The Gassy Gnoll: Gaming with my Girls

Several years ago, I ran a (brief) 3.5e campaign consisting of my wife, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and a friend of all of ours. Though we had a great time, it was short-lived due to scheduling issues, life getting in the way, and who knows what else. When it faded to black, I started debating with myself when I might be able to get my daughter (only had one at the time) into gaming. I don’t remember if I came to any epiphanies, but decided it would have to wait a while. Since then, we had a second daughter and moved a few times, but I always wondered when it would be time to get them involved in my favorite hobby.

Well, by the end of her first year of kindergarten, my youngest was starting to read voraciously. She’s tearing through chapter books like there’s no tomorrow. And she and her sister are making up stories, drawing monsters, and playing card, board, console, and computer games like mad this summer. I decided it was time last week to take the plunge.

You may have seen my review of Dungeonslayers last week and in it I mentioned that I was going to try and hack together a sample adventure to see how my daughters did. Well, let me tell you… it was entertaining.

My eldest daughter did as I expected, creating a female human wizard named Soro Helm. She’s even drawn a picture of her character since then, which is pretty good (I have no artistic skill, so I encourage hers). Soro has one spell – Fire Ray – and a dagger she picked up in town.

I honestly had no idea what my youngest daughter would do. She surprised me and created a female rogue/scout named Bob. That’s right, “Bob.” It’s the name at my house that everything is given if it needs a name. Not sure how or where it started, but it’s amusing. Bob has a short sword she picked up in town.

The town is one I created for a much older Moebius Adventures product called Age of Phaedrus. The town of Ouat (pronounced like “what”) is small, but has a little bit of everything. Soro and Bob visited the armorer in town, the local fence, and the mage’s guild, before being called over to talk to the local innkeeper to take care of a small rat problem.

First, you have to understand that my GM skills are extremely rusty. They really haven’t been used in several years to any extent beyond the occasional one-off or playtest.

Second, I was extremely thankful that my daughters had no idea what to expect. Therefore when I threw in a few odd bits and pieces like a fence named “Lucky” who was missing a few fingers and requires a special knock at the door to get in and a doorman at the mage’s guild who looked through the peep hole and then was discovered to be a gnome who had no business with his head at that level… they giggled quite a bit.

Third, I was floored by my youngest daughter who decided that she needed to talk as though her character was on helium. Funny at first, it grew more than a little tiresome quickly, but we’ll see how things go in future sessions.

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So pulled aside by the innkeeper, the girls were asked to take care of a rat problem in the cellar before word got out that he had an infestation. Yes, I’m using the pre-built “Lord of the Rats” one page dungeon from the Dungeonslayers book, but there’s nothing wrong with that. My goal for this campaign test is just to see how they do with a simple adventure, not reinvent the wheel. Plus, there are several other one-page-dungeons available at the Dungeonslayers

Over the course of the two hours we played, we managed to create characters, introduce the town a bit, and get them into the dungeon. They got through the first two rooms and killed 10 rats between them. Not bad for two characters, neither of which is a front-line fighter. Bob suffered the most damage (down nearly 2/3 of her hit points) and Soro was scratched once or twice.

At the end of the second room, I had them escape back up the stairs to the inn to rest and recover, so that’s where we started the next session…

This week I was informed (yes, they’re bright, opinionated, strong-willed ladies) that my youngest wanted to change her character’s name from “Bob” to “Sara Marshall” – and of course the joker in me made references to forgetting her character and simply calling her “Bob” again… But I eventually relented and we now have SM (Sara Marshall) and SH (Soro Helm) fighting the good fight against the innkeeper’s rat problem.

The girls managed to find their way to the town healer (the Temple of Od) and the Oddite Priestess helped heal most of SM’s damage from the rats the day before. And without much of a breath they jumped head first back into the dungeon. Through holes in the wall of the cellar, they found their way into an ancient structure with more rats and even a skeleton. Remarkably, Soro remained mostly unscathed and Sara took the brunt of the damage from a couple of giant rats that had it in for her.

So we played for another couple of hours until they got close to the big “final” battle of the adventure, which we can try to get through next time!

Overall I’m happy with how it worked out. I hope to get my wife involved and a few other folks if things work out. The Dungeonslayers system is easy and a great way to gently introduce folks to roleplaying games, tactics, and playing a character. Eventually we may graduate to something like D&D or Pathfinder, but I’m holding off for another year or two unless things go much better than I expect. The first character death will be interesting, as will seeing how they approach more difficult opponents.

For two kids aged 6 and 10, I think my daughters did great. And the fact that they keep asking when they can do it again tells me everything I need to know!

Next time… More rats… and a stone golem!

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5 comments to The Gassy Gnoll: Gaming with my Girls

  • forged

    You certainly do love to play on names within your games. Glad to hear it is going well and that they are hooked.

  • It is so awesome to see gamers handing down the wonderful lessons and learning opportunities to younger generations. I have my four year old started on HeroClix and his new thing is when can he play Dungeons & Dragons. If you haven’t had a chance to check out rpgKIDS I suggest you do. Here is a link. We all need to pass the torch to sustain our hobby for years to come. Roll hard!

    • Fitz

      @Christopher Hackler – Thanks. And RPGKids is on my list of systems to check out for sure. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the encouragement and good luck with your 4-year old!!

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