Welcome to Roll for Kindness. This is a blog outlining advice for running games for good- whether that be developing kindness, being inclusive, or encouraging healthy socialization.
This does not teach any therapeutic practices, or any formal skillset- instead these are all lessons I've learned from my 20+ years of playing tabletop role playing games with friends and family, as well as in foster homes and social skills groups. I believe that games have the unique ability to do good for those playing them, and as a DM, you can help encourage kindness and empathy through thoughtful game mastering, and I feel that there are benefits in playing and running games for everyone, of all skillsets and backgrounds. Furthermore, for the info on this blog, I am pulling from my experience running games for the social skills groups, general pick up games, games I ran for foster care, and a LGBT theater- And I use the same skills and tools with all groups I run, as they are generalized skills that are applicable to any table.
A bit about myself- I have an undergraduate degree in psych and a Master's in Education with a heavy focus on learning theory and educational psychology, as well as five years working in foster care, and another five years working as a co-facilitator for D&D social skills groups. I am not a therapist or clinician (Yet, I am in the process of applying for graduate programs), and instead I try to look at each player holistically- What do they want to get out of the game? How can I use the game to teach them things like altruism, social justice, or just help them feel at home with others? How can I use the content and dynamic of the game to help them grow as a person? A lot of these goals are based in my understanding of pedagogy, looking at learning outcomes, lesson planning, and individualized education, and so I personally view my role as a DM to be akin to being a teacher, and I definitely see my players as students, and D&D as a tool to teach them how to be a good person, whether that's through giving them opportunities to show kindness and mercy, helping each other out, or just striving to do good in the world.
That being said, I really do believe that anyone can do good with games, and I want to showcase what has worked for me to help others do good in their own way. The one warning is to not step into any therapeutic space. There are a number of clinicians and therapists running therapeutic games, and that is something specific to their practice. Do not use your games to treat mental illness or address any therapeutic need- let people who are licensed therapists do that. That being said, you can run a game to do other things- a camp counselor may want to run a game in the evenings to help the kids bond, a math teacher may put together a weekly campaign with a bunch of math based puzzles, or you could set up a game at a boys and girls club to give kids something fun and imaginative to do. The possibilities are endless, and so I encourage you to find your skills in gaming, and share them with the world to spread good, and in your own way, roll for kindness.