I played a lot of DnD (or D&D) as a kid and preteen….and teenager………..and adult. OK I’ve played a lot of DnD. It has been a few years though since I’ve actively gamed and I am in the beginning stages of finding my way back to it. I owe DnD a great deal but I’ll get into that another time.
My recent post about DnD art inspired Animal and I to try our hand at some monster doodling. The half finished products are below. I’m not sure why the happy-faced baby is waving at the Beholder.
The girls have always seen my books around in use or not. They have seen me quest on various video games and Ipad apps and in my WoW days I had a couple toons named after each of them. Animal’s toon started out as a Twink back when that was a thing (Fuck you Easylegs! I will get you yet)…and Snookums, well I just wanted her to be included. They each liked taking their toons and running around and well, doing nothing really, which come to think of it is what most of WoW was like. I collected mounts and had maxed out my Alchemy..shut up it was AWESOME!
One game that helped break the ice for them was Treasures & Traps (see what they did there?). We actually bought this in our local Baha’i bookstore and it is such a sweet find! It is a fun family game that promotes planning, strategy and quick thinking. Animal has legitimately beat me and legitimately stalled me a number of times. Snookums can play too despite being younger, though she requires a bit of guidance.
It is a simple and fun way to introduce fantasy concepts such as monsters and treasure and spells and that you have to decide how to use them and when. Check it out for your kids or for your adult nerdy friends.
I’ve been listening to the Official D&D podcasts lately in an attempt to re-immerse myself in the culture and save money (Audible books are awesome but costly and the State doesn’t pay all that well). These podcasts are great. They are hosted by folks that clearly know and love DnD and their guests are just as in love with the game as I am. It is inspiring to listen to and I genuinely laugh out loud regularly and I get the inside jokes.
Anyhow there was a podcast that dealt specifically with playing with kids and it referenced a free module I had already downloaded that was perfect for kids. Monster Slayers: Heroes of Hesiod is a quick little hack-and-slash where everything is streamlined/simplified for kids. Pre-generated PC’s, simple words to explain attacks, special powers and effects. Fun drawings depicting the characters and monsters. Badges awarded to the kids should they survive! Arena fight with four monsters, survive and you rule!
The girls loved it. I played up the little role-play I had as the arena master and anything that could be funny was hilarious. I rolled a 1 on an attack, critical miss! so instead of missing the beast I lost my sword behind my head on the backswing…Stooges style. They fell apart laughing. When the Bulette swallowed Snookums (twice) she loved the sloppy, slurpy noises I made and giggled when she tickled herself to freedom from it’s belly, causing it to cough her up covered with stomach slime.
Animal understood the mechanics better and started positioning herself for maximum advantage and maneuvering around the board. Not always the smartest moves, but she was thinking. She’s going to be good at this and many other games if she continues to critical think so quickly.
Normally I might be frustrated with a PC if they don’t participate in a helpful way but Snookums didn’t want to attack the baby red dragon because “it is cute”. Hard to argue with her there.
We’ve played it twice now. Snookums played the same PC both times and Animal switched to try out different mechanics and was surprised to learn the game felt different playing it differently. This ain’t Candyland my friends where every color person moves and behaves exactly the same. A Barbarian acts and needs to think differently than a Shaman or a Rogue. She picked up on the beginnings of that. Beautiful.
There is a sequel: Champions of the Elements that expands the story and continues the mechanics that make it so easy for kids to jump in. Genius stuff really. We’ll do that next.
I don’t know if either of them will ever actually play DnD seriously or even halfheartedly. I do hope I get the chance to play with them more. It’s indescribable to be able to share with them something that has been so near and dear to my heart. They are so proud of themselves for having beaten the monsters, for that little achievement.They should be proud. They worked together to figure out how to succeed.
Even if this fizzles out quickly, we are making memories that they can carry forward. Memories of times around the table together, playing the same game and living in the same shared fantasy. If these couple sessions are all I get I will be eternally grateful for them.
Q: Do you have a gaming memory? Scrabble with Grandpa? Dominoes with Grandma? Slaughtering orcs with that nerdy cousin in a dingy basement somewhere? Please feel free to share your stories.