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Starting a middle-school Pathfinder club!


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I'm a 35-year-old gamer who doesn't have much opportunity to game, having been separated from my normal gaming group. I've also been running thin on money recently.

I've just found out that a nearby middle school has a program that pays people to run afterschool clubs: chess clubs, drama clubs, activist clubs, you name it. I love kids, especially of this age group. I'm going to start a Pathfinder club!

I've already come up with a lot of ideas of modules and adventures, and ways to incorporate math, literature, and creative writing into the club. It will be called "The Guild." I've already talked to a teacher who will help me get sponsorship for it.

Tomorrow I'm going to meet with some of her kids and do a trial run using the Beginner Box. I'm so excited! :D


My experience running games for younger kids is that they come up with all sorts of fresh and interesting ideas. Good luck!


I have done this and it is very rewarding and good to bring fresh blood into the RPG world.


I've dm'd for younger gamers and if you in for the long run my advice is to cater to the level of involvement they are ready for. I was excited to introduce my passion to new players, but their play style was frustrating for me.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Outstanding! Teaching new players the game is one of the benchmarks of a good GM.

Very best of luck to you,
Weslocke of Phazdaliom


Ciaran Barnes wrote:
I've dm'd for younger gamers and if you in for the long run my advice is to cater to the level of involvement they are ready for. I was excited to introduce my passion to new players, but their play style was frustrating for me.

Could you say a little more on that?

As for me, I won't be too concerned about getting them to roleplay and speak in character. At least at the very beginning, I'm going to just bring out the pregen characters and go straight to the action and the premade adventure. I'll try to get a sense of what they like from that.

One of my assignment ideas is to, once we get to creating their own characters with them, introduce some vocabulary words (notorious, nomadic...) and ask them to write a few sentences on the History of their character and their Personality. I'll see how much they get into that aspect of things.

I actually have a lot more ideas planned out, too, including which adventures to run. I haven't GM'd with my regular playing group in 1.5 years, so this is really reawakening the GM in me!

Grand Lodge

Back in 1980-81 I was president of the D&D club in high school and we had a great time! One of the assistant football coaches sponsored us; he and the other coaches were Avalon Hill wargamers. We had students ranging from 8th-grade to seniors.

This is a cautionary tale, though. The game's demons, devils and pagan references created a lot of ire from the religious rightwing. I live in the "Bible Belt". We had a lot of players drop out as a result of this.

However, I think a PFR club is a great idea. I personally think wargaming and role-play gaming are awesome learning tools!


Keith the Thief wrote:
This is a cautionary tale, though. The game's demons, devils and pagan references created a lot of ire from the religious rightwing. I live in the "Bible Belt". We had a lot of players drop out as a result of this.

That's unfortunate. I don't think I'll have much of a problem though: this school is in Berkeley, California. This middle school has 60 members in its Gay-Straight Alliance and the school has a very open environment.

Another idea I have is to encourage students to use various skills by rotating certain roles. The Cartographer has the job of drawing up maps. The Scribe has the job of writing a short recap and posting it on the Facebook group that we're going to create for the club, so that way everyone knows what happened if they missed a day or needs a refresher.

I'm also going to tie little XP rewards for people who do the assignments, such as the writeup of one's character that includes 1 or 2 vocabulary words that I wrote about above.

As a mathematics aside, I'm also going to look at probabilities by comparing how likely Valeros the fighter can hit a goblin, compared to Ezren the wizard. It will teach percentages and also draw out the relative strengths and weaknesses between classes.

If the club is successful, I'm going to use the intro adventure and some of the BB resources online so that some of the kids can try their hand at being GM's themselves.

By the way, if the kids want to keep playing I'm thinking of running them through Crypt of the Everflame, followed by Crown of the Kobold King.

Spoiler for Crown of the Kobold King::
I like the fact that they have to rescue kids of their own age. I'm thinking of having them meet up with the kids very early on in the campaign. The 5 kids will taunt them and say they have a "secret" and boast about how they're willing to face danger. Of course, our heroes will have rescue them them when they get in over their heads!

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I'm loving the ideas here!

Just a note about using our products online: please make sure you look at and abide by our Community Use Policy, which provides resources and rules for that sort of thing.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The funny thing is your choice of adventures. I ran my kids through the Crypt of the Everflame & have just started Crown of the Kobold King. lol


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Rot Grub wrote:

I'm a 35-year-old gamer who doesn't have much opportunity to game, having been separated from my normal gaming group. I've also been running thin on money recently.

I've just found out that a nearby middle school has a program that pays people to run afterschool clubs: chess clubs, drama clubs, activist clubs, you name it. I love kids, especially of this age group. I'm going to start a Pathfinder club!

I've already come up with a lot of ideas of modules and adventures, and ways to incorporate math, literature, and creative writing into the club. It will be called "The Guild." I've already talked to a teacher who will help me get sponsorship for it.

Tomorrow I'm going to meet with some of her kids and do a trial run using the Beginner Box. I'm so excited! :D

I hope it went well. One thing, check out the high school(s) your kids will be attending. If it has a game club see if you can make some ties. Pass the kids on to a new club when they move up. Changing schools and moving in to a new environment can be an isolating experience.


Xorial, I'd love to share notes with you on the 2 adventures! I have a mash-up idea and maybe we can discuss it in spoiler tags.

R_Chance, thanks for the tip. Actually, most of the kids I'll be working with are 8th graders and will be graduating soon, so I'll need to think about roping in younger students and also what connections to make with their high school. I'm guessing actually that they might just be motivated to start a club themselves! (They would all be going to the same high school together.)

We actually had a conflict last week so our trial run is going to be a short 30-minute session after school this Friday, basically where I give them a general idea what the game is about and maybe run one mini-battle.


Fantastic idea! Good luck on your quest, and may your pupils go on the greatest adventures.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
The Rot Grub wrote:

Xorial, I'd love to share notes with you on the 2 adventures! I have a mash-up idea and maybe we can discuss it in spoiler tags.

R_Chance, thanks for the tip. Actually, most of the kids I'll be working with are 8th graders and will be graduating soon, so I'll need to think about roping in younger students and also what connections to make with their high school. I'm guessing actually that they might just be motivated to start a club themselves! (They would all be going to the same high school together.)

We actually had a conflict last week so our trial run is going to be a short 30-minute session after school this Friday, basically where I give them a general idea what the game is about and maybe run one mini-battle.

I sent you a private message to talk about the adventures.


It was a group of teenagers I was dming for. They had never played before and gad heard I was the guy to talk to. They spent more than half of our time talking about video games and such. Their characters' personalities changed according to what was funniest to them at the moment. I wanted more focus on the game we were playing. I'm sure I am biased, but I don't remember being like that when I was young. Anyway, they kept on playing for years after my limited interaction with them so I don't doubt that they loved playing, but it was for different reasons than I have. I know I influenced them, but I think it would have been easier if I had made the kind of game they wanted to play, rather than getting them to play the game I wanted them to.


Are you really going to ruin the game by forcing them to study statistics or write novels?

They will learn more from the soft skills they develop while role playing then from the sneaked in lessons you plan. Things like respect, teamwork, listening skills,...
Trying to sneak lessons in their just ain't gonna work for most children. I they wander about the mechanics, they'll ask.

P.S. Apparently, someone wrote an article about this. The original from blackindustries.com has vanished. I found a version of the article on rpg.net though.


arioreo wrote:
Are you really going to ruin the game by forcing them to study statistics or write novels?

Hmm, perhaps you're not getting a grasp of how I'd manage the club. First, I will need to find a way to get approval from the principal, and little elements that can spark interest in traditional subjects, using the RPG as a source of enthusiasm, I think will be a part of this.

In my first session I'm going to completely bypass character creation and go straight to the action. First job is to pique their interest into the game.

Writing a 5-sentence bio of your character is something that I think some of the kids will really get into. It will also communicate that this isn't just a board game but another thing entirely, and get them more into thinking that they're playing an alter ego. Having a fun and strange word that they could throw in might be a seed for imagination.

Comparing the odds of a fighter hitting a goblin to a wizard hitting a goblin, is a nice way to look at the consequences of the decisions you make at character creation. This would be an aside that's 5 minutes, tops. Then back to the action.

Learning can be fun! That's all.


Ciaran Barnes wrote:
It was a group of teenagers I was dming for. They had never played before and gad heard I was the guy to talk to. They spent more than half of our time talking about video games and such. Their characters' personalities changed according to what was funniest to them at the moment. I wanted more focus on the game we were playing. I'm sure I am biased, but I don't remember being like that when I was young. Anyway, they kept on playing for years after my limited interaction with them so I don't doubt that they loved playing, but it was for different reasons than I have. I know I influenced them, but I think it would have been easier if I had made the kind of game they wanted to play, rather than getting them to play the game I wanted them to.

I'll have to see if the students' idea of what kind of game they want to play departs from my own. I would definitely have less interest in planning out a campaign and a long-running story, if they weren't into that. I'd have to adjust my ideas if that were the case. Sounds like they had enough enthusiasm and interest to keep the game going for themselves, in which case your separation from them made complete sense.

In any case, I do plan to post an update about how the trial run goes! Feedback will be appreciated.

Paizo Employee Global Organized Play Coordinator

That's awesome. I know of a school in British Columbia that is currently doing the same thing. If there is anything I can do to help you, please let me know.


The Rot Grub wrote:
Hmm, perhaps you're not getting a grasp of how I'd manage the club. First, I will need to find a way to get approval from the principal, and little elements that can spark interest in traditional subjects, using the RPG as a source of enthusiasm, I think will be a part of this.

To convince the principal, I would just quote the article.

You can offer all that by simply playing the game and actively encourage the players to play our their character.

Quote:
Whenever possible, you should always make people aware of the benefits of roleplaying, as these are many. Firstly, as a game of active communication between a group of individuals, it involves a great deal of social skill development, including speaking and listening skills. It aids the development of patience, respect, and teamwork, as those involved learn the necessity of waiting their turn, and working together to accomplish a common goal. Given the unusual and tricky situations characters in a game can find themselves in, roleplaying actively encourages creative thinking and problem-solving, not to mention visualisation and the ability to understand different outlooks, points of view, and consequences. Beyond these points, roleplaying has elements of basic mathematics, largely addition, subtraction, and basic probability, as well as providing an avenue by which boys especially can improve their literacy, especially descriptive writing. Depending on the setting of the roleplaying game itself, it may also teach aspects of history such as the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Roleplaying is also a great way to relax with friends, one that does not involve being transfixed by a television or games console, and is performed in a safe, social, indoor environment. As it is not a physically active pursuit, it is also ideally suited for children with physical challenges. Not bad for something that is also immense fun.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Rot Grub wrote:


I'll have to see if the students' idea of what kind of game they want to play departs from my own. I would definitely have less interest in planning out a campaign and a long-running story, if they weren't into that. I'd have to adjust my ideas if that were the case. Sounds like they had enough enthusiasm and interest to keep the game going for themselves, in which case your separation from them made complete sense.

In any case, I do plan to post an update about how the trial run goes! Feedback will be appreciated.

A couple of tips (I advise a high school game club - we cover it all: PC games, console games, card games, paper and pencil RPGs, board games, etc.):

1. Make sure you know the groundrules under which you, and the club, operate. Very important.

2. Parent permssion slips are always good.

3. Make sure parents understand the nature of the activity (combined with #1 above it avoids some nasty issues).

4. Invite parents (administrators, etc.) to drop in any time.

5. Remind the students it is an afterschool activity (and school rules apply).

I have the advantage of being a teacher on site. Make sure you have all the backing / information you need.

Good luck.

*edit* If you are wondering I have run the club here for 15 years in an area noted for being religeously conservative.


Arioreo, that's a useful quotation, thanks.

In my writeup to the school, I'll include the concept of roleplaying being an educational method in itself.

R_Chance, participation in this school's afterschool program requires getting parental permission in any case, so that's a given. At the middle-school level especially, there will be more involvement of the parents in deciding what the students participate in. The director of the program also drops into club meetings occasionally.

Thanks for the feedback so far.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A side idea for parent involvement. You may want to invite them to watch/participate sometime. The main thing is to also emphasize the the social aspects. If ran from the perspective of righting wrongs & helping people, it could be a real good way to reinforce positive social interactions. Also a way to teach about bullying.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

I'm afraid I'm coming in quite late to the party, but here are a few things I learned GM'ing for my 7- and 10-year-olds (now 8 and 11):

- The personality of the kid is far more important than his/her age.
My 8-year-old is an "avid gamer". He frequently joins in with our adult group's Runequest game, and during our family Pathfinder sessions he sits raptly listening to the interactions and frequently pipes up with an idea or two. We're doing Curse of the Crimson Throne, and once you introduce Laori Vaus, it's REALLY hard to avoid adult themes, but he takes it all in with aplomb and absolutely adores gaming. I've had to bend the rules for him a time or two (his wizard started with a bonded object, but then he absolutely *had* to have a Sylvanshee familiar, so once he bought the Improved Familiar feat I let him do it). CoCT was a great intro for him with the richness of Korvosa and its NPCs, and my wife leading the party to glory so he wasn't worried about making the "wrong" decision.

On the other hand, my 11-year-old will listen in for a few minutes, get the gist of what's happening, and run off to do something else. I'm afraid he's no longer welcome in the RQ group because of this habit, so I just think it's important to point out that some kids are great gamers (my friends keep asking my younger son to come down and game with them because they love hearing his 'blind insight' into what they should do), and others aren't as interested. As a club, I think you'll manage to avoid this.

- A whole group of same-age kids will require patience.

As I saw someone state above, most peer groups will do "whatever is funniest at the moment" instead of "what is in character". I hate to admit it, but I've been gaming for 36 years (yes, I still have the 1978 printing of the 3-book set, and that was the third set we owned because we kept wearing them out), but it's only in the last 15 that my groups have gained any sense of maturity or "staying in character".

It's actually not hard to GM a group of prankster reprobates -- you just have to ensure that actions have consequences. Yeah, it's hilarious to hit the mayor with a fireball in the middle of his speech. But what are you going to do when the town militia comes after you, and the town council hires higher-level mercs to deal with you?

In short, I'd set the kids' expectations at the beginning: "I'm going to play this as a 'realistic' fantasy world, so I know you guys are going to want to goof off, but keep it in line or you're going to have people coming after you..." Then let them roll. I did a dozen Runequest sessions with my kids without writing down anything; I just let them tell me what they wanted to do, and I told them the consequences, and they delighted in the mayhem they caused, even as their dead characters piled up. After 3-4 characters each, they finally settled down and started "really" adventuring, at which point I picked up some modules and started letting them do "real" adventuring.

- Be ready to improvise and 'roll with the flow'

This is almost identical to the previous point, but sometimes kids come up with absolutely wild solutions to what you think are obvious problems. Be ready for it. (All I'm going to say is, "Summoned octopus in the middle of a hospital ward to grapple anyone who tried to get away," and leave it there...)

Now that I've read the start of this thread, I'm really looking forward to seeing how it develops.


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The Rot Grub wrote:


In my writeup to the school, I'll include the concept of roleplaying being an educational method in itself.

Children who engage in pretend play tend to develop stronger personalities as they mature into adults.

On a separate subject, and in response to nobodyshome, I now expect the behavior I described above from kids, but I did play a couple sessions with a kid about 9 who had me in stitches. He roleplayed better than some 20-somethings I have known. We were questioning a resistant prisoner and having little luck. His dwarf hollers "Let's just kill him. And then go drink." It was a simple dwarf archetype, but at his age, and the swagger with which he spoke it, it impressed me.


So the "trial run" happened yesterday. I say this in quotes, because it was just to get them interested enough in the game to meet up again later, and I only was going to have about 30 minutes because I was taking up the 2nd half of their other club.

Nothing went according to plan, and it was kind of wild. But I think they all want to play again.

Here's a quick recap:

I had 4 students: 2 boys in sixth grade and 2 girls in eighth grade. I brought out the pregens, described what every class did, and asked them all to pick one. This they were really excited about. The girls kind of automatically picked the female PCs, and the boys picked up the male PCs.

I then came up with an idea: maybe they'd have fun fighting each other instead of a monster. I asked them who they wanted to fight.

"Each other!"

The girls formed a team and the boys formed a team. I had them all place their pawns in different rooms of the dungeon flip-mat. One of the boys exclaimed, "This is like Hunger Games!"

The first girl had picked Merisiel. She asked if her character could be "hotter." I said sure: we're just looking at the game today and we're not going to make your permanent characters. But yeah when you do, you can pick one of these other game pieces, or you can download a picture from the internet.

"Good."

She had to leave early because her parents arrived, saying she wanted to be "hotter" as she left. I think she was satisfied so mission accomplished.

The second girl picked Kyra the cleric. She liked the idea of having divine power and having decent fighting abilities. When we got into the fighting part, however, she was intimidated by the character sheet and didn't like having to add after every roll. (I was telling people where to find their hit points and attack bonuses in the middle of play, when they needed it.) Also, whenever she rolled low on her d20, she rolled repeatedly until she got a number she liked. When I brought out the Core Bestiary at one point, she said "Oh my god, you need a book? I could just play a video game."

I ended up cutting short the sample battle after one of the boys committed seppuku (more on that below), partly so I could spend time individually with her to go through the options of what her character could be.

I explained that the game wasn't just about fighting, but about playing out a story, coming up with a fantasy character, and seeing if you can conquer the dangers and challenges that come up. She got into the character creation part, and insisted upon looking at the list of Feats when deciding whether she wanted to forego being a Human and getting the bonus feat. She settled with an Elf Cleric and would like to play again. Also, the girl who had left early is one of her best friends, so she'll have a chance to roleplay with her friend which will be good.

One of the boys had played Dungeons & Dragons before, and so I was confident that he would be interested in the game. But for some reason he wasn't getting along with the girl who played Kyra.

After the first girl had left, it had become clear that this would be a 2 against 1 battle. So I had decided to have everyone cooperate against a monster. (I settled with the Venomous Snake because it doesn't come up in the modules I plan to run, and I thought its poisonous bite would be an occasion to introduce saving throws.) The boy had a surly look on his face midway through (it didn't help that he was bitten by the snake and failed his Fortitude save, so that his wizard was reduced from 7 to 3 hit points).

On his next turn, he asked if he could attack the girl who played Kyra. I said no -- this snake had just bit him and was much more a danger to him than the cleric! Why would he do that? I also sensed that he wasn't happy for some reason and told him he didn't have to play. He then asked if he could commit suicide. I said sure. (The girl playing Kyra was surprised. "You can do that in this game!?") So I said he committed seppuku.

This freed him up to go on the internet and do something else.

The second boy played the fighter. He rolled high and was loving it. When I broke off the play battle and told people we could talk now about what characters they were going to play, he immediately picked up a pawn and said he wanted to play a goblin. Then he picked up an Orc and said no, he wanted to play that. And when he found the Orc Boss he said he wanted to play that.

I said no, this is the basic game and he needed to pick up an elf, dwarf or human, and showed him all the PC pawns. He excitedly laid them out into rows. He wanted to play someone who was tough, so I suggested the Fighter and maybe the Barbarian. He asked what a Rogue did.

"Oh he's sneaky and he's good at finding traps. He can be a good fighter if you make him right. And he can hide in the shadows and stab people in the back."

Sold. He chose Rogue, and an elven one at that.

As we all got ready to leave, I told their teacher that things went well but that one of the boys had committed suicide. One student yelled that this meant that he lost. He smiled knowingly and said, "No. That means I went to Valhalla." (Damn -- it's too bad he can't play again because his mother won't let him on the day we'd be meeting.)

So it was pretty chaotic, but my only objective was to create and gauge interest in the game. What I plan to do next is to spend time individually with the interested students to create their characters conceptually and mechanically. For the second girl especially and the others, this will get them thinking more about playing a character and engaging with the story once I get their adventure going. (I'm shelving my original idea of playing a session with the pregens.) It will also be a chance to explain the entire character sheet, so that I won't have to point out where to find numbers in the middle of play.

I am going to be cautious about inviting a lot of people to our first actual get-together (a full hour after school), and focus on having a core that is at a level capable of playing out an actual session. Once they see how the game actually runs and feels, hopefully word-of-mouth will bring more people to come in the future and we will have established a core that actually knows how to play in the game so their friends can watch (and possibly join afterward).

Okay, so my "quick" recap wasn't so quick after all! But yeah I think I'm going to enjoy this. The challenges I encountered were unexpected, but having a general idea of what I was accomplishing and not freaking out when we went off-script I think helped.


xorial wrote:
The funny thing is your choice of adventures. I ran my kids through the Crypt of the Everflame & have just started Crown of the Kobold King. lol

The Price of Immortality trilogy is really fun; I ran a group of my friends through that a while back and everyone had some fun with it. It's a pretty good story, overall, and it has a lot of good chances for role playing, especially in the Mask of the Living God module.


Harrison wrote:
xorial wrote:
The funny thing is your choice of adventures. I ran my kids through the Crypt of the Everflame & have just started Crown of the Kobold King. lol
The Price of Immortality trilogy is really fun; I ran a group of my friends through that a while back and everyone had some fun with it. It's a pretty good story, overall, and it has a lot of good chances for role playing, especially in the Mask of the Living God module.

Actually, with my own play group we went through half of the trilogy before I had to leave town. It was a lot of fun. But I must admit I'm not sure how capable I am at running the 2nd module which has a lot of roleplaying. (I only have maybe 6 six sessions under my belt.) I'm also not sure the kids would accept the default situation that the module suggests. I can see them going off the rails, which would mean I'd have to improvise even more.

My spoiler above about Crown of the Kobold King says why I think it's a good fit. Thanks for the suggestion though :)


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Rot Grub :
I can tell you have more patience than I do. Your description of events painted a clear picture and I can guarantee I would have pulled my hair out and then put my head through a wall. But it seems your story concludes with a glimmer of hope, and made it worthwhile. Good luck!


Ciaran Barnes wrote:

Rot Grub :

I can tell you have more patience than I do. Your description of events painted a clear picture and I can guarantee I would have pulled my hair out and then put my head through a wall. But it seems your story concludes with a glimmer of hope, and made it worthwhile. Good luck!

Haha thanks. Luckily when the teacher stopped by she didn't find the kids clowning around with their club advisor's head in the wall.


I'm going into 10th grade and i'd like to point out that younger kids tend to have a weaker sense of exploration. This is most likely because they think they can beat an end-game boss without getting prepared, it's cuz the games preteens play don't have a good system of leveling and fail to reward exploration. I just read through the BB starter adventure and i knew that if i played with my young brother it would be impossible to nudge him towards getting the dragonbane sword without yelling "there's a mother****ing dragon slayer sword on the other side of the pond". Good luck


The Rot Grub wrote:

I then came up with an idea: maybe they'd have fun fighting each other instead of a monster. I asked them who they wanted to fight.

"Each other!"

So you've started by letting you students do the main reason parties break and campaigns are ruined?

Let us know how it turns out.

btw, have you looked at the Box Bash Demos?
If you plan to play one hour sessions, those might be interesting as I think they are designed to be played in one hour sessions. They all involved involve a bit of role play and some hack-and-slash IIRC.
It might be more interesting to start of like that instead of cutting 4-5 hour adventure into pieces. Getting continuity might not be so easy, those adventures don't need continuity.


I should also point out that only one thing is on teenage guys minds "sex". I've noticed this quite a bit when playing amatuer no-dice, no-character sheet, no-map games on my Boy Scout campouts. Every game there's one guy who says "i wanna be a hot chick in a skimpy outfit with huge t&%&". I say fine but whenever chracters start screwing around and benging everything in site, i put in a consequence that pisses everyone off "Ya'll get HIV, gonarhea, and syphilis" or something like that. As some people have pointed out, make sure bad actions get serious consequences. Also like arioreo said try out the bash demos instead.


Also you mentioned that you laid oout the pawns for this and talked about a barbarian, is there a barbarian pawn you can get somehow

Also if i recall valhalla is reserved for those who die honorably in battle, killing yourself and leaving your ally behind doesn't sound honorable.


shadow_of_doom wrote:

Also you mentioned that you laid oout the pawns for this and talked about a barbarian, is there a barbarian pawn you can get somehow

Also if i recall valhalla is reserved for those who die honorably in battle, killing yourself and leaving your ally behind doesn't sound honorable.

He was joking, of course. :)

There is no barbarian pawn in the BB set, but the fighter pawns work just fine.

Arioreo, our first actual campaign will be cooperative, and I'm guarding against backstabbing.

I've looked at one of the Beginner Bashes, and I'm torn over whether to run it instead of starting with Crypt of the Everflame. I think the story in Crypt is more interesting, but I see your point about having a conclusion after an hour. Or maybe having the story continue is a draw to come back for more? In any case I'll look at the other Bashes and see if any are appealing.


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In case anyone was wondering, the club started last month and has been a big success! We started at 12 and attendance was stable for a while, and suddenly over the past 3 weeks we have started growing! We now have 18 members.

THE BEGINNER BOX WAS A BIG SUCCESS. And the streamlining of the rules has meant that literally when a 6th grader walks in, I can give him a pre-gen and have him jump in a game, or pair him up with someone to help him with his character, and he joins a group within an hour!

I feel like writing some entries on my own blog about this whole process, and some ideas I've used to generate interest, some surprises I've encountered along the way, etc. The entire endeavor has been extremely fun, and the kids are great.

But in the meantime, I'd like to share the website I've made for the club! I'm restricting comments to the students but if you have any questions definitely let me know here. :D

Here it is: http://guildmlk.wordpress.com/


I'm glad to hear it was a success. Man I wish there had been a club like that when I was in middle/high school. I've just now (in the past few months) gotten introduced to my first tabletop RPG (though online) here towards the end of my second year of college and I've been loving it.

High five for introducing younger kids to something they might enjoy but just as equally might never have been introduced to (and probably without the social stigma associated with it in previous decades).


Rynjin wrote:
High five for introducing younger kids to something they might enjoy but just as equally might never have been introduced to (and probably without the social stigma associated with it in previous decades).

Yeah, I don't think there is that much of a stigma around playing tabletop RPGs for this younger generation coming up -- probably because fantasy and sci-fi are more and more ubiquitous in popular culture now. The main thing for me is that there hasn't been a single girl who has joined yet! I'm still looking for ways to break through that barrier.

I personally don't see why a group like this can't be started at any middle school anywhere. We've had the advantage of an afterschool program that pays adults to run afterschool classes, to connect the older with the younger generation. But the appeal of the game to younger people is real and largely untapped.

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

Awesome and thanks for the update. I'm enjoying following your website.


Wow, this sounds like a lot of fun! My kids school used to have a teacher that ran D&D games after school, sadly he moved back to the mainland. Funny though it was open to parents also and I think there were more parents there than kids =P


I checked out your website, looks like you've done a lot of work for this! Glad to see your club's running so well.


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Haha, I think I know why there's been a sudden uptick in views on our website! (Also the fact that I just got them started creating characters yesterday from the full rules.)

10 of the students' parents are having me run campaigns for them outside of the club, in what you can call a quasi-babysitting job. But babysitting that's AWESOME. My guilty pleasure is now a little less guilty, and putting food on the table.

Might I add, that 80-90% of them are 6th graders! They are very bright and eating it all up. Do follow the blog starting next February, if you want to see how 11 year olds deal with Rappan Athuk. ;)


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Yep Rot Im definitely following you =) I may do this at my kids school next year depending how things go. (although I'm kind of hoping someone else will so I can go and PLAY for a change and not DM) Hopefully I'll get some good ideas from you! I love the way the blog is set up. LOL @ Shorty McShortshort!

Hooray awesome baby sitting! Waaaay back when, the kids I used to baby sit used to love to paint figures. I used to buy little cheaper plastic sets and let them go to town while I was working on my Warhammer set. Easiest babysitting money I ever made. A little messy but fun was had by all!

Awesome to make a little money at something you love.


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I'm a long time RPGer (since late 70's) and avid Pathfinder fan and player. I'm also the father of one of Rot's aspiring GM's (my son's 11), and I'm so pleased he's found the game. It has completely turned his amazing creative energy in great new directions. I introduced him to the beginner box, but having a bunch of school buddies to play with regularly, has lit a fire in him.

Looking forward to this Saturday, where we work with the kids to make new PFRPG characters, making the transition from the beginner box!


Khelreddin, I would love to have you on board Saturday. Wednesday's Guild was CRAZY! I told them that Saturday we had to make final decisions on classes, so we talked about which character classes to pick. And people were eager to get started on their characters, so I gave blank character sheets to all of them.

They were all so excited about trying out the new classes... multiply that with having to learn the full rules, and multiply that with being eleven years old! So it was literally maybe 5 questions a minute. It literally felt like my head was spinning. (Not an uncommon occurrence during The Guild.)

Character creation is the big hump when it comes to learning full Pathfinder, so it should calm down after this hopefully. But yeah I figured I had to make sure they had access to all the awesomeness that is Pathfinder's full list of classes and archetypes. I figured that would get them excited. :D THEN later I can introduce full Pathfinder rules gradually as they come.

By the way, I'm glad the party's SUMMONER has a Pathfinder Dad. Whew! :D


Just a few updates on the middle-school Pathfinder club!

Due to budget cuts in the Afterschool Program, our program got cut for spring semester! But the students and parents (including Khelreddin -- thanks so much) rallied around and saved the class! For many of the students, I think the two days we meet are the high points of their week, and it was great to see how much enthusiasm they had for the class when we almost lost it!

The shift to full Pathfinder from the Beginner Box has been very, very easy. After getting past the character creation hump, it basically has come down to reminding people when Attacks of Opportunity come, and knowing the ins and outs of monster special abilities and spells when they come. Doing various things, including adventuring, GMing, and writing or drawing earns them XP, two students have now reached Level 7! The kids have actually focused on martial characters -- that is, until yesterday, when 3 kids dueled against me in a 3v3 PvP. They all chose spellcasters! They one-upped my own knowledge of the game at times -- an 11 year old reminded me that Flame Strike does two types of damage and so my Fire Resistance didn't apply to one type.

I might add that Hero Lab has made making higher-level characters quick and easy. Kids are not intimidated at all by the technology, and they learned how to navigate the software very quickly. We're lucky to have Hero Lab on our classroom computer -- with our four workstations, several kids can create, level-up, and print out their characters simultaneously. Hero Lab has been a godsend, given that there is so much I have to do -- co-GM, answer questions, take phone calls -- during class!

At times, I feel inspired to blog about running the class, but I feel there is so much to write about -- running the Tomb of Horrors, the expectations for the game that younger kids have, concrete experiences of moving the Beginner Box to full rules -- that I feel like I'd only be scratching the surface unless I put a huge amount of time into it.

Lastly, I encourage people to check out the website I've set up for the class! I have put a lot more work into it, including doing session write-ups of the kids' adventures as they work their way through Rise of the Runelords and Shattered Star! Also, I've changed my mind about adults leaving comments -- comment away! This is my creative outlet right now and I love feedback, and the kids would be thrilled to see encouragement coming from others! :D


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Pawns Subscriber

Oh, my kids demanded a "kids-only" game so I'm running Shattered Star every Wednesday night for two 8-year-olds and an 11-year-old. I was about to recommend you get Hero Labs -- insanely expensive for the initial buy, but extra seat licenses are dirt cheap so you can have copies at multiple locations, and the program itself is easy enough that our 8-year-olds leveled up with no issue, and can easily scan their printouts for their abilities. (Admittedly, I go over the printouts with a highlighter for them so they know what's 'important.)

Keep up the good work!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is just fantastic! I love the idea of your club.
My nephew is 11 and in middle school, so a few months ago I rallied 3 of our regular gamers to be his backup and ran his first game, Master of the Fallen Fortress. Major success, he loved it. Character generation went by relatively quickly for him, I showed him the iconics and was a quarter way through describing them when he pointed at Lini's spotted leopard and asked how to get an animal companion.
He now plays a velociraptor named Samason (With a bite and TWO talon attacks!!) and his druid companion Altair.
The next day after the game, I brought him to our FLGS and bought him his first set of dice.

We're starting Reign of Winter tomorrow, and he's really excited. I'm hoping to run an adventure for him every 3-6 weeks, and cut the AP down to just the best bits so we can get a good ways into it eventually.

I wish there was a club like yours at his school, it sounds like a fantastic experience. I might ask him to invite some of his friends for a game sometime :)


Wait RedEric, you said he is playing the velociraptor, and the druid is his companion? That's brilliant!

I wish there had been an organized club like this at my middle school, but I'm not sure many adults could succeed on their Will and Fortitude (and sometimes Reflex!) saves, given the demanding nature of students in their age group! One has to supervise the GMs to make sure they conduct a decent game. What I see as more realistic is a high-school teacher opening up his or her room to students who want to game, letting them get the hang of it, and then start GMing themselves.

Do you have the Beginner Box? In addition to GMing them yourself (which I am doing with a number of the kids every weekend) to "lead by example," you should see if your nephew or one of his friends is willing to GM with the Beginner Box as their basis! Maybe sooner than later one of them would want to pull kids together during lunch at school, or afterschool. Who knows what would happen then? ;D


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

While the velociraptor doesn't speak, usually the velociraptor goes first on their shared initiative, and I'm not sure he really paid attention when it came to describing any druid class features except spells that buff the velociraptor. It's pretty obvious which he considers his character, and which is the tag along :)
One of my other players had a concept for a druid who was the interpreter for the various gestures and clacks of his animal companion, lord Crabbington the Magnificent.
"Lord Crabbington has generously agreed to spare your miserable life bandit, but he warns you not to test his patience further. Yes, sir. I'm sure he gets the point, sir. Maiming him with your magnificent pincers is probably not necessary, sir."

And yeah, I'm not sure I'd have the fort or will to do a club like that for four 11 year old players, much less over ten like you have.

I've been thinking about the beginner box a lot since the first game I ran with my nephew. It would be a great way for him to get game time when I can't run one for him, or even a good way to interest his parents or friends. Sadly, adding that to my next subscription after this months going out of print sale would break the budget this month, especially with my reaper bones on the way and needing paint.
Maybe in may...

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