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Gaming with the family: keeping it simple


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#1
Jae Onasi

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Yep, we've achieved second-generation gaming, and if I can drag my dad into playing, it'll be 3. :D

Anyway, I wanted to share some of my ideas and see if you all had any suggestions on gaming as a family.

Here are things I've learned along the way playing with an 11 year old, 7 year old, and 2 permanently-29 parents who both started with AD&D.

1. The game has to be all about fun. If it's not fun, it falls apart.
2. Let the kids pick out their own colors of dice, one set for each kid. It just makes it easier to keep track of who rolled what, and they love having their own dice.
3. Use miniatures and maps. My kids LOVE the minis. It helps them see where they are in a room, if they're flanking, and so on. They also love knocking over the bad guys when they die.
4. Compliment them when they get into the roles and really roleplay. My kids ham it up, using fake medieval accents and everything. It's hilarious.
5. While the kids learn the rules really fast, we modified play to make it move along a little faster. For instance, we dumped attacks of opportunity, not only because it unnecessarily complicates the order of attack, but because I think it's just a dumb concept anyway. I fence. You NEVER take your eye off the person you're sparring with to make one poke at another enemy. That's a great way to end up dead, but that's another story.
6. When we roll up characters, they're on the uber-side. Why? Philosophically, adventurers are better than average anyway, and their stats should reflect that. Secondly, it makes the battles go faster. A long, drawn out battle with cannon fodder doesn't keep them engaged. I do bump up the stats of the bosses, because those should be harder. However, skeletons and zombies should be pushovers.
7. Keep it on the action-oriented side. You and I may love political intrigue, but long, drawn-out subtle conversations between diplomats doesn't float their boats. My kids are too young yet to understand and appreciate much subtlety.
8. Have 2 sets of players' handbooks--one for the DM, one for the rest of the family, at a minimum. I'm thinking of getting each kid a PH at some point, but 1 for dad and the kids is sufficient now.
9. Use the shorter and wider DM screen. It makes it easier to see the kids over the top.
10. Use pre-packaged campaigns. They tend to be more action oriented, and many have different content items like monster pictures, pictures of interesting things in rooms (like the bell-room in Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde), and pre-made maps that you can enlarge on a home copier for personal use at the table.
11. We tried the tiles, but the kids tend to bump them out of place a lot. We've found enlarged paper copies of the maps work better. What I do is enlarge the map to usable size with miniatures, and cut the map copy apart (e.g. if there's a room behind doors in a hallway, I cut the room off the map at the door). I add pieces to the table map as they uncover the map in their adventure. The paper version still gets knocked out of place now and then, but it doesn't tend to disrupt the entire map like knocking tiles out of place does. I may try some kind of post-it note tape next time we play to keep pieces together.
12. Judge when to fudge as DM. Since their characters are pretty uber anyway, they go through the cannon fodder enemies pretty fast. If it looks like the battle is horrendously lopsided due to purely bad dice rolls, I'll adjust the enemies' die rolls down accordingly. Conversely, if they're having an overly easy time, I'll throw them a curve ball now and then.

I look forward to hearing other ideas, too.

#2
Monte Carlo

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How about calibrating their pocket money with treasure looted in the dungeon? 100 gp = 1 real-world dollar / pound / euro seems fair to me.

#3
Jae Onasi

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How about calibrating their pocket money with treasure looted in the dungeon? 100 gp = 1 real-world dollar / pound / euro seems fair to me.

That's a possibility, though I might give that kind of reward for role-playing/playing fairly/contributing as a team myself to encourage positive gaming behavior. ;)

#4
Walsingham

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What about my idea of throwing balls of paper at things instead of rolling dice?

#5
Rosbjerg

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^ eh? how would that solve anything.. they could burn, scratch or get dirty and disgusting in no time.. actually paper would probably be the worst material for a set of dice >_<

Wonderful idea for a thread btw Jae!

#6
Walsingham

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^ eh? how would that solve anything.. they could burn, scratch or get dirty and disgusting in no time.. actually paper would probably be the worst material for a set of dice :lol:

Wonderful idea for a thread btw Jae!


They wouldn't BE dice, fethnuts. They'd take the place of dice. :)




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