Review of Let’s Roll: A Guide to Setting up Tabletop Role-Playing Games in your School or Public Library

Let’s Roll is a guide for librarians to introduce youth tabletop RPG groups in their communities and schools!  This book is written by a librarian for librarians and explains everything from how to propose a program to what TTRPGs you should try with your group to how to run your first game.  Check it out for tips, case study examples, and more!

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Let's Roll at a glance
Format: A 179 page ebook
Audience: Librarians starting a TTRPG group
Themes: Running a TTRPG group in your library
Mood: informative, learning by example, how-to guide, and advice from person experiences

What is Let’s Roll

Let’s Roll by Lucas Maxwell is a guidebook that is intended for librarians (and really any community organizer) to use as a resource for starting their own youth-focused tabletop RPG group and fully utilizing it so players can reap the benefits of playing TTRPGs.

It’s a conversational read that includes a balance of technical discussion that’s explained in a way accessible for facilitators who have never played D&D, examples from games that the author has run, and testimony from other librarians who have set up their own groups.

This 179 page e-book is broken into five sections that cover the basics and how to propose a TTRPG group, case studies from other librarians, a step-by-step of how to get set up, starting GM advice and a walkthrough of the first few meetings, and a list of kid-friendly TTRPGs and resource to try.

Who would Let’s Roll be great for?

Let’s Roll is particularly great for librarians since that’s the frame that everything is posed around, and I think that is excellent.  I’ve read books and resources before that were specific to the nuance of using TTRPGs in a therapeutic setting or in a classroom, so having a resource FOR librarians is fitting.  

That said, the lessons that are found in Let’s Roll can also be applied to a variety of other situations, like after school clubs, classroom settings, summer camps, and home games.  The knowledge and experience shared here is a great resource for anyone, but especially for the nuance of a library group.

How Let’s Roll is made FOR librarians 

Let’s Roll is written by a librarian for librarians, taking the author’s XP from within the library scene to directly share with everyone else.  

It gets into building book displays that support your group, using TTRPGs to help youth who are convinced that they don’t like reading, breaking the mold on literary expectations, advertising your group within the library setting, and building up a selection of games that your institution should have available to players.

Many of these points are very unique to situations that librarians will need to face or consider when starting a group versus instances that you’d run into with a classroom or game store group.

How Let’s Roll sets you up for success 

Let’s Roll is all about making sure you have the tools, support, and confidence to run your group.  

Proposing the group… with support

It starts with covering why TTRPGs are beneficial to kids (including reading motivation, SEL, friendship growth, impact to neurodiverse individuals, and mental health) so you can create a case for proposing your group to those who may need convincing.  

In this section, there’s game stories, personal experience sharing, and an interview with Katie Lear (who I’ve also featured on the site) that gets into the importance of having scheduled activities for kids to look forward to and Role Theory for trying out different perspectives during the game.  This is followed by case studies that can both give you ideas for what kind of group to start and create further testimony on the benefits of using TTRPGs as a positive force for youth.

The tools for success

Let’s Roll also provides a list of tools needed to start your first game ranging from dice and a binder to digital tools and resources for starting online sessions, and every entry has an explanation of what they are, why they’re important, and where to source them.  

I appreciated the effort in making it accessible to people who aren’t terribly familiar with TTRPGs and in decreasing the barrier for finding these tools (whether you know TTRPGs or not). There’s also steps to take (with associated tool recommendations) for getting people to sign up for your group once you’re ready to go. 

The final section of the book also covers 20 kid-friendly TTRPGs with a short description about the applicability of the game for different age groups and the general gameplay so you have some solid options to both use for your sessions or stock your library with.  There’s no need to do a ton of extra research or feel obligated to go with the well-know D&D or Pathfinder – it gives and promotes other options for you to choose from.

First time GM walkthrough

For facilitators who have not previously run a game with youth before, Let’s Roll gives a walkthrough of how to manage session zero, game prep, and your first official meeting.  It includes the basics (like getting characters ready, expectation setting, and what rules to set for a youth group) to general tips on how to avoid common first time GM pitfalls (like balancing how much description you give or not getting TOO hung up on the rules, especially in a short club session).

I loved the story examples in this part too – the author uses a random empty horse cart from one of his games to simultaneously demonstrate how players can create a story from nothing and explain what to do with lost plot hooks.  In another example about players running with a story and creating some chaos, the GM mentioning “some birds” ended up, through a chain of events and several very high and very low dice rolls, with a ship catching on fire and crashing into the middle of a jungle… this was not part of the GM’s plan.

These examples are FANTASTIC for describing what GM’ing is like and give a solid heads up for new facilitators.  I am a big fan of learning through example, and this book excels in conveying information through the author’s experience.

My overall thoughts on Let’s Roll

Let’s Roll is a great learning and reference book for librarians (and other facilitators) who are looking to create a community TTRPG group for youth.  It was a pretty quick read (maybe 2.5-3 hours) that I believe is a solid resource for first time GM’s and group facilitators who aren’t quite sure where to start or need that extra bit of support to get their event cleared with their organization.  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to start their own group at their local library.

Find a copy of Let’s Roll

You can find a copy of Let’s Roll through Facet Publishing, ALA, Amazon, and other retailers!

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