Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Abraham Elder. I used to be known as Bebarce El-Tayib, so that’s the name still on the book. I’m the creator of Power Outage, a superhero themed TTRPG for kids. I’m also a Chief Technology Officer for a public school in New Jersey, and am an advocate for accessibility, gamification, and technology equity. I’ve got a wife and three kids, and in general I’m really happy to be around and doing things that encourage kids to use their imaginations.
When did you start playing tabletop RPGs?
Well I actually didn’t know TTRPG’s were a thing until much later in life. In fact, it wasn’t until Penny Arcade started a podcast where they talked about the soon to be released D&D 4e that I actually learned about it. On its release day, I made my way over to a local gaming store and had a blast playing in a launch day event that they were running. Made some good friends there. That being said, before I knew that TTRPGs were a thing, I kind of was making my own. Early on, in like the 3rd grade or so, I used to love reading Choose Your Own Adventure books. I read through the whole series and by the time I was done, I started writing my own, and “running” the books for other kids at my lunch table. I even remember calling it Adventure Sam, so that any kid at the table could feel comfortable imagining themselves as the lead.
What was your favorite tabletop RPG moment?
Oof that’s a tough one to pick. Honestly, favorite is really hard because favorite happens for different reasons. Like, my favorite time playing D&D was this clutch moment where my friend who was playing an Ent-like creature jumped off a tower to crash on someone who was about to Coup De Grace me (a flamekin paladin who was not allowed near the tree) and basically all the hijinx that lead up to a moment where a tree could fall off a tower to save a friend.
My favorite moment running Power Outage for adults was with a group of friends online, and watching my one player fall in love with my villain Mrs. Robotto.
My favorite moment playing with kids was when my one daughter made icy beverages for the enemies I set out before them, rather than attacking them. Or when my other daughter learned a valuable lesson about privilege when she played a hero who’d questioned why the fisherman didn’t come to her aid. Or when my son finally settled on making a dragon dinosaur hero named Flames Rex after about 20 different character creations.
My favorite moment in the creation of Power Outage was when the mother of a kid with autism hugged me at a convention. I might never sell a single book, but that moment is something that’ll always stay with me.
What inspired you to make Power Outage?
My kids. And then later all kids. But even that was shaped by my kids. They stole my dice, and I figured if I ever wanted to see them again, I’d better come up with a way to play with them. At the time, I didn’t have much knowledge of TTRPGs for kids, so I ended up developing my own. As it developed, it kept going back into the mix, churning and churning as recommendations, and thoughts and suggestions from them came in, and the product I have now is completely a work dedicated to the idea of exploring the possibilities that kids can uniquely bring to the gaming table.
Can you tell us about Power Outage?
It’s a superhero themed role playing game that has been designed from the ground up for kids, but has just as often been played by groups of adults who are looking for something a bit more light hearted and joyful. Power Outage has completely unique mechanics that allow for players to craft infinitely unique characters, while structuring that process in a way that allows for character creation to be done in minutes. It has a wealth of lore and place settings that allow for any style of game play. The book comes with everything you need to play including mechanics, a roster of absurd villains, setting history and location descriptions, guidance for new players and gaming with kids, a focus on accessibility, a full playable adventure, and even a comic book in the back that helps explain the rules to kids.
It’s also overflowing with puns.
What makes Power Outage unique as a tabletop RPG?
I believe that I’ve not just worked on a game that is simplified for kids to play, but more so with Power Outage, I’ve created something that draws out the benefits of gaming with kids. It allows them the freedom to explore, and go off the rails, while structuring the game play so that you can make tangible progress. I worked for a substantial amount of its creation in generating accessibility guidance that is in many ways more important than the game itself. As well, I’ve created guidance for new and even veteran gamers on what it means to be at a table with imagination factories, and how to bring out the best experiences.
What advice do you have for people who are new to tabletop RPGs or who are looking to introduce a new player (kids, teens, or adults)?
Kids don’t follow paths. They cross them, retreat down them, loop around and go on different paths, then come back to the original. They crawl down them, sprint down them, and precariously fly over them. They’ll sit in the middle of the path, pretend there is no path, suggest something is the path that is in fact a shrub, and argue with you about why you’re not fully invested in this new form of shrub based travel that is all the rage in their circles.
Suck up your pride as a storyteller, realize that not getting anywhere is getting exactly where you need to go, and just live in the vicarious moment of their joy at experiencing imagination waking up. And remember that kids are going to come to your table with a host of different abilities. So remember, that the journey can differ for each student while still maintaining the same destination.
Thank you Abraham for your awesome insights! It’s been great getting to learn about your game and getting to chat with someone who has put so much time into learning about and putting into action their knowledge on gaming with kids!
And thank you, reader, for checking this post out and learning about playing tabletop RPGs with your kids! You can follow Abraham on twitter, check out more info on Power Outage here in my review of this awesome (and very funny) tabletop RPG, find the gaming with kids and accessibility guide here, and also…
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