As many of you may have read, I have an affinity for kids. I, myself, have a number of them. I love kids.
When I began Adventures League where I used to live, it was really just to get my kids out of the house to give my wife a break (we didn’t have any really young kiddos back then). We had an adventure we played at the new game store in town and we had a good time.
Then they (there were 5 of them total back then) began inviting a couple of friends.
Then they invited some more. So I had one of the teens take over DMing for the new kids that were coming. So we had two tables. And then my middle school son invited a few friends. And then we had three tables. But who would take the table of middle schoolers?
There was only one option that would be able to handle both players new to the game and young enough to need lots of patience: me.
Most of them came at the very end of Tomb of Annihilation. They were there for the end and wanted to play in their own adventure. I had been preparing for weeks in anticipation of the new season. It would be Waterdeep: Dragon Heist.
Dear Readers, the adventures that followed were nothing short of a total blast to DM. The kids thought outside of the box, coming up with solutions to problems that most veteran players I have played with would never have thought of. They played very carefully at first, then decided to just play and let the dice truly decide their fates.
I’ve told the story of Greg the Cabbie, and this was that group. It was absolutely epic.
So how do you DM younger players? Easy:
1) Give them free reign to come up to creative solutions to obstacles. Kids, especially ones new to the game, see things much differently than most adults and even older teens. Encourage this!
2) Encourage the shy or quiet players to speak up and engage in the story. These kids often end up being the most vocal and outgoing players in the long run. Go out of your way to ensure these players are heard and get a say in the group.
3) Make it a positive experience, even when things go horribly wrong for their characters. It can be hard when things go wrong, especially when the dice are particularly cruel that day. Keep things light and laugh at your own rolls to show them it’s okay for bad rolls to happen.
4) Encourage role playing. A lot. This should go without saying, but this helps them develop as a player probably moreso than anything else.
5) Encourage character development and growth; this goes for the players as well, and praise them for it! New and younger players get a lot of satisfaction out of watching and seeing their characters grow, all the while they grow as players. It makes a DM proud to see this, trust me.
6) Reward good role playing, cool moments, and creative solutions that work with DM inspiration. Enough said.
7) Have patience. Lots of it. This one cannot be stressed enough. Kids can be loud, rowdy, and rambunctious. They can get easily sidetracked and distracted. Being patient and keeping them on task and focused on the game is your best bet, and they will have a wonderful time.
What do you think, Dear Readers? Do any of you have experience playing with or DMing younger players? Let me know in the comment section below!
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Until next time, Dear Readers…