I'm going to be running it to schoolkids in 3 sessions of 1 hour and 45 minutes each.
I know I can get the dungeon done in they time, but I was wondering if I mohr be able to run the first session with the premade characters, then use the second session making their own personal characters, and then finish up the final session with the new characters, after discovering the bodies of Ezren, Kyra, Valeros, Merisiel, and Harsk (a dwarven barbarian I've premade).
Whattaya think? Will this work?
I think that you might run short of time even with 3 full sessions, if they have never played before. Have they played the do-it-yourself adventure yet?
I can see the attraction of having them make their own characters, but forcing the demise of the characters that they had played in the first session? That might actually upset someone who had become attached to their character.
That said - good luck. I hope your sessions go well in whatever form you decide to run them.
|Niilo John Van Steinburg|
I think making characters, even with the BB simplified rules, is a pretty significant investment of time and energy. My group of adults (two of whom have no RPG experience) are having a lot of fun with the pre-gens and don't want to make their own.
However, I also find making new characters to be a fun experience in itself (not only the number crunching but developing character personality and background). So it depends on what you want them to get out of it.
If you know the kids well, then you can safely judge what will be fun for them. In your position, I'd probably plan to stick with the pre-gens but be flexible enough to switch it up if the kids so desired.
As for the time, those 1h45m slots must be pretty organized and focused to even make it through Black Fang without character creation thrown in. Goofing around can be an important part of gaming, though, especially for youth, so I'd be hesitant to crack down on it myself.
My two coppers ;o)
I agree with Niilo, creating characters takes a good long time. Plus you really need one copy of the Hero's Handbook per person creating a character, if you're doing it at the same time. If the kids are old enough and can follow simple instructions, they should have no problems creating their own characters, although the Feats and Equipment sections can be tricky, it might be necessary to strongly encourage use of the "suggested" stuff, and maybe allow them to change their starting feats once retroactively.
The biggest issue is time, I would guess you'd need atleast one entire session to get through it. Kids also get a bit bored once they're past the creative part and into number crunching, so you might want to stop at that point and do the maths yourself.
I've just rolled characters with my stepdaughter and my girlfriend, so the memories are still reasonably fresh :P
Making characters is one of those things that requires a lot of precision and attention. It's important for roleplaying, but there are a lot of fiddly little bits to take care of even with the BB's limited options.
That said, if you really want to do it, and you yourself are REALLY good at making characters quickly to fit a concept, you could consider it.
Option 1: the Socratic Method of Character Generation. Just say "Ok, what do you want to be able to do?" Most kids will say something that ties down the class and basic concept ("I want a sword!" or "I wanna do MAGIC!"). At this point, ask one or MAYBE two more questions to refine the concept (e.g. "Do you want a sword'n'shield, or just a giant sword?", "Do you want to protect your friends, or mess with your enemies' heads, or just blow them up?"). Then whip up a fast character with a standard array (16/14/13/13/10/8). Give out whatever equipment the player said he wanted, if he specified, plus some standard stuff. Everyone should have a melee weapon, but the kids will probably have specified that (make sure the wizard brought his dagger). Everyone should have a backup ranged weapon, so fighters and barbarians get a backup longbow, shortbow for rogues, crossbows for clerics and wizards. Rogues get leather armor; fighters, barbarians, and clerics get scale mail (1st level characters can't afford better). Things like that. Don't worry too much about starting gold or encumbrance or things like that (don't dump Str for anyone but wizards and their encumbrance should be fine anyway). Really you could have these characters pretty much premade and just fill in a couple of details depending on what the player asks for. This sort of leads into the next option.
Option 2: Have Lots Of Premades. This is what I'm doing for my newbie adventure that I'm running Real Soon Now (tm); I made about a dozen characters and wrote a paragraph of backstory for each of them. Include at least a few of each class, some of whom are archers or whatever (although I think the BB doesn't really give good options for archers). Hand out the backstories (only), let the players read through them and pick their favorite one. Make sure someone picks a cleric, but Black Fang is pretty easy so they should be ok otherwise. If they really want to go adventuring with 2 clerics, 2 wizards, and an archer rogue, well, 1st level clerics of Sarenrae are good enough in melee if they have to be. Once they've chosen, hand out the character sheets and start explaining the game.
As for running the game, as always the toughest part will be keeping the players on task, especially for such short sessions. In my experience kids usually pick up rules pretty fast, but they get distracted easily. Give them a chance though, you might be surprised. Good luck, and tell us how it goes!
It took me 4 hours to run the Beginner Box adventure, with some 'framing' scenes at the beginning before the dungeon, and an epilogue encounter where the PCs hunted down the wounded dragon and got slaughtered (the Rogue escaped).
I'm an experienced GM and I found the BB rules very slick and efficient. I would suggest allowing 4 hours, but anything in the 3-5 hour range is possible.
If it were me I would never force the players to drop their pregens and make their own characters. Give them the option, sure, but IME many people become just as attached to pregens as to PCs they made themselves. I would avoid any macho notion of "You're not really playing until you make your own PC".