As some of you know, my son, Gabriel, is on the autism spectrum. He has a few challenges. Reading comprehension is one challenge. He’s visually oriented to an extreme. He does very well with things he can see and touch but not as well when he has to visualize things in his head. Social cues and situations are another challenging area. He doesn’t do well trying to focus on a specific conversational thread. He jumps from subject to subject without much in the way of obvious rhyme or reason. Taking turns and understanding when it is appropriate to talk and when it is appropriate to listen is another weak area.
Gabriel loves movies and TV shows. Specifically he likes action, fantasy and science fiction. Anything with swords or guns or magic or dinosaurs or giant fighty robots or huge monsters that rampage about a city really floats his boat. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a current favorite. He’s also shown a distinct interest in games. You can read here and here about some of our experiences with games.
Given Gabriel’s challenges and his apparent interests, I decided to attempt introducing him to my favorite hobby, role-playing games. My thinking was two-fold. First, role-playing games require a bit of reading and understanding of the rules and systems in the game. While Gabriel struggles with these things I figured if he was sufficiently motivated by his desire to play it might help him push through a bit. Second, role-playing is both very social and very abstract. All the action takes place by talking around the table and occurs almost completely in your imagination. I hoped being in a structured environment where listening and talking were both needed skills would push him to increase his ability to function properly in a social setting.
So, the obvious question was what game to play. Complexity was a real issue. Too much complexity was going to derail things immediately. Then comes the issue of visual cues. Gabriel is very visual and if everything takes place in the players’s heads then he wasn’t going to be able to participate very well. Not only that, if the visual cues were too abstract, that wasn’t going to help. He needed to see the environment and the characters on the table.
Given this, I liked D&D or Pathfinder but they really were too complex in terms of systems. Too many options. Too many builds. Too many rules that interacted in peculiar ways. That led me to the Old School Renaissance group of games. I really liked them. I particularly liked Basic Fantasy. The problem with the OSR games that I looked at was that the characters were way too delicate at low levels. Running away to rest all the time was really going to frustrate my son. Hell, I don’t even like the 15 minute adventuring day and I’m a fairly patient adult. I was running out of options.
So, after considering everything carefully, I did what any gamer nerd worth his salt does in these instances. I decided to build my own game. I know that seems a bit crazy but nobody ever said I was in my right mind. Anyway, you can snag a copy of the current playtest rules here. I haven’t come up with a good name for the game yet. Fantasy RPG is pretty much just a placeholder. We’ve already played a few sessions but I’ll talk about that in another post.
Thanks for dropping by.
*** Update. I realized I had completely forgotten to put the Advancement rules and finish editing the Halflings and Humans. I have done this and updated the PDF link. Please, remember this is very much an Alpha type release. It is not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination.