Last spring, the Tween librarian I work with mentioned to me that there might be interest among our library patrons for some sort of kids roleplaying game as a library program because parents often asked about our Dungeons and Dragons group but we limit that to tweens and teens grades 5+.
I started looking into options of the summer and talked with one of our branch librarians who has done RPGs with her son since he was younger, and she clued me into an RPG they’d done once using sock puppets that immediately stuck out to me as a cool option. After some more research I found Argyle and Crew – Adventures in the Land of Skcos on DriveThruRPG – an online RPG download store.
Not only was I attracted by the low price point of this game, but I also appreciated that it was collaborative storytelling so it didn’t rely on dice rolls. I also liked that the character creation is very tangible. Each kid got to make and take home their one sock puppet (soppets) and the abilities that the soppets has is directly related to a physical attribute of the sock puppet so it was easy to remember everything the different players could do.
I’m going to walk you through my process for starting an RPG group, share what our Argyle and Crew adventure looked like, and at the end of this post there are some downloads of things I created if you’d be interested in running something like this at your library or for a group of kids in your life.
Setting up my Group
I was setting up a lot of registration-based groups in the fall for the first time and I selected 12 as a number of participants (based off of information other librarians had shared that they used for book clubs). 12 turned out to be way to many, and even with full registration I luckily didn’t ever have 12 patrons at any program.
My library uses Eventbrite for our registration based programs so I had to set up a registration page and an event page on our library calendar. This is the copy I used:
“Are you ready to test your creativity, create a character, and explore fantastical situations? Join us for our fall kids role playing game: Argyle and Crew. This program is for kids aged 5-9.
This is the perfect group for kids who are interested in role playing games but might be too young for our Tween Dungeons and Dragons group!
We will meet twice a month (except only once in both November and December) in the Rabbit Hole on Tuesdays from 3 to 4 PM. Our first session will start with character creation – making a sock puppet – and talking about the basics of role playing games! Then we’ll practice our role playing skills in the rest of the sessions.
This program requires registration and has limited capacity. Please visit our Eventbrite page to register:“
Our character creation session was fun, because we just made sock puppets. This also scales really well and can be a simple or as complex as you like it. The basic requirement is that every sock puppet has to have a pair of eyes and a mouth (created by your hand) and then the players get to choose two extras that give their sock additional abilities. The extras can be simple or complex. My library had a lot of supplies left over from a 2021 Summer Reading program that I was able to use, but this is a program that doesn’t need to break the bank for fancy extras since it’s all about imagination. My players started with wings, fairy wands, unicorn horns (at least one of which gave teleportation powers). We took the time to write down our character names and what abilities they have so we could remember them from week to week.
Our first week we just spent time getting in character and getting used to exploring and interacting with the space in our programming room as sock puppet. While the Argyle and Crew system calls them soppets, my kids started calling them sockies and that’s what we stuck with.
Creating a Quest
My program met every other week for 5 weeks so we had four weeks for a recurring storyline. I started by creating a quest and the cutting it up and hiding the pieces around the room so that we would have to assemble the map.
Another part of Argyle and Crew includes setting a goal for your game, and when the goal is achieved, each player gets to add another extra to their puppet. This really motivated my kids from week to week. So after figuring out our quest during the second week of gameplay we all added an extra and then I wrote down our new abilities on our character cards.
In order to make a physical manifestation of the three things that we had to find to achieve our goal: The coin of courage, the rock of life, and the sockie’s dream, I used our button maker to make buttons that the kids would pin on their socks after we found the items. They all appreciated having this extra little thing to show our progress in the campaign.
It was while looking for the Coin of Courage that the kids figured our pretty quickly that I was in some ways manipulating the game to make sure that we filled our whole session time and didn’t progress through our whole quest too quickly. In retrospect, I should have explained what a GM (or as Argyle and Crew calls it, a guide) does during a RPG at the beginning of our sessions together.
When we finally got to the end of our quest, my kids decided that the best way to defeat the dragon king was by becoming friends with it, which I thought was really cute. There was one kid who really wanted to kill the dragon, but the majority ruled and it was a really fun experience.
I’m really glad that I chose to run this type of program! We started out with a plan for 6 sessions but ultimately cancelled our last session due to parent preference for scheduling in December and the fact that due to Thanksgiving we would have gone a month between our 5th and 6th sessions. When scheduling for my winter club, I was more cognizant of break weeks in our local school system and only scheduled five sessions to start with.
I also dropped the number of attendees from 12 down to 10 as it better fits the space that we have for programming and is a little more feasible for giving each kid individual attention while also managing a group. While I never had 12 kids show up for my fall session, it worked out well to lower the number of attendees so that there was never a chance for it to get out of hand.
As I mentioned, the big thing that I wanted to change was taking a little more time to introduce kids to role playing games and discussing what a GM does so that they weren’t as surprised as my group was for the fall when the figured out that I was manipulating the game.
Most importantly I think is just to be flexible and really let the kids’ creativity drive your game play and session. When we were looking for the sockie’s dream, my kids decided that it would be a sock to make a pair and that they would each have to find a sock. I had not hidden 9 socks around the room, I had only hidden a button so I explained to them that if that’s what they wanted it to be I would need them to close their eyes and give me time to hide additional socks. They loved finding the things I hid and were all for it. It led to a really fun moment where once we’d all found a sock we whispered our dreams into them and then shared them with the dragon king to become friends with him. This charming end to our quest was one of the best moments of the game for me and I’m glad I rolled with what the kids wanted rather than forcing them into what I had planned for.
Moving forward with this program, rather than running another session of Argyle and Crew in the winter, I decided to just change the group to be a Kids RPG Club because I knew that I would have multiple repeat attendees and didn’t want them to get bored. So my winter RPG Club is doing 5 different one-shot RPG’s and I’m introducing dice role mechanics and a few other more complex game mechanics one at a time over the course of a few weeks!
If you’re interested in running Argyle and Crew for your library (or your kids at home) I would highly recommend buying the system on DriveThruRPG. It’s really affordable and great to support the original creator. There’s also a bonus book with different one shots or game play ideas that is well worth it as well.
If you’re interested in running a similar campaign to what I ran, here are a few of my materials that I created using Canva for you to download.
To print the character cards at the right size, print 4 pages to a sheet. The cards can then be cut up, and one given to each to each kid to keep track of their extras and the abilities they have.
I printed this on a 8.5×11 sheet and then cut it up like a puzzle. In our second game session I hid the pieces around the room and the kids found and assembled the puzzle and then we read the quest out loud.
Here are button templates for the Coin of Courage, the Sockie’s Dream, and The Rock of Life. These are for a 1.5 inch button maker. Print 16 pages to a sheet and then use whatever punch you have for your button maker to punch out the circles and then make your buttons! If you don’t have a button maker but still might want to make some sort of reward for finding each item – get creative. You could use gold buttons, beads that look like rocks, and some sort of charm. The sky’s the limit.
I hope that these downloads are helpful if you’re interested in trying Argyle and Crew for yourself, and that you’ve enjoyed this discussion of a Kids RPG in the library. If you’re interested in more content about using RPGs and collaborative storytelling games with kids in the library, let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to share how my Winter RPG club goes!