Need Help With Library Game

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My wife is a teen librarian at the local library. She asked me to run a 4e game this summer. She had to turn in her programs for the summer recently. She sent me the dates today, I need to start running the game on June 10th. That is going to mean some serious rules cramming. Looks like I will be taking a couple of day off of work, not that I mind. ;) I have never run a library game before. I have been DMing for 20+ years, so I'm not inexperienced. Any advice on running a library game would be helpful.

Space
I'm a Librarian as well, it is great news that you are running a game. This is the sort of outreach DMs need to do to pass the game on to the next generation.

I can't give you any specific library advice, just the general things to keep in mind for any open game with strangers:

Be prepared for a wide variety of player background and experience.

Be prepared for the attendance to fluctuate from session to session.

Collect any papers and character sheets yourself, don't expect the teens to keep track of them and bring them back next session. (or at least make copies)

Have some pre-made characters ready for someone that shows up unexpectedly.

Shorter sessions (2 hours?) might work better than a typical 4-6 hour game session.

I don't know how "by the book" your DMing style is, but be prepared to accomodate unusual actions by the PCs.

Don't spend a lot of time explaining rules, give the very basics, and then deal with specifics as they arise in the game.

If some players have experience with D&D, ask them to help out the newbies.


And finally, I'm sure your wife already knows that the ultimate key to success for any teen library program: provide Pizza!
I'm a Librarian as well, it is great news that you are running a game. This is the sort of outreach DMs need to do to pass the game on to the next generation.

I can't give you any specific library advice, just the general things to keep in mind for any open game with strangers:

Be prepared for a wide variety of player background and experience.

Be prepared for the attendance to fluctuate from session to session.

Collect any papers and character sheets yourself, don't expect the teens to keep track of them and bring them back next session. (or at least make copies)

Have some pre-made characters ready for someone that shows up unexpectedly.

Shorter sessions (2 hours?) might work better than a typical 4-6 hour game session.

I don't know how "by the book" your DMing style is, but be prepared to accomodate unusual actions by the PCs.

Don't spend a lot of time explaining rules, give the very basics, and then deal with specifics as they arise in the game.

If some players have experience with D&D, ask them to help out the newbies.


And finally, I'm sure your wife already knows that the ultimate key to success for any teen library program: provide Pizza!

Lots of good advice here Mathew, thanks. This is my effort to spread the hobby that I love.

I couldn't decide if I should make pregen characters and have them use those or make their own. Pregen would save time, but there wouldn't be as much of an investment.

I'm not a very by the book kind of guy, besides I will of had my hands on the 4e rules for a total of three days at that point.

Her program is only scheduled for two hours, so in theory that's as long as I have.

There will be sign up ahead of time, but I'm worried that a group larger than I can run by myself will show up day of, so I've scheduled a back-up DM.

Pizza is always good.
Unless I'm Mistaken (which is likely) Keep on the Shadowfell is released May 20th with quickstart rules. You may want to invest in that so you have more time to get familiar with 4th ed.
My wife's library is picking up a couple of copies of Keep on the Shadowfell. I don't know how good the adventure will be for a game at a library, we will see. I have never done this before.

Thanks for your advice Onion.

Space
I would definately do a single local based game where the adventures live in one city and respond to its need.

New threats should come up all the time, and their should be many expansive ruins in the area so you always have an exuse for a new dungeon. "[Insert name here] discovered a secret passage in the [insert dungeon name here], and an [insert ancient horror here] crawled up," can start a lot of adventures.
I would definately do a single local based game where the adventures live in one city and respond to its need.

New threats should come up all the time, and their should be many expansive ruins in the area so you always have an exuse for a new dungeon. "[Insert name here] discovered a secret passage in the [insert dungeon name here], and an [insert ancient horror here] crawled up," can start a lot of adventures.

Awesome ideas, thanks. I wonder if Keep on the Shadowfell will fit these ideas?
As a teenager, I can tell you that you might have some trouble with attendance. See, while I am more than willing to play D&D, there is the matter of reputation, and the whole nerd stigma, and how a lot of teenagers seem intent on making other people's lives hell. Plus I hate playing when onlookers are around.

Also lose the 4-6 hour session. Its ridiculous. I usually GM for 1.5-2.5 hours, so 2 hours. Do keep the pizza, it will give the teens an excuse to play, as well as giving them the ability to say that they were only doing it for the pizza. Also less stupid dungeons. There are places that aren't corridors. Like outside, where you could still have rooms and such, because of trees being thick in some places. A little more creativity for adventure hooks is also a good idea. Power tends to be a good motivator, as does cash. Then there is just necessity(ie, lets get out of here now), which is a good place to start. Once you do that, you can develop NPCs, which serve as plot hooks later.

1 city sort of works, just have a patch of overgrown farmland or whatever. Also read Things Fall Apart and use it for house models and stuff, because its pretty interesting. It also has some culture. Lots of research, and subcultures are always nice to have.
I've been pondering running a D&D Library thing-y as well. While browsing, I found Afternoon Adventure with D&D. Apparently, in 2005, Wizards released a kit to libraries that planned on running D&D as an afternoon program. It was so popular they ran out of kits. The link provides downloads of all their info. It includes fliers, pamphlets for parents, and info for librarians/DM's. I hope this helps.
Although coming back to the length. You might be able to go for 4-6 hours. While I do go for an hour and a half to two and a half hours, thats more because either parents show up, and cut things short(being only 15, and older than almost all my players does cause this), or I start to run low on ideas, and probably can't wing anymore without a nice break to think. The players usually gripe about how short the session was. So if you can go for 4-6 hours without your ideas deteriorating try it. Probably better 4 hours than six though.
You can split the differance with charater creation.

If I were you, I'd make a card for each race describing the racial powers. Print up two sets of thouse.

Then make up cards that contain a class, abilitiy scores (based on arrays), powers, skills, and a feat. I'd do three for each role. You can give them names like Fire Wizard, Enchanter, Theif, Ninja-rogue, ect. Print exactly one set of these.

So on the first session each kid can pick one of the twelve race cards, and one of the twelve class+ cards. If they don't have much experiance with RPGs that will seem like a lot of choice.

If any of them come back enough to go through a couple levels they will be able to make it almost completly custom.
Wait a sec...you're playing in a library...they let you play in the library...and let you eat pizza in the library...brain hurts...everything I used to know about the library...gone... (23 . in this post).
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D&D is what they do every so often in my library too! From what my younger brothers tell me, be prepared for some comic relief from the players (regardless of the module). Clerics who fight with frying pans, characters trying to eat the dark mantles, and spiked armor as an excuse to hug your enemies, that sort of thing. Of course it would depend on the group. Humor may be the easiest coming when playing a game of make-believe and one quick road to a fun game, just expect the unexpected and be able to accommodate both serious and silly players in the same story.
Clerics who fight with frying pans

I have seen people fight with frying pans. It was an improvised thrown weapon though. You reach into a saddlebag, you might not get a weapon. Although a tent spike probably would have worked better. The frying pan worked, and was kept for a while.
The title of the thread gave me a sweet idea for a campaign...the players are seeking after a library/museum in which is kept a secret that they need. Of course, the city it was located in is destroyed, so they have to fight through the current inhabitants in order to find it. When they do, there's just a big tome on a pedestal in the middle of a 20' square room. When they open it up, light spills out of it, and they fall into the middle of a deserted library full of books...and the librarian won't let them out until they help him out a bit:

"Reshelve the books on the goblin wars. Be careful, they've come to life."
"There's a golem made entirely of books rampaging through the divinity section. Get rid of it, but if you hurt the books, I'll have your hide."
"The last patron we had in the necromancy aisle just got animated. How good are you with vampires?"

Plus, you can add in the idea of world books from Myst as gates to different planes...now I have to write some stuff up.

On the topic of games which are played in a library, I should try that over the summer.
As a teenager, I can tell you that you might have some trouble with attendance. See, while I am more than willing to play D&D, there is the matter of reputation, and the whole nerd stigma, and how a lot of teenagers seem intent on making other people's lives hell. Plus I hate playing when onlookers are around.

Also lose the 4-6 hour session. Its ridiculous. I usually GM for 1.5-2.5 hours, so 2 hours. Do keep the pizza, it will give the teens an excuse to play, as well as giving them the ability to say that they were only doing it for the pizza. Also less stupid dungeons. There are places that aren't corridors. Like outside, where you could still have rooms and such, because of trees being thick in some places. A little more creativity for adventure hooks is also a good idea. Power tends to be a good motivator, as does cash. Then there is just necessity(ie, lets get out of here now), which is a good place to start. Once you do that, you can develop NPCs, which serve as plot hooks later.

1 city sort of works, just have a patch of overgrown farmland or whatever. Also read Things Fall Apart and use it for house models and stuff, because its pretty interesting. It also has some culture. Lots of research, and subcultures are always nice to have.

I have an alloted time of two hours per session. This doesn't mean that we can't go over. I don't think I've ever gamed less than three hours before. We have a private room for the game, so it won't be out in the open, where anybody not playing can see.

Some great ideas Beholder, thanks.

Space
I've been pondering running a D&D Library thing-y as well. While browsing, I found Afternoon Adventure with D&D. Apparently, in 2005, Wizards released a kit to libraries that planned on running D&D as an afternoon program. It was so popular they ran out of kits. The link provides downloads of all their info. It includes fliers, pamphlets for parents, and info for librarians/DM's. I hope this helps.

Thanks for the link, it helped a lot, I will have my wife read the info also.

Keith
You can split the differance with charater creation.

If I were you, I'd make a card for each race describing the racial powers. Print up two sets of thouse.

Then make up cards that contain a class, abilitiy scores (based on arrays), powers, skills, and a feat. I'd do three for each role. You can give them names like Fire Wizard, Enchanter, Theif, Ninja-rogue, ect. Print exactly one set of these.

So on the first session each kid can pick one of the twelve race cards, and one of the twelve class+ cards. If they don't have much experiance with RPGs that will seem like a lot of choice.

If any of them come back enough to go through a couple levels they will be able to make it almost completly custom.

Awesome ideas. I have three days between release and the first day of the program. I'm going to be busy. Thanks

Space
Wait a sec...you're playing in a library...they let you play in the library...and let you eat pizza in the library...brain hurts...everything I used to know about the library...gone... (23 . in this post).

These days they actually try to appeal to teens and get them into the library. Teens are future voters. If you want a job in the future, get the people into the library.

Space
D&D is what they do every so often in my library too! From what my younger brothers tell me, be prepared for some comic relief from the players (regardless of the module). Clerics who fight with frying pans, characters trying to eat the dark mantles, and spiked armor as an excuse to hug your enemies, that sort of thing. Of course it would depend on the group. Humor may be the easiest coming when playing a game of make-believe and one quick road to a fun game, just expect the unexpected and be able to accommodate both serious and silly players in the same story.

I have several jokers in my home game, they make the game very interesting. I will have a second DM running also. He is one of the jokers from my home game. I plan on putting the jokers with him and running the more serious game myself.

Thanks,
Space
The title of the thread gave me a sweet idea for a campaign...the players are seeking after a library/museum in which is kept a secret that they need. Of course, the city it was located in is destroyed, so they have to fight through the current inhabitants in order to find it. When they do, there's just a big tome on a pedestal in the middle of a 20' square room. When they open it up, light spills out of it, and they fall into the middle of a deserted library full of books...and the librarian won't let them out until they help him out a bit:

"Reshelve the books on the goblin wars. Be careful, they've come to life."
"There's a golem made entirely of books rampaging through the divinity section. Get rid of it, but if you hurt the books, I'll have your hide."
"The last patron we had in the necromancy aisle just got animated. How good are you with vampires?"

Plus, you can add in the idea of world books from Myst as gates to different planes...now I have to write some stuff up.

On the topic of games which are played in a library, I should try that over the summer.

Sounds like you have an outstanding imagination. Rock On

Spread the game and teach others at your local library.

Space