Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Introducing my 5 year old son to D&D (baby steps)

OK, it's not officially D&D as we know it (neither 1981 nor 2009), but it's a start.

So a little while back my son and I got our gaming groove on with Crossbows & Catapults. That was amazingly awesome! We then started mixing in some other figures (minis) into those battles, including some D&D miniatures, some WALL-E bots, and even a grinnin' thumbs-up'n Captain America. Fun!

Well, my son and my 2 year old daughter love my dice collection. She calls them "Daddy's ice" and it makes me smile every time. They also love my D&D minis collection.

So, it only made sense to start prepping my boy for some D&D gaming, in one form or another. I pulled out some minis (Dungeon of Dread series was the first bag I grabbed), their stat cards, and some dice for us to do some very simple battles. We really only used one combatant each this first session, just top keep it simple and for him to learn the basics of rolling for initiative, moving his guy, taking a swing at me (or a slash, kick, bite...as things progressed he got pretty creative).

Our first showdown put his Deathjump Spider against my Giant Centipede.

I just wanted to find the simplest and most evenly matched minis for the first fight. It was a very even match, and kinda just went back and forth, not much of a fight to be frank. So we dumped out the bag of minis and I let him pick his guy for the next one. He chose the Gargoyle. I chose the Drow Spiderguard.

I snapped a couple pics of the action, most of which were horrible examples of photography, so those are pretty much scrapped. I only have the first pic above as any sorta artsy take on our battlefield. The blurry parts there (on purpose...ha!) are his Gargoyle, my Drow, his red gem Gamescience d20 and d10 (I kept the damage dice to d10s to keep things easy this first session as well), and my blue gem Gamescience d20 and d10. Yes, I do love the Gamescience dice...really, any precision dice I really dig. Just feels right to a gamer from back in '81, ya'know?

I took some pretty crappy videos with a Flip video camera sitting on the kitchen island counter top, but those need some serious editing to be useful at all for a demonstration of our session. Maybe I'll get around to that. Maybe I'll just shoot better vids next time. Dunno.

Anyhow...we did really simple battles: initiative, moves, attack rolls (with juicy descriptions!), damage rolls, and hit point reductions. We never healed, and we never used any special character powers at all. The only special attacks that took place were ones that we just plain made up. One fun example was my son's flurry of "claw, claw, double-kick-to-my-temples, bite, tail-smack"...that was fun (for him). I let him roll 6 separate d20 attacks on that one (he hit with 3 of them), just to end the fight (my Drow suffering a horrible fate) before I would have surely beaten him. I know it wasn't the best education in good sportsmanship for him, but it was a lot of fun, and that counts too. Before that final attack chain, he was down to 1 hp, so it was pretty darn dramatic. Hey, he could have missed on all 6 dice - been there, done that.

My funnest attack was swinging around to his backside and attempting to slice off his Gargoyle's tail. I missed. Doh! He rubbed it in with the comment "critical miss!"...I've taught him well.

Anyway, it was a total blast and it was so much fun just to see him start to get that wide-eyed thing going, like we all did when we first rolled a polyhedron..."back in '(insert your roleplaying starting year)!"

More sessions to come, increasing the numbers of combatants per side, variable damage dice, healing, powers, strategy...but not letting it get too "rulesy."

BTW, if you've never seen a 5 year old (he turned 5 y.o. two weeks ago, BTW) roll a d20, you're missing out on major heaping of awesome. I can't wait to DM something for-real-real for him (and his sister) somewhere down the road. But for now: "baby steps."


Darius Whiteplume said...

Very cool. Glad you both enjoyed it!

Reis O'Brien said...

Right on! This warms my heart. Sounds like you guys had a great time!

yoyorobbo said...

@ Darius & Reis:

Yeah fellas, this is what it's all about. We had a freakin' GREAT time! And I hope it continues.

Ya never know...kids pick and choose their interests for themselves (or at least they *should*), but it's fun to see the excitement and joy they have in playing something you like too, and something you played as a kid. We're all still kids anyway, right?

Anyway, thanks for shouts here guys. Glad you liked the little tale of my (hopefully) future D&Der. ;>]

Darius Whiteplume said...

Having anything in common with your Dad is a good thing. Not to get all weepy, but my old man was a big sports guy, and I have had f'ed up eyes since birth, but no one knew. Not having his big thing as a possibility really created problems.

About the only thing we both liked was watching boxing, but now neither of us like it much. We've got more in common now that he has lousy vision too :-D

Gamer Dude said...

I know just where you're at. My daughters now play Labyrinth Lord with me in an ongoing campaign, and it's all sorts of awesome. I'm constantly amazed at the sense of newness and awe that each session brings to them and therefore, me.

It's like starting all over again. It's that cool for me. Playing with kids truly brings all those old feelings bubbling back to the surface.

We didn't start right off like that though, we played some board games and I told a LOT of stories structured around old games of yore. Eventually though it came to pass that they wanted to actually play. And here we are today.

What a great journey we're on here, for the second time! ;-)

yoyorobbo said...

@Gamer Dude: Dude, I am so stoked about the future...err...reliving the past via the future....err something. I applaud you for your gaming efforts with your kids, and for just plain spending time with your kids - gaming or not. Props!

yoyorobbo said...

BTW, I finally rebooted my brain upon reading Reis's recent post on his site about playing D&D (minis and more) with his young nephews.


The original post of his (sometime last August) is what originally got me thinking to roll out some minis for a simple intro to D&D for my son. Here's that original post by Reis:


So, hats off to Reis for the inspiration. I should have remembered it sooner. I suck. Hahaha.

Anyway, check out his posts if you haven't already. Great stuff!

Canned Man said...

I once ran a three-month long game for some 9- and 10-year-olds who'd never heard of roleplaying. It really is…epic!