the Fairgame Archive

2006-10-20: RPG Demos at Teen Read Week
by Meguey

Yesterday, Emily and I went to Granby Jr-Sr High School for Teen Read Week. A friend of mine is the school librarian, and, being a hip person and a smart cookie, she thought of inviting us down to talk about role-playing games, even though she doesn't play rpgs herself. We had 3 sessions of 30 min; the lunch period.

The first session noone came, but the baby had fun crawling in the library, and I did abominably bad at DDR.

The second session we had a full table! 10 students (one girl, 9 boys) and an English teacher. We asked if any of them played, and we got a little response - some WoW, some on-line stuff, some rpg-style video games, an awareness of D&D and WoD. One kid picked up With Great Power... and said "So what's the deal with this one?". And we rolled into pitch mode, with the following games:

With Great Power...

Primetime Adventures


Hero's Banner


My Life With Master

Don't Rest Your Head

The Shadow of Yesterday

The Burning Wheel

The Mountain Witch


carry. a game about war

The Shab-al-Hirir Roach

(Most of these are available through Indie Press Revolution as well.)

Woo-boy, that's a whole lot of fun! We were just saying 'Ok, let's role dice', when the bell rang and they had to leave. There was a beautiful moment near the end when Emily said "We know all the people who made these books. We wrote some ourselves. And you can to." Everyone was interested before, but that seemed like a new thing. I didn't have a copy of Perfect, but I sure name-dropped Joe, saying 'There's a game out now by a guy 19 years old. If you've got an idea, you can do this." That was really cool.

Last session we had 10 people, (6 girls 2 boys at the table, 2 more boys haging out to watch)We chatted a bit about what kinds of games they played, and it ranged from zero to on-line shared fiction to theater games to one guy who said he just made stuff up for his friends. Then we brought out the dice for 1001 Nights. I had my pre-made characters sheets, and everybody grabbed one. A couple girls made new characters on the fly. Kudus to the guy who grabbed the Dancer sheet. We were short on time, so I ran over the concept, threw them into a story with a king, a prince, a princess, a genie, some goats, a goat herder, the water in the well and a bird, and tossed out gems for their interests, did one tiny measely semi-conflict, and showed the end-of-story roll. Whew! If only we'd had an hour for each session!

We handed out JiffyCon fliers to everyone, and we left wishing we could have stayed for the longer after-school session, and talking about the logistics of starting a regular thing at a school in Greenfield. To any of you folks from Granby who might read this, thanks for giving it a try, and come to JiffyCon!

2006-10-20 20:55:57 Judd

This is fantastic stuff.

I'd love to talk with you about how you set this up and got it going.


2006-10-20 22:22:02 Alex Fradera

This is totally great. I would love to get the guts and energy to do something like this; I live in a building full of kids but pretty much all pre-teens (it's a hall for postgrad students, so a narrow demographic for the families) and I wasn't sure how to handle that. I'll soon be moving into the real world so maybe try and do something there...

2006-10-20 21:32:03 Meguey

Sure! We mostly did things on the fly off the cuff of the seat of our pants. But it was ok, and we had fun, and people asked a couple questions ("Can I get these at Barnes&Noble?" "Do you sell them at the local game/hobby store?"). If we'd only had more time.

I seriously think any middle or high school around would leap at the chance to have an interested adult come and play games at an afterschool program.

2006-10-20 23:33:24 Judd

Hm, I should really get 1st Quest over to the junior high after school program.


2006-10-24 16:28:06 Emily

I highly recommend it, Judd. This was a tremendous amount of fun, and not as hard as it may sound.

We had zero idea of what to expect, so both Meg & I had originally thought about getting a gang of us to go down to the HS, talk about rpg play & design, then break up into groups to do a little bit of demo play.  Given the time constraints we had, what we did was better: as Meg described, one session devoted to talking about rpg in general and pitching a whole mess of games, and a second session devoted to giving them a tantalizing taste of an actual game.

Wish we'd had 15 minutes more for the second one! And split it up into 2 groups—poor Meg was juggling, what was it—10 players for 1001 Nights? : )  And if we'd had more time for the first one I'd have had us do a quickie PtA demo. Meg actually asked folks what their favorite TV shows were when we talked about the game. One fellow said "Family Guy". I'd have had the group shout out who the characters were, figure out what their issues were and do 1 conflict that put pressure on one of the characters issues. I was thinking the precocious kid genius character.

It was nice that it was a fairly small group, outside of the context of a class. Having the kids be able to brown bag their lunch in the library was a nicely informal setting.

2006-10-25 17:46:08 Jason M

So great.  That sounds really fun.

My wife is a librarian and I do a Teen Tuesday RPG event every year.  This summer they trucked in a bunch of offenders from a local youth home and they got into it.  Kids want to play.  Hell, *everybody* wants to play.

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