Last post, I talked about my failure with adult gamers. Now let’s look at kids.
I have two (awesome) daughters, aged six and eight. They have progressed through Lego Heroica, to the Castle Ravenloft board game, to actual D&D. When D&D 5E came out, I got the Starter Set specifically to test drive it with my girls. They loved it, and so we embarked on our own campaign.
Side note: D&D is still known as “Starter Set” by my girls. “Daddy, are we going to play Starter Set today?” I don’t even bother trying to correct them.
Okay, so things were going great, that is until last session. It kind of crashed and burned. We ended up on the couch watching Clone Wars together instead . . . which I generally don’t consider a bad outcome, but not an auspicious ending to a D&D session.
So what happened? I can think of a few things.
My immediate sense was it was due to my lack of enthusiasm. This was absolutely a contributing factor. I can get my girls to engage in anything as long as I am there participating. Practice piano? No problem if I say “I want to listen to you play piano.” Math? “Can you show me what you learned with these questions?” Really anything. So part of getting them into D&D, I am sure, was daddy’s enthusiasm. It wasn’t there on Sunday and they noticed. They started getting distracted and talking about other things – which they generally don’t do.
I lacked enthusiasm because I was tired; possibly still hung over from an epically stupid night of drinking on Friday. Yes, I am old enough that the effects of a night of drinking can span two days. In any case, I was tired and couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to properly run the game. I’m usually very engaged when we play, figuring out funny ways for them to fail or silly things for the monsters or bad guys to do. I didn’t do that. I am proud to say my eight-year old tried to take my place narrating the failures, but she had a small collection of funny outcomes that wore out from use. To keep them engaged, I need to be on the ball – that’s true with just about anything, honestly.
But I think the biggest part is that I forgot what I loved about D&D when I first got into it. I was older than they are – I was about eleven or twelve when I started, I can’t remember exactly – but it wasn’t great overland adventures and epics quests that got me into D&D. Those came later. What got me into D&D were dungeons. My friends and I went through all the early standards. My intro was the Keep on the Borderlands, about which I still have a huge amount of nostalgic love. There were lots of others for which I have fond memories – Tomb of the Lizard King was a favourite; and Against the Giants and then Vault of the Drow, which kind of led into our inclusion of more story elements, like politics and influential NPCs. It was the dungeons that I loved. I’m putting them into the kind of game I would run later in high school or in university. Kind of like the other failure due to complexity, I’m trying to do too much when all I really need to do is take them through some dungeons.
And then introduce them to some dragons, of course.
We’ll see if my suspicions are correct. I’ve downloaded a couple of Dyson Logos’ maps and next episode they’ll be able to free their kobold friends from the dwarves by seeking out the kidnapped dwarven family – taken by the nefarious goblins hiding out in their cave complex!
Wish me luck.
You can find out more about Lego Heroica here.
You can find out more about the Castle Ravenloft board game here.
You can find out more about the Starter Set here.
You can find out more about D&D here.
You can find Dyson Logos’ maps here.