Advice for tabling with teens?


Advice

Silver Crusade

So, I might end up tabling with some teens (youngest 13).

I don't really get on with kids I've never met. And gaming with kids I've never met is making me very wary.

Any suggestions.


As someone who used to be a teenager (and still very much acts like one), I think I'm fairly qualified to answer this question.

Accept that they're going to be teenagers, and everything good and bad that goes with it. There will be rampant giggling, there will be a lack of attention span, and if you're lucky, there will also be a vast creative side that you haven't seen yet. Expect to keep things loose, and try to cater to their individual needs. When I started playing back when I was 16, I didn't know what to expect, so I approached it like a video game. Class, spells, levels, got it. Wait personality? What's that? I expect you'll probably get a lot of that. Try to rope them into the story. Don't expect huge backstory, but present them with a lot of moral choices that will help them forge who their characters actually are as the game goes by. And don't be afraid to show them consequences for their actions both good and bad.


As much as you might hate doing so, cater to the Mary Sues. It makes them have a heck of a lot of fun, but don't be afraid to punish them if they do something stupid.

If there aren't any hormone high kids at the table, but fairly quiet ones, find subtle ways to get them involved. They don't normally need much encouragement to have fun; those are the cool cats with huge imagination.

Also, get comfy with the fact that you may have 7 rogues at the table. I get that a lot for some reason when GM'ing teens.


@Velix, it's funny. My first character was a Cleric, 3.5e. I was all about some greater good. That being said, yeah, basically every other teenager I've played with has been a rogue. Particularly girls. Literally every girl I've played with except for my girlfriend has rolled a rogue.


1. Expect poop or sex innuendo to get either big laughs, lots of snickering, or eye rolls. Not poop or sex jokes that are explicitly those, though. Just the very thin double entendres, especially ones that you didn't notice were double entendres.

2. Depending on the age, I might expect them to be very plugged in. during the session. A .mp3 players, maybe a computer, and especially phones could be out a lot during sessions. Either accept it and try to encourage it into a more table-friendly activities (looking up rues for their class, using the phone as a calculator, etc.).

3. Scheduling could be a nightmare. Depending on their age, the other players will be working with
- What they think they need to be doing during that time
- What their parents think they need to be during that time
- What their bf/gf thinks they need to be during that time
- Random things that pop up.

4. Look out for that hippity hop and technological music.


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I started gaming when I was about 11 or 12, so I've got some recollection from what it was like on the player side of the table at that age group.

For starters, please, for the love of god, do not assume they are of a lower level of intellect just because of their age. Instead, expect them to be inexperienced. From my experience, Mary Sues, characters lacking personality or depth, etc. is more likely to stem from being new to gaming more than it is tied to someone's age. Almost everybody I played with who was new tended to have characters who were a little lacking, be they a teenager or an adult, and I've had teens experienced with gaming make deeper characters than adults who are new at the game. Just give them time, and engage them in the story, and you'll see their characters grow.

Also remember that during one's teenage years is usually when they start seeking to develop their identity on their own. Have some fun with this, since it might lead into some interesting role playing. I'd expect a higher degree of chaotic characters simply for the fact that when most teens try to discover who they are, it often comes with renouncing the shackles of tradition. It doesn't mean they will be any less good, but it could mean that playing Robin Hood might be more appealing than Sir Lancelot.

Most importantly: they are people before they are teenagers, and just like any other adult, they run a wide range of personalities. Get past seeing them as teens and look at them as fellow gamers.

Silver Crusade

I might clairfy...

I'm NOT the GM...

And it's PFS

And the character I'm running is a Lesbian. (PFS, I ran the first part with her and my Boyfriend played her twin brother)

If I were GMing, I'd simply back off and ask someone else to GM because I know that I don't have the sort of personality to GM for anyone under 18 (I have trouble GMing for people I don't know well to begin with).


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For starters I would treat them like adults. As a youth, there's nothing I hated more than adults who didn't give me the chance to earn their respect as an equal human being. I reckon that a lot of the time younger people act immature is simply them chafing under the oppressive expectation that they will act immature.

I mean, you'll eventually run into some unbearable little s@%+s, but that's the same hazard you run into with adults.

One problem you might run into is that they might be hesitant to really engage with the game. I know when I first started it took me a while to shuffle off a lot of the negative connotations associated with the game. This is probably a problem with a lot of beginners but I think the younger you are the more seriously you fear showing preference for the wrong things. I think that if you are deft and sneaky you could do a bit of a bait and switch- to introduce the game emphasize the mechanics and similarities to hack n slash video games. Then as you get them in, you can stealthily hit them with the things that make the game so much more.


Well, if you're playing with them... then just have fun. You guys are already breaking down social barriers by playing a game with them. If they are your fellow players, treat them like any other part of the team.

Not sure why the character's sexuality was brought up though. If you're worried that her (the character's) preference in companionship will be an issue, just throw that concern right out the window. I also played a lesbian character with a group of 13-15 year old players before. The only people who got offended were people who were super conservative Christians who thought homosexuality was a sin. the others literally did not care at ALL. When the group saw my character having a date with her npc girlfriend during some off time, their only reaction was something on the lines of "Well I guess she's got plans, hey guys, lets hit up the tavern".

Liberty's Edge

I've had very positive experiences with teenagers at PFS tables.

Be friendly. Be courteous. Ask if any of them want a hand setting up their characters. Give them attention for positive behaviors, model what it means to be a good player, and they'll meet your expectations.

If the GM doesn't ask for character introductions, start one off yourself with a name, a description of what your character looks like, and a little information about what you do in and out of combat. Then, as other people around the table introduce their characters, interact with them a a bit, in character.

Have fun!


Also don't go in expecting "bad" behavior. They might surprise you. Now I do admit I some have irked me, but I also had some 8 or 9 yr old kid who was very tactical, and did actually caused no distraction. If he got hit, he took it well aka no whining about it.

I figure if a kid can do that well, then a teenager can be ok to game with also.


Best bet is to withhold judgement of the teens until you actually see them play. At PFS I've played with kids in their late teens that make me want to smack them, but I also regularly play with an 8 year old girl who is a boon to any table she joins.

But if they DO exhibit bad behavior, do your best to discourage it. Not like, brow-beat them or call them names or anything, but gently make it clear that they are not acting like mature individuals. And definately reinforce any positive behaviors they show.


Mystic_Snowfang wrote:

So, I might end up tabling with some teens (youngest 13).

Any suggestions.

Don't make it too educative and let them make their own decisions.

I recently gamed with a group consisting of the father as GM, the mother, two kids and two strangers (one being me).
The father's plot forced one player to make a deal with what would be an evil outsider in PF, to save the party. That deal made the "imp" that guy's familiar. It was a game in which loosing a familiar has permanent effects on spellcasters.
After that the mother made her daughter (who was playing a priestess) banish the "imp". The caster had to face the consequences and the parents were shocked when the player declared that the pc in question would not stay in the group after being treated like that.

I guess the daughter and the other player would be happier had the mother not forced that behaviour.

RPGs should, mainly, be fun and games, not education.


One of the keys to being socially adept is patience...so I'm told.

Don't go in expecting or looking for a reason take issue with the people you're sitting down to play with and just treat this as an opportunity for personal growth.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I have gamed for years with people far younger than me. As in, young enough to be my kids.

I am 58 years old and I play with 4 other people who are between 17 and 24 years old.

Here is the thing: Age only matters if people make it matter. These young pups (as I sometime call them and they get a laugh from it) don't care that I am old enough to be their father. I don't care that they are far younger than me. The love of the game is what matters.

Here is some suggestions that may help you.

Ask straight up if your age is an issue for anyone. If the answer is no, game on.

Never act or talk like a parent substitute. If they wanted to play with their parents, they would play with their parents. So don't be critical about maturity level or behaviors at the table you would speaking out to if they were your kids.

Never take the attitude that the extra mileage you have of being around longer than they have gives you the right to think your experience and insight trumps theirs. I have seen incredibly insightful ideas and outstanding roleplaying from 15 and 16 years olds that would run counter to their younger years.

Never treat them like kids. What I mean is, be blind to the age difference and treat the other players like you would interact with someone your own age.

In short, if you are 'blind' to the age difference, you should get along fine with any table of teenagers. You might see behaviors at the table that is typical of teenagers that might make you roll your eyes - just never be seen rolling your eyes. After all, you are playing with them for a few hours, not trying to parent them.

Have fun and don't sweat the age difference.

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