaches to these games by running a variety of systems for them, with the added benefit that they’d be able to pick a system they liked when they’re eventually ready to run their own games. So the group agreed that I would run each system for two to three sessions, then pick another one.