Create your own, personalised magic school in Kids on Brooms. Play as its students and staff in this easy to learn, highly collaborative tabletop RPG.
Kids on Brooms is played with a game master (GM) and one or more players. However, rather than the GM being in charge of everything, players are encouraged to help build the world. They can describe what happens, insert smaller or bigger events and turns, and create the characters around them.
There is no world or place set out by the Kids on Brooms handbook. The GM and players create the setting together before they start the game properly.
The book sets out a list of questions to help your group shape the school and make it feel like a rounded, layered location. You are also invited to think about the larger worldbuilding implications, such as how the school interacts with the non-magical world, and to create bits of history and rumours about the school.
This is a great way for the players to suggest what kind of mysteries they'd like to see. It is also a great way to generate potential hooks for the GM to use.
Once the school has been created, you are ready to create characters. This starts by picking a Trope: a type of character you might find in a magical school story, like the Aloof Teacher or the Daring Athlete.
All Tropes come with a set stat line, suggestions for strengths (which give mechanical benefits) and flaws, possible ages (under or upper class, or faculty - these come with certain strengths, too), and two questions for your character. If you play the Reliable Sidekick, for example, you get to answer “Why are you so bonded to your best friend?” and “When do you wish you were the centre of attention?”.
Finally, each player answers a number of questions about their character’s relationships (ranging from well-known to strangers) with the other player characters.
Similar to the worldbuilding questions, the history and tensions these relationship questions reveal (“What was the last thing you stole from this character?”, for example, or “Why did you spend the summer at this character’s home instead of your own?”) can provide great hooks for future conflict and play.
Characters in Kids on Brooms have six stats: Brains, Brawn, Fight, Flight, Charm, and Grit. These can all be used for regular checks and for magic, depending on how you want to impact the world with your spell.
Following your character’s Trope, each stat is assigned a die, from a d4 (Terrible) to a d20 (Superb). In addition to the dice, you can get bonuses for a stat from your age, your magical items (fx wand and broom), and your classes.
Each player fills out a class schedule for their character. You'll have to choose three classes the character will focus on that term.
After each session, players get to tick off a box next to two of these classes, if their character used knowledge from them within the session. Enough ticks next to a class will gain the character bonuses to rolls to do with that type of magic.
When your character wants to do something that may fail, you roll the die that corresponds to the stat they are using for the action. Whether you succeed or not depends on the difficulty of the action as set out by the GM (based on a table in the handbook).
If the character does succeed, you and the GM narrate the result together. If the character fails, the GM narrates the consequences. This will be worse depending on how far from the difficulty you were and how much time to prepare your character had. There's even a table for this, too!
Whenever you fail a roll, you gain an Adversity token, which can be spent to add to later checks.
There are no set spells in Kids on Brooms. If your character wants to try something with magic, you describe what they want to happen and how they go about it. The GM then uses this information to set the difficulty. This will be based on the magnitude, area, and duration of the spell, and how experienced the caster is.
As with a regular check, you roll the relevant stat die, but because it’s magic, you also add an extra d4 to the roll. If the spell succeeds, you narrate what happens. If it fails, the GM does.
Spells can be prepared ahead of time, in the form of potions The GM may need to set additional requirements for this to succeed.
Combat (magic and regular) is done through contested rolls. Depending on the difference between the rolls, either the attacker’s player, the defender’s player, or both get to narrate the outcome of an attack.
Characters in Kids on Brooms do not have hit points, but this does not make them invulnerable. How much an attacked character is injured depends on how much higher the attack roll was than the defence, with a 10+ difference straight out killing the defender.
Safety in Play
Reading through the Kids on Brooms handbook, it is clear that the writers are dedicated to everyone at the table having a good time playing.
The book contains a multitude of player safety tools for the GM to use. These include guides on how to make sure you know ahead of time, what topics should be avoided in the game and what to do if something uncomfortable does come up.
Concern with player comfort is part of the worldbuilding, too. During the initial creation of the school, the players and GM are asked to consider what kind of bigotries (if any) they want to be present in the game’s world and in what way. This way, the group can make it clear what kind of issues they are comfortable encountering during play and which they’d rather avoid.
Finally, there are rules in place to discourage certain types of player behaviour. All to make sure that players are okay with what happens to their character. Any player character that at any point unprovoked murders another character immediately becomes an NPC. And due to the volatile nature of combat, a player character cannot enter combat with another player character unless both players agree.
Naturally, no handbook can force players or GMs to do anything. Anyone playing the game is free to do so in whatever manner they choose. But I do, personally, find it heartening to see the amount of effort the Kids on Brooms handbook puts into at least bringing up these concerns and providing tools with which to approach them.
I really enjoy playing Kids on Brooms.
I like the mechanics, they suit the setting of the magic school well. Particularly the class schedule and the magic system. This allows for basically any type of spell (if you can make the roll) appeal to me. Communal worldbuilding is a great strength, too. By having everyone contribute to the setting, players start at an even level of knowledge. No one has to read up on loads of lore. I find that having built the setting together with my group, I remember it better. It feels more real and easy to visualise than in games where I’ve been given a description/pitch from a GM.
I also think it’s a good game for new players. The handbook is quite short compared to other TTRPG systems. Each section provides examples of how to apply the rules, and there are many tables to guide you. The high level of collaboration means that there’s a lot of space for the group to help each other, and the relationship questions make sure all player characters have some connection. No character is dumped into the game world to fend entirely for themselves.
All this said, it’s important to note what the Kids on Brooms handbook is and isn’t. The book provides plenty of questions and considerations for how to build your world and school, but no readily made magic schools to read and use. Nor are any adventure, session, or arc ideas included in the game. The GM will have to create those themselves.
If you like that kind of freedom. Also, if you want to explore the adventures that take place at a magic school and play the kind of people who live them. If you love the idea of creating that kind of story together as a group. Then Kids on Brooms is the game for you.