Sunday, July 22, 2012

DM like a 7yo Girl - The Princess of Pets

My kids and I love this game. We don't get to play it very much due to time constraint, but sometimes a lazy afternoon crops up and the kids and I feel like rolling some dice and exploring some dungeons. This afternoon was one such time. My 5yo son (Evan) and I pick Regdar and Jozan for our characters while my 7yo daughter (Jojo) flips through the DM guide book to get some ideas.

We'd finished the first four adventures of the DM guide book last year. Since then, we have deviated from the book; we now randomly choose and set up the boards how we feel like. My son thinks that the board with the wooden bridge spanning the river of lava is simply kick-ass and chooses that one.

"Not that one again, Evan," my daughter and I groan together. "Pick another one!"

In the end, we end up with 4 boards; a grassy outside board surrounded by an L-shaped dungeon area. Evan insists that Regdar and Jozan arrive at the place in a BumbleBee car.
"It's a castle," I decide. "Are we here to look for treasure, Jojo?"
"Yes," says Jojo off-handledly, her nose buried in the DM guidebook. "But you are also here to rescue a princess who is in the castle. And rescue her pets as well."
"Where's the door then?" I ask.
"Um, over here," she points to a section of wall.
"Is it a big door?" I place down a door token. "I mean, this looks like a big castle and stuff, so it's probably a big door."
"Maybe it's a sliding door," my son adds helpfully. "It slides open like this - Wheesh!"
"Guys," says Jojo pointedly. "It's just a door."

Do the Skeleton Turn
We walk our heroes up to the disappointingly small door of the big castle and open it. Beyond the door are two broken pillars, a series of smaller cells and a very angry skeleton. I charge Jozan in and end up right next to the cracked marble base of one of the broken pillars.

"Trap!" says Jojo. She sticks a trap token below Jozan. "It's a fairy magic trap. And it's purple."
"Not another one," I groan. We've seen these traps before. "What does this one do?"
"You feel like you're underwater. And a Siren turns up."
"Like a police siren?" Evan makes a convincing police siren noise.
"No, not that kind of siren! A Siren, like a mermaid that sings in the sea? Yeah, you hear her sing and you take damage."
I try not to overthink it, but in game terms my daughter's fairy magic traps are probably illusionary traps that do Sanity damage.
Oh, and +1 to her Greek mythology.

"Right," I say. "I roll the purple die and take 2 damage. Ouch. Now what?"
The skeleton screeches appropriately and bounds towards us. It springs up agilely on the cracked marble base and attacks Jozan who is still recovering from the fairy magic trap. Pow! Another damage.
Regdar manuevers his way next to the skeleton but is unable to attack it this turn.
I suddenly remember. "Oh yeah! Jozan can Turn Undead! I'll try to Turn the skeleton." I roll the Turn Undead die and manage to get a skull. "Ahah! It loses one turn!" For emphasis, the kids spins the skeleton round and round ("Turn! Turn!") and faces it the wrong way.

The Undead Skeleton 'Turned'
Cells and Creatures
We dispatch the skeleton and turn the corner to inspect the cells.
"You see lots of treasure chests," says Jojo as she populates the southern cells with chests. "But also lots of monsters in the other cells." She places the monsters in the northern cells. A bugbear, two trolls and an Ogre. "So when you open a door to a cell with the chests, the door on the other side opens as well to release the monster."

Hmm... crafty. "I see," I say. "So Evan, which cell do you think we should open?"
Of course, Evan goes to the cell with the most number of chests, even if it means releasing an Ogre on us.
"Okay, Evan, wait. You open the treasure chest door and I get ready to attack the Ogre when it comes out. Ready?"

Getting ready to open the treasure cells and release the Ogre.
Regdar opens the door and the Ogre's cell door swings open as well. Jojo declares the a Trap was sprung on Regdar when he opened the door, and a swarm of red ants races up Regdar's arm. He rolls a red die for damage.

Jojo notices that the Ogre has a ranged attack. And that Jozan doesn't. "The Ogre shoots at Jozan," she says.
"Ogres don't shoot," I say. "They throw stuff. Does he throw a rock? Or how about a skull?"
"This Ogre has a magic club that he can throw and it comes back to him afterwards."
"Wow!" I was impressed. "That's a great club! I'm going to take it after we kill the Ogre!"
Jojo laughs. "You can't. It runs out of power once the Ogre is dead."
Sheesh, figures. Anyway, the Ogre flings its amazing, limited use, magical returning club at Jozan and scores a hit. Grumbling aloud, Jozan rushes into the cell to engage it. Meanwhile, Regdar loots the treasure cell for something that can be used against the Ogre. He opens the first chest and there is a blinding flash of light.

"Uh oh!", I groan. "Regdar opened a Blinding Flash Trap! He loses one turn!"
Jozan and the Ogre trade blows while Regdar shakes off the effects of the flash trap. He rummages through the other chests and finally finds something that probably turns the tide of the quest towards us.
"Check this out, guys," I say excitedly. "The Blade of the Banished Kings! If you roll a Star with this blade, it goes through armour!"
With the powerful blade in hand, Regdar goes off to help Jozan who is down to his last few Hitpoints. Together, they manage to bring down the Ogre.

Melf - Boyfriend #62
"Okay," I say after I get Jozan to heal himself up. "Now what? I don't see any doors to get to out of this room, so I guess we'll have to open the rest of the cells."
"Oh," says Jojo promptly. "If you open at least two of the treasure cells, then the way to the other side will appear."
Evan and I decide to open the door that releases the Bugbear, as opposed to the Trolls. Evan faces off the Bugbear while I loot the treasure chests. I pick up an Amulet that allows Jozan to search for traps, and a new spell - Melf's Acid Arrow.
"Who's Melf?" I ask Jojo out of curiosity.
"Oh, he's Mialee's husband. No, I mean, boyfriend."
"Mialee's got a boyfriend?!?"
"One of her boyfriends. She's got lots," Jojo adds importantly.
I cannot help but get a fatherly sense of foreboding.

Pet Power
Jojo declares that once we opened the second treasure cell, a magic portal appears. It's a shimmering, energy field that crackles between the two broken pillars in the chamber. I decide that Jozan will step through the portal first. Evan is still fighting the Bugbear, but with that Banished Kings blade in hand, I figure that he's got it under control.

Jozan stepping through the magic portal. Regdar finishing off the bugbear in the other cell.
"Jozan teleports... here!" Jojo moves Jozan to another section of the board. "And he finds one of the Princess's Pets - Tiger Lily!" She puts a Littlest Pet Shop figure in the same room.

Um.. possible Pokemon? Also, note Bumblebee car in background
Evan finishes up the bugbear. "Wait for me!" He plunges into the portal.
"Evan gets teleported to a different room!" says Jojo. "Over here! And he finds another one of the Princess's Pets as well! Nibbles the Guinea Pig!"
"Okay," I say. "Can I talk to, um.. Tiger Lily?"
"Oh yes," replies Jojo. "She speaks in tiger growls, but you can understand her."
"Can I understand Nibbles?" asks Evan hopefully.

Argh!! A Giant Guinea Pig!!
Jojo explains that the Pets can cast spells, and we can spend our turn giving commands to the pets we have found. Apparently, they can search for traps, and after I ask Tiger Lily to do so, she marks out the traps in the room with a little paw print. Thankfully, the rooms with Regdar and Jozan are connected together with a door. We meet up and get ready to open the next door.

Trooping out to the next room
And we were needed here because...?
"In here, you see a.. Caterpillar Monster!!" declares Jojo, placing a Carrion Crawler in the room.
"Oooo... nasty," I say. "Those things can paralyze you if they hit you with their tentacles."
I rush Jozan in and attempt to subdue the creature with my mace, but the Crawler paralyzes me for a turn. Evan flanks the creature with Regdar and gets paralyzed for his efforts.
"You're both taking turns to get paralyzed!" giggles Jojo after several rounds. "You should try giving commands to the pets to attack!"
"Alright," I say while picking Jozan up from his latest paralyzation stunt. "Tiger Lily! Attack the monster!"

Tiger Lily unleashes a Fire Ball and promptly fries half the crawler. Nibbles finishes the job with a Lightning Bolt.

I shake my head. "With such powerful magic, remind me why do these pets need our help again!?"
"Because they're not too clever," explains Jojo. "They only know how to listen to instructions."

There is a magic symbol on the floor which the crawler was obviously guarding, so Regdar steps on it. Immediately, the wall in front of us slides open, revealing a nasty Troll and another Carrion Crawler. Behind them is the Princess to be rescued.

The Final Showdown.
In the end, it was quite a cake walk. Jozan and Regdar ordered the pets to attack the monsters, and within a few rounds of Fire Balls and Lightning Bolts, the monsters were dead and the Princess was free.

"That was eeeassyyy," Evan announces. "Next time, I'm being the Story Teller!"
We happily pack the game away for another day. Game balance, eat your heart out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Ninja, The Dragon Trainer & The 7yo Feminist

I introduced this game to the kids last week. After looking through the characters, my 7yo daughter declared that this game must have been made by a boy.

"Why's that?" I asked.
"Because all the girl characters start off with more wounds! The game maker must be a boy because boys think that girls are all weak and soft!"

Eventually, she chose the Explorer and I took the barbarian-looking Warrior who (according to the kids) was never potty-trained because he still wore nappies.

My 5yo son took the Knight. "How come he starts with only 1 Gold?"
"Because he spent it all in the last tavern on food. Look at his big pot-belly!"

The Barbarian Warrior Nappy-Wearer and Pot-Bellied Knight
We start exploring the dungeon. To make it easier, we played with the rules to simultaneously reveal our selected cards which worked out pretty well. The kids particularly liked using the Torches to spy on future Dungeon Cards with a lot of “Oooo”s and “Ahhh”s while giving the ignorant, nappy-wearing Barbarian Warrior some “I know more than you” looks.

My wife passed by and checked out the cards. “This game looks cute. Who’s the designer?”
“Phil Harding. From New South Wales.”
My daughter looked up triumphantly. “Ahah! I knew that a boy made this!”

By the end of the game, I had the least Gold, but my kids both had the same high number of Wounds. "Oh dear! It looks like although you both have lots of Gold, you both don't make it home because of your Wounds! Daddy wins!"

I've started to notice that nothing annoys the kids more than the words "Daddy wins!" Oddly enough, "Mommy wins!" evokes enthusiastic cheers in contrast.

"My knight is too fat!"
"The girls are too weak!"
I had an idea. "Why don't you both come up with your own characters? And we'll play them after dinner."

The idea caught on. During dinner time, while the kids were tossing around character ideas, I suddenly felt it. A sense of what they were feeling at that moment. That mix of excitement and anticipation that I had felt back during my RPG days when I’m generating a new character. Looking at the kids, I couldn’t help giving myself a mental pat on the back.

After dinner, my daughter had decided to base her new character on Astrid, the Viking girl from “How to Train your Dragon”. My son wanted a Ninja and thoughtfully provided me with a LEGO Ninjago figurine to show what a ninja should look like. I’d done some quick analysis over the existing characters and came up with the following rules for building Custom Dungeon Raider characters:

The character must have a Starting Value of 2.
The Starting Value is the sum of the following: +2 per Sword, +2 per Key, +1 per Crystal Ball, +1 per Torch, +1 per Gold, -1 per Wound

With that and daddy’s crude drawing skills, we came up with these: The Ninja and The Dragon Trainer.

I picked the Wizard and off we went to explore the Dungeon.

The Wizard healed up his wounds early on and gathered a moderate amount of Gold. The Ninja did pretty well; with his two Swords, he could afford to defeat Monsters and still have good cards for the Treasure Rooms. Unfortunately, the Dragon Trainer’s obsession over Treasure Rooms and Vaults meant that she was left with fewer high-valued cards to deal with the Monsters. In the end, the Dragon Trainer didn’t make it home while the Ninja celebrated his win with a decent pile of Gold.

The kids headed off to bed and as I packed up, I could hear the triumphant martial art-like “Hie-yah!”s and laments over how Dragon Trainers should do better against Dragons.

So from us, kudos to Phil; the boy who made Dungeon Raiders.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Coins. Like in Real Life.

My 7yo daughter requested to play this yesterday, so we set up a two player game. Hippos, crocodiles and seals were discarded because she decided that they were (respectively) too big, too fierce and too naughty.

So we collect animals and build up our zoos. About halfway through the game, I notice that she hasn’t been using her money actions very much, and as a result, there were about six to seven coins in her pile. Being the gracious father that I am, I decide that I should remind her to use her money actions.

“Look at how many coins you have,” I say. “You have a whole stack of them!”

“Like in real life, I’m good at saving up,” she replies absently as she contemplates which truck she should take next.

I push the hint a little further. “And look! I have only 1 coin left!”

“Like in real life, you spend all your money on board games, daddy.”