Escapist > Projects > Young Person's Adventure League > The Tinkerer's Toolbox

An Escapist project of introducing young people
to the exciting world of adventure games

Site Guide

Factually Answered Queries - questions and answers

The Adventurer's Atlas - a list of suggested games for young people

The Dromedary's Dispatch - News and updates on the YPAL and adventure games

The Navigator's Notebook - play reports and reviews of adventure games

The Tinkerer's Toolbox - tips, tricks, and helpful hints



Here you will find a collection of tips, tricks, hints, and advice on gamemastering an adventure game for young people, keeping the game fun and involving, and finding inspiration for future adventures. Some of these tools are located right here on the Young Person's Adventure League website, while others are located on other websites, or even printed onto sheets of paper and bound into a cover. (Do they still do that in your day and age?)



Here are tips and advice that you can find right here on the site:

The Golden Rules of Adventure Games - The very core rules of good gamemastering for any role-playing game. You may wish to reference this list frequently.

How to Role-Play with Young People - A collection of the best advice on the subject. Soon to also be available as a PDF document, so that you may print a copy to keep with you when your electronic computational device is not handy.

Getting an Early Start - When it comes to roleplaying with young people, you don't have to wait until your polyhedral dice are no longer a choking hazard. Here are a list of ways to roleplay kids of almost any age, to help inspire their interest for more complex games later on.



Below are printed (and electro-printed) publications filled with tips and advice for roleplaying gamemasters:

Roleplaying with Kids - An extraordinary guide to fostering a new generation of gamers, this book by Sandy Atunes, Mike Holmes, Sam Chupp and Zak Arnston includes sections on kids at conventions, playing with mixed groups of adults & children, non-combat gaming, rewards, violence in gaming, and much, much more.

On top of it all, it also includes two simple gaming systems to run for children - Sam Chupp's "Six Stones" live-action system, and Zak Arnston's "Shadows." You can purchase your copy directly from Technomancer Games for the mere pittance of $12.99

Gamemastering - Brian Jamison's book is an extensive guide on the fine art of gamemastering, with a particular focus on creating engaging stories that are tailored to the interests of the players. This guidebook is available for free in its electronic format, or in a printed edition for a very reasonable fee.

Get your free PDF of this excellent guide, or order a printed copy, at!

Robin's Laws of Good Gamemastering - This slim little volume is packed to overflowing with exceptional gamemastering advice from one of the biggest names in game design, Robin Laws.

Trouble is, the print edition is a little hard to find, as the book went out of print in 2002. When you can find it, the going price can exceed $150 - quite a steep fee to pay for a 38 page book!

Thankfully, a PDF edition is available at for the much more reasonable price of $7.95. If you happen to possess one of those electronic computational devices, along with an electronic page scribing console, you should be able to produce a printed copy in practically no time at all. Amazing, the things we can do nowadays, isn't it?


Gamemastering Secrets - An excellent hardcover volume with contributions by a crew of excellent game authors, including none other than Sam Chupp (of Changeling, Dragonkin, and Square One fame!). You can find a copy at your local game shop (always check there first!) or, oddly enough, on the shores of the Amazon River...

Grrrrauuuth! Grnnnnnooooor!
...what's that, Anna?
Oh? Really? How silly of me...

Anna informs me that should be on, and not the Amazon River. My mistake. However, if you've already managed to travel to the Amazon due to my err, be certain to look for Fabiano's Gaming Shop and Adventure Gear Emporium. You'll be glad you did.


The Fantasy Roleplaying Gamer's Bible - This softcover volume authored by Sean Patrick Fannon not only includes tips on organizing a gaming group, handling troublesome players, and more - it also includes a history of the roleplaying hobby, as well as a brief index of RPGs in different genres. The second (and latest) edition of this book was released in 2000, and as such, the index is a bit dated - but it could still inspire ideas for future adventures.

Check your local gaming store for a copy, or visit



Below are tools that are located on other sites that you can visit right this very minute to sate your hunger for roleplaying advice. Ah, instant gratification...


Kids-RPG Yahoo Group - The most obvious source of information on playing role-playing games with young people, it is listed here only in the event that you have somehow managed to avoid visiting it by now. - A weekly electronic digest of roleplaying tips of all possible sorts, from how to improve your speaking voice to how to deal with unruly players. Be certain to pay special attention to issue 188 - 5 Tips for Roleplaying with Younger Children and Role-Playing Games and Kids by Katrina Middelburg-Creswell.

Gamemastering Secrets - The website for the hardcover book Gamemastering Secrets (see below) has a great collection of links and resources in the Bookshelf and GM's Web sections.

Fudge Factor - An online periodical for the FUDGE roleplaying game, filled with excellent support material from FUDGE devotees. You won't want to miss the FUDGE For Young Kids article - the tips given here can really be applied to any RPG at all.


Heromachine 2.0 - A fantastic web-based tool for creating superhero illustrations - perfect for most any superhero RPG. Many options are available to help make each creation unique.

RPGSheets - Links to hundreds of character sheets for popular RPGs. Includes official sheets as well as user-created sheets.


Making characters can be time-consuming work. These programs aim to reduce the time and effort involved in creating characters.

Redblade - A feature-rich character generator for d20 based RPGs that can be customized to work with other systems.

PCGen - Another excellent character generator for d20 games, with the potential to be used for other roleplaying rule systems.


Creating new character names, descriptions, locations, and more can really wear out a person's creativity after a while. That may have been the same line of thinking that prompted the crafting of these random generators. Simply enter in a small amount of data, and the artificial intellect will serve up some inspiration post-haste. (Where do they hide all of the springs and gears?)

Serendipity - Generate names and descriptions for characters of several different cultures, places, objects, and even stories.

The Everchanging Book of Names - A shareware program that generates random names in a very sophisticated manner.

Proppian Fairy Tale Generator - Generate your own fairy tale, then send your adventurers through it, or use it as the backstory.

Dave's Funky Premise Generator - Generates a simple premise and genre, which could be the springboard for your next big campaign, or something completely silly. In some cases, it could even be both.

Dungeon Generator - will generate a black and white dungeon map that you can print out and populate, based on your own custom settings. By Jamis Buck, master of D&D generators.

D&D 3.5 NPC Generator - Another creation by Jamis Buck, this tool generates random non-player characters for your Dungeons & Dragons game.


Below are collections of typefaces that can be installed into your electronic page scribing console. Use them for map legends, special documents, letters, or any other sort of handout for your adventurers. Some of the non-English characters could even be used for coded messages that the party's cryptographer must decipher! The possibilities are without limit!

Cumberland Fontworks - Nifty fonts by S. John Ross, the creative mind behind the Risus RPG and the Big List of RPG Plots.  Included are fonts for making hex and grid paper, and even a font called Flagstone that lets you create dungeon floorplans.

Lord Kyl's Fonts - A humble collection of fonts. Many good choices here, including lots of strange and cryptic characters.

Dan Smith's Fantasy Fonts - A modest collection, but be sure not to miss his Celtic Knotwork fonts, which will allow you to create knotwork borders.

The Thieves Guild - Another good collection, including a Moon Phase font.


What is an adventure without a good map to plan and plot over?

Dungeons & Dragons Map-A-Week - The official Dungeons & Dragons website has a large collection of free maps that can be used with most any adventure game - not just D&D.

The Thieves Guild - These rogues come through again with a nice collection of ready-made maps.


The Big List of RPG PlotsCompiled by S. John Ross, this list is indispensable for any gamemaster attempting to create a story for an adventure game. The Big List contains summaries for over 30 common story plots to mix, match, twist, and otherwise manipulate into an adventure scenario. A PDF version for printing is available here - I personally have a copy tucked inside my satchel and in the inside cover of every adventuring notebook that I own. 

Instant Roleplay - A wiki of short plot ideas for those times when you have an adventuring party, but nowhere to adventure to.


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