Escapist > Projects > Young Person's Adventure LeagueGetting an Early Start

An Escapist project of introducing young people
to the exciting world of adventure games

Site Guide

Factually Answered Queries - questions and answers

The Adventurer's Atlas - a list of suggested games for young people

The Dromedary's Dispatch - News and updates on the YPAL and adventure games

The Navigator's Notebook - play reports and reviews of adventure games

The Tinkerer's Toolbox - tips, tricks, and helpful hints



A long-burning debate rages over the earliest age that a young person can begin participating in roleplaying games. Some set the age as high as 10 or 11 years of age, while others (your humble author included) feel that in most cases, they can begin playing RPGs much earlier.

Young people are, after all, experts at playing make-believe. It is how they discover who they are, and learn about the world around them. Most would likely teach their parents and other adults a thing or two about proper role-playing.

Many seasoned adventurers have contacted the League, requesting information on the best way to prepare their young people for a career in adventure. What follows is a list of tips that will hopefully help.

Remember: All young people are different, and respond to activities in different ways, regardless of their age or maturity level.

Try some basic storytelling with them. Make up a story on the fly, or begin telling a classic fairy tale, then let them decide the actions of the protagonist. Give them choices, and allow them to see the results of their choices. Maybe Little Red Riding Hood decides to offer the wolf something out of her basket that will prevent the wolf from harming her and her grandmother - a nice thick steak would probably taste a lot better, or a jar of peanut butter or honey would certainly keep his jaws busy for a while.

Raid the toybox. Break out the action figures, dinosaurs, dolls, interlocking building blocks, and more, then add some simple gaming elements to the play session. "On your turn, the army men can only move as far as your hand, but the dinos can move from your elbow to your fingertips."

Let them tell you about their characters. Encourage them to give some character to their toys. What is G.I. Jim's favorite thing to do in his spare time? Where does your dinosaur go on her vacation? Where do you get spare parts for your MechaCyberRobo 7000 when it breaks down, and who does the repairs?

Draw, partner!. Break out the crayons, markers, colored pencils, paints, brushes, watercolors, construction paper, pipe cleaners, and uncooked pasta. Draw characters and talk about their personalities. Draw castles and mansions and shanties and hideouts, and talk about who lives there. Draw sailing ships and airships and spaceships, and then draw maps to undiscovered lands and go discover them.

Ease into it. When you feel they're ready for it, introduce elements of your favorite games into play. "Your dinosaur wins the fight if he can roll higher than a 5 on that die."

Remember the obvious. Don't lose sight of the point - this is about having fun. If it starts to become boring or tedious, or gets off to a bad start to begin with, scrap everything and try again another time.

...back to the Tinkerer's Toolbox


Young Person's Adventure League - Main - FAQ - Atlas - News - Notebook - Toolbox