Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Gaming With The Little Guy

Well, my blogging fell by the wayside a few years ago.  As evidenced by the lack of activity here and on my other blog, time wasn't available for me to write for fun.  Try as I might I simply couldn't keep up with real life.  Work changed, responsibilities changed, and most importantly, priorities changed.  But the major reason for my hiatus was the birth of my little buddy back in 2013.  My hobbies immediately took a huge hit on the priority scale.

Now that he is older however, I've been introducing him to some of my hobbies.  He has already been an excellent dice roller on my Thursday night D&D sessions, but now we are stepping up the game...pun fully intended.  Tonight was our first dungeon crawl, or "dungeon battle" as he calls it.

While Mommy was finishing up supper I set up the board.  I have tons of miniatures both painted and pre-painted.  There certainly was no problem finding adversaries.  I did hit a wall (also fully intended) when it came to a 3D dungeon however.  I've always been a theatre of the mind guy so I didn't have a fully painted dungeon ready and waiting for adventurers.  Instead, I had to compromise.

I laid out my battle mat and arranged some castle blocks from my old Crossbows and Catapults set.  I then placed a few trees (which I use for miniature war games) along with some scattered pirate treasure coins and "jewels."  Once the bad guys were positioned, we were ready to go.

The dungeon board is set!

The little guy wanted to play a wizard like Gandalf.  Though I was super excited to be playing with him, I wasn't quite ready to let him handle any of my painted minis.  Fortunately I've collected a fair amount of pre-painted plastics over the years so the human red wizard from the Icons of the Realms starter set became Cameron the magic guy.

Cameron the magic guy (teddy bear not included).

With such a momentous occasion looming, even my wife couldn't resist joining us.  She chose a female ranger which we cleverly named Mommy Archer.  I rounded out the group by playing a paladin.

The party prepares to enter the dungeon.

I placed some of my wargaming trees at the entrance to the dungeon to recreate one of my favorite scenes from B2 - The Keep on the Borderlands. Kobolds were dutifully placed guarding the entrance and hiding behind the trees.  Despite being outnumbered more than two-to-one, the party, lead by a charging wizard, was victorious in their first encounter.

As far as rules go, I simply made them up as I went along.  Though I am a Moldvay guy, I based my rules off of 5e to make the numbers easier for a 4 year old to grasp. I ignored armor type for the heroes and picked a high number for AC (16) to make them difficult to hit.  Killing your son's first "character" probably would not lead to a lifetime of gaming interest.  Armor class for the bad guys was based off their relative difficulty in the real game.  Those pesky kobolds were only AC-12 so it was pretty easy for the little guy (and his lagging parents) to finish them off.  As far as hit points go, most everything expired after a single hit.  The tougher opponents required two hits (we used pennies as wound markers) while the dragon at the end of the dungeon would not fall until four hits were scored against the creature.  The heroes each had five pennies worth of health.  Luckily, when Mommy was down to two pennies, Daddy's paladin used Lay on Hands to cure 1d4 worth of health.  Mommy got a good laugh out of that one and some adult innuendo promptly ensued.

The party progressed through the first obstacle then found themselves in a room full of treasure and skeletons.  The lure of treasure proved to be too much for the little guy as he charged into the room without Mommy and Daddy.  He was quickly surrounded by undead but somehow held his own.  He cast spell after spell, yelling out "abracadabra" each time.  I'm not sure what spell he was casting but it was quite deadly!  The skeletons were soon destroyed and the treasure was his.  We caught up in time to witness the last of the carnage.

The undead, along with a skeleton dog, guard the treasure.

Lust for treasure now consumed Cameron the magic guy and he rushed down the hallway for more, only to fall into a trap.  A giant rat and two spiders were waiting for him.  Again he was a force to be reckoned with and quickly dispatched a foe.  But when a poor role placed him in a bit of trouble, he yelled out to Mommy and Daddy to come save him.  It took us a while to get there (our movement was controlled by a 1d6). By the time we arrived, most of his foes were already feeling the wrath of another abracadabra.

Before we could catch our breath from the battle, he was off again.  Another room: the same outcome.  This kid was on fire!

Another room.  More treasure.

After pocketing his loot it was time for the final showdown.  Huge orcs and smelly bugbears were awaiting the fearless magic guy.  And beyond those capable foes (each required two hits) was a black dragon.

The party worked well together during the this encounter, but each of our characters did take some damage against the AC-16 orcs.  Fortunately the paladin was there to offer a bit of healing again.  Once the humanoids were dispatched though, the dragon flew down from its perch.  It was about to get real.  The final battle was on!

The heavily guarded treasure room.

The combat phase with the black dragon would have been quite boring and definitely anticlimactic for true players.  It ended much too quickly.  Cameron the magic guy and Mommy both hit for two penny's worth of damage.  I promptly missed with my sword but the dragon missed as well with his two attacks.  It was the little guy's turn again and he ended the battle with a natural 20, which doubled his damage and brought down the great wyrm in a hail of abracadabras.  

The battle was won! The heroes were bloodied yet alive.  The princess in the tower called down to her saviors for help.  But instead of rescuing the poor princess trapped at the top of the tower, Cameron the magic guy rushed straight for the treasure.  My wife and I both laughed and agreed that next time he should probably play a rogue.

Cameron the magic guy poses with his miniature, the princess, and his defeated foe.

My little guy had a blast playing "D&D."  He was jumping up and down with excitement during his turns and plotting his moves when it wasn't.  I felt an immense sense of pride and satisfaction at his enjoyment and a bit of relief as well.  I never want to force any activity upon him so I was quite happy to see him take to some of my interests so readily.  I'm already looking forward to our next dungeon battle.  I'm also planning ways to level up our game as far as scenery is concerned.

Do you have any D&D-ish games that you play with your little ones?  If so, I'd definitely like to hear about your set-up and rules in the comments section.

Thanks for reading!


  1. What a great adventure for the magic guy! I've been subtly prodding my 14 year old to have a go at the game. He's got dice, a set of rules and an adventure, but so far they've only been into computer gaming. Hopefully one day soon he'll go old school with a tabletop adventure. Nothing beats using your imagination and rolling dice.

    1. Keep working on him. Maybe he will come around soon. Now that D&D is officially cool (unlike the status it suffered in our time) the odds are on your side.

      I agree with you. Using your imagination provides much better graphics than even the best console or PC.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. I totally missed this! Looks like great fun and I like the simplified rules. I've never played with any kids this little, but my friends' kids have played with us (they're all teens now).

    1. We had fun on that night and on the many times we've played since. He calls our dungeon crawls the Dungeon of Doom," which I'm sure he picked up from us watching YouTube videos of DwarvenForge's Kickstarter terrain.

      I'm hoping his interest will remain and that he will want to play some real D&D when he gets old enough.

      Speaking of, how old were your friend's kids when they started playing?

      Thanks for reading.

    2. I think the youngest was around 10 or 11 when we first tried D&D, but they had all (4) been immersed in fantasy games, movies, books, etc. for most of their lives. The oldest one just turned 18 this year.