[19:42] <+JGray> Hello, everyone! My name is J Gray. I’m the Professor of Puzzles for Playground Adventures, an RPG company which develops adventures and supplements aimed at kids and teens.
[19:43] <+JGray> (Link: http://www.playgroundadventures.net/)http://www.playgroundadventures.net/
[19:43] <+JGray> That’s the webpage. All our products are available on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow, many in print versions.
[19:44] <~Dan> Thanks, JGray! The floor is open to questions!
[19:45] <~Dan> What system(s) do you use?
[19:45] <+JGray> Currently, we develop for three systems. Pathfinder. D&D 5e. Hero Kids.
[19:46] <+JGray> I probably don’t need to explain Pathfinder or 5e. Hero Kids is a kid friendly RPG. Easy to learn, easy to play, easy to run. Very popular with people who run games for children.
[19:47] <~Dan> On the face of it, Pathfinder and D&D 5e would seem to be a bit complex for your target audience.
[19:48] <+JGray> You’d think so but, with a bit of guidance from the GM, they aren’t. Kids are quicker to get concepts than you would think. You can’t expect them to be able to build a level 10 Drow gunslinger/occultist using optional rules from Pathfinder Unchained but they get the basics.
[19:48] <+JGray> And they pick it up quickly. We write our material with that in mind.
[19:49] <~Dan> What are your target ages?
[19:50] <+JGray> The majority of our material runs 4 to 10. However, we do have some material for older kids. For example, our Creature Components book is designed for teens and up. That particular book is a system for harvesting monster parts and using them for enchantment and spellcasting in Pathfinder.
[19:52] <+JGray> And our kids stuff assumes they aren’t quite as fragile as people often think. For example, in the Pixies trilogy of adventures, the players are playing kids who have to deal with nightmares coming to life.
[19:53] <~Dan> (Howdy, LucusPalosaari!)
[19:53] <+JGray> Hey, Luke.
[19:53] <+LucusPalosaari> Hello all
[19:53] <+JGray> I’m chatting about Playground Adventures. We make RPG adventures and supplements for kids of all ages!
[19:53] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, JasonOwenBlack!)
[19:53] <+JGray> Though its quiet because I was late and everyone went home.
[19:54] <+JasonOwenBlack> When did the chat start?
[19:54] <+JGray> A few minutes ago. It was supposed to have started.. earlier.
[19:55] <~Dan> How many products do you have out?
[19:56] <+JGray> Gosh. Let me count.
[19:56] <+JGray> Close to 20.
[19:56] <+JGray> With most of the adventures having multiple versions for various systems.
[19:57] <~Dan> Really? Wow! That’s pretty impressive. How long have you guys been at this?
[19:57] <+JasonOwenBlack> And what systems are you publishing for?
[19:58] <+JGray> About a year and a half now. Our first adventure, a Friend in Need (about a young wizard who specializes in orgami magic who is kidnapped by a dragon) came out November 2015.
[19:58] <+JGray> We develop, currently, for Pathfinder, D&D 5e, and Hero Kids, which is one of the most popular kid oriented RPG systems out there, Jason.
[19:59] <+JGray> Hello, Guest! Welcome. My name is J Gray and I’m talking about Playground Adventures. We make RPG products aimed at kids and teens.
[20:01] <~Dan> Are most of your products adventures?
[20:02] <+JGray> Thus far, yes. That’s changing. I mentioned Creature Components, which is a book about harvesting monster bits and using them to empower spells and enchant items. We’re also working on a guide to using puzzles in RPGs.
[20:04] <~Dan> Do the adventures take place in a shared setting?
[20:04] <+JGray> Our focus in the first year was really on providing quality material for gamer parents who want to introduce their kids to the hobby but aren’t quite sure how to go about it. Do you scale it down? How much violence and death do you include? That sort of thing. We aimed to show by example rather than just tell.
[20:05] <+JGray> Some of them. The pixies trilogy, Pixies on Parade, Nightmares on Parade and a third adventure not yet out and our first major educational adventure, For the Hive, all take place in a fairy tale style village called Glavost.
[20:05] <+JGray> Glavost is protected by pixies from an evil Nightmare King. Only the adults can’t see the pixies so whenever they need help, they have to go to the kids for aid.
[20:06] <~Dan> Ah, so the PCs in these adventures are kids?
[20:06] <+JasonOwenBlack> That’s a nice touch
[20:06] <+JGray> In some of them its the default. In others, its not really said one way or the other but its easy enough to assume.
[20:07] <~Dan> Do you have new races to play?
[20:07] <+JGray> None of our products introduce new races. We did introduce a Royal class, for girls and boys who really want to play Princes or Princesses.
[20:08] <+JGray> Truth be told, PF and D&D have plenty of companies introducing new races and new classes.
[20:08] <+JGray> So, we don’t feel the need to jump in there.
[20:09] * ~Dan nods
[20:10] <+JGray> The nice thing is, games for kids are a lot of things. They’re entertainment. They’re developing social skills, critical thinking skills. creating thinking skills, mathematical skills, language skills…
[20:10] <~Dan> Well, darn. I was hoping rpgresearch would be able to make it.
[20:10] <+JGray> And, of course, if we don’t involve kids in gaming how will our hobby grow?
[20:10] <~Dan> (He uses RPGs to help physically, mentally, and financially challenged kids.)
[20:11] <+JGray> That’s awesome!
[20:11] <+JGray> That’s an eventual goal. To get enough resources to be able to help schools and libraries put together programs like that.
[20:11] <~Dan> Yeah, he even built a custom trailer as a mobile RPG base that’s wheelchair-accessible.
[20:11] <~Dan> I put him in touch with BJ.
[20:12] <+JGray> That’s neat! I know there’s a guy somewhere south of me who created an entire RPG world for his daughter’s Girl Scout unit.
[20:12] <~Dan> (Howdy, Alaren)
[20:13] <~Dan> Very cool.
[20:13] <~Dan> Can you say a bit about Hero Kids? What is the core mechanic of that one?
[20:13] <+JGray> Hello, Alaren! My name is J Gray. I’m here talking about Playground Adventures. We make gaming material aimed at kids and teens.
[20:16] <~Dan> (wb, LucusPalosaari)
[20:18] <+JGray> Most of our products are adventures. We’ve done mini-adventures, designed to play played in a single afternoon (such as after school). One’s a miniature adventure path called Adventures in Wonderland.
[20:18] <+JGray> Each adventure is based on a chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the series is designed to teach the basics of roleplaying games.
[20:19] <+JGray> For example, the first adventure has a Candyland like path through a forest. You move along the squares and beat certain challenges along the way, learning how to roll the dice and what the various rules are.
[20:20] <~Dan> That’s a neat idea.
[20:20] <+JGray> Thank you. I enjoyed writing it.
[20:21] <~Dan> Did you see my Hero Kids question?
[20:21] <+JGray> For longer adventures, there’s Pixies on Parade and Nightmares on Parade, which I like to call “horror for kids”.
[20:22] <+JGray> Ah, sorry. I didn’t. Hero Kids isn’t our system. We just develop for it. Hero Forge Games puts it out. The idea is pretty simple. Every character has a Melee/Strength stat, a Ranged/Dexterity stat, a Magic/Intelligence stat, and an Armor/Toughness stat.
[20:22] <+JGray> Each stat has a die value ranging from 0 to 3.
[20:23] <+JGray> Its a “count the successes” style system, so you roll your dice against the difficulty or against your opponents dice and want to get as many successes possible.
[20:23] <+JGray> In a video game like aspect, each character also has an attack, a special attack, and a special attack.
[20:25] <+JGray> There’s one ready to play character, for example, who is basically Rapunzel from Tangled. Her attack is a hair whip with a range of 2 squares. Her special attack is an entangle which removes dice from an enemy’s pool. And her special ability allows her to reposition anyone by using her hair to yank them around the field.
[20:26] <+JGray> Its very kid friendly,. Easy to learn with visually based character sheets. All the PCs are kids.
[20:26] <~Dan> That’s amusing. 🙂
[20:26] <~Dan> Seems like that’s pretty different from D&D/Pathfinder, though. How hard is it to make adventures work for both?
[20:27] <+JGray> It can be a challenge but not a bad one. For example, in one adventure I redesigned what would have been a trap in PF or D&D to essentially be a stationary, not alive monster in Hero Kids.
[20:30] <~Dan> Do you have any plans to use any other systems in the future?
[20:30] <+JGray> We would very much like to. There are other kid-friendly systems. For example, No Thank You, Evil. But at the moment they aren’t available to us.
[20:33] <+JGray> And I’ve always harbored ideas of taking Bubblegumshoe and going even younger, less Nancy Drew and more Boxcar Children.
[20:33] <~Dan> I’m not familiar with the latter.
[20:34] <+JGray> The Boxcar Children?
[20:34] * ~Dan nods
[20:35] <+JGray> Kids series about three orphans trying to avoid being institutionalized in early 20th century America. They eventually find an old railroad boxcar and move into it. Eventually they get taken in by their uncle and their series becomes less about surviving and more about solving mysteries.
[20:36] <+JGray> Agewise it skews a bit younger than Nancy Drew.
[20:36] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[20:36] <+JGray> Think a less weird Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. Actually, that would be awesome to do.
[20:36] <&Silverlion> That series came a lot later, afer the Bobbsy Twins.
[20:37] <+Yalborap> Oh man, I remember the Boxcar Children.
[20:37] <+JGray> There are a lot of kid “adventure” series. Bobbsy Twins. Tom Swift. For every one we remember there are ten or twenty we’ve forgotten.
[20:38] <+Yalborap> I read far too many of the 90s vintage ones, plus the 70s-80s ones still kicking around my school.
[20:39] <+JGray> For Playground Adventures, the biggest thing I personally wrote was “For the Hive.” .In a hive of magic bees are conquered by a gremlin using an army of paper wasps (made of real paper). A bee sprite (a faerie who takes care of the bees) asks the PCs for help.
[20:39] <+JGray> The PCs shrink down and infilitrate the hive.
[20:40] <+JGray> Along the way, the bee sprite (named Bzzzercup) tells them facts about the bees. So, its a bit Magic School Bus with swords and sorcery instead of Ms. Frizzle.
[20:40] <~Dan> Do you work education into other adventures?
[20:41] <+JGray> Yep. We’ve got a mini-adventure out about coal. There’s one which will be out soon that involves teaching kids how to speak phrases in Italian. Another about the water cycle, one about horses…
[20:42] <~Dan> Nice!
[20:43] <+JGray> For a lot of our adventures, there’s often an alternative to violence. In our first adventure for the Ponyfinder campaign setting, for example, it opens with the PCs hired to take care of a group of gnolls who have taken over a mine.
[20:43] <+JGray> They can just go in and fight the gnolls but they can also negotiate or try to trick them by scaring them into leaving.
[20:44] <+JGray> With kids, its important to try to think flexibly. Give them options without leaving it so open that they’re overwhelmed by the lack of direction.
[20:45] <+JGray> But kids are natural roleplayers. They do it everyday, playing with dolls or action figures or LEGO minifigures. When they play Candyland, their little gingerbread men walk and sing as they go.
[20:45] * ~Dan nods
[20:46] <+JGray> We’ve run things at cons and done well there. Kids love to get involved in the same thing the adults are doing. Especially if you don’t talk down to them.
[20:46] <&Silverlion> Indeed. Well said
[20:47] <~Dan> Very true.
[20:47] <+JGray> Hello, Jezibel. My name is J Gray. I’m talking about Playground Adventures. We make RPG adventures and supplements for kids and teens.
[20:47] <+xyphoid> (they totally do, the rpg con i’m going to shortly has a whole kid-focused stream with kids running games too)
[20:48] <+JGray> That is awesome, xyphoid.
[20:48] <+JGray> My son is twelve and trying to get his friends together for a game. Timing is an issue. Kids have horrible schedules.
[20:50] <+JGray> BJ Hershey, the owner of Playground Adventures, has five kids. They game regularly and for them, I believe, its very much a “kids rise to expectations”. If you go in assuming they can learn to play D&D they can.
[20:50] <+xyphoid> (Link: http://kapcon.rpg.net.nz/?q=node/585)http://kapcon.rpg.net.nz/?q=node/585 – oh look Hero Kids is on the list heh
[20:51] <+JGray> Hero Kids is pretty much the king of kid gaming.
[20:51] <~Dan> Do your products make GMing easier for kids?
[20:54] <+JGray> Our adventures are organized and easy to understand. When page count allows, we include information on setting and NPCs to make them easier to bring to life and RP. For the most part we don’t make optional rules systems mandatory.
[20:54] <+JGray> All that being said, so far we haven’t put out anything that makes navigating and understanding a complex rules system easier.
[20:55] <+JGray> So, I’d say, on average, our adventures are easier for a kid to run than the most kid-friendly Pathfinder adventure except maybe the one included in the Beginner Box. That sucker’s super simple.
[20:58] <~Dan> What products do you have planned going forward?
[20:59] <+JGray> There’s nine more mini-adventures in the Wonderland line left to put out. Our Creature Components book was well received so we’re doing a sequel as well as one focusing on gathering and using herbs in a game.
[20:59] <+JGray> We’re going to complete the Pixie trilogy with a third book involving fighting the Nightmare King. That’s by Stephen Rowe who is one of the best mechanics guys out there.
[21:00] <+JGray> Several educational mini-adventures, some of which I mentioned before.
[21:00] <+JGray> A few things I can’t talk about yet because yada yada yada.
[21:01] <~Dan> Heh. I understand.
[21:02] <+JGray> Its a lot of fun but also a lot of work. If only because our books are so very, very pretty.
[21:03] <+JGray> Seriously, I encourage people to go check out the previews on DriveThruRPG. The layouts are gorgeous.
[21:03] <~Dan> BJ mentioned something about using your products to help children with autism, IIRC?
[21:04] <+JGray> I am not a qualified professional who can speak to the subject. Disclaimer said.
[21:05] <+JGray> However, my personal feeling is that kids with autism can do well with gaming. Its a structured social interaction with well defined rules but also with ways to stretch beyond those rules.
[21:06] <+JGray> Honestly, if I were to guess, I’d say a significant percentage of existing gamers are on the spectrum but undiagnosed because they’re high functional and low level.
[21:06] <+JGray> Any rules lawyer I’ve ever met was either an actual, real lawyer with the sort of training needed for the task or probably a bit autistic.
[21:07] <+JGray> The last bit was sort of humor.
[21:08] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:08] <~Dan> I’m running a bit dry on questions. Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[21:09] <+JGray> I think that’s mostly it. I’d love to come back when we have a specific product to push. And be on time.
[21:09] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:09] <+JGray> Mostly, I encourage people to get out their and game with kids… be it with our products or another company’s or their own homebrew.
[21:10] <+JGray> Local libraries are often willing to work with volunteers to set up programs. Cons almost always have room for GMs willing to run for kids.
[21:10] <+JGray> Its a rewarding experience.
[21:11] <~Dan> Well said.
[21:11] <~Dan> As a reminder to folks, my tip jar is here, if you’re so inclined: (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/
[21:11] <+JGray> Thank you. And thank you for having me.
[21:11] <+JGray> Again, so sorry I was late.
[21:11] <~Dan> If you’ll give me a moment, I’ll get the log posted and link you.
[21:11] <+JGray> Awesome.
[21:11] <~Dan> You’re very welcome! No problem about the lateness. It’s all good.