1. Chris, I think I’m with you. I did a lot of D&D back in the day (which for me was high school in the 70s). I still have the 1974-edition three-pamphlet set that came in a cardboard box (although I no longer have the box, nor all the supplements that I used to have). That version really required imagination and creativity on the part of both the DM and the players. After a while, as the DM, I really learned how to improvise and let the story emerge based on the behavior of the characters and the random encounters that came out (plus some structure in my head of what the prevailing environment was like).

    I’ve been thinking recently about getting my sons interested in RPGs. But it just seems so time-consuming to prepare, with all the miniatures and everything. I just don’t have that kind of time any more.

  2. Chris Norwood

    Again, I think it’s all about looking for ways to have a low-/no-prep roleplaying opportunities.

    If you’re interested in soemthing like this old-school D&D thing, then maybe my friend Kenny (the DM) could link you to the random dungeon generator tool that he uses.  And as for minis, I use the multitudes of pre-painted minis I have from my D&D Miniatures addition from a few years ago, but you really don’t have to have much.  One of the most entertaining RPG sessions I can remember recently was a Savage Worlds game at my buddy Tom’s house where he uses Lego figures as the minis.

    The other thought for roleplaying is to look at some of the new-fangled “storygame” RPG’s that are out there.  Although it’s not for younger audiences, teens and adults can have a blast playing something like Fiasco, which is actually GM-less and requires absolutely no prep at all (especially when such amazing playsets like this one exist). 

  3. Great suggestions. When I was talking about doing an SF RPG (like Traveller) with my sons, they actually suggested using Lego and Megablocks figures.

    You know, we watched the TableTop videos demonstrating Fiasco, and although it looked entertaining, we really didn’t get how the gameplay worked. The role-playing seemed to depend so much on, I don’t know, intuition and improvisation by the people playing – like you had to be a professional actor to enjoy the game. That kind of thing seems to come so much more easily in a D&D game, though I couldn’t tell you what’s different.

  4. Chris Norwood

    First of all, let me talk a little more about Fiasco.  Yes, it’s a lot more free-form than D&D, but it’s not as hard or awkard as you might think.  The real key of roleplaying that sort of game is to take the pressure off yourself to be “awesome”, and instead just do what seems obvious to you.  The real fun comes from the interaction of everyone building this story together.

    And just to give you my perspective on Fiasco, here are a few things I’ve written about it:
    my “review” based on a playtest and reading the book
    one session using the “Nice Southern Town” playset, and
    one session using the excellent “News Channel Six” playset

    But all that said, I’ll agree that “hippie” style roleplaying like Fiasco is not for everyone.  If the experience you (and your sons) are looking for is more of the traditional, structured “kill monsters and steal their stuff” kind of thing, then D&D is probably more for you.  And like I said in the report, having that high a level of structure can sometimes be really cool to encourage creativity as well.

    The main thing that I’ve “learned” in the last several years about roleplaying is that there is no “one, best” system.  Different games are good at doing different things.  D&D is good at combat “simulation” and nostalgic adventure completion, but doesn’t really have any significant mechanics to govern social interaction or roleplaying itself.  Fiasco is all about shared storytelling/roleplaying, but simplified conflict resolution to a point that concepts like “combat” are totall lost.  And if you’re looking for a game all about horror, suspense, and tension, then Dread is amazing and incredible (even if it does use a Jenga tower).  But if you don’t have time for all the prep, there still are options out there for roleplaying that don’t eat up so much time.

  5. Tommy Riggins

    Thanks for the post! I’m a returning D&D player. I’ve got my son and his buddies in and they LOVE it! They all play video games but are crazy about getting around a table and having fun. We play 1st edition and it still works fine! Keep the articles like this coming!

  6. Chris Norwood

    Thanks a lot, Tommy!

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