Friday, September 23, 2016

Driving your child out of his Skull


"Okay, I've flipped one Flower, and I need another Flower to win. Dad said he put a Flower down, but you must NEVER trust Dad in a game, so he probably put down a Skull. Jojo says she's got a Flower, and she started the challenge first, so she would have had to have a Flower to win the challenge, but maybe she's tricking me into thinking she has a Flower but she really put down a Skull? Mom says she doesn't know how to play this game, and she probably put down a Skull because she doesn't know why anyone should put down a Flower, but maybe she randomly put down a Flower anyway? Or she could be bluffing and she's got a Skull!? Aaarrrggh!"

Skull. The fun way to mess up your kids' minds. :-)



Kitty Paw!

Tonight, me, Mum, Dad and Evan played a cute game call 'Kitty🐱Paw'. It's a game for sharp eyes. I thought I had this game in the bag, but surprisingly Dad towered over me with an end score of 23 and me 13 (If you were wondering what Evan and Mum got, they got negative points). I said that I lost because  Dad was the only one not eating burger rings and not getting distracted. But Mum said it might be because he recently took up rubix cube unsolving. However he won, I will be training to win the game next time.

By Jojo 🐾🐱🐾

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

We Are The PP Pirates


I was waiting for my dad, KK to come back. After about fifteen minutes, he bought this board game called Jamaica. Before I could examine the game, it was time for dinner. We ate and ate as fast as we could. After eating, he told me to play the board game with him. After we set it up, my mum, Cynthia wanted to play and my sister, Josephine too. We played for about 32 minutes and my mum said that she was the purple pirate and said "We are the PP Pirates!" I was the blue pirate so I joined in and said "I am a BP Pirate!" But that wasn't really funny because I was copying my mum. When I finished the game, my mum was first and I was second, so me and my mum sang "We are the PP Pirates!"


Typed by the Games We Play's creators son, Evan Su

Game Programming for Kids with HopScotch


We're always on a look out for cool programming tool-kits for kids. Last year, Evan and I got into Scratch, where Evan learnt the basics of programming and created some pretty cool games. And then it was Infinity Arcade, where users could create simple arcade games on the iPad. Recently, we found out about HopScotch, which is really, really cool. Probably the best attempt at programming games on the iPad I've ever seen.

I was suggesting a few game ideas to Evan, and told him about some of the old Atari games I used to play back in the day. "There's this game called Demon Attack, which is a bit like Space Invaders, but simpler to program," I told him. We googled it up, and lo and behold, we found a browser-playable version of Demon Attack!

Watch out for that demon poop!
Before I know it, I'm blasting demons from the sky, fighting my way through the levels of various demons, periodically declaring, "Oh! I remember these guys! Man, I HATE these guys!" Somewhere downstairs, I can hear my wife asking, "What's daddy doing?", and Evan's reply of, "He's playing one of his classy, old games again."

Long live Atari!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

KKCon 2016 Round Up


Well, another KKCon has come and gone, and what a blast it was! This year, I saw plenty of new faces (and did miss a few favourite faces - you know who you are! ;-p), but the important thing is that everyone who turned up had a whole lot of fun!

I had told Cynthia that this year I wanted a cake that everyone could actually play a game with, somewhat similar to the KKCon 2012 cake that was an actual working dice tower. Several ideas were bounced around (one involving a game of "The Resistance" where players picked cupcakes with covered icing that secretly revealed their hidden roles!), but in the end after "Codenames" was announced as the 2016 Spiel des Jahres Game of the Year, it became obvious that it had to be a "Codenames" cake.



Codenames is one of those games where you play, and then wonder afterwards why no one has thought this up earlier. What I am particularly thrilled about is how well the cupcakes worked as the game. We split everyone into two groups, and both groups took turns making a single guess on what the correct codenames were.


Here's "Team A" discussing the possible codenames. Apparently, these guys also tried coercing the answers out from our kids, but thankfully, I had the foresight to only prepare the cupcake words after they had gone to bed the night before! ;-)


"Team B" got to see the cake displayed on the TV, complete with some fancy cut-and-paste skills to block out whatever codenames that have been guessed. I got a little worried that the codenames were too easy as the first 8 were guessed out-right, but the final codename proved too elusive for Team A, and in the end, Team B won by scoring 5 out of the 9 correct codenames! Well done, guys!

This year, the "Looping Louie Tournament" witnessed a new technique of play, which I'm terming the "Stand up Smash down" technique.
Still unsure if this technique should be regulated in future tournaments, but ultimately, the Looping Louie Champion 2016 was Jason Gentry, a long-time attendee and first-time tournament winner. Great job, Jas!

While playing, I suddenly had a bright idea for next year's tournament - we could have the first-ever "Looping Louie Doubles Tournament", where players team-up with whoever is sitting across them, and try to take down the other team. I think it'll be awesome! Of course, there'll be double trophies for the tournament winners, and some simple rules about determining which player on the winning team rescues a chicken, but I'm pretty sure it'll work out fine.

Many thanks to those who brought in games of their own and (even better!) were willing to teach them. Aaron brought in his stack of recently acquired "Peculiar Japanese Games In Little Boxes".


I've not played most of these, but according to Cynthia, they were really good. She particularly liked the one called "The Insider" which is a bit like "Twenty Questions" with a hidden traitor. From what I heard from the other players, Cynthia had the group completely bamboozled in one round with her sweet innocent suggestions, and off-handed accusations. Yes, I am very proud of her.

Jason brought in "Scythe" which is a curious wargame about farmers. With mechs.


Currently, it's one of the red-hot games in Boardgamegeek, and I must say it looks pretty cool when it's on the table. I was unsure if I could play anything "heavy" during the Con, and I must thank Jason for getting this on the table, stringing me into the game, and then proceeding to school us, I mean, teach us this game. Now I can stroll around the game community and do the game-snob thing of saying, "Oh, that game? You've not played it yet? Shame." ;-)

The Raffle went really well this year, and we managed to raise a whopping $640 from donations! That's the highest collected amount we've ever had for KKCon, and it's all going to a great cause with our favourite charity "Restore India". I really love talking about the stuff these guys do, and constantly draw inspiration from their endeavours. I only hope that whoever who hears about them will feel inspired too.

Oh, and thanks to Aaron who donated some of his own games for the raffle as well. And thanks to others like Stef for teaching Rokoko, Alan for teaching Samurai. Honestly, I'm probably missing out a whole bunch of others to thank because I have no photographic evidence! :-p But most of all, I particularly want to thank my wonderful kids Jojo and Evan for entertaining the other kids, and even teaching games to the adults! I couldn't be prouder!
And so, thanks again everyone for a lovely birthday, and for another successful KKCon! See you again, hopefully sooner than the next KKCon, and (more hopefully) across a gaming table! :-)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game - Session 2: Teemo's Job




Characters:
NX-275, Arkanian Offshoot, Smuggler (played by Jojo, 11yo)
Miko Eiduno, Jawa, Bounty Hunter (played by Evan, 9yo)

When we start, I ask the kids what sort of jobs would they like to do in Teemo’s palace. Jojo tells me that she wants to work somewhere with animals, while Evan tells me that he wants to work in the workshop.

“The sullustan who works for Teemo assigns some jobs to you both,” I tell them. “Nix is assigned to work as a cleaner in Teemo’s ‘menagerie’, while Miko is shown the workshop and told to fix up his armor. Afterwards, he is to hang around Teemo’s main hall as one of the bounty hunters there.” The next couple of days pass quickly, with Miko restoring his shadowtrooper armor to working order, while Nix cleans up the endless poop in the Hutt’s menagerie. “It seems that visitors sometimes give Teemo rare and expensive animals as gifts,” I tell her. “It is no co-incidence that the menagerie is located right next to the palace kitchens!”

“Eww, gross!” blanches the kids.

On the third day, Nix is cleaning out one of the empty cages when a large alien sticks his head out from the kitchens. “You! Slave!” he bellows. “The stupid serving droid has broken down again! Take this dish up to Teemo’s main hall!”

Nix obediently takes the dish and carefully brings it up to the main hall. I tell Evan that Miko is already in the main hall which is filled with mercenaries, bounty hunters and gamorrean guards. No one pays the jawa in his shadowtrooper suit any attention.

“What about the curtains!?” asks Evan intently. “Are they up or down!?”

I look at him blankly. “Uh, curtains? What curtains?”

“You know, the curtains! The ones from Jabba’s palace when Princess Leia was un-freezing Han Solo, and then the curtains came up, and the bad guys were all hiding there!”

Wait, I know that laugh..
Ah, of course. “No, the curtains are all up right now. Nobody hiding behind them or anything.” Apparently, curtains are an essential item of subterfuge in any Hutt’s palace.

I describe the main hall to the kids. “There are mercenaries and gamorrean guards everywhere. A live band is playing music. And on a raised dais sits Teemo the Hutt, eating his frog snacks.”

The sullustan who works for Teemo appears next to him and whispers something into Teemo’s ear. The Hutt belches and announces, “I’ll talk to him here!” Immediately, a hologram stutters into place in front of the Hutt’s dais. “You can see that this is a hologram transmission of this guy!” I hold up a token showing a man in an imperial uniform.

Why do we deal with such scum?
“An Imperial officer!?” interrupts Evan excitedly. “I’m going to come out front and say, ‘This is Shadow Trooper 1158! Help - I’ve been stranded on this planet!’”

Okay, this will be interesting. I hand Evan the dice, “I suppose this is a Cool check to see how well you can convince the Imperial officer that you’re a real Shadow trooper!” Evan rolls the dice, and unfortunately, Failures reign supreme. “Just as you step forward to deliver your message, you step on someone’s foot! A reptile-like face snarls at you, and you see that you’ve stepped on the foot of a Transdoshan!” I get the kids to google up a picture of a Transdoshan:

Hssss!
“Uh oh, those guys!” mutters Evan.

The angry transdoshan shoves Miko back, and the jawa falls backwards on his butt. “Watch where you are going!” The lizard-like alien snarls a few words in his own language that the jawa does not recognise, but their meaning is obvious.

Meanwhile, the imperial officer speaks to Teemo, “Teemo? Is this channel secure? You and I must speak in private! I cannot afford to have this transmission over-heard!”

The Hutt laughs. “You impewials are all the swame! Sneaking awound with youwr secwet discussions! We Hutts hide none of ouwr business dealings from ouwr own people!” Everyone else in the room laughingly agrees.

The imperial officer seems agitated. “Very well. As per our... prior agreement, I am informing you that the… ‘package’... is currently in transit. On a smuggler’s vessel owned by one named..” As usual, I poll the kids for a name. Jojo suggests ‘Fin’ while Evan provides ‘Lou’. I mash them together. “Lofin. That is all I can say.” And with that the imperial officer ends the transmission.

Teemo snorts. “Lofin? Hmm.” He beckons to his sullustan aide. “Get Lofin on the line.” And soon, a hologram projection flickers on again, and this time it shows…

“...A fat, bulky alien,” I say hesitantly. This is what I probably find hardest in running a Star Wars RPG: coming up with interesting NPCs. I’m no longer in the realm of elves, gnomes and dwarves, and instead have to think of droids, wookies and “God knows what that thing is, but it was in that scene from Episode 6”.

Evan helps out. “How about those aliens with the tentacles on their chins? Quarrens?”
By the tentacles on my chinny-chin-chin!
“Those aren’t fat at all,” points out Jojo. “They are all pretty lean.”

“Well, this one is,” I declare. “A fat, bulky Quarren appears in the hologram. ‘Greetings, Teemo,’ he intones. ‘To what do I owe the pleasure of your transmission?’“

“Ah, Lofin,” croons Teemo. “I am so disappointed to know that you are in the area, and you have not bothered to stop by my palace!”

The quarren looks uneasy. “I’m afraid I am in a bit of a hurry. I won’t be near your system for long.”

“But surely you can spare some time to check out what I have to offer,” says Teemo. “I have just had a fresh stock of.. slaves!”

“He’s going to sell me again!?” exclaims Jojo feeling incensed. “I stand up and shout, ‘You’re not going to sell me again!’” The angry arkanian offshoot is hurriedly silenced by some guards. One put his hand over her mouth, and gets bitten as a result.

Teemo looks annoyed, but Lofin laughs at the sight. “If she is one of the slaves you intend to sell, I’d be interested to buy her!” The quarren’s eyes narrow. “But I truly do not intend to stop over at your palace, Teemo. Instead, if you want to trade, you can meet me here at this moon.” A display showing the coordinates of a lonely moon appears.

Teemo snorts. “Vewy well, but I am unhappy with your lack of twust!” He ends the transmission and looks around the room. “Well, is anyone gwoing to volunteer to meet Lofin at this moon?”

I turn to Evan. “You know that transdoshan whose foot you stepped on? He steps forward (on his good foot) and says, ‘I will deliver the slave, great Teemo!’”

Teemo glances at the transdoshan. “Captain Trex! If I wecall from last time, you were supposed to bwing a shipment of cordite for my gwandmother’s birthday! And you lost it!”

“Cordite?” frowns Jojo. “Isn’t that something to do with explosives or gunpowder? What’s Teemo trying to do bringing cordite to his grandmother’s birthday!?”

“That’s a story for another day,” I tell her sagely.

Captain Trex scowls at the reminder. “And this is the perfect chance for me to redeem myself, O great Teemo.”

Teemo chortles. “Vewy well, Trex. You will bwing the slave to Lofin, and you will bwing that one with you too.” He points at Miko who is just behind Trex, and the crowd laughs at Teemo’s choice.

“I punch Trex!” says Evan.

“He’s all the way in front of Teemo,” I remind him. “You’ll need to get closer to do that.”

Evan opts to hoist his blaster carbine menacingly at the transdoshan instead.

The transdoshan looks angry and unhappy at the same time, but he nods. “Very well, great Teemo.”

The Hutt sits back. “And when you meet Lofin, you will kill him and his cwew. Wetrieve the ‘package’ from his cargo hold, and bring it bwack to me.”

The kids consider this. “Ooo. He really wants that package,” says Jojo.

Evan says, “I ask Teemo if we can look at what it is when we get it.”

“Of course not!” I reply.

----

At this point, I pull out the large glossy layout of a ship from the box. “Trex actually has a pretty decent ship. This is his ship, the ‘Krayt Fang’.”

The Krayt Fang
A ship can only be as decent as what its captain cares to be. Trex has not bothered to keep the ship clean at all. Junk, half-eaten food and empty cans roll about the floor. “And when you open the fridge, you hurriedly close it again when the smell hits you.” I tell them.

“Hey Jojo look!” Evan points excitedly at the crew messroom. “There’s that hologram chess-board like in the Falcon! Let’s play a game of holo-chess!”

“Unfortunately, the holo-chess game is busted too,” I tell him solemnly.

“Man, this ship sucks!”

Trex fires up the engines, and I tell the kids that they see that he needs to request the Control Tower to release the locking clamps from the ship before he can fly it off. Soon, the ship blasts off into space, and jumps into lightspeed once they are clear from the planet’s atmosphere.

The journey takes several hours. Through that time, Trex just scowls at the two of them whenever he sees them. At the start of the journey, he snarls at them both, “You two keep out of my way! In my ship, only my rules apply. If you cross me, I’ll throw you out the airlock!” He spends most of his time at the cockpit.

Meanwhile Nix and Miko explore the ship. I tell them that they can access almost every room, except for the last cargo area in the ship. “This cargo area is secured with a simple electronic lock,” I tell them. “You suppose could open it with some luck.”

Nothing like some curiosity to whet the appetite for exploration. But the kids don’t seem to be biting today. “No, leave it,” says Jojo. “We just wait for Trex to get to that moon.”

Somewhat surprised at my kids’ sudden respect for other people’s property, I continue the adventure. “Finally, the ship comes out of lightspeed, and you see that you are near a small moon.” I admit I was tempted to burst out with ‘But that’s no moon!’. “You see that there is another ship here orbiting the moon. No doubt this is Lofin’s ship.”

Lofin’s ship is a big, clunky cargo hauler with angular lines and large double thrusters. As the Krayt Fang comes close to dock with the other ship, Trex comes to the both of them. I tell Jojo. “He throws a blaster at you.”

Jojo says, “At me? Are my hands tied?”

“What? Why?”

“Because if they are, I’ll do this.” She stands up and pretends trying to clumsily catch the blaster with her hands tied before dropping it, much to our amusement.

“Yeap,” I say. “Your hands were definitely tied.”

“Yayy!”

Captain Trex snorts, un-ties Nix and hands her the blaster. “You might as well make yourself useful,” he growls menacingly. “Since we’re going to be blasting Lofin’s crew.” He glares at both Nix and Miko. “And either of you try any stunts that I don’t like, I’m throwing you both out the airlock!’” This is possibly the only threat the transdoshan knows.

The two ships dock against each other with a clank. The intercom buzzes and then Lofin’s voice comes on, “Ah! Captain Trex! I see that you have been assigned to bring the slave to me!”
“Yes, Lofin,” growls Trex. “Let’s get this over with. Open the hatch door and we’ll hand her over to your crew.”

“Crew?” The quarren snorts. “I fired my whole crew sometime ago. Useless good-for-nothings they were!”

“I bet he’ll not be thinking that soon!” says Jojo gleefully.

“And so I replaced my crew. With droids!”

With that, the hatchway connecting the ships opens up. They can see a loading bay and four security droids with blasters waiting there.
Lofin’s ship
“Deliver the slave to my security droids!” commands Lofin.

Trex nudges Nix, and the three of them walk across the passageway connecting the two ships. “What about payment, Lofin?” hisses Trex. “How shall you settle this?”

“Payment?” laughs Lofin. “You can tell Teemo that he can expect no payment from me! In fact, you won’t be able to, once I order my droids to blast you all!”

“Well, that’s a co-incidence,” remarks Jojo. “We were just going to blast all his crew too!”

“That’s the underworld of crime in the Outer Rim,” I tell the kids. “Everyone’s backstabbing everyone.”

Quick as a flash, Trex tosses something which rolls and skitters on the floor towards the droids. It looks like a round, blue-glowing metal sphere.

“An ion grenade!” guesses Evan. “Isn’t that right, dad?”

“Yeap, it sure is.” The ion grenade rolls right into the midst of the four droids before exploding into a brilliant display of lightning surges. The droids all rattle and gabber uncontrollably before collapsing where they stand. Trex, Nix and Miko enter the loading bay and inspect the area.

“Utinni ability!” declares Evan. “I search the room! Utinni!”

“Utinni works on scrap,” I tell him. “Where’s the scrap here?”

“Trex just destroyed those droids,” he points out. “Those droids ARE scrap now, aren’t they?”

I suppose they are. I let him roll the dice, which come up favourably. “The blasters and equipment on the droids are all pretty much shorted out by that ion grenade. But you do find four grenades which look like they still work because they don’t use electricity.”

We discuss what sort of grenades these should be, and decide that they must be some sort of stun grenades that break and release a stun gas when thrown. “It makes sense,” I tell Evan as he notes them down. “Stun gas doesn’t work on droids, so these droids must have had them to use on organic beings.”

The kids inspect the two doors, and reason out that the door heading towards the front should lead to where Lofin is, while the door leading to the rear of the ship should be where the cargo hold is. Trex remarks, “We should secure Teemo’s ‘package’ before finishing off the rest of the droid crew.” The Transdoshan strides towards the door leading to the rear of the ship and presses a button to open it. The button gives a dull click, and the door stays closed.

“Just great!” snorts Jojo. “Nice work, Trex! Your ion grenade shorted the door out too!”

The transdoshan grunts as he taps the dead electronic lock a few more times. “I’ll get this open. You guys go ahead and finish off the rest of the droids.” He heads back into his ship, and returns with a blow-torch. As he starts working on the dead door, Nix and Miko inspect the door heading to the front of the ship. It looks like it is still operational.

“Oh! Is it all fuzzy, like this?” Jojo puts her palms side-by-side and demonstrates a faulty sliding door.

“Pretty much,” I tell them. The door slides open just about half-way before failing. Nix and Miko squeeze through and head into the corridor that turns into a T-junction. They decide to take the corridor leading to the front of the ship, and run straight into two security droids standing at guard.

I get the kids to roll for Initiative, and despite having better dice than the droids, the droids go first. “Those droids must have been waiting for you two to come around the corner! They both open fire with their blasters!” I roll a few Hits on Miko, plus several Advantages. “Ooo, that means something happens to the droids’ advantage! What do you think happens?”

Evan thinks a bit. “How about, one of the shots activates the ‘open’ button on my suit, and it opens up!” We laugh at the idea, and go with it. To Miko’s dismay, his shadowtrooper armor suddenly decides to open up, dumping the startled jawa on the ground in front of it.

Nix gets hit badly by the other droid’s blasts, and receives 7 damage, even after reducing Soak. Badly injured, the arkanian offshoot fires back with her blaster, but only scorches the door behind the droid as her shots miss.

I tell Evan that despite being dumped out of his armor, Miko is quick enough to dislodge his blaster carbine from the shadowtrooper suit. The jawa fires back at his droid, and blasts it to bits. The remaining droid and the kids exchange blasts for another round before Miko’s blaster carbine finally blows off the droid’s head, leaving the rest of the body still standing there.

Evan wants to take the droid’s weapons, but is disappointed when I tell him that the droids’ blasters are attached to their arms. “Besides, they aren’t as good as your own blaster carbine.”

“When I get back to Mos Shuuta, I want to upgrade my blaster carbine to a DLT-19X,” he says to me. “It’s a blaster that does one powerful shot, but takes a while to reload.”

“Mm hmm,” I nod. Some sort of laser shotgun, I suppose. Better remember to google that later.

After Miko gets back into his armor, the two of them enter the cockpit area of the ship. “There’s no one here,” I tell them. “Control panels line up the walls, and there’s an empty pilot seat, but you don’t see anyone here at all. On the speakers, Lofin’s voice sneers, ‘Hahahaha! You cannot find me! My ship has secrets that only I know! Leave my ship before I initiate the self-destruct! Hahahahaha!’”

“Yeah, well that’ll blow you up too,” retorts Jojo. “I’m searching the control panels for a Mute button!” The arkanian offshoot searches the control panels, and I get Jojo to roll some dice for Perception.

“Unfortunately, you don’t find a Mute button. But you do notice that although there are buttons and controls on every panel, there’s one panel here that doesn’t have anything on it.” I point to a section of panel next to the pilot seat.

Nix gives the panel a kick, and the whole panel collapses in. Inside, they see the fat, bulky quarren squashed into the tight hidden compartment with a microphone in hand. He blinks surprisedly at them, “Hahah-oh.”

“End of the line, buster,” says Nix pointing her blaster.

I ask Evan what he wants to do, and he states that he’s blasting Lofin. I do hesitate a bit - Lofin is a nasty piece of work, and certainly wouldn’t be taken alive, but this was pretty cold-blooded. I decide to roll with it, “You blast the quarren and the whole compartment explodes! Nix is thrown back from the blast, and a red light suddenly fills the whole room! An automated voice speaks, ‘Self-destruct initiated. Five minutes to self-destruct.’”

Jojo decides to run back down the corridor, and head towards the new door that they’ve not gone to. The loading bay she comes to has a couple of escape pods there. “The door leading to the cargo hold is also open.” I tell her. She decides to check out the cargo hold.

Meanwhile, Evan decides to race back to where Trex is, and arrives just in time to see the transdoshan abandoning his attempt to open the dead door, and run through the bridge back to his ship. “So long, suckers!” he sneers as he closes the door behind him.

“Why, that stinking coward!” mutters Evan. He decides to run back to where Nix had gone off to.

Nix enters the cargo hold. “There’s piles of cargo boxes everywhere, but one in particular stands out. It’s a metal-and-glass cargo pod. Something is glowing blue from within it!” Thankfully, the cargo pod can hover magnetically off the floor, so the arkanian offshoot pushes it with her to the escape pods.

Miko arrives just in time to see Nix pushing the cargo pod. “I don’t think we’ll all be able to squeeze into the escape pod with that,” he says after measuring up the size of the cargo box.

“You could open it up and take out what’s in there,” I mention. The kids decide to do this, and I describe to them, “Inside the cargo pod, you see a curious flat transparent cylinder that is about the size of a bedside table. In fact, there seems to be a small alien being frozen inside. It doesn’t look happy at all.”
Unhappy small frozen alien!
“There’s buttons along the rim of the cylinder,” I tell them.

“We do NOT touch the buttons!” states Jojo hastily. The two of them take the large cylinder and squeeze into the escape pod. Miko punches the launch button, and the escape pod blasts off into space. The two of them watch as Lofin’s ship gets further away before it explodes in a spectacular flash. However, before the flash even subsides, their view is blocked by the menacing shape of Trex’s ship, the Krayt Fang.

“I’m going to blast you both for being so annoying,” snarls the transdoshan over the comlink.

“Does this escape pod have any controls?” asks Evan. “Can we fly it away?”

“Not really,” I tell him. “But perhaps you can try negotiating with him?”

Jojo gets the idea. “Well, you might want to re-consider blasting us, because we’ve got that package that Teemo wants!”

There is no reply on the comlink. However, there is a sudden ‘clank’ as a tractor-beam locks onto the escape pod. The pod is hauled into the Krayt Fang’s front loading bay which closes up once they are inside. The two of them exit the pod in time to see Trex glaring at them from the loading bay’s entryway. “I’ll give you two one more chance,” he growls. “But if you cross me again, I’ll throw you both out the airlock!”

“Seriously dude, you need to work on some better threats,” replies Jojo.

And with that, we close off our second episode with the Star Wars closing score.

Adventure Notes:
This adventure was played over two half-sessions. My main idea was to introduce the kids to Trex and the Krayt Fang. I felt it was important that the kids learn to loathe the scaly transdoshan.

Afterwards, I did feel rather concerned about the cold-blooded killing of Lofin, and asked Evan why did he blast the quarren, to which he replied, “Because Teemo told me to.” I suppose that makes his character ideal bounty hunter material. And a possible plot hook for some encounters with the Dark Side.

Plot Hooks: Imperial officer working with Teemo. What’s in Trex’s restricted cargo hold? What’s in Teemo’s cylinder?

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game - Session 1: Mos Shuuta


Characters: 
NX-275, Arkanian Offshoot, Smuggler (played by Jojo, 11yo) 
Miko Eiduno, Jawa, Bounty Hunter (played by Evan, 9yo) 

Adventure Notes: 
I bought the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game out of curiosity, and was at first rather disappointed by the difference in the volume of content between this and the P:BB. Furthermore, the kids were uninterested in the base characters that came with the game, and so it went into the game cupboard for a while. 

Recently, the kids were asking about getting into another RPG campaign, and this game came up. I did some googling around, and found this wonderful “The Unofficial Species menagerie” PDF which showed the stats of various Star Wars races based off the EotE system. I showed this to the kids, and before I know it, they were poring through the document, commenting on which race they’d like to play. 

If anything, the nice, glossy map of Mos Shuuta is a wonderful way to introduce the kids to the place I hope would host a series of adventures in this part of the Star Wars universe. As I lay out the map, I ask Evan if he’s decided what character he wants to play.

“I want to be something like an imp that travels inside a mech,” says Evan. “Something like that zombie imp in the Z-mech in ‘Plants versus Zombies 2: Garden Warfare’”



 Oookaay. “So, something like a small alien that is in a droid, or maybe a power-suit?” I google up ‘Star Wars mechs’, and eventually find some references to exo-skeletons or exo-suits. “Hmmm.. how about this? Perhaps your small alien character found an exo-suit, and modified it into something he can get into and use like a mech?”

“Oh! What about a Shadowtrooper suit!? Those look pretty cool in Star Wars: Battlefront!”



Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. “Alright, now how about your alien? What kind of small alien can you be?” Of course, the choice is pretty obvious. Small alien? Tinkering with mechanical things like mechs? On Tatooine? Before Evan can answer, I grinningly suggest to him, “What about an Ewok!?”

“Daaad!”

Eventually, we draft up a Jawa for Evan. When I ask him what his name is, Evan responds, “Miko.. Umm. I don’t know.” I grab the improvisation bull by the horns, and write down ‘Miko Eidunno’. We look for portraits of a Jawa, and Evan picks this one:



I ask him for a backstory, and Evan obliges me with this: “I was with a group of other Jawas, travelling in a Sand-crawler. We came to Mos Shuuta, like this.” He trails a finger on the map in the outskirts of town, pumping out a beat-box while he travels to the Electro-enhanced main gates.

“Why is your sand-crawler rapping?” I ask. “Sounds like more of a Rap-crawler!”

The Rap-crawler drives straight into Mos Shuuta, and the Jawas disembark to pay Teemo the Hutt a visit at his palace. “But then, Teemo the Hutt tricks them, and when they leave in the Rap-crawler, it explodes, and they all got killed. I wasn’t killed because I was checking out the dewbacks at the stables when it happened.”

“Ah, I see.” I point at a nearby building. “And so you go and hide in the junkyard nearby.”

“Yeah! And I look for stuff to fix the Rap-crawler!”

“And then you find a beat-up Shadowtrooper suit instead! You then decide to fix it up so that you can get into it, and use it as a disguise in case Teemo recognises you!” Yeap, this is how we roll at our house. I note this all down, and then turn to Jojo. “How about you, Jo? What’s your story?”

Jojo has been googling around for pictures of various Star Wars aliens before she shows me this on her iPad:



“That’s very pretty, Jo! Who is she?” We find out that she’s one of the canon characters in Star Wars named Jareal. We google up Arkanian offshoots, and find out that they are a genetically-engineered species by the original Arkanians who mixed their DNA with other species to produce different sub-species of Arkanians in order to perform menial work, somewhat like slave-castes.

Anyway, Jojo decides that her character looks a lot like Jareal, and begins her story: “Arkanian offshoots are like slaves, right? So my parents were slaves, but they didn’t want me to be a slave. Unfortunately, I still ended up being sold to Teemo the Hutt.”

“I see.” I point at the Mos Shuuta slagworks. “Most slaves in Mos Shuuta work here in the slagworks, mining iron ore for Teemo. You probably grew up in the nearby shanty-town, and worked in the mines during the day.”

 “Yeah! And I have organised a rebel group of four or five other slaves, and we’re planning to escape!”

Ah. Plot hook. Very nice. “Okay, that’s cool.” We fix up her character sheet, and I ask her what her character’s name is. She names her NX-275 (a slave name, she explains) but her friends call her ‘Nix’. And soon enough, we were on our way.

-----

A bit about our Star Wars background. To date, the kids have watched all seven Episodes. However, when they were very little (about 3 and 5), I watched Episodes 4, 5 and 6 with them, and deliberately omitted mentioning anything about Episodes 1, 2 and 3. So my kids grew up knowing everything about Luke, Princess Leia and Han Solo, and next to nothing about Anakin, Qui-Gon and Count Dooku. When they were about 5 and 7, it got a little harder when they noticed scenes from the first three Episodes being advertised on TV, or in the shopping mall at electronic shops. “Who’s that kid on that speeder, dad?” They would hint that perhaps there were other Episodes of Star Wars, to which I would vehemently deny the existence of.

By the time they started school, it was nigh impossible to keep Episodes 1, 2 and 3 from being non-existent. Their friends were referring to things from it, and everyone was watching Clone Wars. In fact, it was probably the animated series like Clone Wars and Rebels that gave me an appreciation that (at very least) Episodes 1, 2 and 3 laid a lot of the ground-work for the Star Wars universe.

See these? Watch them all!
Long story short, we watched all the Episodes, most of Clone Wars, and everything of Rebels. We’d not played a Star Wars RPG before, but hey, GM dad could probably wing it.

I refer to the map of Mos Shuuta again. “Okay, just to be different, instead of the hot blazing Tatooine sun, it’s now evening time in Mos Shuuta. The slave miners have all gone back to their shanty-town, and most people are either going home, or to the Cantina. Evan, you’re still in the Junkyard. You’ve been here for three days, tinkering with the Shadowtrooper suit you found, and hiding from Teemo’s Gamorrean goons. What do you want to do?”

“Three days!? What did I eat?”

“You had some food supplies with you when your Rap-crawler was blown up. You’re now out of supplies though.”

Evan looks at the map, and points. “I’ll go to the Shanty town.”

I give him a steady look. “Alright, why are you going to the Shanty town? Is there any reason why you would go to the Shanty town, aside from the fact that Jojo’s character is there?”

Evan thinks. “Okay, fine! I go to the Santina. I can probably get more food supplies there.”

“That’s KAN-tina,” I correct him. “Okay, so you make your way there, and soon arrive at the cantina. There’s a lot of people here, probably workers who have all knocked off for the day. They are all talking, drinking, eating, gambling, or watching the Twi-lek who is dancing on the stage.”

“What’s a Twi-lek?” asks Jojo.

“It’s one of those alien ladies with the two tentacles on their heads,” replies Evan promptly.

“Right.” He can’t pronounce ‘cantina’ correctly, but he sure knows his Star Wars. Essential stuff in life. I turn to Jojo, “As for you - tonight is the night! You’ve arranged with a group of about five other slaves to escape from Mos Shuuta this very night! One of the slaves says that he knows a safe place out in the desert where you guys can hide. It’s too dangerous to travel there during the day, what with Tuskan raiders, and the deadly hot Tatooine sun frying everything. But at night, you should be able to get there as long as you don’t travel on foot. You’ll need to ride something to get there.”

Jojo says, “I know! We meet at the Dewback stables! We can get some Dewbacks, and ride out of town!”

The Dewback stables are located right next to the cantina. I sensed an opportunity to bring the two characters together. I turn to Evan, “Meanwhile, you’re in the cantina. What do you want to do?”

“Is anyone looking at me? Do they think I’m a Shadow trooper?”

The crowd in the Mos Shuuta cantina look up at the new arrival. The Shadow trooper suit would have been impressive when it was still in Imperial service. Currently though, there were dents and scratched paint all over it, and some parts of the suit were obviously borrowed from other non-standard Shadow trooper segments. “They think that you’re someone who has obviously put together a shadow trooper suit from scrap. Most of them turn back to what they were doing before.”

At this point, I realise that I don’t know much about what shadow trooper suits were capable of. I ask Evan, and he fills me in. “Shadow troopers are like storm troopers with a little bit of Jedi powers. They can also turn almost invisible - it looks all blurry and watery when they do.”

“Right,” I say. “Well, I don’t think the Jedi powers are going to be available. That comes from the person wearing the suit, not the suit itself. And the invisibility or cloaking device? There’s one in this suit, but it’s not functional. You can probably fix it given the right components, but for now, it’s off-line.”

Evan takes this surprisingly well. “Sure, dad. And because I’m too short to use the fingers on the arms, I’ve stuck my blaster into the arm-piece like this.” He demonstrates by snapping on an imaginary weapon into his forearm, and shows me how ammo is loaded in.

“Okay, so no one is really threatened by your appearance at the cantina. What do you want to do here?”

Evan thinks. “I see if anyone is looking at me.” I tell him that he spots two people at the bar counter, looking at him just over their shoulders. “What species are they?”

That’s a good question. I poll the kids for suggestions, and Jojo thinks that one of them could be a Gamorrean. “That’s pretty good. One of them is a pig-faced Gamorrean, while the other is a sly-looking human. They seem to be observing you.”

Meanwhile, the runaway slaves have arrived next to the Dewback stables. I tell Jojo, “One of them tells you all to wait here while he goes into the cantina to meet someone. He says that this person will help you guys get the dewbacks from the stables.” The slave is wearing a trenchcoat to hide his slave garments, and he goes into the cantina.

I turn to Evan. “You see a person in a trenchcoat enter the cantina and walk right past you. He heads straight to the human and the Gamorrean who were observing you earlier. He immediately starts telling them something. If you step a little closer, you can hear what they are saying.”

Evan decides to step closer, and I tell him, “You hear the trenchcoat guy telling the Gamorrean, ‘You promised that I’ll get better treatment at the slagworks if I turn in those slaves who are planning to escape! Well, they are all outside right now!’”

“Gah! I KNEW that was going to happen!” declares Jojo.

The Gamorrean grunts, and signals. Three other Gamorreans come to him, and they all start heading towards the cantina entrance, hardly paying any attention to the shadow trooper at the door. I tell Jojo, “I give you one chance to do something before these guys appear. You suddenly feel apprehensive, as if you know that something bad is going to happen.”

“How do I know that?” asks Jojo. “I didn’t hear the conversation!”

“I don’t know,” I shrug. I make an mysterious gesture. “Maybe it’s… the Foooorrrce!”

Jojo rolls her eyes, and decides to let the other slaves know what she is feeling, and that they should all jump the fence to take the dewbacks themselves.

And so we arrive at our first dice-roll. Jojo is trying to persuade these guys, so that’s likely a “Presence” check. I decide to stick in two difficulty dice, and we roll the lot. She succeeds, but there’s a couple of Threats to resolve. I explain this to Jojo and ask her what she thinks might have happened. “Um, maybe I convince one of them to come with me, but the other two go, ‘No way! He’s our friend! We trust him!’ And they go to the cantina to see if he is in trouble.”

The two slaves head towards the cantina, and find themselves face-to-face with four Gamorreans coming out! The Gamorreans grunt and immediately beat them to the ground.

I say to Evan, “So you see those Gamorreans start beating up two slaves right outside the cantina! What do you want to do?”

Evan says, “I go to the door of the cantina, and blast them!”

With Evan, I need to be doubly-sure. “Blast who? The Gamorreans, or the slaves?”

“The Gamorreans, dad!”

Ah right. Just checking. “You lift up your blaster carbine to shoot the nearest Gamorrean!” I hand Evan his dice, and he rolls. “Two successes, cancelled by two failures - that’s a miss, Evan!” Miko’s blaster carbine charges up to fire, but it just clicks! The jawa thumps the blaster a couple of times, and tries again, but it still just clicks! “I suppose that’s what you get for getting blasters from the junkyard, Ev!”

“It’s garbage!” laughs Jojo, mimicking a line from Episode 7.

The Gamorrean spots Miko trying to shoot it, and charges at the jawa. Meanwhile, Jojo’s character Nix takes out her blaster and shoots one of the Gamorreans beating up a slave. She rolls well, and the blast badly injures the squealing guard. “You also rolled an Advantage, Jo. What do you want to do with it?” Jojo thinks, and decides that the injured guard falls back against the other guard who was charging at Evan.

I like the idea, particularly since it was used to help her brother. With these two, ‘co-operation’ is a rare and precious commodity that should be encouraged. “The Gamorrean you shot stumbles back into the one charging at Miko, and stumbles his charge! Miko gets to attack him first before he does!”
Miko finally gets his blaster carbine to work, and blasts the charging Gamorrean which goes down dead. Between Miko, Nix and the slaves, they manage to bring down another two guards before the last one starts a high-pitch squealing. “One of the slaves was killed in the fight, just as you hear sounds of thumping boots coming from around the corner! About six more Gamorreans are heading towards you all!”

Nix decides to vault over the dewback stable fence, which she easily manages. She looks around, and sees a dewback with a saddle already in place. The Arkanian offshoot jumps on (Jojo rolled well on her Piloting - Planetary) and as she prepares to ride off, I inform her, “Unfortunately, the dewback stable gates are still closed! How are you going to get through them!?”

Miko, on the other hand, decides to run straight back into the cantina. “I’ll sit at one of the chairs, and pretend that I’ve always been here!” Ah yes, that’s definitely a “Cool” check. He rolls the dice, but it comes up with an awful lot of Failures and Threats.

“Just as the Gamorreans charge into the place, you see the trenchcoat slave (who is still at the bar) point at you and say, ‘There’s the one you’re after!’”

“What!? Why you-” Miko lifts his blaster carbine towards the trenchcoat slave who screams and attempts to dive over the bar counter. However, the angry jawa blasts him in the butt as he tumbles over the counter.

The rest of the Gamorreans pay no heed to the blasted slave as they surround Miko and proceed to thump his lights out. Within a round, the jawa is completely knocked out.

Out in the dewback stables, Nix prepares to charge her dewback and smash through the stable gates. She backs up a bit, and then charges. I hand Jojo her dice, and she rolls a dismal Failure. “With a ‘Hi-yah!’ you charge towards the stable gates! However, just before you reach it, a lone figure leaps up in front of your charging dewback, raises a hand and commands, ‘Stop!’ It’s a woman with very dark skin, like she has been burnt by the sun!”

“Oh, her,” intones Jojo. I knew that she had read through some of the scant profiles of Mos Shuuta’s residents from the Adventure book. “She’s in charge of the dewback stables!”

I nod. “Yup. And with her one command, the dewback skids to a halt, and you are thrown over its head! You land on your back, right in front of the very angry-looking woman!”

Nix looks up at the angry face, and grins sheepishly. “Oh, er. Hi?”

Just then, the stable gates swing open, and a group of Gamorreans charge in. The dark-skinned woman glances up at them, looks back down at Nix, and kicks her in the head.

----

“You both wake up in a place you’ve never seen before, but you have no doubt where you are. These are the dreaded jail cells under Teemo’s palace! Gamorrean guards wander around and laugh cruelly at all the prisoners!”

“Do we still have our stuff?” asks Evan.

“Nah, they took all those. You’re still in your shadow trooper suit though. They still haven’t figured out that you’re a jawa inside.”

Just then, a short figure enters the place, accompanied by guards. I tell the kids that this guy is Teemo the Hutt’s right-hand man, something like that Twi-lek at Jabba the Hutt’s palace. I poll them for suggestions on what species he is. “What about that monkey-faced dude who was with Lando in the Falcon?” suggests Jojo.

“That’s a Sullustan,” supplies Evan.


Jeez, even I didn’t know that one. “Yeap, okay - he’s a Sullustan with scars on his face and half an ear. He looks at you guys and says in his own language, ‘Good! You are awake! I have good news and bad news for you all!’” 

“Wait, what?” says Nix. “Oh sorry, I don’t speak Stupid-monkey-face.”

The Sullustean smiles unfriendily. “The good news is, the great Teemo the Hutt is in a good mood today, and he has decided not to kill you all immediately. The bad news is, you are to be put into the gladiator pit to fight our new battle droids!”

“Don’t we get our weapons?” asks Evan as Miko, Nix and two other slaves are all marched towards an imposing gateway facing the gladiator pit.

“Unfortunately, no,” I tell him. The gateway opens, and the guards push them all into the floor of the pit. I describe the place to them - it’s not a huge gladiator pit like the one in Episode 2. It’s about the size of a tennis court with stone walls all around. The audience sits above, and are protected by a force-field over the pit. “The audience seats aren’t fully populated - there’s about maybe a couple of dozen people here making bets. There’s also a special balcony up there, and that’s where only one person can sit - Teemo the Hutt himself! The Sullustan is there right now, announcing the entrance of The Great And Mighty Teemo the Hutt!”

“More like, Teemo the Butt!” quips Evan.

Teemo the Hutt enters his private balcony seat. “You know how Jabba the Hutt is like a large slug the size of a small bus? Well, Teemo is… a little on the midget size for the Hutts. He’s about the size of two IKEA Lack tables put together.” I motion at the nearby furniture for reference.

“How cute!” says Jojo. “He’s still a butt though!”

Teemo speaks with a short-tongue as well. “Welcwome pwisoners! You are abwout to be killed for ouwr entertwainment!” He motions at another gate on the other side of the gladiator pit, which opens. “Out comes, four genuine Clone War-era Super Battle Droids!”



Evan’s mouth drops open. “What!? Are you serious!?”

I wave my hand. “Well, not strictly genuine. You can see that these guys have been patched up, and scrap has been used to replace most of their parts. You know how Super Battle Droids have those blasters in their forearms? These guys have ordinary blasters stuck on their forearms with what looks like duct-tape.”

Teemo announces, “Lwet the bwattle begin!” The battle droids immediately start charging towards the prisoners. “Just as they get about halfway, the one in the lead suddenly starts breaking down, leaving a trail of scrap and parts, before collapsing into a scrap pile! Its blaster (still attached to its arm) slides towards you guys and stops in front of Nix!”

Nix frowns at the arm. “Was that supposed to do anything?” She picks up the blaster and blasts one of the approaching droids. The other two slaves start looking around for weapons to use as clubs.

Miko charges straight at the droid which Nix shot, and tries to wrestle its blaster off its arm. “Duct-tape or not, this blaster is pretty well secured on this droid’s arm! It punches you with its other arm!”

Evan thinks a bit. “Wait! Did you say that there’s scrap here? I’ll use my Utinni ability!”

Ah, the Utinni ability. The “The Unofficial Species menagerie” PDF states that it’s some sort of ability that Jawas have that adds one boost die when they scavenge through junk. Looks like now was as good a time as any to use it. I hand the boost die along with the other dice to Evan who rolls. A Success! “You quickly rummage through the junk, and find.. a Super battle droid’s jet pack! It looks like it’s still pretty intact too! You probably can’t use it to fly out of the pit though - there’s that a force-field above you.”

“Oh yeah, Super battle droids have those,” remarks Evan thoughtfully. “I’ll point the jet pack at the droid which punched me, and blast it with the thrusters!”

I love innovation. I hand the dice to Evan who rolls them. A Success, and a Threat. “Hmm.. you blast the droid using the jet pack’s thrusters, and it completely disintegrates it! However, remember that this is a REAL jet pack, and the force of its thrusters propels you backwards in the air!” The kids laugh as they envisage the jawa spinning around backwards in the air with the flaming jet pack.

Evan says, “I try to aim myself to hit the other two droids!” I pass him the dice, and he rolls our very first Trumph! “Although you are zig-zagging crazily through the air, you manage to steer yourself to crash into the other two battle droids! The jet pack propels all of you straight into the stone wall, and there is a big explosion! Parts of the battle droids fly everywhere, and in the midst of it all, a very charred-robe jawa crawls out of the wreckage!” 

“How about my shadow trooper suit?” asks Evan.

“Well, it’s pretty wrecked now, but you can probably repair it.”

“Maybe you can add parts from the Super battle droids to it,” adds Jojo.

Teemo the Hutt speaks down at them, “Well, it wooks like those so-called swuper battle dwoids that were sold to me weren’t so swuper after all! I’ll deal with whoever who sold them to me later! As for you, I’m vewy impwessed by all your skills! I have a specwial job in mind for you!”

“What?” Jojo protests. “He’s just going to get us to do something awful, like clean the palace!”

“Or I cwould thwow you all into the Slagworks Melting Pot!”

“Cleaning is good!”

And with that, our first session comes to a close. I trumpet out the closing score for Star Wars, and drift the rulebook away from them.

Adventure Notes: 
It feels pretty good to be playing an RPG with the kids again. This whole session started with me thinking, “Get them to meet. Work for Teemo.” It was a pretty wild ride to get there, but I’m glad we did! 

For the curious, I felt that the Adventure provided in the box was pretty abrupt. It ends with the players getting their own starship, and I felt that the whole Mos Shuuta material was pretty much wasted once the players likely decide to jet their way out to other worlds. So I plan to let them hang around in Mos Shuuta for a while before I let the kids get their very own starship.

Plot Hooks: Teemo's job.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Pathfinder RPG: Session 21 - Black Fang's Dungeon (part 3)


Characters:
Lexi, Elven Rogue (played by Jojo, 10yo)
Sharpblade, Skeleton (Human) Fighter (played by Evan, 8yo)

Warning: This adventure contains a lot of references and spoilers to the Black Fang dungeon. If you have yet to play through the dungeon, be warned that you’re likely to come across the same stuff we did. 

Adventure Notes: 
Between the previous session with the reefclaw and this one, the kids were bugging me about those potions they had found on the reefclaw’s island lair. Eventually, I rolled up some identification checks for them, and told them that the potions were a Potion of Levitate (which, I explained, temporarily allowed the drinker to float in the air, like he was being lifted by the Force) and a Potion of Invisibility. The latter find caused quite a stir with the kids, and leading up to this session, they spent long discussions devising many, many (many) ways to utilise the precious potion. 

One of our treasured possessions in our modest DVD collection is the “Dungeons & Dragons: The Complete Animated Series” boxset that features the animated adventures of six kids in the fantasy world of D&D. We watched through the entire boxset several years ago, when the kids were around 6 and 4. I recall that Evan particularly liked to mimic the boy barbarian with his super-powerful club during the cutscenes where he leaps up and smites the club into the ground. Jojo could do an uncanny impersonation of the boy barbarian’s pet unicorn Uni.

The greatest animated series ever!
When it came to the subject of dragons, the animated series featured several episodes with dragons, and generally, they were creatures that people screamed and ran from, preferably faster than their companions. When we started playing Pathfinder, the kids and I talked about dragons in Pathfinder, and noted that they still generally inspired the same sort terror in this world. “In fact,” I tell them. “Some dragons are so intelligent that they can even cast spells!”

That impressed them. The thought of a giant, godzilla-like spell-caster was a novel (and scary!) concept. So the kids are quite perturbed in knowing that they are going up against a dragon this session. I tell them that they’ve got a pretty good chance of defeating Black Fang, given the Arrow of Dragon-Slaying, the ‘Dragon-Killing’ sword, and the tip from the goblin king. “As long as, you know, you roll the dice well,” I say absently while sorting through the GM Guide.

Glancing up to their dismayed faces, I figured that I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that last bit.

“A short ways up the northern tunnel, you guys come across a narrow chamber. In the dim light, you can see three gaunt figures standing in the middle of the chamber. Pseudo sniffs and reports that these are undead skeletons.”


Sharpblade, of course, is all keen to go ahead and see if these skeletons would ignore him like the last time they encountered skeletons. I roll the d20 for each skeleton, and shake my head. “Unfortunately, these skeletons immediately attack you the moment they see you!”

The skeletons in the Black Fang adventure module are really there to showcase monsters which have the special “Damage Reduction” ability. Skeletons which are harmed by any piercing or slashing weapons, like swords or arrows, get to reduce the damage inflicted on them by 5, which is a pretty big deal for newbie adventurers with mundane martial weapons.

Of course, given the fact that both the kids have magical weapons that burn, electrocute and cause general mayhem, these three skeletons were definitely a few levels short of a decent Challenge Rating. I suppose I could have beefed up the encounter, but given the circumstances of them fighting a dragon this session (and the ever-looming bedtime hour), I decided to let the kids loose and put the poor creatures out of their undead misery.

Yeah, the skeletons probably ended up looking like this 
“A winding tunnel brings you both to the top of a crumbling, stone stairway. This chamber is dark, but you can sense that it is a large cavern. ” At this point, Pseudo suddenly dives into Jojo’s backpack and buries himself under her equipment. “...Scared!,” the little dragon mentally squeaks.

“Oh poor thing!” says Jojo and tries to calm him down with cheese.

“I take out my dragon-killing sword, dad,” declares Evan nervously. “You heard that, right, dad? The sword? I’m holding it up?”

“Gotcha,” I tell him.

The kids have obviously been discussing tactics and decide that now was the time to put their plan into action. “I’m getting out my bow and the dragon-slaying arrow,” says Jojo. “And I’m drinking the Invisibility potion. And then, I’ll sneak into the room.”

As the invisible elven rogue cautiously enters the chamber with her bow at ready, there is a sudden hiss in the darkness beyond them. “You both hear a raspy sound, like scales rustling against each other. Something large breathes, and you suddenly hear a deep, hissing voice, “Ah, visitors. I can smell you, you know.”

And at this point, I take the advice from the GM Guide, place the Black Fang pawn onto the grid map, and then slam the cover of the Beginner Box upright on the table for dramatic emphasis. I think I made the kids jump.

Black Fang! 
Adventure Notes: 
To other GMs planning to run this session, I suggest a mandatory preparation of watching the Smaug and Bilbo scene from “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”. Brilliant, brilliant scene, and it captures exactly how dragons can be so intelligently EVIL. 

“I’m flattening myself down on the ground!” declares Evan.

“How about your sword?” I ask. “Aren’t you holding it up?”

“Yeah! I’m flat on the ground with the sword up!”

“Uh, right.”

The black dragon shifts in the chamber. “Ahh.. I smell.. A Dragon-Slaying Arrow. Impressive. You plan to kill me? I very much doubt that.” Black Fang’s scaly tail rasps against the stone floor. “I must say, this is very.. annoying. After all the trouble I went through sending those three adventurers along to Sandpoint to ensure that no one disturbs me until the full moon. Very annoying indeed.”

“I KNEW those guys were duds!” says Jojo. “Dad, am I close enough to shoot?”

“Not yet.”

To the kids, the dragon was not making any move towards them; only shifting around sideways in his side of the chamber. Jojo was determined to get close enough to ensure that she gets a clean shot. “Hmm… interesting. I smell goblins on you. But no goblin blood. King Fatmouth has let you both through without even fighting you, hasn’t he? I’ll deal with him and his useless kin, after I’m finished with you. And did you like my skeletons? They were once adventurers like you, you know. After I melted their brains out of their heads, I raised them as skeletons myself.”

I could see that my dialogue was setting the kids on edge. Sharpblade was refusing to budge from his stairway perch, while Lexi had stopped in her advance, hoping that Black Fang would come just one step closer. “You both have such.. interesting treasures. That.. skeleton on the stairs. He’s one of those.. ‘Thinking skeletons’, isn’t he? How interesting. Does he even know what his ninja masters REALLY are?” The dragon shifts sideways once more.

Here, I pause, and stare straight at the kids. “You know what? One of you suddenly remembers something!” I could see the kids were holding their breaths. “Black dragons spit acid. In long, straight lines.” And then the kids realise why Black Fang was moving sideways in order to line himself up with both of them.

Before Lexi and Sharpblade can call out a warning, Black Fang drops open his maw and spews his acidic breath weapon. Adventurers get a Reflex saving throw against this, so I turn to Jojo first and hand her the d20. “Well, you’re first in line.”

Jojo tosses the d20. She rolls an 18.

Imagine the scene. Lexi the elven rogue launching backwards into one of her spectacular back flips, Matrix-style, as streams of black dragon acid breath hiss past her; a veritable super-soaker scattergun of acidic death. But not even a single drop singes the nimble elf as she miraculously evades the entire breath attack, and lands with a roll that brings her up with her bow drawn back.
Better than this movie visual!
Sharpblade is next in line, but just as he reaches out for the d20, I stop him and say, “You know what? Just as the spray of acid reaches you, something incredible happens! Those first streams of acid veer around you, and go straight into that big red ruby you have in your backpack!” Just small splashes of acid hit the skeleton warrior for minor damage.

“Well, at least now we know what it’s good for!” says Evan. “I get up and charge down the stairs!”

On Lexi’s turn, Jojo declares that she’s firing the arrow at Black Fang, specifically aiming for the black dragon’s underbelly. She rolls the d20, and when I announce that it hits, the kids literally whoop for joy.

Adventure Notes: 
And here, as I write this, I recall that I should have given Black Fang a Fortitude saving throw against that dragon-slaying arrow. But as I think about how the kids were so pumped up by the arrow hitting the dragon and high-fiving each other, I exercise the luxury of being a GM dad: Black Fang fails his Fortitude roll. 

The arrow smacks into Black Fang’s underbelly like an angry wasp, and the black dragon roars with pain and fury. He tumbles around the cavern floor, smashing pillars and walls in his effort to dislodge the deadly arrow.

Sharpblade charges in with his sword, and attempts to slash at the beast before it can recover. Brutally wounded, the black dragon is still a formidable foe, and he launches a bite attack that almost sends Sharpblade tumbling backwards. The skeletal warrior slashes his dragon-killing sword, and with that blow, Black Fang is slain.

Adventure Notes: 
The GM Guide states that Black Fang is still a ‘young’ dragon with 54 Hitpoints. That arrow did 50 damage, and Sharpblade’s single attack with his Dragonbane sword was certainly more than enough to end the dragon menace. 

Yes, yes, the GM Guide also recommends that Black Fang be allowed to flee and return later as a recurring villain. But honestly? I think 20 sessions leading up to Black Fang was plenty enough, and it would have been anti-climatic for the kids if they didn’t get to do away with Black Fang in this encounter.

Once the kids finish celebrating, they get back down to the business end of the phrase ‘Kill monsters, and take their stuff.’ The adventurers find a crate of black potions that Black Fang was planning to consume, which they readily destroy. Amongst Black Fang’s hoard of gold, they find some interesting items which they have not seen before - Scrolls. I explain how Scrolls work, and they get a bit excited when they hear that one of them is a Scroll of Fireball. However, they are disappointed to learn that only wizards or clerics can use scrolls.

“How are we going to get through King Fatmouth’s goblins?” asks Jojo, after scouring the entire cavern for another exit and finding none.

“Well, look through the stuff that you’ve got available,” I suggest. “I’m sure that you’ll figure out something.” Of course, by now, I had already thought of how they could solve this dilemma. It came to me when during the dragon fight.

The adventurers scour through their inventory, tossing aside whatever that would not work. The Potion of Levitate had some potential, but they dismiss it when I assure them that they could not share it.

“Well, what about in the cavern itself?” I ask. “Perhaps there’s something here that can help you.” They ask me to describe the cavern again. “The large dark cavern contains the hoard that you guys have already sifted through. And one dead scary dragon.”

And then the light-bulb turns on. “I’m taking my sword,” says Evan. “And I’m chopping off Black Fang’s head!”

The scene at King Fatmouth’s goblin disco chamber is pretty much the usual. Music is banging, goblins are dancing, when a sudden scream interrupts the festivities. From the northern exit of the chamber, which is located on a high ledge, the head of Black Fang appears. “DID YOU THINK YOU COULD SEND ADVENTURERS TO KILL ME!?” roars the gruesome visage. “I WILL EAT YOU ALL!”

“Black Fang!” wails King Fatmouth. “Me sorry! Those adventurers got through and we tried to stops them!”

“TOO LATE NOW!” roars the dragon. “I’M GOING TO EAT YOU AAAALLLLL!”

The goblins all scream as one, and scatter from the chamber. King Fatmouth himself is one of the first goblins to rush out through a secret exit. And soon the whole chamber is devoid of the last of the fear-stricken creatures.

Lexi and Sharpblade lift up the head of Black Fang. After checking that everyone has fled, they roll the large head down the rocky slope. They scamper down the slope after it, and loot the treasure under King Fatmouth’s throne before leaving.

And then, it was bedtime.

Adventure Notes: 
Thanks to everyone for reading. The kids and I had an absolute ball with the Pathfinder Beginner Box, and there’s still so much that can be explored. Lexi and Sharpblade do continue their adventures in Sandpoint and its surrounds in at least another couple of sessions before we decided to give Pathfinder a rest. Recently though, the kids have been asking to get back into Pathfinder, so hopefully soon, there’ll be more adventures to add to our logs!