Teenagers in RPGs

So i’ve never played Masks or Monsterhearts.

To clarify, i’ve never played a teenager as a player or GM.

I’ve run hundreds of games through a variety of systems, playing monsters, people, gods, aliens, but never teenagers.

In high school I was abit of a dork, liked AD&D and reading fantasy novels, i was aware of the in-crowd and the druggie crowd (who considered drinking+dope until passing out=good weekend), but never related to either.

Sure i’ve seen teenage media like american pie, 10 things I hate about you, harry potter, i know what you did last summer, the faculty, buffy, twilight etc, but the whole teenage thing just doesn’t gel in my head?

thus i’m debating whether to consider masks/monsterhearts simply not for me, or perhaps I need to consider options/listen to advise etc on how to approach those games?


The way I see it, adolescence is a time of life when emotions run high, decision making is poor and everything feels like it matter so much. It leads to fantastic drama, which is why there is so much fantastic melodramatic media focused on teenagers. That makes them ripe for a certain kind of game, which explores those intense feelings, those “life or death” conflicts and that crazy melodrama. There’s also the potential for radical character growth, as the characters grow into themselves and become more adult. I enjoy that in my media, even though I don’t enjoy it my life. So Monsterhearts and Masks are very much my jam.


As a parent of teenagers, and also as someone significantly older than many of the folks in my specific play community, I never have, either, or at least not since I was a teenager. And I honestly just feel like Monsterhearts in particular is not for me, because it seems like it also focuses heavily on romance which is not an element I personally am looking for in my games. It’s important to me not to seem like “the old creepy guy,” and so awareness of my role in a community leads me away from those things.

I see no problem with identifying certain games or even genres or elements and saying they aren’t for you.


I love games about teenagers but I have a hard time playing MH because of how it mix and interlink cruelty with queerness. This push me too much toward negative emotions.

I prefer to play Masks as cruelty is less built in into the game.

But I am a gemini so I am kind of a natural teenager. :stuck_out_tongue: (I am not being serious with this sentence) :wink:


I like playing teenagers - everything is so much more important, things are still new, and the self-image is in a constant turmoil. That said: Teenagers are character who have so much potential to grow and change, and that’s something I really look for in my games.

I prefer Masks to Monsterhearts, but that’s probably mostly because I like the idea of the characters being basically friends. As a teenager, I didn’t have friends, so having that (if only second-handedly) makes me happy.


I’ve never really been excited about teen genres, but Monsterhearts and Velvet Glove - both teen genres I am not at all interested n as a consumer of media - have been, to my great surprise, some of my all time favourite gaming experiences. The way they highlight tense emotional interactions and create delicious drama is incredibly compelling, and different from just about any other RPG. Somehow it feels more real and closer to home.

I don’t think it has to be about teenagers to get that effect (I’ve played Monsterhearts scenarios with adults), but the difficulties and power struggles related to being a teen do really highlight that even more. I’d encourage everyone to give it a try, just in case you’re missing something. It’s an interesting experience.


You may not have fit into a teen stereotype from media but you were a teen. You dealt with stress from school and family obligations. You probably went through a period where you struggled to establish an identity separate from that which you had in elementary school. You probably thought you were more mature than you actually were.

You had real experiences and those make excellent fodder for an RPG character.

Alternately, with some time and distance, you may be able to roleplay as one of those popular kids or the druggie kids, approaching them with greater understanding and empathy than you had for them in school.

I played a 3 session mini-campaign of Tales From The Loop that was one of the best RPG experiences I’ve ever had. My character struggled to protect his “weird” younger sister, to deal with his parents’ apparent failing marriage, and along the way got his first kiss and accepted that the girl he idolized wasn’t perfect (and helped her deal with her pregnancy). None of that reflected my high school experience but it was a great story to tell.

Then again, I know a number of folks who have no desire to play as teens. They already lived that and don’t want to return to it. I think, for a lot of them, it has to do with control. The teen experience is defined by them asserting control over their identities while having very little control over their actual lives. As adults, we have a much greater degree of freedom. And many people enjoy RPGs because they grant and even greater level of power and control. Playing teens means voluntarily subjecting yourself to a world where you are powerless to control many parts of your life.


Playing teens in general doesn’t have a lot of appeal to me. (Even as a child I wasn’t particularly interested in stories about children, for some reason.)

Playing teens in games with sexual elements goes well beyond my general lack of interest. I’m in my mid-40s with teenage daughters. Playing as a horny teenager feels like it would lead me straight to “creepy old dude” territory, to echo what @technoskald has already said. This isn’t a judgment on people that make a different call—I’m just not personally comfortable engaging the material, and don’t believe it has anything to do with questions of control.