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Old 06-06-2022, 09:03 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Default DFRPG Camp

I just ran the first day of this summer's first session of DFRPG camp at my school. Twelve kids, aged 10 to 14. Five of them were alums of our first camp last summer. The rest of them had never played DFRPG and were evenly divided between kids who have played some D&D and kids who have never played any TTRPGs.

We spent the morning going over the basics of role-playing and the game rules. We then divided into two tables with my colleague and me GMing for each group. We passed out a bunch of pregens from Delvers to Grow (all of the 125-point characters except for the Wrestler). They had a blast reading through the characters. We then did a round of character introductions.

After lunch, we got into the game in earnest. We ran a heavily modified version of "You All Meet at an Inn" by Matt Riggsby. Started with some light RP in the tavern with some quirky patrons. Then a belligerent guest who could be dealt with in a variety of ways. Then the zombie horde. Plenty of action for each character. Then down below for a quick finale requiring a lot of teamwork. (We rewrote that part of the adventure to fit our time and goals.) Everyone had a good time and seemed eager to return tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will teach them how to build characters using Delvers to Grow and run through some mini-scenarios. In the afternoon, our celebrity guest, Douglas Cole, will visit to regale them with the wisdom of a successful game publisher.

The highlight of the day for me was when one of the girls turned to me and said, "I like D&D, but it's so much harder to explain than GURPS." Woohoo!
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Old 06-06-2022, 09:13 PM   #2
Christopher R. Rice
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I've told you elsewhere, but I'll say it here too. I. Love. This. So. Much. SO MUCH.
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Old 06-06-2022, 09:39 PM   #3
Turhan's Bey Company
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: East of the moon, west of the stars, close to buses and shopping
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You're doing the Lord's work.
I've been making pointlessly shiny things, and I've got some gaming-related stuff as well as 3d printing designs.

Buy my Warehouse 23 stuff, dammit!
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Old 06-08-2022, 04:36 PM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
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I can't believe we're already past the week's halfway point. On Tuesday, the kids spent the morning generating characters using Delvers to Grow and introducing them to some minor scenarios. We need to iron out a few kinks in the char-gen process before we run our second session in two weeks. My colleague and I always use GCS to build characters, so we kinda forgot that paper sheets don't do the math for you. This means we needed to teach kids explicitly how to determine their skill levels. That's not hard, but it requires a mini-lesson and some practice. It also has implications for how you should use Delvers to Grow. It makes sense to go through the process for attributes first, so you have your final attributes in place before you write down any skills. That way you don't need to adjust skill levels if you add an upgrade module that boosts an attribute. Another possibility would be to simply write down the RSL instead (e.g., "IQ+1" or "DX+0"). We're looking forward to streamlining this next time.

Douglas Cole joined us for a lively afternoon talk. To our delight, he provided every camper with a copy of Dragon Heresy. (Some of them may have trouble carrying all of their loot home on Friday!) He also spent time answering questions and observing a final 30-minute gaming session. He saw many of the kids falling into the same pits that many of us veterans fell into when we first started. But there were also great moments of creativity and fun.

Today, day 3, we debriefed Doug's talk and reflected on what we learned from our games yesterday. Then the kids dove into more gaming all morning. Most of them were running small 1-page encounters that we wrote up and rotating GMs. A few of the more advanced players improvised significantly, using our handouts merely for inspiration.

After lunch, we talked about writing our own encounters. (We're focusing on short set-pieces rather than longer adventures.) They generated lists of tips for successful encounters and pitfalls to avoid. Like any live classroom draft, there is some redundancy, and one can quibble about the specifics, but I thought they did rather well.

What do you need for a successful encounter?
  • Conflict
  • Incentive
  • Challenge
  • NPCs
  • Discovery
  • Treasure/Reward
  • Setting
  • Stakes
  • Antagonist/Enemy

Pitfalls to Avoid:
  • Too much going on (too many choices)
  • Too much rigid structure
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Too broad/large scope
  • Too much detail/backstory
  • Lack of agency

Ostensibly, they generated this from their gaming experiences over the past few days, but I was pleased to hear them echoing many of Doug's points.

Some of the groups had a chance to try out some of their encounters before we wrapped up. Others were still working on them, so they'll use them tomorrow.
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Old 06-08-2022, 04:37 PM   #5
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
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Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
You're doing the Lord's work.
Having grown up during the "Satanic Panic," this makes me smile on multiple levels. Thank you!
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Old 06-08-2022, 04:38 PM   #6
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
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Originally Posted by Christopher R. Rice View Post
I've told you elsewhere, but I'll say it here too. I. Love. This. So. Much. SO MUCH.
I appreciate your enthusiasm!
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Old 06-08-2022, 05:38 PM   #7
Join Date: Apr 2019
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Much respect to you and your organizers!

I wish I could do something like this here, but my language isn't up to running and explaining TTRPGs in German.

Keep doing stuff like this, its a great program you have going.
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Old 06-08-2022, 11:32 PM   #8
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Join Date: Sep 2014
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Very wholesome. I like it. I'm going to keep an eye on the thread to read how the rest of the week goes. :)
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Old 06-12-2022, 05:01 AM   #9
Blind Mapmaker
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Mannheim, Baden
Default Re: DFRPG Camp

This is extremely heartening. I keep trying to introduce kids to gaming that, but the violence in DFRPG-like scenarios is always a problem and if it isn't, the kids are too shy to play with their parents' buddies. Anyway kudos to you for propagating the hobby!
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Last edited by Blind Mapmaker; 06-12-2022 at 05:07 AM. Reason: commas
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Old 06-13-2022, 11:11 AM   #10
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Default Re: DFRPG Camp

After a week of intense gaming, my family fled to our cabin to rejuvenate over the weekend. Now I'm back, ready to revise plans for our second session of RPG camp, starting next week.

But first, how did things go on Thursday and Friday last week?

Our final two days were dedicated to playing the game. Everybody had a chance to run their group through an original encounter. Some encounters were quick. Others ran quite long—more like mini-adventures. (Next week we hope to tighten this up.) After each person had a shot at GMing, we left it up to the tables to decide how to proceed.

At this point, our three tables had merged into two. One group wrapped up their encounters sooner, so one student ran a shortened version of The Crypt of Krysuvik. Then they played through about 70% of I Smell a Rat. The other table chose a GM to run I Smell a Rat.

Both days were successful, with lots of laughter and fun. It felt like the players understood the game's basic rules better than our first campers last summer. (It helped that we had some veterans, of course.) Both groups also plan on continuing their games, which is something we didn't hear about last year. It helps that we're sending them home with everything they need to play.

We wrapped up on Friday by collecting feedback. Kids were very positive about the camp as a whole. They had a great time and were thrilled with the pile of loot that they got to take home. The older students (entering 9th grade next year) argued that we should offer a second camp for older students. We're considering that.

On the critical front, the kids said that we talked too much during the first two days. Between all of the explanations of the rules and how to make characters and Doug's excellent talk, we wore through their patience. This matches my sense, too. More dice, less talk. A surprise, though, was that they also wanted to have more breaks from role-playing with team-building or other large-group activities.

I have some ideas for how to make the opening two days more dynamic. Hard at work on that this week.
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