"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Monday, January 18, 2010

The tragic tale of my son's D&D adventure

My 4-year old son asked this morning if we could play D&D before school (he attends play-school in the afternoon). I am sure my eyes lit up at the question. Actually a couple of days ago I printed rpgKids from NewbieDM's bog.

I quickly got out my figures and my combat mat. I sat down with my son and he picked four figures and named them. We had Steve (a figure with a warhammer), Sir Knight (a knight - go figure), Greenie the elf, and Miranda the Magician.

I the described to my son that the four were brave adventurers and asked him what they were going to do. He replied that they were looking for a bad guy in a forest. I am suddenly thinking that my son is DM-material.

I asked, "Why is the bad guy in the forest?"

He replied, "because he is lonely and looking for friends."

I think, "Minions!"

So the story becomes that there is a fearsome monster in the forest that captured the princess who is a friend of the party (who the monster wanted to be his friend as well). The party sets off to find the princess. They quickly meet some small monsters in the forest and battle ensues using a d6-only version of rpgKids.

That is where tragedy set in. The fight was well in hand for the party but one monster managed to hurt Miranda the Magician. My poor son became quite sad that poor Miranda would get hurt. We ended the session as tears welled in his eyes and his chin quivered.

I guess he isn't quite old enough yet.


  1. Ooooh, I hope he isn't scarred for life by this. I guess you'll be reminding him that Miranda is all better now and ready to go adventuring with him whenever he wants to.

    A lovely, touching little story.

  2. Hats off from me who DMs for anearly 10 year old.
    I've just read those rules did Miranda not have her special medicine so she could go adventuring again?........B-)

  3. RE Medicine. I told him that she could use some medicine to feel better but it didn't seem to help his disposition.

    Like I said, I think he is just a little too young yet.

    I am hoping to get to do the same thing with his older sister. I am hoping that if he sees her play and how she handles characters getting hurt, he will better be able to cope in the future.

  4. My son, who's 5 now, has been showing a lot of interest in my dice, maps, and books. I know that he'll be very keen to play one of his Dad's games one day... but I imagine things would be exactly like you describe here if we actually played anything like D&D.

    The closest we've got is setting up the HeroScape board and having races to retrieve objects on the terrain (roll the dice, move your mice).

    I think if you really wanted to do an actual RPG to try and model the genre narratives after whatever they're watching on TV. That could be kiddie type mysteries of maybe superhero type battles.

  5. Why did it have to be a combat scenario?

  6. Awww! Sweet story. One of my three nephews that played some LL last year wasn't fully ready for it (8 years old), but just yesterday he said he wants to try Mutant Future. I think the gonzo nature of it might suit his age and temperament better...

  7. It's always a bit of a trauma when kids suffer their first character mishap. I recall Junior Grognard getting very tearful when he made a bad mistake, split the party and sent his best fighters and thief to face four wolves (man, those guys are vicious). Because they were gaming my Training Dungeon, the characters reappeared at the start of the dungeon; even with this consolation, he didn't take deaths well. The less said about the incident when six characters were overwhelmed and ripped to shreds by ghouls, the better.

    He's 7 in April, so a little bit older than yours (but not as old as Ze Bulette's nephews), but he seems to have taken to it like a duck to water. We're using AD&D and he has picked up the concepts very quickly. The only problem he has is distinguishing between the various dice, D8 and D10 give him problems as at a glance, they do look rather similar.

    Old 4 Eyes can testify to the applicability of the Training Dungeon - I've got plans to convert it to S&W and he is running it with C&C. I've just found out about RPGKids so that might be on the cards as well.

  8. @ Timeshadows -
    The only reason it was a combat scenario was in the past we have played "freeform" with the minis and he always enjoyed picking up a mini with a warhammer and physically bashing a monster over the head (watching too much Bugs Bunny with Dad I guess). This was the first time I have tried to introduce rules and dice. Maybe that was what caused the reaction.

    I do play a game with both of my kids at bedtime where we each take a turn adding to a story. The other day my son and I were making up a pirate story about Captain Black where his ship was sunk by a sea monster and he handled that just fine.

  9. Patrick,

    I realised after I had written that that it could have come across badly. That was not my intention. I apologise if I offended you.

    You sound like a wonderful daddy.
    --I hope future games are more delightful for all involved, and I honestly look forward to reading your accounts.
    ---Sadly, I am not the custodial parent of my 10-year old son, but we have had a few games together, and they went pretty well.

    Best to you & your family,

  10. No offence was taken. Don't worry. It was a very good question and one that is quite interesting. How is it best to introduce gaming to a youngster? The gamey-combat bits or the collaborative storytelling?

  11. Man, imagine how he's going to flip the first time you betray him in Diplomacy.

    "Daddy, I thought you said we were both ganging up on Austria-Hungary?"
    "Daddy lied."

    Ah, life's hard lessons. =)

  12. Good stuff. Sometimes even when gamers are 30, 40 or more have the same reaction when one of their characters die.

  13. I had a similar reaction from a 8 year old nephew last summer. Despite only having invested two gaming sessions in his character, he was devastated when his character died due to a poisonous snake-bite.

  14. Heart strings strummed. So cute. Adult gamers sometimes have to be reminded that their characters are not invincible. A kiss better and a potion of extra healing might staunch he flow of tears perhaps? I wouldn't recommend this on the grown ups though (the first part anyway).

  15. Sorry bout the tears. My son is 5 and is starting to get into D&D as well. We ran a rpgkid version of Star Wars and he really enjoyed that. Our next attempt is at a D&D fantasy game.

    I look forward to more of your posts.