Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Make the Dragons Nice, and Hold the Dungeons

My kid hates dungeons.

She loves dragons — nice ones who let you ride them or have tea with them. Most of our Dungeonteller gaming sessions are about acquiring exotic pets, making friends with monsters or about scolding the ones who insist on behaving badly. If they get on really well, she will invite them back to her tropical island home base/monster sanctuary. She really is a kind and lovely soul, and as game master I work hard to make sure the games appeal to her.

This can be challenging for me. My tastes run to the creepy and atmospheric, like if D&D had come out in 1930 and the modules were written by Clark Ashton Smith and HP Lovecraft. Without horror, conflict or combat to inject into the adventure, I still flounder a bit at times. It's easy to throw another troop of orcs at the PCs when you're not feeling inspired, but when the crunchy/tactical side of the game holds no draw for your players, you've got to find a new way to sustain interest and engagement.

We played today with her BFF, and there was a little more interest in conflict and tactics. The two of them play Minecraft together where there's lots of monster-fighting for loot drops and such -- maybe that's hardened them a bit. Anyway, the PCs had spent a snuggly night in a tundra tiger's den with her little cubs crawling all over them as a snowstorm raged outside. In the morning, the PCs found ogre tracks outside (easy to spot because of the drag marks left by the ogres' loot bags). Setting off home for the elven sanctuary of Ringwood (from the Big Hexyland map set), the PCs were soon waylaid by two tundra ogres ("snow-gres?") and a fight was on. My kid's hero is a forest guardian (a centaur/druid type that is not on the official Dungeonteller hero list), and her BFF was playing a rogue (with a wolf as a pet, along for the trip with her pups in addition to the tigress and her cubs). The heroes slowly wore the ogres down with help from the wolf and the tigress, but the centaur was down to 2 Luck before she remembered a medallion her ancestor spirits had given her to summon help in an emergency. A cloud bank in the form of charging centaurs appeared in the sky, setting the ogres to flight. The funniest conceit of the encounter was that the ogres thought the rogue's crossbow bolts sticking out of their hides were fast-growing body hairs and that they figured it was time for a mutual full-body shave once the battle was over.

Have you ever DM'd a game for kids or grownups who love RPGs but aren't the least bit interested in fighting, looting, or solving mysteries? How did it go for you?


  1. I once GM'd a game of Cyberpunk where we had all agreed that the game would be about a cell of a revolutionary secret society. Everyone made their characters and came ready to get the game underway when we realized that we hadn't really discussed the sort of revolution each character was looking for. Everyone had a different idea of what the revolution would be... one was Marxist, another was Anarchist, etc... They spent the whole (and the only) session arguing (in character) for their own personal view of revolutionary utopia.


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