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Most roleplaying games include weapons, and hurting, and killing (and looting!). Moreover, some (if not most) systems seem to be made for that.

However (though I do enjoy such games), I'm trying to figure out how to do roleplaying games without a need for PC's using violence. But playing adventurous and thrilling nonetheless! It's OK for NPC's being badass swordwielders, backstabbers and whatnot, as long as players don't have to resort to the same. Thinking of adventures like those in the books of Enid Blyton.

Why? First, I have a daughter of 13 yrs who loves roleplaying. And we need reasonably nonviolent games to play at home, since violent ones are too much for other family members. Second, I wish to develop a series of nonviolent games for kids. So:

1) Have you played game sessions like that?

2) What systems would you suggest for such games?

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As this is a game-recommendation question, please adhere to the FAQ, the rules for subjective questions as outlined in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and our rules for game recommendations. All responses must cite actual experience or reference others' experiences!

closed as too broad by BESW, Zachiel, Hey I Can Chan, Joshua Aslan Smith, Jonathan Hobbs May 7 at 3:20

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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True. Op, Narrowing it down to specific features you would like in addition to non-violent would help provide a better answer. –  Jason_c_o May 7 at 0:13
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Hi, Durbal, and welcome to rpg.se! Please take a look at the tour and the help center; they're a useful introduction to the site. There are actually a TON of games that don't "do" violence, or handle it in ways that you might be okay with--treating it seriously but not graphically, or making it cartoon-style, or forbidding death--so we'll need some more details about what you DO want to see in your games: genre, session/campaign length, number of players... Right now you're mostly just telling us what you don't want, and that's a good start but we need some more if our answers are to be useful. –  BESW May 7 at 0:15
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Must the game de-emphasize violent conflict, or can the game also possess robust noncombat mechanics, putting the noncombat burden on the GM? –  Hey I Can Chan May 7 at 0:18
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5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

We have run several campaigns in the Mouse Guard RPG, which is based on the burning wheel rules. Though I believe it is hard to find a book for the RPG now, if you are lucky to find one in a local book shop or used I highly recommend it.

It does have rules for conflicts and resolutions to those conflicts with violence, however, they are not needed at all to run a successful campaign and generally when we play violence hardly ever happens as players use their wits, skills, or run away to survive. After all they are mice.

Normal play is handled by assigning a mission to the players which consist of any number of objectives. We had a rather fun and exciting mission about delivering mail to some of the outlying provinces, which the players being mostly tenderpaw guards, had to sneak past any wild animals and band together to make it through the season of mail duty.

Overall the games have been exciting for all ages and new comers to the pen & paper world have picked it up easily. Nothing better than spending a hour deciding if you should have red fur or grey fur with a black and gold cloak.

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Cole, have you run this with the right age group? –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 7 at 2:44
    
Yes. I have ran a few short missions with my nephews and their friends in the 11 - 14 year range. The games normally last a few hours with them and they have no problem picking up the rules. –  Cole May 7 at 2:48
    
Mouse Guard is fabulous for sure! Luckily it is selling digital on DriveThru, I have it. However, I still have to grasp the system, especially GM Turns and Player Turns are a concept I don't understand yet. Using Minimus right now, I love it simple! –  Durbal May 8 at 20:26
    
Actually, my biggest interest is to collect real players' and GMs experience, preferably in a form understandable and usable by a novice GM (which I still am, despite my age). –  Durbal May 8 at 20:28
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I have, I kid you not, been running a My Little Pony Campaign in the Fate system. It's got to be the most ludicrously non-violent game, of any sort, I've ever played. And it works quite well in that system because everything (including any sort of violence) comes down to a certain set of skills rather than the use of an object that your character purchases. I think it helps to be less violent when nobody even owns a weapon, somehow you feel less obligated.

Further, the system has two damage systems. One is for physical damage, the other is for mental damage, which you may take from things like arguments, brain teasers and rap-battles (8 Mile, the RPG, I can see it now.)

Further, and most importantly for me, the game comes with a really easy system for creating new worlds (and I mean dead simple, yet still powerful). So you can pick a setting that precludes violence...a setting like Ponyville, if I may be so bold. We literally picked this world (and this system) so my 6 year old niece can play along. So far it's going well ;).

If it's not apparent, I really enjoy the Fate system, it's really good for story based RPGs. If that's what you are looking for, I would very highly recommend giving it a try.

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That's awesome! If you ever have the inclination to come talk about it in chat, I would love to pick your brain about the experience. –  BESW May 7 at 5:09
    
+1; I'm running my own MLP game (different system) where the players are all blank-flanks (children). Both facets (MLP and children characters) turn the campaign towards nonviolence. We've entered combat time once in approximately 6 months, and that was a play fight with only 2 PCs and 1 NPC participating. –  Brian S May 7 at 14:49
    
@BrianS - Smart. Yeah, we went with cutie marks (Can't believe I'm discussing this on an RPG forum, grr, barbarians!, grr!). Anyway, we went with cutie marks as our major aspect in Fate. It's worked quite well. One thing that is nice about fate is that even when you do need to use some form of physical coercion, you can gloss over it MLP style (just make it a single action, not a drawn out fight). It's how skills work in the Fate system. For our part, we just don't solve our problems with violence so much as we solve it with a liberal amounts of awesome! We enjoy it thoroughly ;). –  Jay Carr May 7 at 16:48
    
I certainly agree. Violence is absolutely not required for awesomeness. Or even for superultraextremeawesomazingness. ;) –  Brian S May 7 at 16:52
    
@BrianS - lol, we try so hard not to use the main ponies in that game, but Pinkie Pie is really hard to not just rope in for cameos, you know? –  Jay Carr May 7 at 16:53
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The most child friendly RPG I can think of is the Adventure Time RPG based on 4th edition D&D. It's got great art, really straight forward and all the characters, races and classes are based on Adventure Time.

You can download it freely from the author here

The kids I played it with were from 10 - 13. 2 of them fans of Adventure Time, the others had heard of it and just wanted to play a game. It went well, the character creation was quite entertaining, kids have great imaginations.

Although most systems support combat, including Adventure Time RPG, it does not mean you have to include it in your games. You will be the game master, you will dictate the events to unfold and you can set up a session however you like. It can be like Scooby Doo, where there is a threat of a monster but the quest is solved through social interactions, clue gathering and lucky skill checks.

But even if you have combat in your game, as long as you don't describe it as violent and bloody, then it can be PG-13. There was a show called Samurai Jack on TV, if you check out a video on Youtube you will see that Jack fights many enemies, but they are usually machines and there is never any blood. So this violence is against non-living things, that just spark and fizzle when he cuts them. You can use the same ideas, especially with the setting provided from Adventure Time.

Good luck!

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While I don't know how a game based on 4e could be effectively played with no tactical encounters (who are the best feature of 4e), the idea of non-blooded enemies is a great one. –  Zachiel May 7 at 0:33
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The idea of a non blooded enemy is not as great as it seems at first. It's a first step of justification. From "Hey, it's not living" over "Hey, it's just a beast" to "Hey, it's just an evil guy". There's a reason Jay wanted to keep violence out of the game. –  Lord_Gestalter May 7 at 8:00
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For a while I've been running a tabletop RPG for a 14-year-old boy with Autism who uses it as an emotion regulator. The game obviously has to be a little different since he needs a unique experience. Here are a few things that you might be able to apply.

  • When the enemies are too scary or strong, just run. Focus on remaining unseen, solving puzzles, talking out problems and keeping your distance. Encounters can be skill-based, and being discovered could be used as a failure.
  • Try to create NPCs who are willing to negotiate. One of the more memorable encounters is when his character was trying to save his niece, but some guards were in the way. He explained how sad he was that he couldn't find her, and due to some high rolls they sympathized, so they put the idea in his head that he could avoid confrontation altogether by finding a few keys and going around the back way.
  • If it's about real-world violence or valuing humanity, one thing I've learned is that it feels much better to be fighting off ogres, horrors, shades, and skeletons than it does to be slaughtering humans. It's certainly a different experience.

Edit: I've been using a completely homebrew system designed by me that runs like a mix between Pathfinder and D&D4e and I'm confident that with a good grasp on "Skill Encounters," a GM could run the same style in 4e alone.

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The rest of the post is nice, but the "monsters as enemies" isn't good, as @Lord_Gestalter explained in PazbiZavatzki's post. –  Lohoris May 7 at 16:18
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I've played games where violence is an option, but rarely occurs. The players and NPCs are usually reasonable enough to settle their differences through diplomacy. My fellow players and I are adults, but there's no reason why this couldn't work for kids.

From my (not so recent) experience, some systems (like D&D) are combat heavy and relatively light on other skills. On the other hand, there are a number of systems that are skill based, and combat skills are skills just like any other. "Call of Cthulhu" has an emphasis on sanity and horror (and in some ways a de-emphasis on violence - what use is shooting at a monster that is immune to bullets?), but its skill system treats combat skills equally to other skills. "Ars Magica" places an emphasis on magic in a medieval European setting, and similarly has independent skills, and it is entirely possible to have characters for whom combat is not a reasonable option.

To make a game system which is light on combat, you need to emphasize other skills, and provide negative consequences for violence. Kids being kids, they'll want to hit something sooner or later, especially if someone else is doing some hitting and getting away with it, or if they or their characters get hit. The problem is that violence is often an easy way to settle a conflict from an intellectual point of view, and kids aren't always big on intellect.

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In my Ars Magica game, we went a year and a half without touching the combat rules. Mind you, "Medieval lab and philosophy simulator 1220" may not be the best choice for some teenagers. Unfortunately, Monty, we require game recommendation questions to be backed up with personal experience. Have you used Fudge or Faery's Tale to do these things yourself? –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 7 at 1:14
    
@Brian Ballsun-Stanton, Since I don't actually have any experience with Fudge or Faery's Tale, I've removed the references from my answer. –  Monty Wild May 7 at 1:25
    
Thanks much, monty. We have significant restrictions on answers to game-recommendation questions such that they can exist at all. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 7 at 1:26
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