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Kids playing Kids

Posted: Sat 14 Jan 2017, 01:09
by MarstaStaffan
During todays play test, we played with two kids who are fairly experienced roleplayers (Pathfinder and Drakar & Demoner). That gave many interesting perspectives on both rules (Swedish version) and the game.

We let the kids, who had not read these rules in advance, run us through the character creation process. They had no major problems with this., showing how easy this system is to use.

The only problem during the first five steps of character creation was trying to sort out the difference between Bygga (BUILD) and Mecka (TINKER). Step six was somewhat challenging as they were unsure about what object were around in the 80's.
They thought some of the Drives (step 8) and Prides (step 9) where strange. That could partially be because the explanation of these concepts came later in the chapter and partially because they are differently formulated at different places.
They also had some trouble with Relationships to NPCs in step 10 as some of the examples are not really relationships, but more rumours abot people they haven't met.
As a conclusion, they felt that the character creation process took more effort than they were used to, but that they, on the other hand, created characters that were more "alive" and belonged in a context. This allowed them to start improvising and making up their own scenes.

As for the gameplay, they experienced the mechanics easy to use. The flexibility also encouraged them to help co-create the story and let their Kids take any actions they wanted. They also enjoyed the conditions as a way to take "damage", where the "healing" encouraged further roleplaying.

For them, this was almost a "fantasy" roleplaying game, taking place in the mythical age of the 80's. The setting of the scene takes some extra effort when GMing players who haven't experienced that ancient time, so source material is certainly valuable, although much can be found using the web. For example, our COMPUTER GEEK (with a player born 2007) did some amazing research on 80's computers and computer games ("Did you know that one didn't buy games on the internet, but sometimes actually bough magazines with code for games and typed it in yourself? Mindboggling!")

The kids really enjoyed playing in the land of the Loop, where Roffe, the manager of ICA food store, and the strange critter under the loading dock became exciting challenges. To their suprise, they experienced this as more creative, challenging and exciting than their customary dungeon-bashing adventures with their regular gaming group. They are already planning for our next session!

Re: Kids playing Kids

Posted: Sat 14 Jan 2017, 01:35
by Karbonara
They thought some of the Drives (step 8) and Prides (step 9) where strange. That could partially be because the explanation of these concepts came later in the chapter and partially because they are differently formulated at different places.
Yes, I was thinking of this when comparing it to, for example, Coriolis, where all the "concepts" (or "types" here) were at the end of the character creation chapter. Coriolis suffered a little from "page skipping" during character creation, with not so well-referenced pages to go to in the step-by-step creation chapter.

I found TFTL much better there - much more "straight through" and easily accessible. However, perhaps it would be better to have all the kid types at the end of the chapter and instead reference their page number clearly, so that you read about all the steps in a more collected spread. Essentially adding a header for "TYPE" which contains a short text and a list of the type names, with page references to the end of the chapter.

They also had some trouble with Relationships to NPCs in step 10 as some of the examples are not really relationships, but more rumours abot people they haven't met.
We had to talk this through as well during creation.
Essentially, the two "relationship" NPCs are rather knowledge or brief encounters. A person the kid has interacted with but don't quite know where they have.
This is something we used for the kids' own relationships as well.
A kid could either have a closer relationship with another kid: Write how you are friends and how your bond is made up.
...or a more shallow understanding: What do I think about that kid, or how does she make me feel?

I called these External and Internal relationships.
External means it's a bond defined that affects both of you and others in the world around you. It's known.
Internal means it's a current emotion and that it quite quickly (probably) will change into something else or solidify into a proper (External) relationship.

...but that's just our way of breaking it down.
I had to pose it like that since we had two kids in the group that weren't really friends at all, or knew much about each other - but they were in the same group through their friendships with the other two kids. "Horse show" relationship. :)

Re: Kids playing Kids

Posted: Sun 22 Jan 2017, 17:09
by MarstaStaffan
Here are some further notes from the play test with Kids - two nine-year-old roleplayers with suprising experience, being driving forces in their school roleplaying group/club. They sometimes play with a school assistant as GM and also themselves GM their own adventures.

The one thing they appreciate most from TftL is that the system really encourages roleplaying in a number of ways. This goes all the way from creating a believable group of Kids with a common grounding to the system with Conditions encouraging roleplay for "healing". As been mentioned elsewhere on the forum, this created roleplaying experiences beyond what we have experienced before, especially with these young players. The Kids have discussed this extensively with their regular GM and they are now in the process of fomulating house rules inspired by TftL for their regular campaign.

The other thing they really enjoy is the freedom to explore the Mystery landscape. And as one of the kids expressed it: "You grown-ups have to understand that all of this is exciting for us, not just the high-tech and Mysteries. It is great to explore something sort of similar to your parents childhood... but more dangerous, I guess." The other kid adde: "But don't forget the possibility to mess it all up... in a way you're not allowed to do in the 'real' world". Their suggestion is that one should start out slowly when establishing a campaign for kids/young players. Not so much for learning the system, as that was really straight forward for them, but more for exploring the world.

One illustrative example from play. The Kids encountered their first rumours about werewolves. They first discussed trying to investigate this, but choose another approach after a discussion where they young players were most vocal.
"What we obviously must do is build our own werewolf robot! This is probably just a nonsense rumour, and in that case we can use our robot to scare people and make the rumour true."
"Yeah, and if there really is a werewolf, then our robot can fight it, just like on TV."
"Great idea! Let's go scrounge building material from that place on the other side of the field."
"But will they not be upset if we wreck their stuff?"
"They're just grown-ups. Who cares?"

Re: Kids playing Kids

Posted: Sun 22 Jan 2017, 17:37
by MarstaStaffan
One of our young players also directed my attention to a book from the 60's that he was inspired by when playing his character. He also thinks that it could be a great source for general inspiration and possible Mysteries for the future. I checked out the book. It is perhaps not a literary masterpiece, but it was most certainly inspirational.

The book is "Uppfinnar-7:an flyger i luften"/"The Mad Scientists' Club" by Bertrand Brinley. It is about seven technology interested boys and their adventures in the small US town of Mammoth Falls. They use technology and innovations to solve, or cause, Trouble. A theme in the book, which could be useful in some TftL Mysteries/campaigns/Mystery landscape, is competition/rivalry with another group of kids also trying to solve mysteries.

A run-through of the stories in the book truly looks like a potential list of adventures, at least for some campaigns:
* There are rumours about a monster in a nearby lake and the boys decide to build their own radio controlled monster.
* A mysterious large egg is found. Could it really be the egg of a dinosaur?
* Is the money from an old bank robbery hidden in the civil war cannon? And how can technology be used to play this to our advantage?
* The boys build a "flying" man to wreak havoc on a local celebration.
* The club competes in a balloon flying competition.
* Exploration of a supposedly haunted house.
* A military plane crasches and a missing pilot is in need of rescue.

Next week, I will borrow the follow-up book, where the boys build a radio controlled UFO...