New to GM'ing, new to MG, teaching young child...

While it sounds like I’m in for a world of frustration and dissapointment, I’ve promised my young son that I’d play MG with him (he found my old D&D 3ed set, and we blundered through a combat or two). I’m getting him stoked on the world by reading the comics with him, and he’s very excited to play. I’m getting excited to GM! But I’ve never run a game before!?!

Anyway, I was hoping to get some helpful pointers about how to handle our first session. I was thinking I’d run him on a single-mouse mission with one obstacle and one conflict in mind, and leaning on conditions for failures (to streamline the session and hopefully fit within his attention span). I know it won’t have the gut-burning inter- and intra-mousal conflict and hard desicion making that MG looks to be full of, but I think the idea of failure not being the end of life as we know it would be a good lesson for him.

I suppose I’m mostly looking for someone to hold my hand as I try to get rolling with this. :slight_smile:

Ken, how old’s your son?

Why only one obstacle?

He’s six, but a very… precocious six. I suppose I chose one obstacle based on the concept I had that the GM’s turn is pretty much two “issues”, with other potential problems resulting from twists. I suppose it’s easy enough to just roll with the story as it unfolds. But I also suspect that he’ll want to run Saxon, and kill snakes and weasels… I’m also expecting to walk him through the player turn, and prompt him to pursue his goals. Although now I’m thinking about it, we may do better just running the GM turn, and letting him roll dice.

Have you roleplayed with him before? Teach him the conventions of this type of gaming – teach him how to talk about his character, when to roll dice and that getting into the action is fun.


I don’t know how helpful this is, but:

As a parent myself, I think you’re just going to have to think about what you know about him, his abilities, strengths, interests. When you play pretend with him does he dictate all the action (a budding GM!) or is he open to suggestions? How’s he like dice games?

I’m thinking about my own children. One is almost 4 and the other 2. The 2 year old just wants my attention. Doesn’t matter what we play, she just wants me to play along and be one big toy. The almost 4 year old would take a few suggestions, but at a certain point, she’s in the driver’s chair, no doubt about it.

I played shoots and ladders with both once and it was exhausting but fun. They play pretend all the time, but they’ve got an agenda.

Well, it could have been worse…

Jon, a guard mouse with a tragic (if clichéd) past was teamed with Dain (played by me) on a mission to take a message to a fellow guards mouse in Copperwood (Jon’s hometown). A failed pathfinding test led to the pair finding a weasel spy! A well-fought conflict led to the death of the weasel, but tired conditions, and Dain being injured (missed the rule about everyone getting the same condition in a group conflict). A successful heath check prevented the duo from getting sick in the early fall rain.

Once in Copperwood, Jon tried to circle up someone who knew about his parents abduction (they were taken by weasels when he was much younger), and ended up getting his childhood enemy! Failing a persuasion test, Jon couldn’t get any information. At this point, the frustration of failure overtook my son, and we called it quits for the day.

In retrospect, I did a number of things wrong, or at least I could have done better. I handled the obstacles poorly, and the twist was painfully bad (not that they ran into a spy, but how it was handled narratively). I also missed a goal hook by not having the spy carry a map or something that hinted at the kidnapping of mice. I was still a little hung up on “failure means no”, rather than “failure means something interesting has happened” (although that brings to mind a certain Buddhist curse).

I also failed to impress upon my son that failure is a needed condition, and he was too excited to get playing to realize he needed to hinder himself to get the chance to do more later by getting checks. Overall, I’m not too disapointed in how it turned out, but I’m still anxious about the next time he asks to play…

Sounds like a Win! to me. We’ve all made those mistakes.

Did you both have fun?

I think so. He was near tears about not getting info about his parents abduction, but he’s ADHD, and his emotions run a little close to the surface. And he inherited some Asperger’s from me, so he’s not 100% on how to handle and/or express said emotions. C’est la vie. But he’s talked about it a bit, and is interested in the playing aids I’m putting together (thank you Court Jester!)

I need to work on getting a handle on how to help yourself and your patrol mates during checks, including conflict actions. Including which skills get an attempt tick when used to help. Gear, especially pseudo-gear, is also a little iffish for me as well. Hell, the whole GM thing is still iffish… :slight_smile:

I think I’ll do more pre-planning next time, preparing appropriately cool failure twists and re-reading the failure and compromise sections.

Would you believe when I read the post my eyes skipped right over the part about the frustration? I’ve been driving all day.

If he has both ADHD and Aspergers, avoiding moments of frustration is going to be tricky. I think its important to apply “success with condition” if you can’t think of a fun and interesting twist that keeps the action going. The failed persuasion test could probably have worked if there was a twist that kept the ball rolling. Maybe have the enemy feed him information, but tell him that he knows the guy is totally lying to him and not telling him everything. Maybe a scout roll to follow him when he leaves? I would simply never run him into a roadblock where you hear yourself saying “You can’t.”

I’d also cut yourself a little slack. If you have Aspergers too, changing GMing styles around failure is going to take some practice.

Sounds like you did fine. We learn from our mistakes and get better as we go; no one expects you to be perfect the first time out.

Definitely play again.