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Old 02-02-2023, 06:14 AM   #1
Embassy of Time
 
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Default How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

I am a teacher, so logically, I have ZERO idea what goes on inside the minds of teens. And now, some friends want me to help their teenagers get into roleplaying games, because the teens have shown big interest but their parents like to avoid explaining things to them. *obligatory sigh*

Are there any good online tutorials in running or participating in games? Critical Role is nice and all, but it doesn't hold their hands when they need to dotheir own stuff. Especially GMing is daunting for them, no matter how much I help or explain. How do 'the kids' learn this kind of stuff these days? Youtube, TikTok, Backalley Bob??
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Old 02-02-2023, 07:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

Wouldn't it be quite easy to teach them role playing?
Videogames, including mobile games are super common, after all.

And pen and paper basically is that but with dice and paper and pens instead of values in computer memory.

Personally, I'd approach this without the mindset of 'teens' because that might run you the risk of being 'cringe', if you end up trying to be 'teeny'.
Like if you went along the lines of "we were at the final boss of the dungeons and my dice roll were fire, fr fr no cap, **** was bussin" or whatever fallen language they have to age through right now.

Well, that could end up bad.
So, just treat em like regular people, or something.

Edit:
Videogames aside.
"Pretend you're a bunch of robbers preparing for a heist on a wild west bank, and you describe your actions in turn to the Game Master.
And you (pointing at GM to be) have all the power to decide if the plans of the robbers work out. You have complete say over this makebelieve reality, and can decide if the actions of the players work. You can decide this directly, or using random chance, like dice rolls or coin flips, and the players have to deal with that. "

Last edited by Lovewyrm; 02-02-2023 at 07:11 AM.
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Old 02-02-2023, 07:41 AM   #3
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Embassy of Time View Post
Especially GMing is daunting for them, no matter how much I help or explain.
Is this a teenager thing? I thought GMing was just hard to teach in general. So any good resources for teaching GMing should work.
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Old 02-02-2023, 08:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lovewyrm View Post
Wouldn't it be quite easy to teach them role playing?
Videogames, including mobile games are super common, after all.
It is not so much the mechanical aspects, more the, uhm, socio-narrative challenges? In video games, you go in a direction and point and click. Just getting them to talk about their characters, much less describe character actions or, gasp, ROLEPLAY, they seem completely lost at the thought of playing through talking. They see CritRoll and think being funny, dramatic, clever and so on comes as natural as playing Fortnite or remembering movie quotes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Is this a teenager thing? I thought GMing was just hard to teach in general.
I am NOT going to argue against that, dear lord can it be challenging! But the whole "awkward teen" thing makes it much worse, I think. They got the rule stuff down nicely (simplified GURPS rules, though), but helping them create worlds or design adventures is hard. They approach it like video game programming, wanting to force PCs to follow some vague narrative and designing every encounter by stats only. I think they UNDERSTAND that a lot of roleplaying is about choices and creativity, but they can't seem to wrap their heads around the idea that they have to make room for any of that. Not sure how to better explain it...
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Old 02-02-2023, 09:46 AM   #5
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

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Originally Posted by Embassy of Time View Post
I am NOT going to argue against that, dear lord can it be challenging! But the whole "awkward teen" thing makes it much worse, I think. They got the rule stuff down nicely (simplified GURPS rules, though), but helping them create worlds or design adventures is hard. They approach it like video game programming, wanting to force PCs to follow some vague narrative and designing every encounter by stats only. I think they UNDERSTAND that a lot of roleplaying is about choices and creativity, but they can't seem to wrap their heads around the idea that they have to make room for any of that. Not sure how to better explain it...
I learned to GM as a young teen (12, really), but I really only did dungeons. I got comfortable with the role and it wasn't for a few years that we branched out. I think there is an advantage to designing dungeons as a learning GM, because it teaches of the basics of setting out challenges and then letting the players do whatever.

Once I was comfortable to move on, I started doing ambitious stuff. But it took a bit of experience in a setting where the GM prep work was easy.

So maybe they need to crawl before they learn to run? Just sharing my experience. I hope you find it useful.
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Old 02-02-2023, 10:06 AM   #6
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
. So maybe they need to crawl before they learn to run? Just sharing my experience. I hope you find it useful.
I totally agree with you. My experience was very similar. But things move so fast today! They want to learn web coding? Google a tutorial! Wanna learn to fix a bike? Youtube! And then they watch CritRoll (I know there are many others like it, I just can't remember any names) and they want to know how to play like _that_. I even teach them adventure design based on dungeons, but it is more about the experience they have come to expect than the bits and bobs of the craft, it seems...

Edit: It just struck me that this might tie in well with all the "why GURPS no popular??" threads in the forums. Maybe this is the missing piece of that puzzle, too..?

Last edited by Embassy of Time; 02-02-2023 at 10:09 AM.
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Old 02-02-2023, 03:06 PM   #7
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

If they seem OK with the mechanics and playing the numbers, assign them a homework assignment. Have them write up a half page or so about their characters. No direct mention of stat numbers or advantages/disadvantages or other game mechanics. Once the character has more to it in their minds then a bunch of numbers, the role play may come easier. If they come up with really good descriptions that don't match the character sheets, let them change the sheets to match the writing as much as your game allows.

Worry about the GM part later after they can get a story image into their minds.
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Old 02-03-2023, 01:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Embassy of Time View Post
It is not so much the mechanical aspects, more the, uhm, socio-narrative challenges? In video games, you go in a direction and point and click. Just getting them to talk about their characters, much less describe character actions or, gasp, ROLEPLAY, they seem completely lost at the thought of playing through talking. They see CritRoll and think being funny, dramatic, clever and so on comes as natural as playing Fortnite or remembering movie quotes.
It's literally make believe with rules, though. I ...have an extremely hard time envisioning someone who cannot do it.
Maybe they're inhibited but inhibition doesn't necessarily mean inability.

If they can understand the notion of:
If you were trapped in a glacial rift, what do you think you could do to help you survive?

Then that's basically everything.
"Advanced roleplaying" just has more bells and whistles.
"Due to it being cold, things get worse for you, roll three six sided dice every 5 minutes of realtime, and every time you roll over 14 you lose one endurance point, and you have ten of those in total starting out"

If they can hatch plans to get out of that bind, then they can very very likely also turn it around, maybe not well, but they could be the decider if a plan of someone else (a player ) works in THEIR version of a glacial rift.

Maybe it's closer to civilization. Maybe in their world it's daytime and the sun shines in, giving more endurance, maybe there's a corpse already nearby with an old pickaxe, or synthetic rope or something.

It's not about being "good" it's about doing it, right?
They don't have to be Matt Mercer, they just have to get the notion of doing it.


And even kindergardeners play House or Grocery Store...

That said, you might be partially right with GURPS being not as used/popular as it could (should) be, cause GURPS really has the preconception of being too complex (when in reality it's basically just resolve stuff via 3d6 vs a target number, to roll below or at)

I certainly think that this problem seems ...sort of overblown for what it should be.
Not necessarily by you, but ...as a mental ...uh, obstacle by perhaps everyone involved.
Don't think having to compare to Matt Mercer is that helpful to loosen up as just an everyday student who's trying out some new concept of storytelling.


Edit/P.S.:
I got a very shy friend of mine not only into TTRPG, but GMing by choosing a random google map location and asking her to deal with the situation, and every now and then asking for a roll, including really stupid ones like "roll to successfully climb the stairs" or "a rabid hobo emerges from the alleyway cardboard boxes, what do you do"
(By the way, the hobo encounter did not end in combat, but finding out that hobo alleys are connected by magical teleportation cardboard boxes, and they let you use them if you get initiated into their circles)

I think every single session ended with her dead or going to the hospital, with one time her actually flying out of the ambulance on the stretcher like in a cartoon.

It worked.

Last edited by Lovewyrm; 02-03-2023 at 02:07 AM.
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Old 02-03-2023, 05:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Embassy of Time View Post
They want to learn web coding? Google a tutorial! Wanna learn to fix a bike? Youtube! And then they watch CritRoll (I know there are many others like it, I just can't remember any names) and they want to know how to play like _that_. I even teach them adventure design based on dungeons, but it is more about the experience they have come to expect than the bits and bobs of the craft, it seems...

Edit: It just struck me that this might tie in well with all the "why GURPS no popular??" threads in the forums. Maybe this is the missing piece of that puzzle, too..?
Are you familiar with Chris Normandís GURPS tutorial videos? He offers plenty of practical advice. Then, of course, there is How to Be a GURPS GM.

Also, there are published adventures that take some of burden off a newbie GM. Such adventures, especially the one that are published by a game company like SJGames or Chaosium, have the benefit of expert editing and playtesting. But others, like those found at 1-Shot Adventures can be very good, too.
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Old 02-03-2023, 06:19 AM   #10
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

There are several good "real play" channels on YouTube (though none that I've found yet for anything GURPS) - and Seth Skorkowsky also does a good channel with a mixture of reviews, RPG advice and even one or two episodes of him as a player.

The channels should be a good way to show how the group dynamic works.
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