About a week ago I finally decided to get together with my kids and play some Dungeons and Dragons. I have had the Bean play before but this was the first time for both Juicinator and Potato. I knew Bean understood the concepts but was a bit worried that Juicinator would need every nuance of every rule explained (she is a bit detail oriented and can hammer you with questions when she wants to understand something) and didn't know if Potato would be interested enough to learn. My fears were largely assuaged when I asked them “Would you guys like to start playing DnD with me?” and they responded with a very hearty “Yayyyyyyyy!!!”
Once I had them all in agreement to play the next step was of ourse to create characters. I gave a lot of thought about how I was going ot do this, after all there are currently five versions of DnD available and each has it's own merits and drawbacks. My first impulse was to simply break out my ancient basic DnD stuff because it really is about as simple a game as you can get. While Basic is indeed simple that is also its problem because it just plays so generically. I never really considered either first or second edition Advnaced Dungeons and Dragons because while they were aweosme for their time, they are very old in game philosophy and I just wasn't thinking it would be that much fun to run. I nixed fourth edition because while it is a very solid game.. it isn't the experience I wanted to start my kids out with. So that left 3.5 but I did wonder if it was a bit to complex but decided I could adjust complexities if need be.
Once the version was chosen it was time to prep the kids a bit. I had the Bean take the other two in hand and go through the Players Handbook with the assignment of each of them picking the race and class combination they thought they would like the best. I have to admit their choices surprised me a bit because I was expecting them to pick “simple” things like human fighter or rouge. Instead, Bean picked a elven druid, Juicinator picked a gnome ranger, and to my great surprise Potato picked a Halfling cleric.(I like being useful and helping people with healing, Daddy)
So, their race and classes picked out it was time to get down to actually making the characters. I have to say that this process went more smoothly than I thought it would. While there was a bit of having to explain somehting ten times in twenty different ways, for the most part they figured it out pretty quickly. A little side note, Jasmine rolled two eighteens on her character which was awesome. It took a couple hours on two different nights to get the characters completed but complete them we did and finally it was time to actually sit down and play.
Now, anyone who has played with me knows I like to put prep into my DnD sessions and while I would have loved to do so with my kids, they were so eager to play that I really didn't have time to do the kind of prep I like to do. Also with my eyes being as bad as they are (god can time creep any slower till I can get them fixed?) Pouring over DnD books just isn't that appealing at the moment. With these complications I just decided to wing it. I mean why not? So I figured given that they are all woodsy characters (Jade decided to follow Yondalla a nature kind of diety) this made a good starting point. Their mentor a druid by the name of Theodore sends them off to none other the village of Homlet (It's how I started so just made sense to me) to speak with an alchemist there by the name of Robard to get some elderberry root. After fielding some questions about what he needed it for the three noble adventurers head of bright and early one morning for a seven day trip to Homlet.
I actually had anticipated that they wouldn't run into much there, but I was wrong. I was using a d10 to check for encounters. I would use one roll for the daytime and two for nighttime. Their first day of travel nothing happened but that night on the second roll they got attacked by dire rats. It was during this encounter that I felt a strong sense of paternal pride in my emerging gamers.
Bean was on watch when she hard a crackling in the underbrush. Curious she decides to investigate the noise. She travels about fifteen feet from the camp and sees several dire rats making their way toward the camp. Thinking quickly Bean sends out a shout of alarm waking the other two and wades in with her wolf animal companion to do battle. The first round does not go very well, both Bean and the wolf are wounded while they fail to land a blow on the now swarming dire rats. As the other two arrive the melee intensifies and again the round goes against our noble companions. At this point is when something awesome happens.
Juicinator looks at me thoughtfully and points to her character sheet “Can I use my speical abilities right now?”
I look at her and ask “Well which one do you want to use?”
She smiles “I want to use Dancing Lights.'
“Why do you want to use that?”
“Well I want to make bright lights that scare off all the rats.”
I shake my head “Sorry Juice but that won't work because they are in combat they most likely won’t notice the lights and even if they did I doubt it would scare them.”
Juicinator scowls and then points at her sheet again “Can I use ghost sound?”
I consider it and ask “What do you want ot use it to do?”
She smiles “To make a sound like a big cat and scare of the rats!”
I laugh and decide that this actually can work. While I would think somehting like a thunder clap would work better I have to admire her creativity. I roll a will svve for each of the rats and DC 10 and wouldn't you know it all but two fail and flee in fear of the loud cat sound. The rest of the battle goes rather quickly and Potato heals up everyone and they go back to sleep.
Now I have ran countless games of DnD and in almost every case similar to this encounter players generally just battle the critters, I was seriously impressed with my daughters thinking of using ghost sound. It was really neat to see her think of that in the heat of battle. Maybe I am being a bit over proud, but I don't care, they are my kids and they are awesome.
So the next day they are walking along when the encounter and owlbear. I was a bit worried about this encoutner because the owlbear is actually quite a brute, but I figured if worse came to worse I could think of some way to save them. Turns out that these worries were unfounded considering that in the first two rounds all thee of the girls rolled critical attacks. The owlbear was downed pretty easily then Bean thinks of maybe tracking the creature back to it's lair.
Agian I was impressed because very seldom have I seen veteran gamers think of doing something like this. So they make th eapproriate rolls and find the owlbears tracks. A short hike later they find the small cave it has been living in. Deciding to show some caution (again surprising their DM) they sneak up to the cave entracne carefully and find it empty. Thye give it a through searching and are rewarded with finding 120 gold pieces and a wand of invisibility (they got to roll on the treasure table and managed to roll well enough to get a mnor magic item.. I am telling you these kids have serious luck).
At this point it was close to bed time so I told them we were stopping for the night (Awww Daddy to we have to?) but assured them we would play again son.
Looking back on the night I have to say that while it was not the most intense night of gaming I have ever had, it was certianly one of the most fun. There is just something really cool about seeing my kids shuffling character sheets, rollling dice, and listening to me intently as I describe the world they journey through. I can't wait to do it again soon.
So looking forward I have a bit of a decision to make. While I sent them off to the village of homlet, this was done simply to give them a direction Now they have found a small cave. I can simply keep it a small cave and let them continue their journey or I can let them find a passage way further into the hills they are traveling through.. I really don't know which way I will go yet.. what do you think?