The Simplest Little RPG Ever

edited March 2009 in Story Games
An idea struck me and so I sketched out the rules for an incredibly Simple RPG intended for kids, serving as a primer for roleplaying (much like Candyland is a primer for board games). Love to hear anybody's thoughts on the cute little thing.


  • This looks real fun. I'm staying at a friend's this weekend, and they have two kids (10 and 7 I believe). I've been thinking about running Cat with them, but honestly I'm afraid it's a little too complicated (they're incredibly smart kids, so maybe I'm playing it too safe), and this may just fit the bill.

    Question, though: Although it will obviously vary depending on how many dice you want to roll in each contest as the GM, do you have a feel for how long a session would run?
  • While it obviously needs testing, the pacing is entirely in the hands of the GM. The GM decides when things go to dice, and can burn through his pool as quickly as he likes (especially since higher die pools mean more chance of winning, which means more dice out of the GM pool) and then do the same with the Boss Pool. So as the GM, you could burn through one whole adventure in fifteen minutes or string it out to an hour or so.

    The GM Pool's formula may need to be jiggered, but my gut feeling is 2 x PC traits is about right.
  • Boss Fight -- "they lose and have to escape"

    You don't have any mechanics for that part.
  • Posted By: Jared A. SorensenBoss Fight -- "they lose and have to escape"

    You don't have any mechanics for that part.
    Kids go "awwwwww" and try again. :)
  • edited March 2009
    Posted By: Jared A. SorensenBoss Fight -- "they lose and have to escape"

    You don't have any mechanics for that part.
    Nope! That's an intentional hole in the game procedures — a lacuna, if you will — allowing play groups to handle it as they see fit. Older players may see fit to include the chance of character death, but younger players may have some serious problems with this.

    Also, I like Jarrod's idea. ;)
  • edited March 2009
    Posted By: Josh Roby>Nope! That's an intentional hole in the game procedures — a lacuna, if you will — allowing play groups to handle it as they see fit. Older players may see fit to include the chance of character death, but younger players may have some serious problems with this.

    That is some serious bullshit.
  • I prefer to think of it as a statement on the sad state of game design today! :D
  • Actually, why not give everyone a "go back" card that they can play and say "I want to go back to when..." and then they can fight the boss over and over. Like a video game!
  • I'm thinking, if I play this with a couple of enthusiastic and creative kids, I don't think an hour will be enough for them. If they beat the big bad and I say "the end!", I think it's pretty likely that they'd say, "what? Why is it the end? Can we keep playing?", to which I'd say, of course, "yes!". And reset my GM dice and everything. But I don't necessarily want a big bad after every 30/60 min of play. Or maybe I want that rhythm. Ah, I'll just have to give a go and see.
  • That is sweet, Josh. It reminds me of games I've played with the Baker kids. I particularly like how the final fight is handled, with kids having to cross off their traits if they fail. A nice kind of damage, more interesting than breaking a leg or being knocked unconscious.
  • Next time I play games with my kids, I may suggest this. If I do, you'll get some sort of report from me.

    Seth Ben-Ezra
    Great Wolf
  • JD, yeah, that's a great fit for that lacuna. I encourage you to give it a try. ;)

    Hansel, I think 30-60 minutes for one story is probably a good fit for older kids, especially with the understanding that you can just do another if you want to play more. I mean, the rhythm as you call it is the rhythm of television, which seems to work rather well... ;)

    And thanks, Emily and Seth! :D
  • I still really want to give this a shot, but all of a sudden I'm excited about playing Princes' Kingdom with them. With luck, we'll get to both.
  • Josh, when I browse to this site on my blackberry, I get a HUGE page full of viagra links.

    Works fine from any of my PCs.
  • That's... bizarre.
  • edited March 2009
    Figured it out. See below.
  • edited March 2009
    I found out why your page is doing that on my blackberry, Josh.

    Right at the top of the page, just after the tag, there are two lines of code, they are too long to quote here, but they begin:

  • So!

    We played it. I scrapped the idea of The Princes' Kingdom. Pretty complex and requires lots of time and rules-learning (comparably). It may have worked if I had a bunch of kids and we had a pre-structured event, like a game night, but here I just had two kids, in their house, and said, "Hey, wanna play a game?" This worked perfectly for pick-up-and-play.

    If you want this in an AP thread of its own, let me know, Josh, and I'll edit this post. It seems like it fits just fine here, though.

    For starters, I was playing with a 10 year old boy and 7 year old girl, siblings. I said, "You guys wanna play an imagination game? Like where you can be anyone you want, and we all create the world together?" The answer, of course, coming from two creative, brilliant kids who don't have TV was an emphatic "Yes!"

    We had the "pitch session" last night, and didn't get to play until this morning. The first thing that popped out of the boy's mouth was "How about like a future-past, where you have laser blasters, but also regular swords?" The girl chimed in with "yeah, like Star Wars! You can fly around the galaxy!" I broke in with, "Ok, how about there are spaceships, but they look like old wooden sailing ships?" Then the girl said, "Yeah! It could fly in the clouds and we could be in a cloud-world!"

    This part was really fun. When I woke up in the morning, the kids were already awake, and came to me asking if we could play "that game" (I didn't give it a name). So we sat down and they created characters. Our world didn't look anything like what the pitch session said, but no one seemed to care.

    The boy created "Terricliff", who had these traits:

    1. I am tall and thin like an Elf and when I get mad I can fly.
    2. I can fight with swords and bows. (probably two traits, but I let it slide)
    3. I like to run fast instead of flying.

    Terricliff lived in the forest, in a huge hollowed-out tree. The tree was covered in all kinds of knots, and only by pressing the right one and saying the magic words could a person enter.

    The girl created "Saga", a horse (she's really into Bella Sara) who had these traits:

    1. I can talk.
    2. I can fly.
    3. Fight with horns.

    Saga came from a long, deep valley full of lush green grass, located right next to Terricliff's forest (that part was my invention). She was the leader of her herd, her herd being all of the horses in her Bella Sara collector's book.

    So the game proper started when, one night, Saga was running free along her moonlit valley, and she saw fire on the horizon. She realized it was trouble, and knew that Terricliff was someone who could help, so she had her whole herd run around his forest kicking on trees until they found the right one.

    I'm going to summarize the main action, as the story isn't all that interesting. It was fun to play through, though, as the kids were really into it and I could flail about wildly and talk IC.

    A bunch of trolls were attacking a human town, and the humans (being mostly defenseless) needed the help of the Elf and the Horse. First they went about stamping out the fire (Saga had her herd carry water from a nearby stream), then saved the surviving humans, then went on to attack the trolls, and finally defeated the Troll Chieftain by surviving the battle long enough for the sun to come up and him to turn into stone.

    The dice mechanics worked out really well, in general. I followed the rules to the letter, and the game lasted about an hour with two PCs.

    The only thing that may be problematic is the rules for boss fights. By the time that rolled around, my boss pool was 4 dice, and the kids could roll a maximum of 4 at any one time (which never happened--mostly it was rolling 2 for the basic + trait). Tactically, it made no sense for me to roll less than all 4 of my boss dice, which would have put the kids at a pretty big disadvantage, so I mostly didn't roll all 4 boss dice at once, just so the kids could win. But it didn't really matter to the fun of the game, it wasn't hard to adjust on the fly like that, so maybe that's what you're going for.

    Good times! Very good intro to roleplaying. The kids latched onto it with no problem. It was basically an extension of the kind of pretend they do all the time, and they liked the concept of dice deciding things (I sold it to them with the classic "I shoot you - No you don't!" example).
  • Doyce — well... shit. Have to find that buried line of code... somewhere in the php...

    Hansel, that is awesome! Thanks so much for giving the game a spin and posting here. You totally made me grin like a madman.
  • Josh, those lines are in your themes. If you can't find it, drop me an email with your theme files attached and I can find them for you. They're most likely in you page, or index php file. I suspect they're hidden in some type of java deal.
  • I had a small problem in terms of rolling for multiple-person conflict, but I later realized that that's because I wasn't following this rule: "Everyone who rolled dice picks out one die. The chosen dice are compared, and whoever has the highest die wins." That probably would have worked better than what I did, which was compare each PC result against my one GM die (If, say, a single troll was fighting both PCs). I should've just had the highest die "win", and have that player say how they won, and work out with the other player what went on with their PC.

    Also, cool side story: A friend (my age, mid-20's) was noticing what we were doing towards the end of the game, and after it was over, came up and asked us about it. I told her it was a kind of game of the imagination, of creating a world and telling a story together. Then I told her that we used dice to decide conflicts, like if I say "I shoot you and you fall over!" and you say "No you don't!", then we roll dice to see what happens.

    Her response kind of blew my mind: "So it's like fortune."

    Here she was, completely latching onto an RPG concept and naming it in the same way that RPG theory has. Man, outsiders to this hobby sometimes have the keenest insights.
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