Featured Project: Young Dragonslayers
*As a note, the intro for this was written by Steph from TTRPGkids, and the below description was written by the game’s creator
About Young Dragonslayers
Young Dragonslayers is an inclusive, online D&D club for tweens and teens. We use the structure and creativity of the game to help kids create meaningful connections with their peers. Our campaigns use homebrew content to help kids explore their interests and practice social-emotional skills in a safe, supervised environment.
Despite the growing popularity of Stranger Things and actual play podcasts, it can still be tough to find programming that caters to kids, especially if you’re outside of a big city. I often hear parents lament that their child has developed a passion for D&D, but can’t find anyone to play with.
Maybe their child worked hard to start a D&D club at school, only to have nobody consistently show up. Or, they’ve begged their friends and siblings to play with them, but now they’re stuck being the DM forever. I’ve even heard of multiple kids resorting to creating their own solo RPGs so that they have a way to play!
As creative as that is, it’s always nice to have a community of friends who “get it.” Because our games meet on Zoom, kids can find that community online as long as they’re in a compatible time zone (our games are convenient for players throughout the US and Canada.)
Who Our Games Are For
Our campaigns are designed for tweens and teens ages 11-16. We welcome players of all backgrounds, genders, and experience levels. Many of our players are “advanced beginners” who have pored over the Player’s Handbook but haven’t yet had many chances to play.
The structure and predictability of D&D make it a great way to socialize with peers: you’re all there to do something as a team, so nobody’s sitting around trying to figure out what to say next. Because roleplay allows you to step into the shoes of any character you choose, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to explore identity and parts of self.
We’ve noticed that many neurodivergent and queer-identified youth (and adults) gravitate to D&D, perhaps for these reasons. We strive to be a safe and inclusive environment for these players as well as for every kid who shows up at the table.
Since we’re working exclusively with tweens and teens, our storylines range from PG to PG-13 in tone. We check in with all our players to make sure they feel comfortable with the content our storylines cover–more on that in the next section.
How Our Games Work
When we assemble a new weekly group, we have a few goals in mind. We want to:
- Give kids a positive social experience by matching them with peers they’re likely to get along with
- Create a safe, supportive environment where everyone feels welcome
- Use the benefits of roleplaying that are already “baked into” TTRPGs like D&D to help kids practice social-emotional skills
- Provide a consistent, predictable source of creative fun that kids can look forward to
We use an online questionnaire, one-on-one interviews, and optional (but encouraged!) trial games to get to know prospective players and their families. This lets us make our best guess about which players are likely to get along with each other, based on their interests, experience level, and personalities.
The first session of a new campaign is always a “session zero” that puts an emphasis on safety and boundaries. All our DMs use some form of the “lines and veils” system to help kids identify what they’d like to see in their campaign, as well as triggering content they’d like to avoid.
Although our games aren’t therapeutic, all our DMs have backgrounds working with kids in either educational or mental health settings. This helps them keep an eye on overall group dynamics, so they can encourage kids to practice skills like sharing the spotlight, showing empathy, and solving problems collaboratively in gameplay. There’s always an adult present to supervise.
We’ve all been part of campaigns that fizzle out without a satisfying resolution. We don’t want our players to have that experience! To combat this, we schedule our games in 10 session installments. Players meet for 90 minutes once a week for that 10-week period to complete the story arc they’ve helped to build.
Interested in Playing with Us?
We’d love to have your child join us for our next season of weekly games! You can fill out an application form on our website to begin enrollment. We’ll reach out to you about next steps, so you can learn more about us and see if our groups could be a good fit for your child.
You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube to keep up to date on what we’re doing, and find some kid-friendly D&D content.
We hope to see you soon!
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