How did you get your family playing RPGs/story-telling games?

Hi all, I am wanting to introduce my family (age range 9-45) to collaborative story-telling. I’ve trawled these and other forums for game recommendations and have compiled quite a list ranging from Honey Heist to Maze Rats to The Quiet Year.

I am not sure yet what they will like. No one is really into sci-fi or fantasy, but it’s the character development and storytelling experience I am after.

Can anyone share their experience, what worked, what didn’t, tips, and things to avoid?

Thanks!

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Advice are cheap and not suited to every case, but here you go : if you can, first gather the more enthusiast and ask them what they want to play. Then try a super short session (15’) to see what they really meant by that. Then, let their enthusiasm rally the other ones. I have found it works better than trying to play a middle ground game that satisfies nobody. Most of the older won’t care about the game, only about the event, and the younger won’t care about the rules, only about the fluff.
Also, as a facilitator, put your own fun on the side and follow some other advice.

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Great answer here from DeReel.

I think the biggest challenge with doing this with a family is that you are going to have a very different level of interest and involvement from each person (as opposed to a gaming group, which has gathered with the explicit intent to engage in this particular activity).

Some people get really excited about roleplaying, or really invested in the characters or the adventure, and other people just don’t want to engage. So, you’ll have to be prepared for that, whether it just means to be emotionally prepared, or to have a backup plan for those who are less interested.

What kind of people constitute your family? Is this you and your spouse and children, or something more unusual? Any teenagers? Anyone with RPG experience? Are they competitive, shy, entertainers?

You could bring in someone with RPG experience to run a game for you, as well. That might change the dynamic.

As for game and genre, try to figure out what your family is into - favourite novels, films, TV shows, art projects? It would be good to start with something everyone can get excited about.

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I’ve had success with Dixit and themed versions of Fluxx. That’s still solidly in the boardgames/cardgame nook though. I kinda want to try and see if I can get them into Fall of Magic or Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. But now with Covid, family gatherings are still a while off.

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I have played with family some and here are some tricks :

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Great ideas.

My family was really into “Men in Black” for a while (watched the movie many times when my little sister was growing up), so I actually ended up writing a game for them:

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I would just play Follow with them; It’s not “Themed” – you pick a “Quest” as part of play, which is something like “performing a heist” or “curing a disease” or whatever, so setting/fantasy/whatever is not an issue.

That said, there still need to be people who care about “playing make believe” and there needs to be some sort of middle ground in terms of genre – if one person wants the ‘heist’ to be Ocean’s 11, one wants it to be Harry Potter, one wants it to be National Treasure, and one wants Goodfellas, it’s still not going to be a lot of fun?

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Other suggestions of “warmup” roleplaying games could be Once Upon a Time or Gloom.

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Thanks for all the advice and game recommendations!

Not sure if I’m going to get more replies but just in case:

This is for

myself: run a regular D&D 5e campaign, have run several one-shots in OSR and indie systems like Lady Blackbird and Honey Heist.

my partner: likes comedies and casual horror

adult child: likes comedies mostly, but (seemingly?) listens with interest when I talk about my D&D campaign storyline

child: likes fighting video games but probably wouldn’t be into RPG violence

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Absolutely. I’ve gotten Once Upon a Time but haven’t gotten to play it with the family yet. (I got an English version and while they can speak and understand English —like most people here— they are not good enough at it for comfortably playing a game. Having to think in another language tires out more quickly)

RISUS has had success for me when playing with kids. It’s simple enough. It also leads to the silly quite quickly.

Or if they enjoy the pop-culture of RPG’s maybe play Munchkin?

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I would honestly go with something like Dungeons and Bananas (Swedish, French). Humoristic, creative, about two hours of play time, short but with some few system mastery elements. Doesn’t need more knowledge than knowing anything about fantasy.

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