In character/Out of character and gaming with children

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In character/Out of character and gaming with children

Postby Yavathol » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:11 am

Ok, second subject :)

I really take on board the ideas of sharing the secrets that have been developed with each character's background, and not passing notes and so on. But this really depends on having players that can separate In Character and Out Of Character knowledge, doesn't it? And even if you can, doesn't it mean you have to make a record of what IC knowledge you possess? If John knows Joe and Bob's character's secret names or Aspects, but his character doesn't, then every time he passes his Cunning check to figure one out, he should make a note of that so he doesn't forget. If there are lots of NPC's that sounds like quite a lot of paperwork, especially for the Narrator?

My gaming group contains a 15 year old and a nine year old. They are very mature and attentive and imaginative, and being girls, I can see the dressing up and partying aspects appealing to them far more than dungeon crawling! However, the younger one especially has trouble distinguishing IC and OOC, and we do have to keep an eye on the older ones' rolls, so it might be difficult giving her
free reign to lie about her dice rolls (so long as she goes down and not up). Does anyone have any experience playing houses with children, and to what extent would you modify/disregard the rulebook advice to allow for their age? (Obviously it's not too hard to restrict the Romance aspects to a PG level and down-play the adultery & drugs.)

(I didn't want to spam the board with lots of posts, but if any moderators think this post should be split, sorry! and please feel free to fork it.)

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Re: In character/Out of character and gaming with children

Postby JohnWick » Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:10 am

Having run games for kids before, I found one of the best pieces of advice I can give you is, "Don't let the rules get in the way of having fun."

Rules are supposed to make the game more fun, not less fun. For a kid, using your imagination is fun all in itself. Putting rules on it should help them direct their creative energies, not stiffle them.

For your 9 year old, I'd trim down the rules as far as possible. Also, allow kibitzing without Style Points. If someone wants to make a suggestion to her, let them. Let her grow as a player in her own time.

As for cheating... well, I don't care how old you are. Cheating is cheating. If you're 15, you know cheating is cheating and you know you're doing it. Find out why she's cheating and address that. I'd suggest one of the reasons she's doing it is because the game system doesn't let her do what she wants. The system in Houses kills most of that. Almost anyone can get a 10 on most rolls (if you have a Virtue and an Aspect) and if you don't have any dice, you really can't cheat.

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Re: In character/Out of character and gaming with children

Postby Yavathol » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:06 am

Thanks John, the point about kibbutzing without costing Style is duely noted :D

I think the reason the 15 year old was cheating is because it is all just numbers and, as you said in the rulebook, she wants her character to survive! By scribbling hit points all over her sheet and 'forgetting' to write damage down, she is in no danger of dying. I can see that, in Houses, since you only need to get 10, hopefully that fear of failure will be lessened. I wonder though, whether either girl will understand:- "Don't try to protect your character. Get him in trouble. Remember, this is a game about tragedy. Your character will not die well."

If they want a game where they save the prince and then all live happily ever after, I wonder how this will affect the feel of the game...
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Re: In character/Out of character and gaming with children

Postby Snag » Mon Sep 08, 2008 8:11 am

Try this: Tell the 15 year old that the whole point to the game is to look cool while you do anything. Whether you fail or succeed, you want to do it with style. You don't just miss the jump from one building to the next, you spectacularly biff the jump, bounce off the wall, rebound off an awning and collapse in an ungainly heap. Stuff like that.

And, like I was telling someone in the FAQ section: Bribe the players with Style if they do something to screw themselves up. Target the teenager when they're using their wagers, "I'll give you a style point if you (do something to screw up the party)."
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