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Author Topic: [Princes' Kingdom] First Session with the Kids  (Read 5766 times)
greyorm
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Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« on: September 16, 2006, 01:18:23 PM »

The kids and I had one or two interesting D&D games I didn't write up, due to lack of time, but otherwise, we've mainly been playing Carsaconne, a board game I recieved for my recent birthday.

But I've been waiting to play The Princes' Kingdom with the kids ever since Clinton announced it, especially given my question some months ago about how to make a DitV game for kids.

It finally arrived about a week ago, and after a number of false starts -- where one or both of the kids had not behaved well enough to get game time -- we finally sat down and played a quick game in the afternoon before supper.

Both the kids had been set on playing Carsaconne again, but agreed to play TPK. They started out with a very low interest level, but as play progressed, their interest level jumped up. By the end of the session, they were really excited about playing.

We started playing at the dining room table, and I half-read from the book to tell them what the game was about, but the TV in the living room and their two younger sisters were distracting them.

I talked to them about how rude it is to ignore a person who is talking to them, and then asked if they wanted to move the game upstairs to avoid the distractions. So, we ended up playing on the floor in my son's room. We talked a bit more about the princes, and my daughter kept adding, "and princesses" every time I said "prince."

Creating characters ate up a good chunk of our limited time to play. In retrospect, to save time, I should have written things down for them as they thought of them, but I am comforted that they gained some practice with writing and spelling.

My son named his prince after himself, and chose to be age 12, a couple years older than he himself is. Note that my son is the oldest of our four.

My oldest daughter named her princess after her favorite Disney princess, and chose to be age 5.

Note that neither of them knew what sorts of benefits or "penalties" they would have for choosing different ages. Then we moved on to the traits and equipment and such, and discussed that some of the traits they chose could be magical, and how "troublesome" traits and relationships weren't necessarily things they were bad at.

They really went at the "trouble" aspect. My son created a character who is obviously a bit of a black sheep and trouble-maker. He took, for his troublesome relationships, the castle guards and the king!! But he took a strong relationship with his sister (his only strong relationship, in fact). Also, my son added later, "The guards are mean to him, but they're his friends, too. Sometimes."

He also did as I expected/feared, talking about swords and fire magic and fighting for his character. He chose for his character's only strong ability "I am good at using swords". His face fell when I told him this wasn't really a fight-and-kill-stuff game like D&D, but he went with it anyways.

His equipment consists of an ornate magical sword with a glowing diamond, and a small matching shield, plus a regular old "back-up" sword, in case he loses the other one. Also, "Climbing" is one of his troublesome traits, because he climbs over the castle walls (he has to because the guards lock him out a lot). "Getting into fights" is one of his troublesome traits, too.

He wanted it to be "Getting into fights with the guards", in case he was ever thrown into jail, but I suggested he make it a bit broader than that. We also had a long discussion about him creating his character based on what he thought was going to happen in the game, and suggested he make traits about what his character had done or had happen to him already instead.

Later on, during play, it was obvious he was trying to figure out the structure of authority over the narrative, who got to say what when about what and to what extent. He would often start describing whole scenes from start to finish and I had to rein him in, back down to single actions or small clusters of actions.

Regardless, it was interesting to see what he obviously wants to happen in the game. I'm thinking at some point they'll come home from the islands and have to prevent a coup against the king!

At the end of character creation, he was waffling about taking fire magic, then decided he really wanted to. I told him not to worry and that if he wanted it, he could still add it in a bit.

What I remember about my daughter's character is that she decided she could talk to animals, and chose a dolphin named "Butterfly" as a strong relationship, then a "naughty bunny" who was always pulling her hair or scaring her as a troubled relationship. Very cute and clever!

For equipment, at first she wanted a stack of books, but then decided against it. She did not take a weapon, though she took a big shield she could hide behind, a "flashlight" and something else I can't recall off-hand.

She also wanted a GPS device (that's how she described it, anyways: "A thing that always shows me where I am.") but I reminded her this was a pre-electronic society. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure she got the idea from my wife's phone, which has this function that shows you exactly where you are on a zoomable map. Before the next game, I think we'll talk about some magical solution that gives her the same object.

We talked about the flashlight though. Her brother suggested a magical torch, and I suggested a magical light-stone, or maybe a glowing fairy in a cage. She was going with the stone until she heard the fairy idea, and decided that was a lot cooler. She decided it holds up to five fairies, so we called it a "Five-fairy Lantern" which she loved.

She also chose a strong relationship to her brother.

My daughter decided her cloak was all blue-and-gold with stars and moons, with a big, smiling, happy sun on the back. My son decided his cloak had flames and black triangles on the bottom with a sword rising up out of the flames.

At this point, we were called down for supper, but I went ahead and ran through Proving Yourself with both of them (to my wife's discontent), but I will detail each of those in another post. I will mention that the Proofs completely sold them both on playing, and they're pushing to play again tonight.

I did have a strange realization after the game: gaming lets me talk to my kids about things I don't know how to broach with them in the course of every day life. I think because I can make it relevant right then and there, rather than an abstract or "in the future" way. That's powerful stuff right there.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Ricky Donato
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Posts: 156

Just chillin'


« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2006, 02:02:19 PM »

I did have a strange realization after the game: gaming lets me talk to my kids about things I don't know how to broach with them in the course of every day life. I think because I can make it relevant right then and there, rather than an abstract or "in the future" way. That's powerful stuff right there.

I don't have children, but this paragraph really struck me. I remeber all those TV ads telling parents to talk to their children about drugs, or safe sex, or drunk driving, and this seems like such a blazingly obvious idea now: do it in a role-playing context where there is an imagined situation to explore, so that your message can be more clearly understood. Thank you for this idea.
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Ricky Donato

My first game in development, now writing first draft: Machiavelli
Clyde L. Rhoer
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Posts: 391


« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2006, 02:04:04 PM »

A Five-Fairy Lantern is so cool. I'm interested to hear how the game plays out.
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Theory from the Closet , A Netcast/Podcast about RPG theory and design.
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birdofparadox
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« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2006, 04:12:05 PM »

She also wanted a GPS device (that's how she described it, anyways: "A thing that always shows me where I am.") but I reminded her this was a pre-electronic society. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure she got the idea from my wife's phone, which has this function that shows you exactly where you are on a zoomable map. Before the next game, I think we'll talk about some magical solution that gives her the same object.

As soon as I read this, I thought of the Marauders' Map in Harry Potter.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2006, 05:34:52 PM »

Raven,

Your whole post makes me happy, and the intersection of these two characters will be something to watch indeed.

I did have a strange realization after the game: gaming lets me talk to my kids about things I don't know how to broach with them in the course of every day life. I think because I can make it relevant right then and there, rather than an abstract or "in the future" way. That's powerful stuff right there.

Man, that is what the game is about. Honestly, Vincent's about half to blame for that and The Way is responsible for the other half.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2006, 11:41:59 AM »

Sorry, not a whole lot of free time lately, so I'm writing what I can when I can. Thanks for the feedback all; Deirdra, yep, that's what crossed through my brain the other night, too, and my wife's when I told her about the game. And Clinton, I'm very glad this makes you happy! Once again, I have to thank you for writing this!

We haven't played since the last time, as I haven't had the time or energy to either play or set up an island. I'm going to ask for help on that, too, over in the Anvilwerks forum. Look for that in a day or two if you'd like to pitch in.

I'll also need to create color for the kingdom/setting that's similar to what they've already presented me with: fire magic, giant animals, forests, lots of seaside locations, and so forth, so if anyone has any cool ideas along those lines, go ahead and post 'em.

Proving

Now, as I mentioned last post, we got through each character's Proving in our first game, mainly by skipping the start of dinner (and thus evoking my wife's wrath). The kids seemed to pick up the mechanics fairly quickly, my daughter mroe quickly than my son, who kept thinking he was supposed to reroll the dice he was using to See and Raise with.

I think he might have just wanted to roll again for that extra chance to "win" if his numbers came up higher. Oh well, he'll get it eventually.

They both had a bit of trouble with the idea of WHAT Sees and Raises represented -- what exactly they could say happened when they pushed their dice forward. Both of them wanted to get wild crazy narrative and tell the whole story in their heads in just one See.

My son in particular was describing all sorts of events and people and what they were doing and what was happening and who was doing what and what he was doing and... until I got a word in edgewise and reminded him the dice were about his character and what action he was doing right now.

I tried to break it down as simply as possible, and I think they understood, though it might take a few more games for them to really remember it.

The Princess' Proving

We ran my daughter's Proving first. She -- rather surprisingly to me since I didn't see this as a part of her character -- wanted to prove she was "a good magical warrior." She hadn't done anything else "warrior-like" with her character, and regardless, II wasn't quite sure what that meant, so I asked her to tell me what she had in mind.

We had a short conversation about it, and then ran with something that would show off that she could fight and use magic. Now THIS was a very interesting bit of creativity on her part: keep in mind the ONLY thing I added to or suggested in this scene was the shark.

Her princess was down on the seashore. She spends a lot of time there because of her dolphin friend, and rarely leaves the seaside. She was riding her dolphin (I was like, SO COOL!), and her brother was there on the beach watching her, because that's what big brothers are supposed to do: watch their little sisters to make sure they are safe and protect them (I was like, AWWWW!).

My son was all excited about that, "I'm there! Yeah! I'll protect her!" Being all manly protective.

I dropped the shark in: it was attacking her dolphin, trying to eat it, and her! She Raised and Saw with a number of cool things, including bashing it in the head with the edge of her big shield (and leaving a big cut on its nose), her brother blasting fire at it from his sword to try and cook it, and her summoning all the friendly sea creatures to attack the shark (because, remember, she can talk to animals).

She won by running me out of dice, by bringing in extra dice from various things: her relationship with the dolpin, her relationship with her brother, her ability to talk to animals. So, after a few nasty snaps at tails and ankles, the shark, bloodied and beaten, swam off, chased by all the denizens of the sea.

We talked about what that event had proven, and we decided her new trait was "I can fight sharks." Which I know wasn't precisely the way the rules work regarding Proving, but hey, "I can fight sharks"? That rocks, especially for a five-year old princess (for imagery, I just think of my almost five-year old being a cloak-wearing, dolphin-riding, career shark fighter, and I'm like, "Whoa. Astounding. Incredible. Wild! I can't even fight sharks.").

The things that rocked about this Proving scene, to me, were the incredible scene elements she came up with and the whole "big brothers are supposed to protect their sisters" bit.

The Prince's Proving

We had determined during character creation that my son's Proving was going to be about being able to use fire-magic. He changed his mind momentarily, then back, then settled on "I can shoot fire from my sword" as what he was going to prove, because "no one believed he could control the sword's magic." Cool.

He set the scene, too: outside the castle walls near the forest, next to one of the castle's gates. There was one of the mean guards there, being attacked by a giant, rabid racoon!

Honestly, I was a bit thrown by the whole "giant racoon" thing. It wasn't clicking with the setting that had been gradually developing in my head, but I tried my best and went with it. I wasn't even sure why it was attacking the guard until I decided (in my own head) it was rabid.

I'm rethinking that right now: maybe there's some conflict between people and giant intelligent animals on all the islands.

Anyways, my son leapt into action and, with his prince being 12, my son had twelve dice to roll. He rolled very well and had way more dice than I did, especially when he brought his sword and the guard in as extra dice.

There was one stumbling point, where he used a raise to roll over to the gates, sound the alarm and summon all the other guards. He thought the conflict was over because he said all the guards had come and driven the raccoon off. I had to explain the guards were on their way, some of them were helping now, but the giant raccoon hadn't been driven off quite yet, and we finished off the conflict.

Utlimately, I was only able to See one of his Raises, so he handily defeated the giant racoon, starting it on fire with a burst of magic from his sword, which sent it crashing and screeching back into the forest, and saved the guard in front of all the warriors from the castle.

He wrote down his new trait, we grabbed all the paper, pencils and dice, and bolted downstairs to eat supper and be glared at for having been late to dinner.

Post-Proving

Over dinner, I told the kids the next step was saying goodbye to their father, the king, and leaving the castle to go solve people's problems out among the islands.

I asked what island they might wish to go to, and my son responds "An island where everyone is having NIGHTMARES!" Which, of course, my daughter is all over because this kind of idea is right up her alley (she likes being scared/scary stuff).

So, that's where they're going.

I had to think on this to come up with something workable for it, but I haven't statted it out or even fleshed the idea out nearly enough for play yet. I'm thinking, basically, of some island where a wizard is giving everyone nightmares.

While trying to do this, I realized I couldn't make this a problem being caused by some McGuffin that had to be destroyed, nor could I fall back on old D&D "evil wizard" or "bad guy causing problems" action-movie tropes, because that would just be hack-'n-slash survival gaming, and wouldn't require much mental effort on the part of the kids.

I had to spend a few minutes trying to reimagine the situation such that the kids would have to choose who was in the wrong and how. So, obviously, it is a wizard (or someone/something like that) who is causing these problems because of some awful thing done to him by the other inhabitants, maybe even something they did to him rightfully (at least in their view).

I was a bit surprised at how I had to wrench my problem/situation-design patterns out of the D&D-mindset, and how disorienting that actually was to do. The realization of the wide differences, and what that meant in terms of what happens during play, and thus what play feels like, was a bit of a surprise as well.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
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« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2006, 01:53:05 PM »

VERY nice to see someone else write about playing this game with kids.

Raven, how old is your oldest daughter?

My son also has a sword that shoots fire.

Sounds like it's not just my kids who tend to lasershark the crap out of this game. :)

Post the Nightmare Island when you write it, please. We need to get an islands collection going. (I've posted one so far, with another to come.)

Best,


Jim
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Unqualified Offerings - Looking Sideways at Your World
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charles ferguson
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Posts: 74


« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2006, 08:59:25 PM »

Cool post Raven.
Looking fwd to more...

cheers, charles
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2006, 05:43:45 PM »

Raven, how old is your oldest daughter?

My oldest daughter is (a precocious) seven, and my son is almost ten (but immature for his age). So I'm not sure how much physical age matters in this case! The age choices for their characters were also very interesting.

Quote
Post the Nightmare Island when you write it, please. We need to get an islands collection going. (I've posted one so far, with another to come.)

Will do. I meant to bring the book to work tonight and stat the idea up here during my off-air time, but realized halfway to the station that I'd left it sitting at home.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2006, 04:55:17 PM »

Raven, thanks.

How does your daughter grok the rules? They seem beyond my own six-year-old's ken, though my older child, at 10, gets them perfectly.

Best,


Jim
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Unqualified Offerings - Looking Sideways at Your World
20' x 20' Room - Because Roleplaying Games Are Interesting
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2006, 11:41:51 AM »

How does your daughter grok the rules? They seem beyond my own six-year-old's ken, though my older child, at 10, gets them perfectly.

She seems to grasp them fairly well, better than my son, even. She picked up the basics quick, while my son kept wanting to reroll the dice when he was Seeing with them.

However, we haven't gotten into the more complex stuff like Fallout yet, so we'll have to see what happens next game. I suspect it is more a matter of familiarity at this point than anything else, so we'll see.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
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