Jul 20

A Gaming with Kids Con Story

Here’s a quick story from the convention scene.

Running a characters-provided con D&D game for a mom, her 11-year-old, and 4 adult friends of the mom.

Point comes in the story where 11-year-old is about to realize his PC
is the child of one of the other PCs, and that neither knows it.

I ask to take a break, and pull the kid aside – I take him out in
the hall, just him and me. I explain the situation that he’s about to
encounter, and we talk about how his character would react to the news.
A little pre-RP if you will. It’s an important moment in the story, and
I want to make sure he’s prepared.

He’s pretty excited by it – “Wow – my character never knew who his dad was? And it turns out to be someone he just met by accident! Coooool.” But he decides his PC would not take the news well. “Why did you abandon me!” and all that.

So we go back into the room after 10 minutes of discussion (rest of
the players were on health break), and the mom has this very uneasy
look on her face. She looks me in the eye and says “What have you been doing out there with my son?” And the way she says it, I feel like a child molester or something.

But the kid responds to his mom “Oh, you’ll see“, with this devilish grin, and she seems placated.

So the scene plays out, and the guy who is playing the ‘dad’ to the
kid’s PC totally drops the RP ball – just lets the revelation slide by
in order to get to more of the ‘adventure’.

But the kid saves the day – stopping the game to go stand by the
other player and confront his PC – big scene, the rest of the players
jump in, and it turns in to a spectacular RP moment for all.

At the end the mom thanked me profusely for spending so much time helping her son with the rules, RP, etc. I had to tell her “No offense…but by the end, he was the best player at the table“. And in typical mom fashion, she ignored the sideways insult and walked away very proud of her son…

Jul 20

Gaming With Kids

I love gaming with my kid, but that gaming with my 9-year-old and my adult friends at the same time is uncomfortable.

Bottom line is that unless you are a Pixar-level master of multiple
levels of humor and plot on the fly, then someone at the table won’t be
getting the game they want.

I’ve been running Mrs. White and the 9-year-old through Keep on the Shadowfell, and we’ve had some great moments that would’ve been quite unpleasant with a larger group.

He plays a Wizard, and she a Paladin. Nasty battle in a waterfall cave, she goes down. He panics “My god, I’m all alone with these MONSTERS
now!” He looks at me “Can I run away?” Insert life-lesson discussion
about not leaving your best-buddy fallen comrades behind for the
kobolds to eat. He grabs her unconscious form and jumps over the
waterfall to escape, in true cinematic fashion. Believe me, for most
younger kids, the idea of ‘rescuing’ your mom is a powerful one.

A short rest later (thanks, 4e!) they return to the cave. They go
in, and he spots the leader sleeping on a cot in the back room. Before
the Paladin can stop him, he grins, “We’ve got him!”, and runs in. Of
course, the body on the cot was a dummy. He runs in and stabs the
dummy, and gets sneak attacked by the leader hiding in the shadows.

The whole time of course, Mrs. White has a big grin on her face –
she suspects a trap, but she knows he won’t listen – he has to learn
for himself. If we’d had a whole party affected by his actions, it
could’ve pissed a lot of people off. As it was, it was a big exciting
dramatic moment. “He tricked us!”

The two lessons I walked away with were:

1) Wow, it’s fun when everything old is new again through the eyes of
your child. Helps crack through some of the old jaded gamer exterior.

2) Wow, I love how in a tabletop game I can adapt the whole game to
what the players are doing. I kept thinking how hard it would’ve been
to do all that in a video game without it all being figured out in

Jul 20

Scorching Burst Everything!

So the 9-year old has decided that his Wizard’s
hammer is the “Scorching Burst” spell (the 1st-level mini-fireball),
and the world all looks like nails to him.

He created this song:

“I gotta sandwich that’s cold”

“Scorching Burst!”

“I gotta friend who’s asleep!”

“Scorching Burst!”

“I gotta guy tied up with ropes!”

“Scorching Burst!”

“It’s a little chilly in here”

“Scorching Burst!”

“I need to light the campfire!”

“Scorching Burst!”

“I need to make some coffee!”

“Scorching Burst!”

Yeah. Kids.