I've long considered the whole planetary romance/sword-and-planet angle (à la John Carter of Mars) as a interesting hook, but I was watching The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe on Disney+ the other day and wondered if there was anything I could take from that.
As I tinker away, Sisyphus-like, at my fantasy RPG Frankengame, I'm always on the hunt for novel, or inventive, ways to draw the players in to my game world, get them really invested in the world of Tekralh.
Many years ago, when I was first thinking about this, the topic of "child adventurers" had just been raised on the superb Planet Algol blog, but it's also an idea that takes me back to the early days of our original Villains & Vigilantes campaign - where a core concept was that you play "yourself with superpowers".
You didn't roll random numbers to generate your statistics, but rather you and your fellow players 'graded' yourself in a range of three to 18 in the primary stats of your characters, then you generated random superpowers and bingo! That was how The Acrobatic Flea was born.
But, of course, the big difference between superhero roleplaying games and Dungeons & Dragons-style adventures is that supers games are generally skewed towards keeping the player characters alive, where as dungeon delvers tend to be fragile, little snowflakes when they are just setting out.
i.e. Philip Reeves Mortal Engines and Larklight sagas and, of course, Alice In Wonderland) - but literary tropes don't necessary work as written in a roleplaying format.
Of course, there is historical precedent for this idea in the realm of Dungeons & Dragons, what with the classic cartoon series, Andre Norton's Quag Keep, and Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series.
These days I'm sure there's a mountain of fan-fic and self-published adventure yarns along these lines, but I don't recall anyone actually employing it as a "character generation system" in their own fantasy RPG setting.
Off the top of my head I can think of several systems geared towards playing youngsters (primarily from the 'Kids on Bikes' genre, such as Bloat Games' Dark Places & Demogorgons or Free League's Tales from The Loop), but these tend to set in our reality (broadly speaking), if not our time period.
And they don't encourage players to create characters based upon themselves (although my good friend Justin 'Pun' Isaac did post a version of himself for both the Cinematic Unisystem game, Army of Darkness, and the classic Unisystem zombie game All Flesh Must Be Eaten, as part of this month's Character Creation Challenge).
I like the idea of "Earth" men and women traveling to an alien world, as it means you don't need to explain everything to the players beforehand and they can explore the world as they go along, and I have no qualms about tooling up imaginary child characters with swords and bows, but what are the logistics of such a starting point?
How would I go about generating statistics for the player-characters? Would the players play younger versions of themselves (as per Villains & Vigilantes) or roll new characters?
The older we get, do we become more drawn towards playing idealised versions of our younger selves... or less inclined?
I shall have to give this further thought.