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Author Topic: Starting up D&D with the kids  (Read 15091 times)
charles ferguson
Member

Posts: 74


« Reply #30 on: June 09, 2006, 12:28:45 AM »

No worries--you gave me the picture when you described how they lined up the dice, "this is my bow dice, this is my sword dice,"  :D

So you could be like, "These are for the it's teeth, and see this big green one? That's for it's death-cloud breath!" which will give the lead in for you to explain different abilities etc as they get to know the monsters. Kind of like "show don't tell" but by showing and telling. Or if you want to up the suspense, "and see these dice? You don't know what they do just yet... are you sure you want to find out?"

Maybe there's more to be learned about good design by breaking down RPGs so that kids can grasp them, more than just a "dumbing down" effect.

Absolutely. ALthough I dunno about the "dumbing down", I mean simplicity is to me the pinnacle of design, & the hardest to do. My take on desiging for kids would be the thematic content would be the only thing you'd tone down. It's true in writing, kids have got a nose for shit dished up on a silver platter, and they usually have no interest in putting up with it for a second longer than it takes to grab their fluffy toy & walk off (see Raven's comments about his daughter). And I've read that for a long time kids have no concept of brand loyalty. If they don't like a book they ditch it, regardless of how much they like the last book by the same writer (which is the reverse of most adults, a fact that's has kept more than one writer rolling in the green. Yes I'm looking at you, Robert Jordan).

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Calithena
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 336

aka Sean


« Reply #31 on: June 09, 2006, 03:05:36 AM »

I agree, that dice idea is really good, and one I haven't thought of before. I think that once upon a time people imagined that learning the game by figuring out in play what monsters were tougher etc. was a fun part of the experience, and I remember occasions on which it was, but then it's unenforceable unless the GM makes up a lot of his own monsters or you play with people who actually don't go out and buy monster books. This leads to the whole trope of veteran players "roleplaying" by trying to make their character not do the thing they know is most effective against the monster until the second or third melee round, after they've tried other things, etc.

Raven - I don't have a problem with sometimes just saying "you get away from the bear", especially if the player describes an entertaining flight scene prior. However, no rolls sometimes decrease a sense of drama, and virtually everyone has a problem with the fizzbin "the bear catches you and eats you" (even the crustiest old schooler typically wants a chance to roll a natural 20 and survive just about anything).

So anyway, this is how I use that stat resolution system I linked you to. Depending on how the player described it running away from the bear would probably be a 'hard' or test of Strength (I use Strength for general athleticism), and then you roll that d6. Now, the GM has the right to call for stunt rolls, and the 'extreme' rolls are very hard, so the worry is, that's sort of fizzbin-like, it's an unlimited adversity resource.

Well, you can't please everyone, but this is another place where T&T appears to have had a leg up, at least as a _game_, on D&D. The solution is just that stunt rolls always get the player's character experience, so that if the GM wants to pile on stunt roll adversity, the player's character gets tougher the more rolls you make. I'd say 25 xp for a 'hard' roll and 150 xp for an 'extreme' roll strikes me as about right up front.

So then the DM has to 'pay' if he wants to create adversity through stuck doors, difficult-to-leap chasms, etc., and you get at least a mild DM resource limitation through that.

Anyway, with the bear thing, you'd then listen to her description, and decide whether it was just good enough by itself ('say yes', which is what you did), or whether you wanted the additional drama of die rolls (or the chance of death for her character), in which case you could call for a roll and hand out some experience points.
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greyorm
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Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« Reply #32 on: June 09, 2006, 07:12:48 PM »

So you could be like, "These are for the it's teeth, and see this big green one? That's for it's death-cloud breath!"...Or if you want to up the suspense, "and see these dice? You don't know what they do just yet... are you sure you want to find out?"

Oooo. Excellent suggestion. Thank you; this is great stuff, Charles.

However, no rolls sometimes decrease a sense of drama...

...this is how I use that stat resolution system I linked you to...

...you'd then listen to her description, and decide whether it was just good enough by itself or whether you wanted the additional drama of die rolls...

Heya Cal,

Quick check: did I accidentally say my daughter was running from the bear at the end of the game? My bad. She was running from the wolves at the end of the game. Her flight from the bear wasn't a problem since she had intiative, and the bear was busy fighting and then eating her brother. Plenty of opportunity and time for her escape, without bending any rules...whereas with the wolves, I technically -- according to the rules of the game -- should have rolled an attack.

However, it is interesting that my choosing the fiat solution of "the bear doesn't follow you" doesn't bother me or register as bad fiat at all. After all, the bear could have knocked down her brother, then chased after her -- there was nothing that would have prevented that scenario except my own choice not to have the bear do that.

I like your suggestion, though; I can see how that might have worked in the wolf situation. Thinking about it, it really isn't any different than my "reroll initiative to escape" solution...that's basically the same thing as a stunt like "shake off pursuit".

I'm guessing my problem, then, had to do with the lack of having a codified rule there for the situation: the fact that I ruled it up on the fly without considering how it fit into the system or might affect play in general from that point on. Can they always do that during pursuit, now (reroll initiative to escape)? Or was that a one-time thing born of desperation on my part to avoid a TPK?

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So then the DM has to 'pay' if he wants to create adversity through stuck doors, difficult-to-leap chasms, etc., and you get at least a mild DM resource limitation through that.

Hrm, but does he (pay, that is)? Think about it: in D&Dish games, you hand out XP anyways, and when you increase their XP, you don't actually lose anything, because all you do as GM once you've handed out XP is jack up the level of creatures they're fighting or the level-dependent difficulties of tasks.

That's what you're supposed to do, in fact: it is implicitly part of D&D-style systems that as the characters gain levels, they fight level-equivalent opponents, and dangers scale to their current level, functionally meaning they never actually -- in play -- become more powerful (ie: more able, more successful), except through numerical and number-of-options sleight-of-hand...it's a sort of illusory "if we ignore this stuff over here and how we actually play" power gain.

It is functionally, in play, a Color power-up: "NOW I can throw fireballs." Magic with the same chance of dropping whatever the character is fighting today as magic missle had of dropping what he was fighting yesterday.

Man, that realization is really going to affect what I do about levels/introducing them in this game.

For the moment, if I think about your suggestion and combine it with the token system, I might have a way to create a GM-resource that really does cost the GM in some fashion. OTOH, I don't know that I would want to (or need to) do that for this particular game.

But that's all for now since we play again tomorrow night. This thread has provided some excellent advice and feedback, and I will be putting it to good use. I'm going to spend the next few hours hashing out more clear rules for me to follow tomorrow night, based on what I used last time and what we've developed here: solidify my thinking before the game.

Thanks everyone!
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Callan S.
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« Reply #33 on: June 09, 2006, 09:01:19 PM »

With all due respect, I am more concerned with my failure to have indicated the odds to him than I am with his ability to deal with losing, because the latter simply hasn't cropped up as a big problem in play. After all, he didn't throw a huge fit when his character died, he didn't pout and stomp his feet or quit the game, or anything of the sort that I've seen in some gamers twice his age. He had a very healthy, natural reaction for a nine-year old boy: a bit of disappointed whining on his part, but overall he handled it well given his nature and particular problems. So I'm not worried knowing the huge disaster it could have been.
From my perspective in reading your AP, he enacted alot of displacement activity. He tried to say he was gooooing to run, he tried to blame his sister for it, he made the whole thing go away by switching quickly to another character. Assuming your going for a gamist agenda, this is going to gut play. This is pretty common behaviour for a nine year old. But IMO it's still going to gut play.

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I am instead concerned with my having misled him (or so I feel) with the bear. If he knew one hit could take him down, that the game could work that way, too, would he have gone at it? I didn't give him that choice, though, and I don't believe that was at all fair of me in the circumstance. It was like asking him to pick between two doors, and then having a tiger kill him without ever having indicated the possible outcomes included being killed by a tiger.
From your account, it sounded like you offered absolute veto. He could just leave the challenge from the start, automatically at will. You applied no force to him to take it on, yet your acting like you did. If you offer two doors, yes it's force, because they have to open one. If you offer two doors and the option to just move on to other stimulating stuff, no, it's not force. That's my opinion, of course.

I think rather than teaching him the odds, you might both want to discuss what an players absolute veto means. How it leaves no room for someone else to have forced the player. Ask him 'Who does that put in charge?'
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Callan S.
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« Reply #34 on: June 09, 2006, 09:14:35 PM »

That's what you're supposed to do, in fact: it is implicitly part of D&D-style systems that as the characters gain levels, they fight level-equivalent opponents, and dangers scale to their current level, functionally meaning they never actually -- in play -- become more powerful (ie: more able, more successful), except through numerical and number-of-options sleight-of-hand...it's a sort of illusory "if we ignore this stuff over here and how we actually play" power gain.
You might want to keep in mind that typically, high level characters are actually weaker than lower level characters. In terms of player effort to run them, that is.

Think of a first level character with one or two abilities, and a level 15 character with dozens of abilities. Never mind tactics as yet...at a sheer 'remember what you've got' challenge, the level 15 character is weaker, as in he is harder for the player to run properly. Tactics just make the level 15 character even more difficult, as you try to pull together the resources.

This doesn't apply to systems where eveyone has one simple combat number or such, then it really is color. But when you add more and more player tasks by adding abilties, then the PC becomes weaker, so to speak.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #35 on: June 10, 2006, 01:04:53 AM »

From my perspective in reading your AP, he enacted alot of displacement activity.

That's pretty normal for him, given his problems. It isn't isn't going away without some miracle drugs or years more life experience and effort on his part. So I don't have a problem with it cropping up in play. I know it will. When it happens, redirection and refocusing has always been key to dealing with it.

Make note, there were only three instances of displacement during play and none of them were disruptive to the game or left anyone frustrated or unhappy. That's successful play. That's functional behavior and interaction. I can not and see no reason to ask for more than this.

As such, consider that you may be making a bigger deal out of this than it is, perhaps due to the way I wrote it, but note how all three instances were swiftly, successfully, and positively resolved. That tells me there is nothing to worry about here because the situation is well in hand, not out-of-control, not threatening the game by its very existance.

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he made the whole thing go away by switching quickly to another character.

This was the high point of the game for me regarding him. This was positive behavior for him, and I really, really don't like it being discussed as dysfunctional or dodgy, especially after I pointed out how impressed I was at his doing this in the original play review.

He did not fixate on the dead character and spend the next two hours bawling and bitching about how his character was gone, moping about, or stating he was never playing again, but he accepted the character's fate and made a positive move forward choosing (excitedly) a new character, and all on his own initiative, so GOOD!

Saying he was avoiding personal responsibility by doing this is a nonsense call because there is no sensical alternative to it except what he did: pick a new character and get on with his life. Seriously, look at your criticism: you can only be suggesting he was avoiding responsibility by picking a new character, or by too quickly doing so...so he should have pouted more, and that would have shown he accepted responsibility. Or he should have quit right there and never chosen another character.

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He could just leave the challenge from the start, automatically at will. You applied no force to him to take it on, yet your acting like you did. If you offer two doors, yes it's force, because they have to open one. If you offer two doors and the option to just move on to other stimulating stuff, no, it's not force. That's my opinion, of course. Ask him 'Who does that put in charge?'

As I have already stated, absolute veto is meaningless if the person with the veto is not aware of the possible consequences of a choice. This is absolutely important to the problem. This situation is not that simple as it just being his choice and him having to accept that. As I mentioned before, I will ask the questions offered -- what will you do if you lose? -- and I did ask him whose choice it was not to run? Stop trying to make this black-and-white, him-or-me.

This is the third or fourth post that has tried to convince me that I didn't do anything wrong and my son should suck up his mistake/choice, offering advice on how to make him do that. But all that commentary and advice has ignored or brushed off the fact if you don't know what the choices actually entail, you aren't really in charge, you don't really have a choice, and the choice you make isn't the one you supposedly have. Especially for a nine-year old who has never played RPGs before and doesn't know the rules.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
John Harper
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flip you for real


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« Reply #36 on: June 10, 2006, 11:18:06 AM »

So you could be like, "These are for the it's teeth, and see this big green one? That's for it's death-cloud breath!"...Or if you want to up the suspense, "and see these dice? You don't know what they do just yet... are you sure you want to find out?"

That's awesome. And it gives a PC a reason to have a Knowledge: Monsters skill. You can roll against a DC, and if you succeed, you get a fact about those mystery dice. Maybe every 5 points over the DC gets you an extra fact.

"Okay... you beat the DC by 10, so I'll tell you three things. These dice are for its acid breath. It can only use the breath once every three rounds. The acid comes out in a cone, so it's very hard to avoid it if you're in the open."
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Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!
greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #37 on: June 10, 2006, 12:13:31 PM »

In the light of morning (or afternoon, as it happens to be), my post above is much more confrontational than I intended. Sorry about that.

I suspect the subject is aggravating me because it is close to, if not over that line between offering advice on gaming and treading into parental territory and psycho-analysis of my kids. While that would not necessarily be a deal breaker in and of itself -- that is, "Do you think your kids are doing this?" is OK as a question -- but not as it keeps playing out here.

I've kept trying to redirect that particular line of discussion towards what I can do in the situations described, but it keeps snapping right back to something resembling "But it's the players' fault and they are whining/misbehaving/need to be taught a lesson!" with a viciousness that seems to me to indicate we have stopped discussing the situation in my game and are now engaged in defending intellectual territory, playing out an argument/situation in someone else's game(s) at some time in the past.

On the basis of my irritation with this direction, I think it's probably time to close up the thread and call it done. I would like to thank everyone for their ideas and participation.

I'll let you know how the next session goes!
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
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