Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hero Kids: First Session

White cubes (rats) face off against our party.
Today, my Hero Kids players met during Club time and managed to do the following:

  • Started the adventure in a tavern
  • Accepted a call for help
  • Went into a basement and defeated a group of rats

Three cliches in one session, it's awesome. Nothing is a cliche to these kids because it's all new to them. They managed to defeat the four rats in the first encounter. I left the special rules aside and focused on basic melee attack and defence, as well as health levels. We've had a new player join us, Kai the Knight:

Kai is the tank with a mighty 3 defense.
Today we did a recap of the whole concept, looked at our character sheets and began the adventure. I recorded the 45 minute session's audio for posterity and to save me having to keep notes. Once I get over the cringing at listening to my recorded voice, it will be super useful and perhaps hilarious - my kids are funny.

GM (me): Are you going to run back to your house and get your weapons?
Sophie the Warrior: I've got my axe.
GM: You've got your axe with you already? Do you have it with you here in the restaurant?
Sophie: [beat] I just take my axe everywhere.

They took to the general idea of an RP session fine, and enjoyed rolling dice - they found it very suspenseful waiting to see which side would win a dice roll. I began to encourage them to use 'words like in a story', actual descriptions, of what they wanted to do. They got a kick out of using character names instead of their real names, which I wanted to do to make the recording easier to parse but also helped them remember their roles. 

The Knight player had lots of creative suggestions but is still adjusting to the idea of giving ideas that can work with what they're trying to achieve. I am trying not to be the downer who is denying all of the oddball ideas, but I suppose someone needs to draw the line. He wanted to be able to throw his shield, but in this system there's a clear line between melee and ranged. So, we settled for the concept of him using his shield to bash melee enemies. 

Large iPad stuck in the middle of the group. 
The iPad audio seemed very effective, though I need a better space for it to live as it took up some room. I chose the floor to sprawl ourselves out on, next time I'll take the time to lay out some desks or find a play-space that has desks set up permanently, maybe in the Learning Commons.

So far, so good! We had quite a few eager watchers during the last part of the game as students came in from break-time. I'm almost disappointed I'm on leave for the next few weeks so that we can't carry on with Hero Kids right away.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hero Kids: Intro Session

Sophie the Warrior and Character Sheet
Yesterday, I pitched the concept of roleplaying games to a group of Grade 2s and 3s. I had worried about dealing with a large group but, delightfully, I ended up with 3 enthusiastic youngsters. We met after the Clubs assembly, so didn't have a lot of time to get in depth.

I showed them the Map of Brecken Vale and read out the opening crawl from the rule book, which explains that they are all from the same town. Their parents are all adventurers and are often busy outside the valley that they live in, which leaves the PCs (player characters) to handle any domestic problems. Then, I brought out the awesome colouring-in pages and talked them through the basic character classes.

Some great comments and questions from the kids:

"If you're a girl do you have to choose a girl?" - great question, will discuss more about character versus self
"Can you choose more than one [character]?" - our boy wanted to play them all
"Look, he has bowls on his shoulders!" -referring to the Knight's makeshift armour

Our headstrong girl choose the girl warrior the moment she clapped eyes on her. The boy in our party loved all of the male characters and wanted to play a few of them, but eventually choose the archer. Our second girl deliberated between the healer and the thief, but in the end decided that she was sneaky and picked the thief.

Once they'd chosen a character, I brought out the character sheets for the three classes. The two girls could easily read everything on the character sheet. There was a lot of information to discuss, so I didn't get to it all this session. To start with, I focused on something central for them- how they would hit things. They found it interesting that the Warrior could only attack close up, the Archer could only attack from distance, and the Thief could do both - but not as well as the Warrior or Archer. We noticed that the Warrior also has the most health, so it would be good for her to be in the front during battles. In Hero Kids, each character has a specialisation. The warrior, appropriately, is very persuasive. The thief is sneaky and can use disguises. The archer can track animals and people.

When the bell rang, I gave them their character's colouring-in page and character sheet to read over and get an idea for next time. I also asked them to come up with a name for their character, and pointed out that it didn't have to be their own name. I said that I didn't want to keep them in during -break time... only to be told that they would be happy to carry on working on their characters during break! Unfortunately, I had to go to lunch but would definitely consider extending our RP time into break if that works.

In under an hour, I was given this by our new sneak-thief:

Sneaky Thief
Our warrior assured me this morning that she did all her Hero Kids prep last night:

Sophie the Warrior
During my IT lesson with our Archer's class, he bounded up to show me this:

As yet unnamed Archer, but his player is thinking about what to call him
 Our next session only happens next week so I'm bolstered by their enthusiasm. My next task is to cut out, colour and fold a bunch of Giant Rat tokens, ready for the Basement O Rats adventure.

Everything I've linked to is from Justin Halliday's excellent Hero Kids.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

RPing with Kids: The Ongoing Quest

At my school, the Junior Primary are lucky enough to have Clubs. Once a week, for 40 minutes, the Grade 2s and 3s are allowed to choose an elective club, run by a teacher. Usually the clubs are focused around a specific activity, such as Cooking Club or Music Club.

Last term I ran Coding Club, where a group of boys and I explored the web version of Lightbot. We all really enjoyed that as an introductory activity into 'thinking like a robot'. This term, I wanted something different.
Grade 2 and 3 boys problem-solving using Lightbot.
Roleplaying is one of my passions. I thought that I would try to use the medium of Clubs time to introduce roleplaying to my students. The name Roleplaying is a bit abstract to the 7-9 year old market I'll be targeting, so, the idea for Story Game Club was born. It's a bit convoluted but it does describe what I want to do- use a game to tell a story.

Clubs time is happening later today, so I wanted to do my write-up beforehand. I have found a system that will probably work great- Hero Kids by Justin Halliday. He has a great bundle on DriveThru RPG that is reasonably priced for the content included. I've chosen an introductory adventure, printed out the 10 prebuilt character/classes and read the simple core rules.

There is one thing that is concerning me, and that is number of players. Those of you that are familiar with RPGs will know that generally it's better to have a small group of players, 4 is ideal, 6 is maybe a push. As a school club, it would be better if I had a club concept that is 'open to all' in order to:

a) give all the students the right to choose their elective
b) ensure other teachers aren't left with massive groups to control

If I end up with 10+ students who want to do Story Games Club, then the concept for the Club will become unobtainable. I've worked on my pitch for today in order to try and draw the right students, and I've been given the nod to have a small group of 6 or so... I'm hoping I can draw these students into roleplaying and show them something new. I'll report back after our first session today.

Bonus picture of a Grade 00 and his bunny tower made in Sheppard Software: Paint and Make Easter Egg Hunt.