Kids on Bikes advice, shared characters and flaws

I will be running my first Kids on Bikes adventure for a group at our local shop. It’s a regular RPG event, where people signup ahead of time, so I will likely get a group of new players and strangers to each other.

I’ve run one-shots for the event before, so I know a lot about setting the tone, conversation starters, and simple things like having extra pencil/papers and name placards. But anyone have some advice for this game, specifically?

Aside from general advice, one thing that I’m unsure about is the shared character that everyone can run collectively. How has that worked for some? Also, with so much of the game created in a world-building session at the beginning, how much pre-gen should I prepare about this character, or the world generally? I’m trying to gauge my approach here.

Another thing is the flaws. I don’t see much to it, beyond helping define characters and serving as general roleplaying notes. Would it break the system if I introduced a compel/invoke economy similiar to Fate, where players can earn adversity tokens?

I’m super excited about trying the game. The flavor and approach is really something I gravitate to


This sounds awesome! Kids on Bikes is one of my favorite games!

Since you are running it as a one-shot and all that implies (limited time, people who may not know each other well, etc.), I would suggest coming with a setting/idea that is more prepped than the default game setup in the book where everyone create everything about the setting together. That’s completely fine in games like Kids on Bikes or Fate Core - after all, they do sell pre-built settings for these games, and none of this is truly baked in. You can still give the players an opportunity to add a few things to the setting too if you like. I would also suggest doing the minimum option in the book for building character inter-relationships as well because it’s a one-shot - to get into the action quicker.

For the shared powered character, I would suggest collecting the cards with the different aspects and powers of the shared character at least once during the game and redistributing them. I would also recommend that you as the GM should also take one of those cards to show them how sharing the character is done.

And have fun and enjoy the experience! Don’t be afraid to go with what the players come up with, even if it contradicts what you initially prepped. It’s a good game for that!


Thanks! Appreciate the thoughts!

And yeah, I figured I would come with a few things pre-loaded-- such as having some “pick one” lists similar to the PbtA playbooks but using them for elements of setting/world building. Adjectives are our friends, and leads naturally into questions. :slight_smile: “About the sounds often heard from the House on the Corner, choose from: eerie sounds, howling sounds, clanking sounds, shrill sounds” Cool. What does that sound like exactly? What do neighbors think it is? Other kids?" I just didn’t want to do too much prep and turn it into Monster of the Week, which I have also run for this game event, so maybe I’m caught up in a default to that.

And thanks again! Those suggestions for the shared powered character are spot-on.

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My Play Report-- After all is said and done, I’m not sure I’m really sold on the system. The game for a one-shot at a local gaming event may not have been the best test of the benefits and the limits of the system, but here goes …

The character creation and world-building was well-fostered by the playbooks, tropes, and guiding questions. Players were excited, and although the group included seemingly antagonistic characters (Bully, Mathlete, Loner Weirdo, among others) the group meshed well and complemented one another. Some of this seemed supported by the rules-- different tropes had different strengths, of course. But a lot of it was, admittedly, entirely up to the GM. In fact, players were often reluctant to act; many times because it was hard to grok how to us “prepared actions” where you didn’t have to roll anything. I tried both to hide the Difficulty Numbers and to announce them to the Players, but if I announced them, the players sometimes felt they were railroaded because it was clearly outside the die value for their stat, or the opposite end of the spectrum, it was so automatic that it didn’t feel like it was an action at all-- no tension or stakes to it. Before long, I simply stated DNs as either costing one, two, or three Adversity Tokens (depending on what I thought would be appropriate for their stat.) This actually made the game come alive, as all players felt some agency over the choice between a Prepared Action or the now-clearly-more-risky Snap Decision. The Powered Character was especially hard to get a handle on. The Players really didn’t know how to handle it at all, and some aspects to the character didn’t seem playable at all. What I thought would be an exciting and new element to the game was largely ignored and mere flavor.

I’m happy we had had a great game, and I’m pretty proud of what we accomplished. The group had a blast and found enough mystery and spooky wonder to feel completely transported to a very engaging story. Still, I wonder, however, if I could just as easily and effectively use any number of systems already in place for a similar story. The rules don’t enable or reinforce any of the elements that wouldn’t be already in, say, Monster of the Week or Bubblegumshoe or even FATE. There is a kernel of something special here, but the system feels either only half-baked or maybe just poorly presented. If I play again, I will definitely use some house rules, or maybe start with this then port over to something else.