Magic Missile!

I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a casual pencil-and-paper RPG fan. I think the emphasis there should be on the word casual, which admittedly describes my relationship with most things geeky: I enjoy them, sure, but I’m not a big fan of dressing up in costume and running around crazy at a convention. While I like (and even love with a passion) many geek things, I have always been…well, not a closet geek, exactly, but not someone who feels he has to shout about it.

I’ve only played actual Dungeons & Dragons twice in my life: once in high school, and once in college. It didn’t particularly grab me either time, but that could’ve been because of the game masters I had (they weren’t all that inventive). But in graduate school, a very good friend of mine (still one of the smartest, geekiest people I know) created his own game system and ran an inventive, clever, ribald game with a few friends that was absolutely fantastic. The gameplay was simple, the emphasis was on characterization and character interaction, and I got to be the son of the avatar of humanity and shove a flaming phallic symbol down a rampaging tiger monster’s throat. It was, y’know, awesome.

Over the past few years, I’ve been running a series of games using an old Star Wars RPG manual from the early ’80s. It’s a simple D6 system, but it allows you to do a whole heckuva lot of fun stuff with it. The students I’ve run the games with have all loved it (possibly because of the Star Wars connection), and it’s a perennial favorite with our Friday afternoon clubs each year.

But a few years ago, I had an idea: why not create a very new-user friendly, streamlined game system that anyone could play (and, possibly more importantly, anyone could run). To add an extra wrinkle, I wanted to create a game that could be used to teach pro-social skills to students with learning disabilities and Autism Spectrum disorders (the sort of students I work with every day in my capacity as a special education teacher). I started putting together a system, with character classes, a world, class-specific skills, and gameplay instructions. I also started working up several simple scenarios for players to do, trying to focus on the pro-social skills I mentioned earlier.

It’s been a slog at times, trying to come up with all the stuff for this. I’ve been playtesting the game with my students this summer, trying to figure out how to make the game accessible to first-time players but versatile enough that the whole game isn’t always “main characters beat up/kill bad guys.” I’ve included character classes like Diplomats and Merchants, neither of which can really fight, but that can do all sorts of great support actions to help out their teammates.

I’m hoping to eventually get it polished enough to try to sell to an educational game company. Anyone who has any experience of creating games like these or any words of advice, they’d be very welcome at this point.

3 thoughts on “Magic Missile!

  1. Michelle was filling me in on this a couple of weeks ago… or maybe you were, who knows?! At any rate, though I’ve played a few role-playing games, I’m not much of a dungeon master (of course, my students may say otherwise ;), but I’d be happy to consult on any of the speechy stuff. I may also have a lead for you a a good gamemaster. I’ll send him a link to your blog.

  2. I’m a friend of Michele’s, and I’ve played and run RPGs for more years than I care to think about at the moment for adults down through 10 year olds. If you need any help with this, let me know…I’d be happy to lend a hand.

    1. Thanks! I probably do need another set of eyes looking over everything and seeing if it all makes sense, and probably some folks to help me playtest the thing some more. I’m actually in the middle of a pretty major overall of some of the game mechanics after discussing it with a couple of my players yesterday, but I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s ready.

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