Numenera and a kid with mild asperger's syndrome

My wife and I are gamers. We met online in a World of Darkness game. So, there’s no surprise that board games and RPGs have become a staple of interest for us. Over the years, I’ve been kind of mopey about the fact that I can’t get my step kids interested in RPGs. When my wife and I declared to the family that we were going to GenCON 2013, she surprised me with «And, you kids are signing up for a Pathfinder intro games. Todd and I will be there with you.»

So, I got to sit and observe my two kids while an official pathfinder volunteer gm (a saint) took them through Pathfinder introduction modules. My youngest, I observed, was seriously getting into it. As long as he has the opportunity to create badass characters, he’s in.

My oldest, watched, waited, and grumped. By the time combat came around, suddenly he was getting into it. So, basically, I realized that he didn’t like the roleplaying aspect of the games, but he enjoyed the strategy / combats.

Fast forward to the present, I attempted to run a Pathfinder module for them at home for them and two of their friends. Again, same observation. My problem is, Pathfinder was a little too heavy for me to GM in a chaotic world of teens, any time you’ve spent looking up the rules means they’re getting bored, and you’ve lost the momentum.

I had been getting heavily into Numenera and The Strange systems lately with my wife and friends. I considered running a Numenera session for the kids, but I spent some more time chewing it over and I wasn’t sure it would be wise to pull the rug out from underneath the kids when they’re already learning Pathfinder.

A few weeks after watching Guardians of the Galaxy with the kids, I got curious. My son was surprisingly attached to the concept of Groot. Yes, he loved Rocket, but the whole «I Am GROOT» just cracked him up.

So, I fielded a question to him, «What if you created a character that was similar to Groot? During RP sessions, you know, the stuff you hate, you could always be just like, ‘I Am Groot’ or another catchphrase and your buddy has to either figure out what you said or interpret what you said to everyone else?»

Suddenly wheels started turning. I could tell he was seriously considering it. A week later, my wife poked me and asked when I was running a Numenera session for the kids because apparently the eldest was asking her to ask me.

So, I started prepping the kids and telling them to invite 2 other of their buddies along. A month ago, I ran a 3 hour character generation session for the kids. I had them watch the Numenera introduction video on Youtube that the MonteCookGames generously put up for us. I gave them a basic introduction to the world and then dove them into character generation.

2 weeks after that, I ran my first session with them. My eldest son’s concept morphed radically from what we initially stated. He’s a dwarf sized plant-like character that wears a bear suit(?!). Seems like a lot to swallow, but I figured the plant background is actually a mutation, along with dwarfism. The bear suit, is actually armor, but he’s unable to get it off. I just rolled with it instead of arguing about it. :) The rest of his concept, from a Numenera perspective, is a mystical glaive who controls gravity.

He was a bit upset with me because I gave everyone else random oddities and he was stuck with his default pen-like object that reads the weight of something when pointed at something and wanted something random too. I ended up rolling a small saddle for a cat or squirrel for him and… that was it. Game over. He was in love with the system.

Throughout the adventure, while everyone else was RPing with characters in the city, his character was busy chasing cats and squirrels because he has a tiny saddle and gosh darn it, he was going to get an animal for it.

He eventually caught a cat and the cat was none too happy with having a saddle on it, so he tied a rope it to make sure that it didn’t get away. Later on, he rolled a 1 on a use cypher roll for nullifying gravity spray and… well, now we have a saddle that floats 8 feet in the air and the poor cat is yowling.

He pulls it along like a balloon now. o_O

So Numenera is a huge hit among my teens and their friends. Using the creature levels to determine difficulty and move combat along is genius. The pacing is much better now that the dice are out of my hands and into the players.

I did bump into an issue where basically 4 teens were giving themselves XP, but my wife (a 5th player) ended up with none. In hindsight, I probably should have thrown in an intrusion in for her somewhere.