teenage RPG suggestions
November 28, 2010 5:26 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to introduce some kids to the RPG realm, as part of an ESL class.

I need an interesting RPG, with a basic set that's both accessible - I mean playable and not to difficult to read- , reasonably priced (I mean rather cheap), not too complicated but still interesting as far as rules matter.
I used to play such games when I was a teenager, and I'd like my pupils to experience the attraction that I experienced when confronted to the text of various D&D books. To me, they were both magical and mysterious.
I'm really eager to find alternate universes that would appeal to kids today, so, do not limit your suggestions to heroic fantasy stuff (but please don't dismiss it either). Of course, nice illustrations would be a bonus.
posted by nicolin to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
what platform? Does it have to be computer-based?
posted by ultrabuff at 6:16 AM on November 28, 2010

From your question, it looks like you're thinking tabletop. Excellent. Might I suggest Happy Birthday, Robot! or the Mouse Guard RPG? (Mouse Guard is very, very pretty, and if your kids are familiar with the Redwall series that might be a draw.) At the risk of sounding like an Evil Hat shill, you might also want to take a gander at the Fate system, used for Spirit of the Century and the Dresden Files RPG.

If you're looking for books on the cheap, you may want to simply go with D&D 3.0. It has some problems, sure, but nothing that an errata won't fix. And as long as you don't get into prestige classes and splatbooks and the like it's pretty simple.
posted by daikaisho at 6:29 AM on November 28, 2010

Munchkin is a sort of card based RPG. Might suit your needs.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:33 AM on November 28, 2010

sure, I meant a tabletop one.
posted by nicolin at 6:39 AM on November 28, 2010

munchkin is great, but it's also very heavily reliant on shared background, and all of the injokes will fly right over most any ESL student's head. I know this because I've actually tried to play it with ESL people, and it didn't go over well. A lot of pop-culture based games tend to fall flat outside of the culture they're created in.

You might consider starting off slowly, with board games first. I've had some pretty good success with Carcasonne in a small group setting. If they're interested in that, you might start to look into other games (Talisman comes to mind, though it's pretty involved/advanced/old) that add more of the RPG aspect to it. There are a ton of good boardgames out there you could look into.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:54 AM on November 28, 2010

Ghidora brings up a good point regarding board games. Descent has a decidedly D&D feel, but wasn't too complicated.
posted by daikaisho at 7:00 AM on November 28, 2010

How about computer-based Zork-esque text adventures? I've used them for tutoring kids in reading. Or, a little less interactive, are the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type books based on them.
posted by XMLicious at 7:03 AM on November 28, 2010

Not a RPG, so lightly off topic, but from what I've read about Dixit, it might make for a good game for ESL students.
posted by backwards guitar at 7:12 AM on November 28, 2010

List of some Free RPGs
List of some free rules resources specifically for D&D games

Personally, if you aren't going to go with a D&D clone, I'd consider Fudge.

(I participate at RPG Geek as a volunteer admin.)
posted by meinvt at 8:12 AM on November 28, 2010

Primetime Adventures is a great game that uses a deck of cards, which makes it pretty easy and accessible. Since it's "genre-less" in the sense anything that would work well on TV works well for PTA, and TV is worldwide, it's a pretty easy in for most people.

Breaking the Ice is a two player game about a couple that starts dating. It uses basic 6 sided dice. This would be a good option if you want to have the students partner up.

1001 Nights is a great story-telling game where players take turns telling stories while other players ask questions. If you have a particular subject or word list you want folks to work with, it might tie in well with this game. Any kind of dice work for it.
posted by yeloson at 3:20 PM on November 28, 2010

Dungeons and Dragons is an obvious recommendation. I'd say pick up an old set of 3.5 books (the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual). It's an edition or so behind what's currently popular, but that means it's cheap. There's also a free (legal) partial copy of the rules online at d20srd.org.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 12:05 AM on November 30, 2010

One of the best part of playing board games is the banter that goes on around the table when you're playing. Assume that that will be just as memorable as the game itself.
posted by mdonley at 4:53 AM on December 18, 2010

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