The Forge Archives

General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Iskander on July 04, 2006, 09:25:06 PM

Title: [Donjon] The Dread Castle of Playdor...
Post by: Iskander on July 04, 2006, 09:25:06 PM
My friend Maryrose has two homeschooled kids, Beatrix (11) and Harry (8). Last week, their 14-year-old babysitter introduced them to the idea of D&D with a PHB, and they have - apparently - been potty to play since then; especially Harry. Today, I introduced them all to Donjon, instead, and left my print copy with them. Here's what happened:

First of all, I asked what kind of game they wanted to play: what did they want to achieve? Harry wanted to fight some stuff, and Beatrix suggested they should be fighting off some bad thing... a playdough castle that was consuming people and turning them into evil playdough people. Cool. Since I don't have enough d20s, I used d10s.

Harry then chose to be Korn the Conflicted Barbarian - ("half good and half evil"). His main ability was Hitting things with weapons (especially my large axe) 4, backed up with a Battle-cry 4, which summoned other barbarian minions (his word choice), he wanted to be able to Move things with mind 1, could restore Flesh Wounds by Eating corn 3, and could Throw knives 3 in a suitably ninja-like fashion. You may be unsurprised to learn that he was sat opposite a bowl of corn that would shortly find its way onto a grill. His permanent possessions were an Axe of Smiting, Spiked Armor (made from corn husks), and a Swiss Army knife. Very useful. Harry came up with all his stuff on his own, with little prompting from me. I helped him assign the numbers - he was getting a little bored with the process. I blew it on his Discernment, having forgotten that you need a high Discernment to hit things lots.

Beatrix was Squishy the Freaky Green-headed Ant Sorcerer, an actual ant-sized ant whose main ability was Cast Spells 4, backed up with Flying Toast 2, "Lambing" People 3 (a Napoleon Bonaparte reference, I think? :shrug: no matter. The ant could hit people with shrink-wrapped legs of lamb). Squishy was also adept at Following Tracks 2, and on occasion Growing Bigger 1. She carried around - in unspecified locations - a Leg of Lamb (weapon), Shiny Glass Armor, and a magic Toaster. Her magic words were: hurricane, fiery, defense, and pancreas (Beatrix' current favourite word). Again, Beatrix came up with the abilities and words herself, except for my suggestion of following tracks which she seized and made her own in the ant's idiom. Beatrix assigned her own numbers with little help from me.

Maryrose was Bill (Wilhemina) the Inventor, who may have been responsible for the rogue playdough infestation - only time will tell. She relied mainly on her MacGuyver 4 ability, well supported by Hilarious Pratfalling 3 (a paralysis attack), "You've been served" (a confusion attack - see below), shuriken-sharp, thrown Cookie Cutters 2 and the potentially very useful Traps and Trickery. Since Maryrose was preparing delicious things, I assigned her numbers for her. Bill was armed with said cookie cutters, protected by a Lab coat with many, many pockets, and equipped with Snacks for all occasions.

The only thing I did for all three was set their Wealth at 3 and Provisions at 5; Harry was getting restless, and I didn't think they would relish a shopping trip as much as getting right into the action. During character creation, we had discussed that the adventure would start in a town, and that it would need a name. Beatrix suggested Cupcakes, so...

The town of Cupcakes was holding a talent contest: Korn was to show off his knife-throwing ability by putting a blade through the eye of a suicidal maiden rotating on a cartwheel. He succeeded admirably, but decided to use a fact to state that he'd missed the eye and got her in the heart. The poor maiden was dead, and the crowd applauded politely.  Next up was Bill, the Inventor, who - despite her miserable Sociality wanted to sing "Tomorrow" from Annie (Maryrose, now an author, was a Broadway actor a while back). She won handily using extra dice for her Hilarious Pratfalling, and chose to keep a couple of successes while stating that (1) although her singing was terrible, she had made the crowd laugh uproariously with the pratfall, and (2) the maiden's blood smelt of strawberries. At this point we established that the Mayor of Cupcakes was the judge of the talent contest, none other than Simon Cowell himself (from American Idol).

Now Squishy took the stage - or rather, the audience spotted a glint in center stage, where Squishy would be juggling legs of lamb. I won the conflict with one success, so I chose a fact: one of the legs fell on Squishy's head. Beatrix tried to narrate success for Squishy, but immediately understood that she still had to fail, and rather than retcon, modified her narration to include dismal failure... it looked like Squishy was going to be boo-ed off the stage, but the audience started to stare at an odd phenomenon: the maiden was dripping off the wheel, and with her blood was forming into a red, playdough (flip, flip, flip through the book) POISON TOAD!

The kids understood initiative immediately, and were ready to take the giant playdough toad out there and then. Beatrix took advantage of Squishy's great initiative roll to gather magic. I forgot to make her pick her magical idiom, but later on we established that spectral legs of lamb would appear above the ant's head while she was holding magic. Bill hurled her cookie cutters at the monstrous faux-toad, but they only splorched into the creature's flesh to be absorbed. Then the ant-sorcerer released Squishy's Flaming Pancreas of Doom. I shit you not, that was Beatrix' spell choice. A giant flaming pancreas fell from the sky to strike the toad in the chest and sear a cylinder through its heart into clay. The toad's heart shattered and the rest of it slumped into a playdough blob on the stage. Squishy had destroyed the toad... (none of that namby-pamby hippy bullshit 'unconsciousness' for their first fight, thank you, Clinton)... but Harry - who had rolled two sixes on initiative, and was so far out of the fight was going to be left with bugger all to do, which I recognise was not going to be very satisfying for a bloodthirsty eight-year-old.

So from the ruins of the toad, two playdough goblins formed, back-to-back ready to take on all comers. Harry now had two actions for Korn, and wanted to step back and boomerang his massive axe at them both - I liberally interpreted this as an attack on each of them. The first goblin ducked, the second one was killed outright, his head flying off and landing in Simon Cowell's lap as the body turned to dust. Squishy made her flying toast attack, as hot, charred slices flew at the remaining goblin, sinking into its hands, but doing no harm. Bill then delivered the death blow with her "You've been served" ability: from the shadows of the stage, an army of Actors' Equity lawyers appeared to demand authorisation for the smoking toast, paperwork to confirm that it was safe for inhalation, and so on, then slowly dissipated back into the shadows leaving nothing but dust and a hollow shriek of agony. They each got to loot, Squishy failed to find a playdough pot to use against future enemies, Bill found a marauder's map to the Dread Castle of Playdor and Korn increased his wealth by a point when Mayor Cowell came up to thank them, and gave the barbarian three large doubloons that were all that remained of the goblin head in his lap. All, that is, except for a conspicuous red stain that everyone was politely pretending not to see.

The Mayor delivered the hook: the dread Castle of Playdor had been plaguing Cupcakes, absorbing its citizenry and sending out terrible minions in the form of playdough versions. If only there were heroes to save them. He took Bill's reprise of "Tomorrow" as an agreement, and the glad crowd hustled the adventurers to the edge of town to set off. Bill used the marauder's map to get them within sight of the castle unharmed, and sure enough, just over the next hill, the red castle glowered. A road lead through a forest to the castle, but the forest was half green (in the near half), and half mutated into a hideous red playdough mockery of a forest. Beatrix announced that she wanted to go into the forest and fight something, and said that "the green half will have the dangerous enemy and the red part the easy one, it's always like that." I have no clue where that wisdom came from - possibly MMOGs the kids play. Squishy used her two tracking ability successes to come to a clearing where N'Rok the Decisive (Korn's eviller twin brother) lurked, and saved one for a follow-up.

N'Rok, though fully human, was suspiciously clad in red playdough armour, which was far more provocation than our brave trio needed to kill him. Again, Squishy gathered magic (3s), and then Bill used her hilarious pratfalling to get N'Rok to reveal his weakness. Harry was feeling a bit left out, and N'Rok was, after all, Korn's twin, so he chose the weakness. Roaring with laughter at Bill's tumble, N'Rok said "I haven't laughed so much in ages, it's made me hungry, I could really go for some roasted chicken with butter and corn with marshmallows." Maryrose then donated her next action to move Harry's first action up the order (which I was happy to go along with, since we all wanted to reach a satisfactory endpoint before going off to watch the fireworks). Harry's Battle-Cry summoned a horde of barbarion minions armed with the fowl weakness (a hard test to be that specific with the Cry), which knocked N'Rok right out. This time, with his Flesh Wounds at zero, I made it clear that N'Rok wasn't dead... just unconscious. To kill him outright, I explained, they would need to make another attack. Were they sure they wanted to kill Korn's twin brother. "Sure! He's eviller than Korn," they cried, although Harry wondered if the act would hurt him too. The ant produced Squishy's Hurricane Roaster to finish off Korn, then claimed the right to loot the corpse. Beatrix understood that although the twin was apparently identical to Korn in every respect (something I mentioned when I said that I would be using Korn's sheet for N'Rok), and she could look for another bloody great axe, it might not be useable. Sure enough, she found only a twisted, useless paperweight wrapped around the cinder of a haft.

...and there we left it. Beatrix has the book, and is poring over it, and I took the character sheets to type up for next time.

They had fun, and I had fun: it was great to be saying 'yes' to all that crazy stuff, and have everyone go along with it all. I blew it with Korn's discernment - which was his lowest stat, forgetting that he'd be crap in combat. I fixed that before we left, by switching a couple of numbers. I didn't feel bad about switching one of Bill's actions with one of Korn's... it was purely practical. Harry needed Korn to be able to do something. Although he was enjoying contributing to the story peripherally with some cool suggestions, he wanted to do something. So we agreed to let him. No fuss.

They loved the idea that if they made up interesting, cool, funny or moving stuff, they would get extra XP. They advocated for it after the second fight, and I had no qualms about giving it. They entertained the hell out of me. I approached the game with some trepidation: would I recall the rules (re-read on the Subway over), would they enjoy it at all, would they survive chargen... and was pleasantly surprised that it all went so very well.

- Alexander

Title: Re: [Donjon] The Dread Castle of Playdor...
Post by: Meguey on July 05, 2006, 05:08:05 PM
Cool! I like the way you followed where the kids wanted to go, with wild spells and so on. Good call on picking up on the 8 yr old's need to be in on the fighting. Had they ever played an RPG before?

Title: Re: [Donjon] The Dread Castle of Playdor...
Post by: Iskander on July 05, 2006, 08:19:19 PM
In a strange way, it was a relief to say 'yes' to their weird leads: I was confident I could keep up with them in the wacky races, and they really were not that outré. My mental picture was somewhere between Wile E. Coyote and Aardman claymation - somewhere I'm very much at home.

To the best of my knowledge, it was the first time they got to actually play a tabletop RPG. They heard all about D&D from the babysitter, and they play online CRPGs, which seem to be of a Final Fantasy bent.

I think to make it truly excellent, some form of mapping will have to come into effect.

Title: Re: [Donjon] The Dread Castle of Playdor...
Post by: Telarus, KSC on July 05, 2006, 10:51:28 PM
Hey Alexander!
Sounds like you all really had fun. I'm planning on starting a Donjon game with my girlfriend and her 7 year old. It's probably going to be slightly tongue-in-cheek but not nearly as off-the wall as you guys got (but hey, we'll see what happens when the actual play rolls around). I've taken some time in the last few days to go over the basics with Liv and Rowan, and we just finished making characters. Rowan (7 yrs old) is playing a Lava Mage, and my girlfriend Liv is playing a Ninja-licious Kunoichi. I'll probably throw up the character sheets later on and describe the character creation session in an Actual Play post.

I hope your next session rocks!


Title: Re: [Donjon] The Dread Castle of Playdor...
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on July 06, 2006, 02:18:48 AM
In a strange way, it was a relief to say 'yes' to their weird leads: I was confident I could keep up with them in the wacky races, and they really were not that outré. My mental picture was somewhere between Wile E. Coyote and Aardman claymation - somewhere I'm very much at home.

To the best of my knowledge, it was the first time they got to actually play a tabletop RPG. They heard all about D&D from the babysitter, and they play online CRPGs, which seem to be of a Final Fantasy bent.

I think to make it truly excellent, some form of mapping will have to come into effect.

I can't wait to hear the babysitter's reaction - she's going to think you're mad with your weird pervy D&D knockoff.

Alexander, this is seriously one of the best Donjon games I've ever heard about. Thanks for running it. These kids are amazing, by the way - they invented some very funny and interesting stuff.