Today, an article by Uri Kurlianchik was posted to the official D&D Tutorials Archive. Titled “D&D Kids: Punishment,” the article has ignited a fierce controversy among D&D players and parents for suggesting that in-game punishments are necessary for dealing with unruly children.
First, it must be pointed out that Kurlianchik speaks from extensive experience running D&D groups for young children. He has also pointed out that much of what he says is meant with tongue in cheek. And really, I have to commend anyone who has the patience to even try to play D&D with little kids, much less make a habit of it.
If you don;t want to read his entire article, here are a few choice excerpts:
Some kids don’t come to play, but rather to socialize. Some kids do want to play, but their heads are up in the clouds. Some, like Batman’s Joker, are a force of pure chaos. As a DM, it’s your duty to deal with them lest they deal with you (and your game!).
Without a very good reason, don’t remove more than 50 XP at once—you want to warn the players, not cripple their characters. Severe transgressions, such as reading your DM notes, damage to people and property, or highly inappropriate remarks should be punished harshly.
On the subject of true troublemakers, we can learn much from The Boondock Saints, namely “destroy that which is evil so that which is good may flourish.” Some kids have real issues and need help, but not at the expense of those kids who came to play and have fun.
It must be said that I’ve encountered most of the troublemaker archetypes listed in the article in adult gaming groups (crybabies tend to sulk more than cry, but they’re there — watching a grown man throw a tantrum when he loses a game of Magic is pretty sad). In any case, forums and Twitter erupted with people indigant over the proposed harsh treatment of mere children. Me? I can’t argue with a thing Uri says. But he responded to his critics himself in a forum post, saying, “Perhaps in the utopias in which my critics live, all people are perfect and the need for discipline, grades and rules has been abolished, but here, on planet Earth, this is not the case. People do misbehave and measures must be taken to protect those who behave well from those who behave poorly.”