Kids Make the Purrfect GMs!
Save the Day is designed to support first-time GMs, no matter
what their age. That could be a parent running the game for their
kids, or even the kids running it for themselves! All three of
my kids have taken turns GMing, and so have two of their cousins.
Their ages ranged from 14 all the way down to 5 years. Here's how I
introduced them to GMing …
Know the (Really Simple) Rules
First, I GMed for
them until the kids were really used to the game rules. Since Magical
Kitties has such an elegantly simple system, that meant the hurdle to
GMing was much lower for them.
A faster way to make
the rules approachable is to remind your future GM about the cheat
sheet on the inside back cover of the Rulebook. And for
stronger readers, point them at the full gameplay rules on pages 24-32 of the
Rulebook … that's only 9 pages! Also remind them that the GM
doesn't actually roll any dice, the players do. And the GM gets to
hand out Kitty Treats! (That's always a big incentive for my kiddos.)
Think Up a Story
comfortable with the rules, the next step is to focus on story
building, which is where Magical Kitties really shines. My kids
started out by converting things they were reading or watching on TV at the time into
Magical Kitties adventures.
Emma ran an underwater adventure based on a Thea Stilton book she'd
just read, featuring mermaids and narwhals. She made a hand-drawn
world map and everything. After that, my 5yo Jack gave it a try,
teleporting us all to a dinosaur world we had to escape, because
dinos are his most favorite thing ever!
If your kiddo is
really having trouble thinking up a story idea, try using some of the
adventure ingredients scattered liberally throughout each hometown
book, or even the full adventure at the end if they're a strong
Use an Adventure
Once you've got a
story idea for your adventure, open up the Rulebook to pages 41-43.
Choose one of the adventure recipes there, and do the setup it
suggests. This is usually making a map or answering questions …
it's the basic planning so you know in advance what the kitties will
need to do when they get there.
If you happen to
have Our Hometown Workbook, you can instead go to the adventure
recipes pages there and fill out one of those worksheets. This is an
especially good option for kids who find reading challenging, since
it's the same material presented in a visual layout.
Stepping Back, But
Ready to Step In
Now you're ready to
play! As the adult at the table, you really want to try to stay out
of the spotlight and let your new GM actually GM on their own. But
you should still be there to offer support if needed. I've found that
it's easiest to play as a kitty with a Flaw that makes me totally
ineffectual, so there's no way I can take control of the game
“accidentally.” My favorite is Indecisive, but I'm also partial
to Distractible, Forgetful, Gullible, and Sleepy. These are all solid
“paws off” traits for kitties played by parents.
But at the same time
you're stepping back, you also need to be ready to step in if trouble
comes up. For example, in Jack's dino world the dinosaurs won every
encounter, and there was no way for us to escape. The kids were
rightly upset, but Jack wasn't ready to wrap up the game … the
dinos winning was fun for him! Finally I told Jack I was going to be
his “co-Game Master,” and whispered in his ear what he needed to
do to have a happy ending. It was a close one … when we got to our
end-of-session questions and asked “Did everyone have fun?” there
were a lot of dirty looks aimed at Jack. But we all survived his
first GMing attempt without any permanent trauma.
I myself didn't GM
until I was in my late twenties. I was seriously intimidated, and
avoided doing it for over a decade. Not my kids, though! Magical
Kitties has been an excellent way to introduce them to our amazing
hobby. Give it a try!