Savage Worlds with Special Needs kids

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Savage Worlds with Special Needs kids

#1 Postby OJ » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:17 pm

I'm attempting to run a game with some kids in my Special Needs class. The guys I'm playing with are fairly high-functioning guys in a vocational training program. Most of them know their way around an X-Box, and have been exposed to the Fantasy genre, so the groundwork seems to have been laid.

I figure I'll do the heavy lifting with my GM skills, and keep the party small. I've got pregen characters, and Savage Worlds is all about props and visual aides.

The game is somewhere between Lord of the Rings, and The Walking Dead. Hope I can pull it off...

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#2 Postby jpk » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:31 pm

I'd be very curious to hear how it turns out and what, if any, particular accommodations you had to make. Keep us posted.

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#3 Postby SeeleyOne » Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:24 pm

It depends on what specific needs you need to address. I would suggest that the more you go with the physical objects the better. I like to use those Lyco game pieces for Savage Worlds, in addition to poker chips and generic game pieces. They help to make tracking things easy. If it has something to track, use a piece for it.

Attention deficit can be frustrating, though. That requires patience and the more things that will help the player to focus, the better. Again the physical objects really helps. Artwork for the characters is cool.

I know that a lot of people bring this up, but make sure to emphasis when each character shines. I game with my kids, one of which is leaning towards the ADD route, and he gets to feel cool when he rolls good or does something nifty. That is part of what makes the game really shine, having your character be cool in some way.
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#4 Postby Timon » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:38 am

I have a PDD NOS, two ADD and an ADD/Asperger diagnoses among the kids in my group.

The most crucial thing is to have clear rules about table chatter: it is fine most of the time, but keep the volume down and it is not allowed while someone is taking their turn and interacting with the GM or when you are setting a scene. Make it clear that each person's turn at getting the GM's attention is sacred.

We had a special candle that we lit whenever game time started to signal that we would be in "game mode". Have a clear signal for times when you are saying something to the whole group: I raise my arms dramatically and say "Something Happens!". They quickly learned that if they did not prick up their ears when I did that, they would miss crucial information.

Give bennies for good table-manners and pause the game/take a break if they get too rowdy.

Players often find it helpful to have an own "player kit" with a pencil, eraser, dice and miniature.

If you are providing the dice, buy sets where each of the dice has a clearly different colour: that way you can help them by saying "roll the yellow one". This tip no longer works for me as they are gamers enough to want cool dice, but they also know which ones are which now. One of the older players has become expert at helping the younger ones sort out the right dice: it regularly nets him a bennie.

I also bought distinctive Q-Workshop d6s for my players as Wild Dice. That helps them remember to roll it alongside the trait die.

Take breaks regularly and encourage them to go run around outside to expend energy and get their fidgets out. Snacks should only happen at break times. If there is something like popcorn, make sure that they have their own share in a bowl: dipping out of a communal bowl causes arguments.

My players have been with me for four years now and we have discarded battlemaps and miniatures this year and not missed them at all.

Hope this helps. I have found that the gaming group has created bonds between these kids, provided a safe place to explore imagination and ideas and been a great deal of fun. I have seven players right now, which can get a bit slow unless I am careful.
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#5 Postby Kythkyn » Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:33 am

Honestly, a lot of your advice, Timon, is good regardless of the players.

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#6 Postby Darq666 » Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:39 am

Some other suggestions would be to make up a poster with whatever your play sequence is and put it on a poster board:

1) I discribe the scene
2) Time to ask general questions
3) Time to go to initiative

You can get velcro tape (the non velcro sides of both pieces are stickied)

I would have a velcro spot in the "Go to Initiative" part for each player - you can have cards with their names on it with velcor backs and put everyones names up in inititative order.

Then have a "Placemarker" piece u can move along and identify where you are. If you have a player who seems to have more problems than others following the process, put them in charge of moving the marker along when you say to.

Another good tool is a "Talking Stick" - It can be any object really, but we have used an ornately carved stick with Native american iconography carved in it. Only the person holding the stick can talk.

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