Saturday, June 21, 2014

Playing D&D with Juvenile Delinquents

When I was still an early teen or pre-teen, my mom did a stint as a school counselor for a school for behavior-challenged teens. Juvenile Delinquents, basically.

I don't really know all the details, but I remember they had records of things like drugs, skipping school, emotional issues, whatever. The kids who couldn't hack the regular schools and acted out, or had issues regular schools couldn't hack.

I've been in contact with the kids a couple of times - at least once a field trip (I remember one kid burning wings off flies, and wanting to kill the fish I'd caught), and once at the school, and at their graduation, too. Probably a few more times, since I can still remember many of their names and faces distinctively.

Anyway, once I was at the school for a short time - maybe on my summer break, or a sick day? I had my usual reading material - D&D stuff. They were interested, and in short order I was DMing A2 Secret of the Slaver's Stockade for them. I gave them the pre-gens but I think they renamed them.

They didn't make it far. Part of that is because that dungeon is a deathtrap - here, assault a fortress! - and the other is because they had no interest in exploring. Or treasure. Or anything beyond combat.

The immediately set to killing each other. The details are vague - I remember being annoyed and disappointed - but it ended when one girl (maybe the one girl who played) found out that fireball had this big blast radius that would encompass the whole party. She threw it, it blew up, and they all died. Maybe even her guy, too.

I just remember looking at the map, describing the gatehouse, and they didn't even make it past that. The intra-party stealing and killing just started right up. I may have tossed the ankheg in - I remember the ankheg coming up.

They seemed to have fun, and I never did run game for them again. Probably for the better. But it's still such a distinct memory. Especially B~ throwing the fireball to kill them all.

I can look back on that and criticize them or me, but it doesn't matter. They enjoyed themselves, and I have a memory for life from that. It's not a good way to run a long campaign, though - starting out by killing each other off. Still, it wasn't the first time I played with people who played it "wrong" but got the fun they wanted out of it.


  1. I think I've run that same group of people. ha.

    Instead of running them through a dungeon I just had a arena and set them up as gladiators so they could stomp the snot out of each other. No RPing. Just combat is what they wanted. I set up a bracket so they could advance and eventually 'win'. That was the only way I could enjoy gaming with them.

  2. RPG as therapy. You hate the world, because you think the world either hates you, or doesn't care about you. So, you want to blow up the world, and every one in it. In the game, you get to do just that, if you want. You get to live vicariously through that paper creature, in a paper world, and you get to set it all on fire. And no one will punish you for it in the real world. This is why there is a lower rate of suicide, violent crime, etc., with RPG players (Despite the myth). You get to work out all that stuff "on paper", so you don't do it in the real world.

    It doesn't work for all, and you can't help that.

    And, it's worth noting that most of the MMORPGs have a LOT of PvP going on. Also, you could say, in retrospect, that D&D 4e was made for it. It means something about society, but I'm not prepared to take that on at the moment.

    1. I doubt that I explained the cooperative / compete with the environment not the other players nature of the game adequately. Maybe not at all. I'm not sure it would have mattered - having a chance to kill each other might have been too tempting in any case.

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  4. I think this is universal for gamers, my current group is well adjusted and religious and they prefer KILL! SLAY! as the main approach, my previous group was a mix and they liked KILL! SLAY!as a 1st approach too and the other groups ranged from grown up JD's to a couple of actual real life bad guys (don't ask how they go in my group) and it was pretty much KILL! SLAY! all the way down.

    Gamers often just want to blow off steam and hanging out, eating snacks and slaying and looting imaginary bad guys does the trick.

    1. That's exactly how we play our Sunday Dungeon Fantasy games. Just, this "group" tossed the whole notion of "one for all, and all for one" out the window for "all for the survivor." :)

  5. When I see that happening (usually, these days, and conventions), I reach for Paranoia, set the game style to Zap!, and just let the wheels come off.

  6. Yeah, I have a feeling that would be perfect

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