I’m on a study project to improve my understanding of roleplaying games. To this end, I already have two reading projects, A Game Per Year and An Adventure Per Year. This is the third, with the goal of reading or playing 52 games made in the last few years. Originally I considered making this “A New RPG Per Week” and that’s where the number 52 comes from, even though a weekly schedule is probably not within my abilities.
Peukaloisprinssi (Thumb-Sized Prince) is an adventure published for the Finnish children’s roleplaying game Myrskyn sankarit. Although the adventure hasn’t been translated, the roleplaying game is available in English under the title Age of the Tempest.
Age of the Tempest is a fantasy roleplaying game with a Robin Hood style setup where the characters are part of a resistance against an evil Emperor. As a children’s roleplaying game, it’s designed so that kids can play it among themselves or with a parent as the GM. It’s one of the two big children’s roleplaying games in Finland, the other being Astraterra.
In Peukaloisprinssi, the characters go on a quest to rescue a prince who has been transformed into a diminutive of himself by an evil witch.
What immediately strikes you reading the adventure is that the designer Mike Pohjola clearly writes from a position of a lot of hands-on experience running games for children. The design is very practical, with a rules-light option for younger children and a more involved version for older ones. The scenes and scenarios have been designed to provoke playful, fun improvisation and discussion among the children playing the game.
An example is a scene where the characters find cookies that make them bigger or smaller. The associated puzzle is easy but the potential for all kinds of silliness is great.
Sometimes when I’ve read children’s roleplaying games, they feel essentially like dumbed down adult roleplaying games with a children’s IP reskin. In Peukaloisprinssi, you feel that the design has been created from the ground up with consideration to what works with six-year olds.
One fun idea is the character templates. Character archetypes such as the Princess and the Swineherd have been provided as coloring book outlines so that with a few crayons the player can customize the character to their taste.