Monday, November 15, 2010

Fight like a 6yo Girl (and a 4yo Boy) - The Key of Kallictakus (Adventure 4)

In all honesty, the word 'Kallictakus' never came up throughout this entire adventure; we just referred to it as 'the Magic Key to open the watch-tower'. Jojo would have probably stumbled over by the 3rd syllable, so I didn't insist on it. 

As detailed in the adventure book, this scenario has the adventurers going into a heavily guarded fort to obtain the Key, and then bring it back outside to release the Sheriff from the watch-tower. As a twist, once the adventurers have defeated the final ogre (there are two ogres) and picked up the Key, another group of monsters appear outside. I felt that this was too nasty a shock to spring on Jojo at the very end, so I modified the start of the adventure to give her some fair warning on what was possibly in the horizon. I also took the liberty to start Mialee and Lidda off with a few handy Cure Light and Medium Wound potions to supplement their lack of healing powers.

Goblin Art-and-Craft
"So after you discover that the Sheriff is locked up in an old watch-tower, Mialee and Lidda travel back to the village to report on their findings. They also return some of the treasures and equipment they'd found (i.e. the stuff they couldn't cram into their knapsacks whistle), and the grateful villagers supply some of these potions to them. Mialee and Lidda make their way to the watch-tower." I place Mialee and Lidda in the grassy Start Area. "When you arrive, you see these guys." I place the two goblins, two gnolls and single bugbear in the same area.
Jojo's eyes widen. "What?"
I nod gravely. "Hmmm... yes, there're lots of monsters here. Oh, but wait! Someone is calling them from inside this doorway. (rough guttural voice) 'Hey you!! Go hunt for something to eat! We're hungry!!'. The monsters grumble and complain, but now they're all moving off into the forest. You wait till you don't hear them any more. It looks like this is the best time to enter now that they're gone!" I gave myself a mental pat on the back.
However, Jojo looks unconvinced. "Um. I wait for them to come back."
Hmm. Perhaps a little push. "Oh, Jojo! You hear someone going 'Psst! Up here!'. Looking up at this old watch-tower next to you, you see... the Sheriff! She looks down at Mialee and Lidda with relief, and says, 'The door to this watch-tower is magic! The only way to open it is with the Key inside the fort! Please get the key and get me out!'".
"Can I look at the door?"
"Of course." I hastily hammer together some details. "Um, the door is made out of stone, and has a flower-shaped key-hole in the middle of it." Inspiration started to gain steam. "And you also see drawings on the stone. Of flowers and vines. This tower must have been built by the elves long ago before it fell into ruin during the..."
"No, dad, the goblins must have drawn the flowers. To trick people into thinking that this is a nice place, but it really isn't."
Oh well, so much for my elegant elven carvings. The base of the watch-tower is now a vandalised ruin with crude goblin flower drawings. Heck, it works, so I forge on. "So it is! Oh well, Jojo, let's see what's in that first room, shall we?"

The first room is empty, and I'm pleased that Jojo's first action is to Find Traps. The room turns out to be quite safe, so the adventurers open the second door to the next room. Again, the girls cautiously search for traps, and are rewarded when they find several nasty Poison Dart Traps around. They skirt around them, and prepare to open the next door when...

The arrival of Reg-daaarrrrr
A week passes before we finally sit down to play out the rest of this adventure on a Saturday afternoon. This time, Evan (Jojo's 4yo brother) is with us, and he's hankering to play 'the monster game'. I assign him Regdar the Fighter (pronounced 'Reg-daaarrrrrr'). After some deliberation, it is decided that Regdar just turns up and Lidda passes him her equipment and goes off to keep the Sheriff company while Regdar and Mialee continue the search for the key.

I'd learnt some time back that the best way to introduce my kids to a new game is to start playing straight-away and explain the rules as we go along, so a slightly confused but excited Regdar takes the front-line with Mialee backing him up. "You open the next door -creeeaak!- and you both see a goblin, and a bugbear talking to -gasp!- a big smelly, nasty ogre! The ogre looks up in surprise and says, 'Oh ho! We've gots company!' He turns to the goblin and says, 'Go tells the big boss that we've got guests!' As the goblin scurries off, the bugbear goes, 'Lemme at em! Lemme at em!' and rushes towards the doorway!"

Evan is up first, so I hand him the dice to make a Power Attack with his Bone Cleaver. "Roll these, and don't roll a Star."
"Or it'll break!" pipes up Jojo helpfully.
Evan makes his very first roll, and inflicts a significant 3 damage over the bugbear's AC with no Star. "Good job, Evan! Regdar smashes into the bugbear like this -Pow! Pow! Pow!-" Regdar's second attack is just as impressive, and by the next round, the bugbear is knocked out! ("Is it nap time yet? Urrrrggghhh...") We all high-five the amazing result.

Evan rolls like this:
1. Pick up the dice
2. Wave dice around in hand before tossing them into box lid.
3. Pick up the dice that missed the box lid and try again.
The ogre is disgusted over his fellow monster's poor performance. "He says, 'I'll squish you both! Like bugs!' He picks up a rock from the ground and hurls it towards Regdar's head!" I roll an Ogre ranged attack, and don't score high enough to penetrate Regdar's AC. "It misses! How did that happen!?"
Jojo takes the cue. "Regdar must have ducked! Oh wait! He must have hit it back with his sword! And sliced it in two!"

Feeling extremely macho by now, Regdar strides into the room to exchange blows with the ogre while Mialee shoots her bow. It's over in a couple of rounds, with Regdar taking some damage. In the very last blow to the ogre, the Bone Cleaver finally expires.

"You smash into the ogre, and he falls over -blam!-." We wobble the table legs for extra effect. "But, oh no! Regdar's Bone Cleaver has broken in two."
"But he draws out this Axe to replace it."

Meat-Shield Initiation
They loot the chests (with Jojo insisting on looting first). By now, Evan is full of inquisitive questions ("Why are we attacking the goblins? Why did the goblins steal things from the village? Why do I get hit so much?") to which I let Jojo fill him in (which were, respectively, "Because they were stealing things from the village. Because they were looking for their Magic Orb which went away because of the goblin's underwear. Because you're in front.") The last answer seemed to satisfy something in Evan's mind, so we continue to the next door.

"In this next room, you hear the sounds of two goblins chatting next to these three chests. One's going, 'One, uh two, uh.. I lost count.' And the other goes, 'Clot head! It's one, uh two, uh..'"
The kids giggle. "They can't even count to three!" They make short work on the goblins (one of whom falls on the third chest and exclaims, 'Oh! Three!' before expiring) They open the door to the room with the final Ogre boss.

"In here, you see a strange wall of pillars in the corner. And you see the goblin who had scurried off earlier. He's trembling fearfully as he's talking to... the biggest, nastiest, smelliest ogre you've ever seen! And he has two bugbear guards with him! The ogre growls, "What!? They're here!? Let's smash them into mince meat!!'"

Evan take first Initiative, so he steps straight into the room, and decides to step behind the pillars. "Trap!" I announce and Jojo groans. "The moment Regdar steps behind this pillar, the ogre and the bugbears go, 'No no no! Don't go in there!!' There's a strange rumbling noise, and then fire erupts from cracks at the top of these pillars! It covers the whole room, and everybody in it gets burnt and loses 1 hitpoint!"

The fight was fairly long (the kids broke for a nap halfway through), fairly damaging (the kids downed both their potions of Cure Light Wounds and Cure Medium Wounds), and had fairly odd moments (Evan forgot about the Furnace, as we called it, and moved back into it, burning everything in the room again). The goblin didn't get into the fight at all and was cheering blood-thirstily from the back of the room until Jojo got annoyed enough to take it out with her bow. In the end, the ogre collapses in another big table-leg shuddering crash, and the two heroes advance to the next room to loot the six treasure chests. Evan finds a Poisoned Dart Blowpipe decorated with symbols of red scorpions and announces that he's found a 'Lobster Gun'. It's interesting that as Jojo finds more of the same Level 1 Treasures, she chucks them aside as junk. Oh well, it'll be time soon for Level 2 Treasures in the next adventure.

Regdar in the Furnace
Surprised Attack
"And in the very last room, you see a pedestal on which lies the Magic Key to the watch-tower!" Cheers. "And better still, you see absolutely nothing here guarding it! Surely, it must be safe!" whistle
Jojo searches and finds 3 Poison Dart traps before a big Hand result stops her. As predicted, she goes to Plan B and turns to her brother, "You go in first."

Evan creeps into the room, his every step watched by his sister and his dad. He goes around the first traps, and steps straight into the next one. "Trap! Out of these holes in the walls, poison darts shoot out -pew! pew!- and hit Regdar for 2 damage!" Grimacing, Regdar gets to the pedestal, and in classic Indiana Jones fashion, swipes the Key and looks around to see if anything else happens. As he makes his way back, he springs another volley of poison darts which bring him down to 1 HP. There is much relief once he gets back to the doorway where Mialee is waiting.

"Hooray! You've got the Key to the watch-tower and now you can... uh oh! Remember those monsters that went hunting? It looks like they're back!" I trot the monsters back into the grassy clearing and set them up camp-fire style. "The bugbear growls at one of the goblins, 'Go and tells that dinner is ready!', and the grumbling goblin slowly makes his way back into the fort."

By now, I had a plan about how the kids were going to deal with this final group of monsters, and I explain to the kids that their best chance is to ambush them one at a time. And then I had to explain what the word 'ambush' meant. "If you hide somewhere like next to a doorway, you can surprise that goblin coming in and attack him." After some deliberation between them, the kids choose to hide next to the doorway in the 4th room, and watch with nervous fits as I trotted the goblin closer and closer. He steps through the door and both the kids yell, "BOO!" before laying into him with axe and arrow. The surprised goblin is down before he can react, and the kids high-five and wait for their next victim.

"This time, the bugbear is annoyed and sends one of the gnolls along with another goblin." I walk both the figures in with the gnoll in front. This time, it takes an extra round to down the gnoll, and the goblin turns to flee. "He's running back to the front door! If he gets out, he'll warn the others!" Jojo rushes Mialee after the fleeing goblin while Regdar limps behind with his 4 Movement. There are only two opportunities to shoot, and incredibly, Mialee manages to down the goblin with her bow just two squares away from the front-door. The adventurers breathe a sigh to relief and take up positions as I send in the last two grumbling monsters one after the other. The kids easily dispatch them and make their way to the watch-tower to release the Sheriff.

This adventure was brought to you by the letter 'J'
"And when you hold the Key just in front of the flower-shaped keyhole, the Key vibrates, and little sections open up in front of it, twisting and turning until it exactly forms the flower-shape of the keyhole! You push in the Key, and the door opens. The Sheriff steps out and thanks you all for rescuing her and defeating the evil ogres and their goblins! Congratulations, guys! You're now both at Level 2!"

For emphasis, I push up their hitpoint and spell point markers to show what Level 2 entails, earning "oooo"s from them. The kids survey the higher level Treasure cards and other monsters and I half-mindedly answer their random questions while I pack the game away.

"What's this, dad?"
"A magic orb that finds all traps in the room."
"How about this?"
"A jelly monster."
"Where's the figure for the jelly monster?"
"There isn't one. You use this chit here to show it."
"Does it eat jelly?"
"No, it's not like Cookie Monster. It eats weapons."

Evan rushes off to inform his mother about their successful mission. "Mummy! We won the game! And I was a fire-fighter!"
"Dad?" Jojo asks me very earnestly. "In the next adventure game we play? I want to control the monsters."
Somewhere inside me, the DM-side starts going What? How is she going to plan out the traps, and the monster positions, and- but the Dad-side knuckles the DM-side on the arm. "Yeap, sure, Jojo. Why not?"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fight like a 6yo Girl - The Haunted Village (Adventure 3)

After reading the Haunted Village adventure before-hand, I'd come up with a few ideas to help out Jojo's two adventurers this mission. I will pop down a few extra chests containing healing potions somewhere if their hitpoints start getting low. And depending on how well she deals with the skeletons in the first room, I might pop up the skeletons one at a time instead of all of them at once. With that in mind, we set up the next adventure - The Haunted Village.

Stain-Free Boots: Don't leave home without them
"So Mialee and Lidda travel to the haunted village where the Magic Orb of True Seeing is supposed to be. This here is the gate house where they need to enter first to get into the village itself. What do you want to do, Jojo?"
Jojo points at a trap-door picture on the dungeon floor. "I'll open this trap door!"

Since the previous adventures, Jojo has gotten into the habit of observing the pretty details on the boards. And then she interacts with them. So far, she's gotten Mialee's hair singed by the torches on the walls, and Lidda's boots covered with green slime (which apparently drips right off because the girls are wearing Magic Stain-Free Boots). She also insists on opening every trap-door picture on the ground. I've decided early on to play along.

"Lidda opens the trap-door, and several frightened mice scurry out -Squeak! Squeak!-"
"Dad, the next trap-door we open, can we find baby snakes?"
"Got it."

They open the door to the first room which contains four treasure chests... and nothing else. Jojo walks Mialee right in, and opens the nearest chest, springing a Choking Mist trap.

"The moment the chest opens, there's a sound like this (loud flattulent sound. It takes a few moments for Jojo to stop laughing). Oh, what a horrible, horrible smell! Mialee is spluttering and can't even breathe! She loses 1 Hitpoint! Luckily Lidda is not in the room yet, so she doesn't smell anything."

While Mialee is recovering, I point at the artwork of some skeleton bones nearby. "And then suddenly, these bones start moving, and a skeleton gets up! With a creaking sound (I think it hasn't moved in a long, long time, Jojo) it starts moving towards Mialee!"

Mialee faces her first creaky skeleton
Mialee shoots her bow at the approaching skeleton, and doesn't damage it at all.
"Oh, I know why, dad! It's because the arrows went through the holes in the ribs!"
One day, this girl is going to be an unholy DMing terror on her hapless players.

Bleeding Obvious DM strikes again 
It takes both Lidda and Mialee several rounds to finally reduce the skeleton into a pile of bones. They loot the rest of the chests and make their way to the next door. Of course, Jojo doesn't search for Traps at all, and Lidda steps into one of the Evil Resurrection Traps which brings back to life a previously killed opponent. I modify it to mean that another opponent of the same type appears.

"There's another creaking sound, and another skeleton pulls itself out of the ground over here. It sees Lidda and rasps like this - Gaaaaa!"
They battle the skeleton into a pile bones, and then Mialee steps into another Evil Rez Trap and another skeleton pops up, facing the wrong way. After a few confused moments, it turns to face the girls. By the time they smash it down, they were both down to 1 HP each. Still, they open the door to the next room.

By now, I was getting a little worried. The next room had a bunch of traps, and Jojo hadn't shown the slightest inclination to search for any Traps so far. It'd be a very short adventure if they both died now, so I put on my "Bleeding Obvious DM" hat, and set up the next room with two special chests in the corner (that contain those healing potions), and a very dead goblin on one of the traps.

"You see two green goblin feet sticking out of the ground nearby; it looks like this goblin fell right into a Pit Trap! Hmmm... I wonder if there's any more..."
Thankfully, Jojo picks up on the paranoia I'd lovingly instilled in her. "Lidda will search for Traps!! And Mialee too!!"

Earlier, Mialee had picked up a magic Pendant that allows her to search for traps. Funnily enough, Mialee finds all the traps in the room, while Lidda rolls a big fat Hand. They loot the treasure chests and drink the very handy Cure Light Wounds and Cure Medium Wounds potions they find inside. whistle The next room contains a single unguarded chest ("Find Traps!! Find Traps!!") which the adventurers loot after skipping around the traps.

The only way to play this game is to wear pink penguin pajamas
The next area is an open grassy area with trees. I scatter 3 goblins around, 2 behind the trees in opposite corners, and another next to the only treasure chest in the area.

"You hear goblins shouting at each other, 'Look for the Orb! It's got to be here somewhere!'. One goblin sees the treasure chest and goes, 'I found it! The Orb must be in here!' He then looks up at you both and goes, 'Hey! Who're you!?'."

Mialee rains a few arrows on the goblin while Lidda boldly stalks right up to him and sneak attacks him. The goblin is down before he can even react. The other two goblins come around the trees ('I found apples!') and rush towards the girls. Jojo surprises me by drinking an Initiative Potion to swap Initiative cards with me, making me go last in the next round. Lidda and Mialee manage to defeat the goblins, while taking minor damage to themselves.

The next room has two chests (which they loot), a Pit Trap (which Mialee falls into), and a trap-door picture containing baby snakes (which they adopt). They open the door to the room with the skeleton and the gnoll.

"You hear a very strange voice coming from this creature in the room. He's going 'Nice skeleton! Good skeleton!' to the skeleton. His voice sounds like this (I make a high, yippy laugh). Can you guess what sort of animal-man he is?"
"A chipmunk!"
"No, it is NOT a chipmunk!" Indignantly, I make a better second attempt.
"A hyena!"
"Yes! The hyena-man is called a gnoll, and he sees the both of you at the door. 'Hey! Look at that!' he says to the skeleton and points at you. The skeleton turns and sees you both. Gaaaaaa!"

The gnoll lets the skeleton fight the girls as he slips behind a pillar. After Mialee dispatches the skeleton with her Magic Missile, the gnoll fires his crossbow at Lidda who's trying to get to a treasure chest. The adventurers and the gnoll play 'chase-around-the-pillar' a couple of rounds before Lidda finally knocks him out with a sneak attack. By now, they are both low of HPs again.

First adventurer knock-out. DM Dad-1, Adventurers-58!
The final room reveals a bunch of 4 chests in a corner, and a scared-looking goblin in the middle. Again, Jojo's priority list of 'Treasure first. Fight later.' kicks in, and Mialee uses her Shadow Ring (she found another one in the previous room, much to her delight) to immediately get herself to the chests. The goblin doesn't see Mialee and advances straight to Lidda. Soon, the both of them are duking it out while Mialee loots treasure and steps into another Evil Rez Trap.

"A sound like an alarm horn goes off! Another goblin comes rushing up from the last room with the pillars! He whacks Lidda from behind!" I roll, and the damage takes Lidda down to 0 HPs. "Oh no! Lidda is knocked out! What is Mialee going to do now!?"

Mialee had picked up a Potion of Greater Restoration (restores 4 Hitpoints and 3 Spell Points to a downed hero) some time back, and being the railroading DM that I was, I was confident that train of logic would take its course. Of course, it de-rails and Mialee decides to loot more Treasure instead. It takes some effort to persuade Jojo to get Mialee to rescue her downed friend before the goblins knock her out too. Eventually, Lidda is back up again with 4 HPs, and just in time too as another Evil Rez Trap calls in yet another goblin. After a tough fight, the adventurers defeat the goblins. This time, they both search out all the Evil Rez Traps in the room before opening the final chests.

Plot Hook Super Glue
"And in the last chest, Jojo, you see a wonderous orb glowing pearly white. You've found the Magic Orb of True Seeing!" Amidst the cheering, my tale-spinning side suddenly gets a crazy plot-fixing idea. The original plot is that the adventurers find a ransom note detailing that the "Sheriff is near". I ditched that idea and told Jojo, "Hey! Why don't you use the Orb to find out where the Sheriff is?"
"Won't that make it dissappear?"
"So what? At least you'll find out where the Sheriff is! So what do you say to the Orb?"
"Show me the Sheriff!"
"Aren't you supposed to say, 'Magic Orb' first?"
"Oh yeah! Magic Orb, Magic Orb, show me the Sheriff!"

The Orb glows even brighter, and then the mist clears inside the Orb. The adventurers see that the Sheriff is locked up in a cell inside an evil watch tower.

"She's been in here for days, Jojo! They haven't even given her food or water!"
Jojo is aghast. "Oh no! She'll starve!"
"That's right, Jojo! And you also see who locked her up!" I pick up the Ogre figure and show it to her. "It's a mean, hairy, smelly Ogre! Not a friendly one like Shrek, but a really, really bad one!" I frown worriedly. "I think it's too dangerous for the girls, Jojo. I mean, look at him! I think you better throw in the towel right now. Are you going to give up?"
Jojo detects false dissuasion as well as any other kid. "Noooo! We must go and rescue the Sheriff!"

And so onward, to evil watch tower!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fight like a 6yo Girl - The Trail of Evil (Adventure 2)

It was a public holiday but I was woken up at 7am by an excited Jojo who had somehow climbed over my head and was staring straight down into my face. "Let's play that adventure game, dad!" were her first words of the day.

And so it begins.

Trap. Trap. Treasure. Trap. Trap. Treasure (Trapped). Trap.
After breakfast, I setup the second adventure and explain the situation to Jojo. The game didn't mention how the adventurers got there, so I took the liberty to embellish a little. "It took most of the day to look for the goblin's Big Hideout, but Lidda finally spots four goblins..." I trot out four green goblins off the side of the board. "...coming out from under a waterfall. After they'd passed, Mialee and Lidda creep through the waterfall, and find a hidden cave with a door!"

10.0 points on the Bleeding Obvious Plot Hook Scale; my players from my previous RPG campaign would have rolled their eyes at this point. But the great thing with a 6-year-old is that Jojo doesn't care and is enjoying every bit of it. Opening the door, Lidda and Mialee find a long hallway with 4 tempting treasure chests in it. Despite my subtle warnings about unguarded treasure, Jojo moves Lidda in and walks straight into a Pit Trap. After reminding her about the Find Traps ability, she rolls and finds all but the last three Traps in the room. They loot the treasure chests (triggering off a Blinding Flash Trap from one of the chests in the process) and after dusting themselves off, they open the next door.

Anyone bring the BBQ sauce?
Opening the second door reveals the corridor that loops round the perimeter of the final room like a jogging track. Here, I place 4 goblins on the other side of the board, marching clockwise around the track with a 'One-Two! One-Two!'. Unfortunately, the goblins have first Initiative, and the first goblin rounds the bend and spots the two adventurers peeping through the door. With a "Hey! Who're you?!" the goblin charges down towards them.

At this point, Mialee casts her most potent spell that she'd picked up recently - Flame Arrow. Jojo rolls maximum damage with the dice, and whoops out a "Yes!".
"Mialee shoots arrows of fire at the goblin, and he is totally covered with flames! Gaaahhhh, he's now all black and topples over! You've barbequed him, Jo!"

Barbequed Goblin on the menu
While Jojo is laughing, the second goblin comes up ("Smells great! What's cooking? Aarrgh, intruders!!") and Lidda branishes her newly-found Bone Cleaver. She rolls enough damage to take out the goblin, but breaks the Bone Cleaver in the process. ("Hey! Where's my legs? Urrgghhh..") She pulls out a Hammer of Liberty to replace the Bone Cleaver. The last two goblins charge down towards them, and after several rounds of hits being exchanged, another goblin succumbs to the adventurers.

After witnessing the brutal ends of his fellow goblins, the last remaining goblin chickens out (DM poetic licence kicking in) and runs back to the final room shouting, "Help! Help! They're here! They're here!" He bursts through the door, and inside the final room, we see another goblin next to a big, mean-looking bugbear.
"What's a bugbear, dad?"
Goblinoid crossbreed. "Uh, it's like a goblin. Mixed with a bear. And possibly a bug."

The bugbear is very annoyed over the intrusion. "Grrraaahhh!! I'll smash them!! I'll stomp them!!" He turns to the goblin next to him. "You go first!" In the midst of "What? Why me?" the goblin moves out the door to see Mialee coming around the corner. "Attack!" The injured goblin cowers in a corner of the final room, while the bugbear comes out the door and stands there, not knowing that Lidda is coming around the other corner behind him.

Sneak Attack 101
With Lidda using the Hammer, I decide that now was the best time to mention Sneak Attacks. "Hmm.. Lidda is very clever. Not only can she Find Traps, she can also Sneak through someone to get behind them. And if she tries to hit them in the same turn, she gets an extra Sword in her roll!"
"Oh! How can I do that?"
"Well, you just move next to him and say, 'SNEAK!' while moving through him."
"1..2..3.. SNEAK!"
Lidda manages to score a hit through the bugbear's thick AC 2.
"Great work! Lidda rolls under the Big Bad Guy's legs to come up behind him and.."
"No, dad! She jumps over his head, and turns round and round.."
"You mean, somersaults?"
"Yeah! Lidda summer-salts over his head!"
"So Lidda somersaults over the Big Bad Guy's head and lands behind him and whacks him in the butt!"
Peals of laughter. Lidda sneak attacks the bugbear a couple of more times (SNEAK!), delivering a few more stings. The bugbear manages to land a few hits on Lidda though, bringing her close to the 1 HP mark.

For some reason, Mialee sidesteps the attacking goblin and makes for the final room. Entering it, she uses the Ring of Shadows to get herself to the treasure chests. Unfortunately, this depletes the ring's magic (Bzzzzrrr....) and it gets discarded, much to Jojo's disappointment. Lidda also makes a dash into the final room, with the enraged bugbear close behind her. By now, I realise that Jojo's priority list looks a bit like this: 1) Get Treasure. 2) Get more Treasure. 3) Fight Monsters - unless I see more Treasure. Which isn't really the best idea given the circumstances. I explain this to her, and eventually she focusses on knocking the bugbear's last HPs out.

After seeing their bugbear boss defeated, the remaining two goblins quail and surrender. They offer all sorts of interesting information in exchange for being set free. (Again, this is really to balance out the fact that it's 2 adventurers in a 4-adventurer mission. Really.)

Wanted: WotC Adventure Plot Writer. No experience necessary.
"The goblins tell you that the reason why the villages have been robbed is because they are looking for a special magical item called the Orb of True Seeing." Seeing the blank look from Jojo, I elaborate, "It's a Magic Orb. Like a glass ball that glows white and when you ask it to show you something or someone, it will show it to you."
Comprehension dawned. "Ohh, like the Magic Pearl in Barbie Mermaidia?"
I'd never thought that I'd thank God for Barbie. "Yes! Exactly! So you say, 'Show me where something is', and it will show it to you."
"No, dad, that's not how it works. You have to say, 'Magic Orb, Magic Orb' first."
"Right, right. But then, this Magic Orb does something more; after it shows you what you want to see, it'll vanish -poof!- and re-appear somewhere else far away." I was on a roll, so I kept on rolling. "You see, the goblins were keeping it to use against the good guys. Anyway, last week, a goblin accidentally asked the Magic Orb where his underwear was, and after it showed him that it was at the bottom of his sock drawer, the Magic Orb vanished. The Big Bad Boss was really, really mad when that happened, and he told all of the goblins to go find the Orb. And now, the goblins have discovered that this Orb is in a nearby haunted village! So you must go and find the Orb before the goblins do!"
"What does 'haunted' mean?"
"It means full of ghosts. And skeletons." I rummaged around and impressed her with a skeleton figure.
Jojo thought for a moment. "Why, dad?"
"Uh? Why what?"
"Why do we need to find the Orb? Won't the Big Bad Boss get mad at us if we found it first? Why can't we just go and find the Sheriff?"

Hmm.. the kid is right! Who writes this stuff, anyway? Even a 6-year-old can poke holes in it! I weakly forge ahead. "Uh, because umm.. it'll be bad if the goblins found the Orb first? I mean, they want to use it against the good guys, right? So we should find it before they do!"

Jojo looks unconvinced and slightly confused, but we postpone rescuing the Sheriff for later. As we pack the game away, Jojo says to me, "Your game is not a scary game, dad. It's a funny game."

Looking back, I hope she meant 'funny' in a good way.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fight like a 6yo Girl - The Goblin Bandits (Adventure 1)

The first D&D: The Fantasy Boardgame session I played was with my wife early this year after I received this game in the Australian Chain of Generosity. After a breezy romp through the first dungeon with goblin corpses littering the end room, my wife politely thanked me for the game and announced the retirement of her heroes from further adventures and can we please play Agricola now? :-p I'm a very fortunate husband to have a gaming wife, so I count my blessings and put this game back on the shelf where it sat for months. Last weekend though, my 6-year-old daughter Jojo and I were looking through the collection for something to play when she pointed out this game.

"Let's play that one, daddy."
Hesitation. And then, "Yeah, well, sure, why not?" I'd been simplifying games to play with her all the time, so why not this one? I've DMed before, right? I should be able to roll with the punches and make stuff up on the spot, right? Heck, I do it with parenting all the time.

Jojo and her favourite character Mialee

We open the box and take out the heroes. "I'll play these two girls," Jojo declared, picking up the character cards for Mialee and Lidda. Immediately, I made a few mental adjustments - this is a 4-hero adventure which she's playing with just 2, so Go Easy With the Monsters. No Cleric means less Healing, so be careful with those Hits. This is a boardgame with rules and stuff, but at the end of the day, I just wanted my daughter to have fun. I explain what the symbols on the attack dice mean, and how if an adventurer loses all her Hitpoints, it means that she...
"Is killed?" she asked.
"Uh, no. Just knocked out." I say hastily.
I also exchange Lidda's Yondalla's Amulet (allows Lidda to discard the first few Treasure cards from a chest to draw another) for a Poisoned Blowpipe simply because I couldn't be bothered to explain to her what the Amulet did.

Bow, Throwing Daggers, Spells and Perfume

So I explain about the goblins raiding and robbing the villagers, and about the Sheriff disappearing (who I referred to as a 'she' to make things more interesting to her) "So the Sheriff went to chase the goblins away, but she never came back," I added cryptically. Mialee and Lidda readily agree to help the villagers find (and if possible, rescue) their missing Sheriff. It took a bit of tracking, but the two adventurers have now found the entrance to the goblins' hideout.

"It's a smelly place," I described. "And it stinks of goblin poop."
"Well, that doesn't bother us because we've got perfume," counters Jojo airily.

So the two perfumed adventurers open the first door and see their first goblin who is dozing at his guard post. He wakes up and sees the adventurers at the door. Before he can yell a warning, Mialee silences him with a Magic Missile. First kill -I mean- knock out to the girls! Cheers all around! (At this point, I realised that I should have deducted the Goblin's armour from the Magic Missile, but Jojo was so excited that I promptly decided that this first Goblin wasn't wearing any armour.)

I guide her through moving her adventurers towards the door in turns. "It's very important that you do this, Jojo," I say. "Because sometimes... (voice drops to a dramatic low) there are Traps around. And I need to see if you step in them."

Her eyes widened, and then narrowed suspiciously as she surveyed the board, and then at her smirking dad. I hastily reassured her that there were no Traps in the current room, but after this, Lidda will have to use her Find Traps ability to look for more traps. From here on, Jojo's adventurers started to take very hestitant, meandering steps to the next dungeon room.

Ring of Shadows (batteries possibly not included)

So after a rather indirect route, Mialee finally gets to a chest and opens it to find a Ring of Shadows. "It's a special ring that turns you into a shadow," I described.
"You mean, like the Shadow Man in Princess and the Frog?"
"Yes, sort of. Anyway, because no one can see you, you can move to any part of the room. But once you get there, you have to roll this die and if you get a Star, the ring umm.. runs out of batteries and stops working."

The next room reveals two goblins attempting to play chess on top of another treasure chest. "Hey! You're not allowed in here!" snarls one as they both rush towards the adventurers. Mialee and Lidda make short work on them, with more of the time spent on Lidda trying to decide if she wanted to use her Throwing Daggers or her Blowpipe to finish the job. Finding a few more Treasures in the chests, the adventurers open the door to the next room, revealing a large, empty and seemingly safe room.

Crude Goblin Pit Trap or Destardedly Designed Pit of Doom?

And then it happened. Mialee steps into a Pit Trap. "TRAP!" I declared excitedly. And Jojo bursts into tears.

It took about 5 minutes for me to console her and assure her that it really was okay; Mialee just gets 1 damage, that's all. Jojo warns me never to scare her like that again, and to only announce traps in a soft voice, to which I readily agree. Then she proceeds to describe how Mialee finds a key at the bottom of the pit trap that allows her to open the trap door and escape. It was then that I realised that while I had imagined the pit trap to be a crude goblin-dug hole in the ground covered with dirt, she had envisaged that Mialee had been swallowed up by a trap door in the dungeon floor that sinisterly closed and locked itself, trapping its captive forever. It was another reminder of how vivid and sensitive kids' imaginations were, and how as the Dungeon Master, I had to be extra careful on the details of these adventures.

Big Hand Spell keeps Goblins away - Guaranteed

Lidda falls into another Pit Trap (softly - "trap.") before I remind Jojo that Lidda can search for Traps as one of her Actions. So after locating and avoiding the third trap, Mialee opens the final door to the last room. We grab initiative cards, and the goblins were going last. "The goblins see the door opening, but they don't see who's there at first..."
"Oh! Because Mialee is wearing that Shadow Ring!"
"Uh.. yeah, you're right! It's too dark to see her properly with her ring, so the goblins think that there's no one at the door."

Lidda and Mialee pepper the surprised goblins at range. When the goblins close in at the doorway (with much shoving and shouting at each other to get out of the way), Mialee uses her Ring of Shadows to re-appear at one of the treasure chests at the other side of the room. She opens it and finds a Summoning Horn (magically teleports a hero next to the hero with the horn) which I suggest that she use to magically pull Lidda away from the three enraged goblins to join Mialee at the other side of the room. Lidda continues to shower darts on the approaching goblins, while Mialee casts Unseen Servant (which Jojo gleefully calls the Big Hand Spell) to pick up one of the goblins (amidst angry shouts of, 'Whoa - what's happening!?' 'Hey! Where are you going!?') and put him some distance away.

The goblins are finally defeated, but not before Lidda is reduced to 1 Hitpoint (there was much anxiety in the last few rolls). The adventure is supposed to immediately end at this point, but I allow Jojo to open the last few chests, and declare that the very last chest contains a message ordering the goblins to wait for more goblins to arrive from the Big Hideout. Hmm.. maybe that's where the Sheriff is?

It's all maths really

So what did Jojo think about it? She absolutely loved it! While we were packing up, she was considering on enlisting her 4yo brother to play the other two heroes (she has grand plans to direct his every move), and how cool all the stuff her adventurers had. My daughter had played through an adventure, but looking back at this whole experience, with the dice-rolling and jokes, tears and joyful victory, I think I've gone through a very real adventure of my own.

Throughout the game, I made her count out all her dice rolls, and deduct the Armour from them to calculate the Damage. Later, while she was excitedly relating her adventure to her grandmother over dinner, she said to me, "We were doing maths, weren't we daddy?"

Yeap, we sure were. And having a blast doing it.