Today I was viciously abducted by two 10 year old boys and a mum and forced to explain role playing and lead a game, or as I like to call it: uhh, this is kind of complex, quick! make something up before they sense your fear.
What's 'role playing'? Acting, playing 'Let's pretend', an active way to watch movies and read books, Saving the world with your friends. It's like a computer game without the computer. or cops n' robbers with dice and paper.
What do you do? Make up a 'character' to pretend to be, and take turns doing stuff. Usually there's one person who plays all the other people in the game world and keeps the story rolling, but if they're experienced they can do both at once. This lets them demonstrate the gameplay too.
name: original, copyrighted, David Hasslehoff, ninja playboy, whatever
picture: draw or pick one
stats: Strength, Speed, Intelligence, Charisma.. I set a maximum at 20
good at: Sneaking, Pickpocketing, Climbing, Jumping, Shootin, Swearin, Making people's heads explode with the power of your mind. My favourite on the night was 'Michael Jackson Dance Move to Impress Girls'.
Map: draw one! very fun for adults and kids alike. Be careful not to make any mazes too hard. We wound up with "2 Volcano Island", which is in a group of islands with undersea tunnels between them, pirate ships, trampolines that fire you across the map, and a Girlfriend to rescue in an underground maze with lava, traps, doors, plenty of deadends and a river with boats on it. Thankfully, some of the way is marked with road signs.
I let the kids have a free rein making up skills for their characters and features on the map. It started off as a Medieval setting, but guns and other modern things crept in. I felt it was better for them to exercise their imaginations than adhere to canon.. and besides, I should have enough imagination to make it challenging enough to be fun. I reminded them that usually each character is good at some things and bad at others, making for more fun working as a team.
We had a lazy play test and had a fun time. Bad guys were shot at and whacked in the nuts, we pioneered 'Embarrassment Damage' for when you screw up in front of witnesses, the river was frozen and I 'won' the game with some kind of teleporting flying car. Wheeee O_o