Newbie Players (Kids) and LARGE party HELP!

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Koren_nRhys
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Newbie Players (Kids) and LARGE party HELP!

Post Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:28 pm

Greetings all!

Here's my situation, and I'm hoping you fine folks can give me some advice. I have been cajoled into running a game for the new-to-RPGs children of a few of the players in my usual Tuesday night group (where I'm a player, not DM). Three adults, with a couple of kids each - possibly a forth adult and his son also. If everyone shows up for a given session, it'll be a dozen players give or take - double what I'd prefer to deal with. They've asked me to do it though, since I have some experience running for younger kids, having done it with my own 4-5 years back.

As I've mentioned in another thread here, the system will be BFRPG, to keep everything simple and Classic/OSR compatible. It has just the right blend of B/X plus modern elements that will be easy to run and play.

I intend to set things in the old TSR Thunder Rift setting since it's nice and self-contained, and with a base in town, I can have a mission central where they can hear rumors and stories and choose from a few adventure options without the full openness of a true sandbox. I'm looking for tips on handling that number of players first off, and adventure ideas, pointers to written modules, etc that might work for a low-level, high-player count game.

My thoughts are to try and keep things outside as much as possible - open terrain will allow everyone to be involved in combat. I think virtually any dungeon would be too confining for so many. So, open ruins with multiple points of access, a few cave/cavern locations. Forest clearings, open moors, swamps and so on.

Ideas?

[crossposted to a few other forums for maximum feedback...]
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Newbie Players (Kids) and LARGE party HELP!

Post Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:47 pm

I think you need to dump the adults and just play with the kids. let the adults play their own game in the next room. The kids will be less intimidated and willing to free flow in the game if they aren't worrying about measuring up to the adults expectations. Plus, if you don't keep it moving, and even silly at times, the kids will lose interest and wonder why you crazy people play this game. Thats another reason to dump the adults to keep the party size smaller.
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Re: Newbie Players (Kids) and LARGE party HELP!

Post Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:55 pm

Focus on the kids, let them have all the fun, let the adults be there to share the moment, but don't give them any characters, at least initially, if the kids really want to roleplay with their parents then give them characters.

The parents could be old adventurers accompanying new ones into the first adventure, or they could be their hirelings or mentors.
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Koren_nRhys
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Re: Newbie Players (Kids) and LARGE party HELP!

Post Tue Dec 16, 2014 2:38 pm

One father kind of wants to play, one hadn't planned on it. My thought was to have them create character with the kids to help them along. That way they will have them if needed, but not play unless we're really short on kids during a given session. The kids are excited about playing WITH their dads though, so the'll be around to offer advice and encouragement.

It was still up in the air, but I think you're right. Without those extra characters it will be closer to a manageable number.
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Newbie Players (Kids) and LARGE party HELP!

Post Tue Dec 16, 2014 3:28 pm

If the dad's are experienced players they know what its like to wait your turn when a party of 6 faces a bunch of goblins. Now just imagine being a kid and having to wait for 12 people and a bunch of goblins to go. I know as an adult I don't have that much patience :)
cartweel
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Re: Newbie Players (Kids) and LARGE party HELP!

Post Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:09 pm

Hi! I run a game with kids every week. In my opinion, you are at an impasse: Either play with only the kids and have a reasonable number of players; or, invite fewer families. In my experience it is *impossible* to keep young kids motivated and interested with long breaks between turns. If nothing else, I would make the adults be "helpers" with adding modifiers, etc., but leave all the real play up to the kids. Don't hesitate to shoot down a parent who is overhelpful or overshadowing their child.

If the people in the proposed play group pitch a fit about either option, remind them that they are welcome to run a game for their own kids thank you very much.

That being said, since my group isn't really drop-in but sometimes things work out that way, I've occasionally had to deal with having a handful more players than I would generally prefer. One way I modify gameplay to accommodate this is to fiddle with things like initiative and turn order.

My main strategy is to group players in groups of 2 or 3 according to their initiative roll ranges. (When I'm playing D&D the ranges are 1-10, 11-15, 16-19, 20+; with BFRPG's d6 for initiative, maybe 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 6+).

The effect of this is that you can say "Okay, Bobby, Zaheed, and Solomon are all going this turn!" So now you have three players involved, not just one. Usually I just mix it up randomly who actually speaks first during this "bracket," but the point is that whenever one of them pauses because they are unsure what to do -- which will happen a lot -- you can turn to the other "on" player and keep the activity moving!

GM: "Next group! Bobby, Zaheed, and Solomon."

Bobby: "Oh, uh, I wasn't paying attention. Maybe I want to..."

GM: "You think about it. Zaheed?"

Zaheed: "Um, okay, I'm going to move and stab that big nasty one! In the face!"

GM: "Excellent! While you roll [glance to parent-helper!], Solomon, what's up?"

Solomon: "I think I want to use my spell... what does it do again?"

GM: "[Solomon's parent], can you look that up? Alright, Bobby, back to you."

Bobby: "Okay I decided I want to throw a dart! I can do it now." [Rolls, hits, etc.]

GM: "Nope, sorry, misses right through his gross nose-ring!" [Cries of lamentation.]

Zaheed: "We rolled [for the stabbing!], I think we hit! [GM confirms.] Cool!"

GM: "Solomon it's up to you!"

Solomon: "Alright, my mom says it takes all day to cast, so we can't do that; so instead I'll zap him and we rolled high!"

GM: "Excellent everyone. Thanks for keeping it snapy! Next it's Ashi and Leila!"

Etc.


Forgive me my little drama, but you get the point: It is a little bit of a juggling act, but it keeps everything moving and you're not constantly pausing for the kids to decide. Just don't forget to come back to someone!

This is also where work before the session will pay back big. Rule cheat sheets! Especially short descriptions of spells and abilities so that the kids aren't constantly asking "What does this do?"


(But no for real kick out all but maybe one of the parents, and have that parent be your assistant!)
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Re: Newbie Players (Kids) and LARGE party HELP!

Post Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:31 pm

... you don't need to dump the adults in my group to get silly. pretty much any plan they come up with ends up that way. :D
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Metroknight
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Re: Newbie Players (Kids) and LARGE party HELP!

Post Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:50 pm

Take the parents to the side before the game and explain to them that you want them to roll for the monsters and play the npcs but the focus of the game should be on the kids.

Let the parents make the funny voices and such for the scenes and the kids will get a giggle fit out of it. Treat this as a bonding time for the parents and kids to be sharing their hobby. Think about how funny some of the parents will sound to the kids when they are speaking like an orc or a goblin or a different monster. Make sure you get the ones that enjoy getting into the character of the monster also. If there is an ogre in the module, let the big tall parent loom over the table as he speaks like what he thinks an ogre would sound like. Just don't scare the kids (much). :D

Take the one parent that was not planning on playing and let him be the book master so that he can look things up for the kids if they need to.

Let a few of the other parents take turns make the combat or other needed rolls for the npcs while the rest of the parents split the monsters as needed for those rolls, descriptions of actions, and if you are using a map - the moving of tokens.

All this will allow you to focus more on the story then the mechanics and the game will flow rather well then.
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Koren_nRhys
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Re: Newbie Players (Kids) and LARGE party HELP!

Post Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:18 am

More excellent advice - thank you all. This is definitely about giving the kids a great gaming experience, so the dads won't have any problem with not running their own characters to help keep the party size manageable. Enlisting them to help run monsters, NPCs or henchmen is a great way to keep them involved.
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Newbie Players (Kids) and LARGE party HELP!

Post Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:34 am

I really like the dads running the NPCs. Thats so cool. And it gets back to the early days when the DM truly was a referee between two groups of players. :)

I also like the idea of one dad/mom being the rulesearcher. Whenever the kids have a question about something the rulesearcher can look up the particular rule then let the kid read the appropriate section rather than wasting time trying to figure out what to look for.
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