Monday, April 16, 2012


Friday was supposed to be a D&D game, but one of our players was recovering from surgery, so neither she nor her husband could make it. So we decided instead to introduce the girls to a sort of D&D Lite via a free module that Matt found a while back.

Not Very Scary Monsters
It's a brilliant system, to be honest, a great introduction to some of the concepts of tabletop gaming without overwhelming you with choices. There are five pre-built characters to use. Each character has a number of hit points, an armor class, a speed/move rate, one "normal" attack, and one special ability. And that's pretty much it. Each player needs only two dice: a d20 and a d6. They roll the d20 to hit. Successful attacks do 1 point of damage. (Unless their special ability changes it, or they roll a natural 20, in which case they do a d6 damage.)

That's pretty much it. It's just enough game mechanic to get them used to moving around the game grid and rolling dice to attempt things and begin to understand some of the strategies of teamwork. Because it's aimed at kids, the artwork in the module is downright adorable. ("I want to be a girl!" they insisted when we started handing out characters. Thankfully, the names and character pictures are generic enough that they could be either gender, so we assured them that no one had to play a boy.)

The math is fairly simple -- basic addition and over/under comparison -- making it perfect for our 6-to-10 age range. To avoid squabbling over who got which character, we had them draw blind. Emma drew the elf wizard and made a gasping squee noise. "I'm an elf mage! That's all I've ever wanted in my life!" Penny drew the human fighter; I was worried she'd find it a boring choice, but she promptly dove into the character and began demanding blood and death from every opponent. (She also demanded to know what the damsel in distress looked like, and while I know her motives for asking were not along the typical fighter's line of thought, it still amused the hell out of me.)

"I want to spill blood!"
 Matt ran the adventure as it was written, with Braz sitting in to play the fifth character and Adin hovering nearby to help Ripley (who didn't really need help after the first few rounds, but was tired and therefore believed she did). I dashed back and forth taking pictures and live-tweeting it from my cell.

Aah! Scary monster!
Penny's fighter was swallowed by a bulette -- there was much squealing and "ewwww!"ing, but we promised her that the best kind of gaming events were the ones that you could tell awesome stories about later. (She survived the encounter, I promise.)

They cottoned on to simple strategy more quickly than I'd expected. The adults were gritting our teeth in frustration that they would flit from monster to monster instead of concentrating on one until it was dead, but they did quickly realize that they should try to arrange themselves to make it possible for Sarah (playing the rogue) to use her special backstab power (for which she had to be positioned directly opposite a party member), and Penny eventually started positioning her character to allow her to use her charge power.

When they successfully completed the module, Matt sealed their fates: he handed out a "hero badge" to each player that he had printed out for them to keep. They were so excited, it took us nearly an hour to get them calmed down and to bed, despite it being past 10pm.

The next day, all four of them demanded another game. So Braz wrote up a quick module, and this time he ran it while I played the spare character he'd played the previous night. He hammed it up for his audience with larger-than-life gestures and appropriately silly/gross touches like having Sarah's rogue attack hit the troll in his butt. Emma busted out a Princess Bride quote early on -- not just a TPB quote, but an adapted quote. "Hit it with the axe!" We swelled with pride.

Once again, everyone got an actual, physical reward for successful completion of the game -- this time, a penny that represented a token promising a favor from the town's mayor.

The girls would have demanded a third game on Sunday, but we told them more or less immediately that it wasn't going to happen, the adults having actual things to do. But we promised them another game soon. I guess it's my turn to write and run one.

Who'd have guessed that gaming with a bunch of elementary school kids would be so much fun?!


I also spent part of the weekend sanding and staining our new entertainment center/bookcase. There's not much to say about that. I planned marvelously for the actual sanding and painting, and made sure we got a dropcloth, and a tarp to put over it so it could stay outside overnight while it's drying, and everything... but didn't even think about cleanup. I had to call Matt and Penny back from an errand they were running on Saturday because I had polyurethane stain all over my hands and couldn't get it off with any cleaning substance to be found in the house. Matt kindly ran to the store and got some mineral spirits and Lava soap for me, and also some disposable gloves so I wouldn't have the same problem again for the second coat. Ah-heh.

At any rate, I got the shelf sanded and put two coats of stain on it over the weekend, and though my whole body still hurts this morning, I'm looking forward to getting it into place soon! Admittedly, it doesn't look like a professional job (either the carpentry or the finishing), but neither does it look bad. (It's those little imperfections that point to a handmade item, anyway, right?) Oh, well, whatever it looks like, it's going to do the job that our old entertainment center no longer does, and then we'll be able to hang our TV on the wall and get back the chair it's currently propped on!


And finally, a momentous moment for us: Matt and I took our baby boosters out of our cars this weekend. Alex is now officially, full-time on the regular booster, and Penny is now officially, full-time sitting on the car seat like a big kid!

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