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kristof65

Savage Worlds for kids?

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So a friend of mine and I have decided to collaborate on a fantasy RPG campaign for our sons and their friends. We talked about using D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder, since that's what we play in her husbands group, but decided that maybe a less crunchy system might be in order. Thanks to the good folk here, Savage Worlds came to mind. I went ahead and purchased it, and like what I see so far, I think it will be a good fit for us and the kids.

 

But having never run the system before, I'm wondering what hints veteran SW GMs (and players) can give us for getting the most out of it, and making it a good fit for both adults and kids? I don't really have any specific questions, really looking more for general advice and tips.

 

Here's a little more background on what we're doing:

 

- the kids are 8-10, and there are both boys and girls. We're starting with three, but we expect the group to grow to any where between 5&9.

 

- we're going to start with some one shots, but our plan is a campaign that will run as long as we can keep the interested. If we can do this right, she and I see this running until our youngest graduates (15 years). (Yes, we're dreaming).

 

-we have agreed that she will be the story GM while I will be the setting GM. My favorite part of GMing is creating the maps, the world, etc, while hers is taking characters through a story. Basically, she's going to use what I initially create to inspire her story, while I'll create more based on what she needs for the story - a feedback loop of sorts.

 

- at the table we'll both be GMs, with her focusing on the story and keeping the kids on task, while I handle rules, combat, etc.

 

- we've decided on a no adult players policy, but have considered using our gaming friends to portray NPC adversaries from time to time. We're waffling on that.

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If you want to try Pathfinder, try Pathfinder Beginner. I takes out quite a bit of the crunchy rules & makes for a great system to play & learn.

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I suggest you look into Dungeon World. I love the system and it lends itself well to younger players.

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Advice for getting the most out of Savage Worlds? I play the game and love it even more than the AD&D I played in the eighties and any other D&D that came after.

 

I think you have the bases covered with two GMs!! You'll definitely have it easier with a large group of new/young players to keep track of everything. The size of the group is pretty large for any RPG.

 

Allow the players to really roleplay the roll play. Wild attack? Describe it please. Untrained attempt to pick a lock, the same please. Let the children lose their minds. The game isn't as concerned as others with mechanics getting in the way of cinematic coolness. Just remember that, and you'll all have a blast.

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I'm very jealous of your plan, so zealous.

 

I wish I were more like you, a little bit bolder, then I'd try this when my kids get older. Please post back to let us know if the games works out and how the sessions go!

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Kristoff, I played a beginner box game with my kids (9 & 11) and a friends child (11). My friend sat in on the game and had a character... but made teh character comically dumb so teh kids had to make all the decisions and order him around...

 

The beginner box is nice, but the kids wanted to play with the regular books which kind of killed the game as they were not ready...

 

Savage worlds is a nice system... its my go to system for modern/future games... Never tried it for fantasy.

 

The only real advice I can give (and this goes for any system). Is the kids really enjoyed the visual use of Miniatures or Pathfinders cardboard tokens... They also loved the flip mats... They did a good job of roleplayinga and seeing what was not there... (i.e using their imaginations) but I thinkg the minis and maps really pulled them in.

 

Also, knowing the kids i gave them a run down of all the options and let them choose... Knowing my son likes Monster hunter type vidoe games I emphasized the fighter and my daughter loves Harry Potter and other magic rich stories so I emphasied Wizard... My son did go with fighter but My daughter surprised me and went with a knife wielding thief...

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I think you have the bases covered with two GMs!! You'll definitely have it easier with a large group of new/young players to keep track of everything. The size of the group is pretty large for any RPG.

 

Allow the players to really roleplay the roll play. Wild attack? Describe it please. Untrained attempt to pick a lock, the same please. Let the children lose their minds. The game isn't as concerned as others with mechanics getting in the way of cinematic coolness. Just remember that, and you'll all have a blast.

My preferred group size is actually six players, but I've had up to 13 players in a single campaign before. I believe in a lot of inter character role playing, and in a group that large, it keeps players occupied. For this game/campaign, we're starting off with three, and after the first few sessions, we're allowing each of them to invite up to two of their friends, which gives us the potential of 9 players. I think it will level out to 5 or 6 kids, and with two of us, it should go well.

 

I'm glad you specifically mentioned the part about really role playing the roll, and how well SW works for that. I think my co-GM will really like that.

 

I'm very jealous of your plan, so zealous.

 

I wish I were more like you, a little bit bolder, then I'd try this when my kids get older. Please post back to let us know if the games works out and how the sessions go!

Thanks, but I can't take credit for being bold here. It's really more of a feedback loop between my friends and I. We all met because of role playing before any of our kids were born, and of course, when they were infants and toddlers we talked about maybe doing a campaign for them "someday." But what's really driving this is that role playing was recommended as a therapy tool for one of our kids, and that's driving us to put something together sooner rather than "someday".

 

 

Kristoff, I played a beginner box game with my kids (9 & 11) and a friends child (11). My friend sat in on the game and had a character... but made teh character comically dumb so teh kids had to make all the decisions and order him around...

 

The beginner box is nice, but the kids wanted to play with the regular books which kind of killed the game as they were not ready...

 

Savage worlds is a nice system... its my go to system for modern/future games... Never tried it for fantasy.

 

The only real advice I can give (and this goes for any system). Is the kids really enjoyed the visual use of Miniatures or Pathfinders cardboard tokens... They also loved the flip mats... They did a good job of roleplayinga and seeing what was not there... (i.e using their imaginations) but I thinkg the minis and maps really pulled them in.

 

Also, knowing the kids i gave them a run down of all the options and let them choose... Knowing my son likes Monster hunter type vidoe games I emphasized the fighter and my daughter loves Harry Potter and other magic rich stories so I emphasied Wizard... My son did go with fighter but My daughter surprised me and went with a knife wielding thief...

One of the reasons we leaned towards SW over Pathfinder is that it's not a beginner set. Both our boys like to look through our D&D and and other game books, but could care less about reading the rules. I'm not sure they've really grasped the concept that some books belong to one game, and other books to other games After looking through the SW rules, I think it will be easy to adopt anything idea we need to from any book they (or we) happen to be looking at.

 

We do plan on using maps and miniatures. I love making maps and props, and we just got all those Bones minis, so that was a given for the game.

 

Both my Co-GM and I have our own rich worlds to play in, (as does her husband), but we decided not to choose one over the other, and instead create one that fits the kids tastes now. All five of us are writing up a list of the three things we consider must have in the campaign, three things we'd like to see, and one thing we absolutely don't want in the campaign.

 

I haven't seen all the lists yet, but it appears that Dragons are a must have. My son gave me quite a laugh when he said kissing was the one thing he didn't want in the campaign. I promised him i could keep that out, but he'd probably change his mind in a few years.

 

When it comes to characters, I think the SW archetypes are going to be a blessing to get them playing, as we'll be able to present them with a few, then let them flesh them out to personalize them.

 

 

Thanks for the input so far.

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I haven't seen all the lists yet, but it appears that Dragons are a must have. My son gave me quite a laugh when he said kissing was the one thing he didn't want in the campaign. I promised him i could keep that out, but he'd probably change his mind in a few years.

 

This made me think of the Grandpa reading the book in Princess Bride...

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SW should work pretty handily.

 

A few things to keep in mind:

 

The rule that most players have the hardest time understanding is how shaken interacts with wounds. In general, just stress that number of raises over toughness is the number of wounds. Shaken just adds another situation where you get one wound. If you get a raise on damage on a shaken opponent, it's still only one wound. Make sure they understand that, and the rest of the system's pretty easy.

 

Try and teach them about things like cover and the various maneuvers gradually. If they want to learn them on their own, that's great, but consider every session or so showing them something new. This session, we'll talk about cover, and oh, those goblins sure like to hide! Today we're going to talk about wild attack. Man, look at those barbarians go! This will help them get a decent mastery of the system without getting overwhelmed with options.

 

Consider letting them rebuild their characters once they've got the system down pretty well and understand their options better. When they first make their characters, they're not going to understand how things work all that well, and you shouldn't hold it against them. Later on, they'll understand better how to make the system do what they want, and have characters that actually do the things they intend.

 

There's a fair amount of swing in Savage Worlds, which can make the game pretty lethal. Make sure they know to use their bennies to recover or soak wounds. Consider using less lethal rules for the kids, especially while they're still learning the system. I'm away from my books right now, but there's one where getting past three wounds isn't actually lethal, just unconscious. Check the optional rules section. It should help you shape your campaign for the tone you want.

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I would say you should let the bennies flow; give out bennies for any (even minor) roleplaying, thinking of ideas (even if they are not the best ideas), good teamwork and when the kids tell a joke or story that makes everyone laugh.

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This makes me wish I was one of the kids in your neighborhood. Do your kids and your friends' kids know how awesome their parents are?

I'm not so sure they'll think that when we unleash the dragons on them...

 

I'll have to update you all on how it goes. We're all going camping on the weekend of the 17th, and that's when we'll do our test run. If the boys do well, then we'll migrate it to a regular campaign.

 

Right now the hardest part for me is not letting my three page campaign summary and simple world map grow out of hand into a full blown campaign book prior to playing game one.

 

The more I read through Savage Worlds, the more I think it will be perfect for the kids, particularly the Bennies and the dice based attribute system. And not only does the whole system seem pretty elegant, there is a lot of potential in there for hidden learning opportunities above and beyond what roleplaying itself allows.

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I'm fairly new to Savage Worlds but I've been running a game for my two 7-year-old boys and 10-year-old girl so I figured I'd share my experience. I think everyone's advice so far is good but I'll add lessons learned from my experience so far.

 

First off, it is working great! Everyone is having a blast and they're always begging to play more/longer. I decided to include one adult player to help focus the kids a bit when they get too far in the weeds but your idea of a second GM could serve that purpose as well (or even a single GM who doesn't mind stepping in to give them advice). In our case, I invited my mom to play with us. She had never played an RPG before but was thrilled to get the opportunity after having watched me play them as I grew up and spending time with the grand kids is always a bonus of course.

 

I keep the game very rules-light even for Savage Worlds. I'll briefly explain rules when they come up but for the most part I have them describe what they want to do and I tell them what kind of roll to make. They're slowly picking up the rules without me having to present a bunch of rules and boring them right off the bat.

 

At first I'd tell them what dice to roll in addition to saying "make a notice check" but they caught on pretty quick and now I just have to remind them on occasion to use their wild die. I can't stress enough how great Savage Worlds is at allowing a narrative style for the players to be easily translated in crunchy mechanics by the GM. It's let us have a ton of cinematic high-action adventures without having the kids get bogged down with worrying about the details.

 

I have been very slowly introducing combat tricks and tactics, usually in response to stuff the players want to do. I've kept the combats very lopsided so far to not force the issue too soon and that's been working great but as I've been slowly introducing harder encounters they've been stepping up their tactics naturally. The early combats were ridiculously skewed in the players' favor (4 pcs vs 2 weak mook goblins) but there was plenty of tension because the players had no idea how easy it should be and I played up the goblins being nasty little creatures. Use their lack of experience/jadded-ness to your advantage while you can.

 

With 2 GMs this is probably less of an issue for you but Savage Worlds really lends itself well to improvising as a GM. I have done almost no prep time for any of my sessions with the kids and have been using them as a exercise to get better at thinking on my feet. It's worked out great so far.

 

As others have said, kids love minis. The only caution I have about this is that when the minis are on the table my kids start treating it much more like a board game and role playing suffers. I've found that I have to clear the minis off the mat when we're not in combat or the boys get hung up on things like where their mini is relative to everyone else vs just describing what their doing.

 

The only other bit of advice I have is to keep the sessions short. I'm used to playing marathon sessions with my game group so short sessions have taken some getting used to. I try to make sure they have at least one combat per session but usually that's about it. Everyone is begging for more when we stop, but I know my 7-year-olds would start losing focus after about 2 hours if we didn't stop. Frankly, I've been really surprised that they manage to stay engaged for the 2 hours we usually play for.

 

Best of luck with your game!

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