*As a note, the intro for this was written by Steph from TTRPGkids, and the below description was written by the game’s creator
Youth interest in tabletop role-playing games has exploded in recent years, and it only grows with each new actual-play stream, Stranger-Things season, or viral Tik Tok! Now many parents, teachers, and others are finding themselves presented with a delightful opportunity to get kids excited about storytelling, math, collaboration, and countless other TTRPG skills. But running games for younger players is a whole new skill set for folks who only have experience with adults (or, for some, no experience at all!). That’s exactly why ZineQuest project Rolling with the Youth came to be.
Designed as a resource for those new to working with youth, those new to running tabletop-roleplaying games, and those already running a long-standing youth campaign, this guide contains insights from years playing games with youth 12-24, working at youth-facing restorative-justice and LGBTQ+ organizations, and, of course, playing tabletop-roleplaying games of all sort.
Included in this book are guides for particular age groups (elementary, middle-school, high-school, and college-aged), recommendations for one-shots and campaigns, systems, tools, and other resources for both in-person and virtual play, and a compendium of original prompts, story threads, and NPCs.
However, what makes this book unique is its insight into the particular challenges and potential of running games for younger players. It discusses how safety tools can be used to create a safe space and teach boundaries and consent, how the roles of “Game Master” and “Adult in Charge” coincide, how to connect with and understand Gen Z, how to process player annoyance, frustration, and even trauma, how to deal with differing attitudes about “the rules,” how to set examples of boundaries, how to introduce concepts like redemption and restorative justice and, most of all, how to create games that youth want to keep playing.
As one of the founding principles of the project was inclusivity and accessibility, there will be a screen-reader- and dyslexic-friendly digital version and a free audio version. Additionally, free digital and low-cost physical community copies are available for any person or organization who might not otherwise have the resources to obtain them.
However, for those who are able, there are all sorts of fun Kickstarter rewards for backing this project: stickers, pins, notebooks, and a custom deck of safety-tool cards for teaching boundaries and consent at the table. There are even options for your favorite character to be features (or the author to run a youth game at an organization of your choice)! Check out the campaign while it’s still live, or come say hi and share ideas for the zine with @WrangerOfChaos on Twitter, Janatee on the TTRPGKids Discord, or Janatee Craftily on most other platforms.
Jaclyn Lewis is a writer, game master, and youth worker who loves TTRPGs and bringing them to the next generation. She founded two youth TTRPG programs and runs games for marginalized youth, encouraging creativity and self-expression, teaching boundaries and consent, and wrangling the (inevitable) chaos. She also pitches in as an officer at Tabletop Gaymers and runs two nerdy shops: one at Rem Alternis, where she streams on occasion, and one at Janatee Craftily, where she makes custom plushies, nerdy accessories, and LGBTQ+ pride gear out of yarn, art film, and lots of love. She enjoys crafting words, gifts, and community, and can be found at conventions of all sorts in the Midwest.
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