Role Playing with Kids Part 2

Having spoken with other DM’s that play with young players, I thought it might be to expand on my previous post, Role Playing with Kids. Here are a few things that seem to crop up in our conversations.

  • Ego and Speaking Out of Turn – Many players want to be the center of attention and this is even more pronounced with younger players. This may cause frustration with players and DM’s. This is an opportunity to teach younger players how to take turns in conversations. My most valuable tip for this issue is to acknowledge players immediately and let them know that they will get their turn. I like to point to a person with a number of fingers that indicates their turn in line. When the next person begins speaking, I point to the players still waiting with their updated position.
  • Now You’re the DM – Players get excited and many want to take on the mantle of the DM even before they have learned to play their first character. Let them. Tell them they can make up a one-shot and set a time limit on how long you will take to play it. I suggest one hour for the first time. When it is over, do a follow-up Q&A to see what parts the players liked most and would like to see more of in your game.
  • Rewards Overcome Boredom  – Your players may get bored easily. Keep them entertained by giving them small rewards. I like chocolate treasure coins, plastic gems, and other cheap treasures. Telling a player they found a sack of gold is not as awesome as handing them a sack of gold (chocolate) coins. You can pick up rings, beads, and other treasure items on Amazon and places like the Dollar Store.
  • Fill In The Blanks – Encourage the players to fill in the details of the story. If they are traveling and stop at an inn to eat and spend the night, ask them what the name of the inn is and how it got its name. My favorite answer so far has been “Mom’s, because mom makes the best food in the whole world.”
  • What Does That Look Like – Role playing and using theater of the mind can often cause confusion and disagreement between players and the DM.  When this happens, take the time to ask players what they thought things looked like. Encourage them to draw it out on paper, if you think it will help. Be flexible and bend to the way the players see things when you can. Remember, they are listening to you and it is your job to communicate clearly. If this becomes a continuing problem, perhaps playing with mini’s and battle mats would be a good tool at your table.
  • Give Do-Overs and Inspiration – I like to give inspiration, which allows a player to use advantage on a single dice roll, and let the players know they can also use it to call a do-over, if something goes horribly wrong. Young players often want to “do-over” every little mistake. By giving them one “do-over,” I can ask players if they want to use their only “do-over” to reverse this event. 
  • Lose with Grace – It is hard to teach a player that character death can be a good thing, and sometimes an awesome thing. I like to insert “red-shirt” NPC’s into the game. The players know they are going to die because they are wearing a red shirt. At some point in the game, the players will encounter something very dangerous and the “red shirt” will sacrifice themselves or do something fatally funny (think Wile E. Coyote). Well, looks like I get to play a new NPC!

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