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Minors at the table.


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

Sovereign Court **

I have a "novel" problem that I would appreciate getting some help on. A 14 year old kid with ADD and hyperactivity has just contacted me for an upcoming store game (Murder on the Throaty Mermaid) with a very sincere wish to play.

Now to make it absolutely clear I don't have any problem with letting a 14 year old play at the table. My problem is that I've never really GM'd kids before, not to mention kids with ADD. Do you fine GM's have any pointers? I really want to make it an enjoyable experience for the guy but I don't want to just focus on him (that is to say, I want the other players to get the spotlight as well).

Also, should I ask his parents to give me a ring/send email? I only ask this because, well, they might want to at least know who's running the game and so on.

Dark Archive **** Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Leg o' Lamb

Murder on the Throaty Mermaid can be a really slow, role play heavy scenario. There is some action but I think he might be better served by waiting to play another scenario. Also, you will need to tone down the actions and attitude one of the NPCs. She can be rather... forward.

A note to his parents detailing the type of scenario is a good idea. They can tell you if this is something he really enjoys (solving a murder mystery) or if it will bore him.

Another suggestion is to move the encounters around. I'd start with the storm encounter to provide cover for the action with the sea elves showing up mid scenario to break up the slowness of the investigation.

Dark Archive ***

Not a problem for me, but then again I teach and am used to being around young people.

If he's a store regular I'd treat him like anyone else. If not, I'd ask to talk to his parents. Explain its a liability issue.

*****

I would certainly ask for the parents to email you or call you. This way you can find out the severity of the ADD and how to best handle things, you could also make a case for a parent being there for the first couple of games -- adds to the comfortability of the parents with the gaming situation and also so that if there are any issues the parents can help step in.

Kids are hard to keep entertained in general, with gaming the ones that want to be there are paying attention as best they can... and I think most adults understand that a little more of the GMs attention needs to go to the child.

I would also make sure that the table the child will be at is ok with a child playing -- there are some people that will downright refuse to game with children

Scarab Sages *****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
there are some people that will downright refuse to game with children

hmmmm, this may be an excuse I could use to not game with Kyle again... ;)

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Roac wrote:

I have a "novel" problem that I would appreciate getting some help on. A 14 year old kid with ADD and hyperactivity has just contacted me for an upcoming store game (Murder on the Throaty Mermaid) with a very sincere wish to play.

Now to make it absolutely clear I don't have any problem with letting a 14 year old play at the table. My problem is that I've never really GM'd kids before, not to mention kids with ADD. Do you fine GM's have any pointers? I really want to make it an enjoyable experience for the guy but I don't want to just focus on him (that is to say, I want the other players to get the spotlight as well).

Also, should I ask his parents to give me a ring/send email? I only ask this because, well, they might want to at least know who's running the game and so on.

For one, the store might have guidelines about children (i.e., some stores don't let kids under a certain age play without adult supervision), so you might check with them about that, just in case.

As for the ADHD (the official term has changed from ADD with the possible addendum of "with hyperactivity", to ADHD with the possible addendum of "without hyperactivity" - at least, as of the DSM IV, and I'm not aware if the DSM V has come out), I suggest you make sure he has something to do, especially with his hands.

For instance, let him track initiative, get his "help" with spreading out a map, etc. Don't be offended if he does something else at the same time to syphon some energy - my mom has ADHD, and it was helpful for her to actually be playing two games at once: DnD with me, and a board game with some other people.

Depending on the severity of his condition, RPGs might not be a viable pastime. If it doesn't work out, try not to take it personally.

Grand Lodge **** Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Talk to his parents. I've ran that scenario with much younger children and while I did tone down the one NPCs more adult actions, the adults at the table still swore they had a good time.

14 could be anywhere on the maturity scale, with or without ADD. We have a 12, oops, now 13, year old that plays in our weekly group that has both an attention issue, and dyslexia. For him, I like to sit him next to someone that can help him focus. If he doesn't have "someone" (a parent, a friend of the family) at the table, then sit him next to you and like Jiggy mentioned, give him things to *do*.

Make sure to tell him when his turn is coming up in combat(though that is good to do for everyone, busy noisy stores can distract the most focused players), then make sure to call him by both names for a while to see how he's tracking, "Bob, it's Torg's turn after Sammy does his schtick, be ready." "Bob, Torg's up, what do you do?".

Some (not all, by any means) but some kids have difficulty with the separation of character and player, this helps with that.

All that said, this wouldn't be my first choice for a that age group, regardless. As for the ADD, by 14, for most people, it's just a "thing", and likely something they've been dealing with for awhile. He may surprise you.

Shadow Lodge **

verdigris wrote:
"Bob, it's Torg's turn after Sammy does his schtick, be ready."

I get a +2 bonus from Improved Schtick, too.

Sovereign Court ****

wow...
I jumped into this thread thinking it was about PCs that were...

Small, Underage, Halfling, Diggers underground...

(runs for cover...)

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Percy Footman wrote:

wow...

I jumped into this thread thinking it was about PCs that were...

... Diggers underground...

Dr. Lazarus wrote:
Minors, not miners!

Sovereign Court ****

Jiggy wrote:
Percy Footman wrote:

wow...

I jumped into this thread thinking it was about PCs that were...

... Diggers underground...

Dr. Lazarus wrote:
Minors, not miners!

but wouldn't a

"Small, Underage, Halfling, Digger underground"
be a minor, minor, minor, miner?


I have a much younger brother. When he was 8 he found my old books and wanted to play bad. I wasn't around then so he went to a game store and asked to play. They asked him how serious he was, and he talked his way in. They ended up loving having him.

Dark Archive **

I used to work with children that disabilities or varying degrees & ages. I currently GM several different types of DnD where several of these young adults & children(age 9) fall into this category. I have let them help me with set up, running to the store book area to get an extra players guide(our store lets us use the books that are for sale for reference), have them give a run down on what happened the week before or even what is happening now. Yes they do require more one on one time but most of the other people at the table understand and at times help out.

* Star Voter 2013

Mermaid is one of my favorite scenarios. I would not want to play it with anyone disruptive, since the scenario is almost all roleplay. Also, I would have to modify it for kids, making the experience worse for the adults.

Then again, my 1st convention was when I was 13, I had an adult attention span and the maturity to handle any adult topic. So meh, it's tough! As a kid you know you're mature, as an adult I tend to treat kids like they don't know "adult topics".

I don't know enough about ADD to comment any further on the condition or problems with it.

You're in a tough spot, if it was me I'd tell the kid to come back the following week. The needs of the main outweigh the needs to the few (or the one).

Sovereign Court **

I'm thinking about changing the scenario to Assault on the Kingdom of the Impossible but as it stands Throaty Mermaid is on the published schedule so I'm reluctant to change it.

But I will speak to his parents as soon as he gets them to phone/email me. If I haven't heard anything from them in a couple of days I'll send him and email explaining that a prerequisite to playing is me speaking to his parents.

The Exchange ****

also, as an off the wall question, if you haven't spoken to his parents, who told you he's ADD?

Sovereign Court **

Facebook to be honest. Though that was because I had a kid come in to one of our games about a month ago that might've fit his description and I was curious if it was the same kid. Displayed there was that fact.

And to make things clear I wasn't facebook stalking the kid (though it might sound that way).

Liberty's Edge *****

Regarding the scenario: watch the language, and refer to the 'woman of the evening' as a 'morale officer' (think Deanna Troi, lol).

I dont think any of my regulars have ADD/ADHD, BUT, I do have 10+ 'Junior Pathfinders' who range in age from 6-13. They can be a handfull. My suggestions for the ones that might have issues paying attention:

1) Have him help in some capacity that he can handle. Track initiaitive, keep track of how much damage the npcs have taken, stuff like that.
2) Have him sit next to you if at all possible, not as a method of trying to keep him in line, but he may subconsciously take it that way, and try to control himself a little better.
3) Accept that he will likely be up and down in his seat several times. Standing and sitting over and over shouldnt really be an issue unless he knocks the table every time he does it, or is distracting other people as well.
4) Try to actively engage him. I dont mean he has to be the center of your attention the entire game, but make an effort (maybe a little extra effort) to hear whatever it is he is trying to say. The less effort he has to put into making it so you can hear him, the better.

So take those suggestions with a grain of salt, since I dont think my kids have ADD, but they are fond of Mt. Dew and making candy bar-sandwiches (Hershey + Snickers + Reeces)...

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

If ever there was someone who would enjoy playing We Be Goblins, this would be him. Assault on the Kingdom of the Impossible might be a good scenario for him.

You may want to take a couple of brief breaks during the scenario, encouraging players to get up from the table. Adolescents play better when they have the opportunity to move around when they start to get 'antsy'.

If your young player starts to get bored, you might want to drive up the adventure's tempo with some sort of contest, shipboard activity, or roleplaying incident. If time permits, such things might be a game of Liar's Dice (For Pirates of the Caribbean fans...), an angler's attempt to haul in a massive fish, or a humorous roleplaying incident with one or more of the ship's NPCs.

Instead of the intimate pursuits mentioned in the scenario, your "morale officer" might instead run a regular gambling table. She might be meeting secretly with certain sailors and passengers because the captain has ordered her not to "fleece" them. Alternatively, she might sneak off to get drunk, resulting in the PCs finding her asleep in unusual locations.

**** RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Don't forget part of ADD/ADHD is that you can become 'hyperfocused'. If he can do that, then he's good to go.

Part of it depends on your GMing style and how it meshes with him. My niece and nephew aren't ADD, but they enjoy the funny voices.

"Some people won't play with kids" That's their problem, not the kids. If the kid can play with them and not be disruptive, then it's the adult who should shut up and adapt.

I'll also compliment our local group. There are enough adult players that we get bawdy when kids aren't around, but we keep it PG when kids are.*

Check if he can bring friends. If you can get a 'kid's table' that's a good idea too.

*

Spoiler:
In playing Among the Living, my nephew's barbarian has the rage bite power. He wouldn't bite the zombies for fear of catching something. One of the adults said, "You can bite, just spit, don't swallow!" Fortunately, despite all of us thinking the same thing, no one went for the joke.

Shadow Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Silicon Valley aka JohnF

Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
I would certainly ask for the parents to email you or call you. This way you can find out the severity of the ADD and how to best handle things, you could also make a case for a parent being there for the first couple of games -- adds to the comfortability of the parents with the gaming situation and also so that if there are any issues the parents can help step in.

That might help. There again, it might not. I quite often end up at a table with teenagers (and even pre-teens). Sometimes a kid behaves much better without a parent around. Mind you, they do tend to look down at the table and mumble, which is a trial for those of us whose hearing isn't as good as it used to be ...

I'd also not necessarily be overly concerned about a label of ADD. It quite often gets stuck on the bright kid who is bored by the inability of others in his cohort to keep up with his mental prowess. A couple that I used to game with 20 years ago had an ADD son; by the time he was 14 he was a better role-player (heck, he was a better GM and world designer) than most of the adults I gamed with.

Liberty's Edge *

I play regularly with kids, and like all gamers, each is unique. I've also played a number of games with a kid who is ADHD/ADD (whatever the correct designation is). Don't expect him to be always engaged. Consider giving him things to do to help out, whether is is cleaning the mat or whatever. Make a practice to tell him he's on deck for initiative. Expect needing reminders to roll damage and attack dice at the same time.

Advise him toward a character class that has simpler mechanics, such as a melee fighter (avoid druid, summoner and other pet classes for example).

Most importantly, whenever you address him, use his name, not his character's, and get eye contact before you tell him what you need to say.

Kids younger than the one you are talking about have difficulty from a developmental standpoint in distinguishing between danger to their character and danger to themselves. At this age, don't be surprised by limited roleplay, or the desire for the character to act in a socially unacceptable way. Teens in general want to be special but not to be singled out.

Get other suggestions from his parents. All will be fine and it will be good for him.

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