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Author Topic: Sorcerer + Kids = "YAAAAY!"  (Read 4992 times)
Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« on: July 25, 2009, 02:41:02 AM »

I spent this past week in New Hampshire with my family.  Spotty Internet, no tv, a lovely lake, and lots of family gathered up in one house.

My sister had told her children that "Uncle Christopher used to play Dungeons & Dragons" and when I arrived from Los Angeles they wanted to know more about this.

The three of them are Ben, Alexandra and Graham.  Ben and Alexandra are twins, age ten.  Graham is 8.  Not unexpectedly, Graham spends a lot of energy trying to keep up with his older siblings.  There's an age/gender dynamic, where Graham tries to buddy up to Ben to exclude Alexandra from certain activities, Alex simply is bored with a lot of the boy stuff, and Ben is often more comfortable with both Alex and Graham. 

You should know that these kids are crazy-avid readers (Graham has already read the first Harry Potter book - to keep up with his older siblings, of course; Alexander has been burning through the Sister's Grimm series this week, one per day, with me heading out to the nearby Borders each morning to pick up the next volume).  They love fantasy movies from Nanny McPherson to The Lord of the Rings.  (Note: Gollum is considered Really Scary by the kids; Graham hasn't scene much of the second two movies because of him, and Alexander and Ben are much more comfortable with The Fellowship of the Rings, in which he barely appears.)  Ben and Graham can recite the Star Wars movies by heart.  They often break into a cappella versions of John Williams soundtracks while traveling in cars.  Ben and Graham are currently obsessed with a cool game called HeroScape (a kind of Advanced Squad Leader for fantasy/sf obsessed little boys).

I had played The Pool with Ben and Alexandra back in December.  (Graham had started the game, but got bored and left after a short while.)  I wasn't particularly pleased with the results, but the kids loved it enough that they asked me about playing again when I got in my sister's car when they all came to pick me up at Logan Airport. 

To sum up The Pool<Sorcerer setting called Goblin Lords for them: the idea is that kids get "creatures" that can do cool things when they behave badly, and the creatures only get them into more trouble.  I was thinking about Where the Wild Things Are, Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Iron Giant,,  Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice (where Micky Mouse floods the castle with the walking brooms), and Disney's Mary Poppins and Pinocchio.  (I have to admit, I was really intrigued with the notion that Disney's Mary Poppins was a Demon summoned by Jane and Michael.)

When the three of them asked me about Dungeons & Dragons I said, "Well, it's like that game we played back at Christmas.  Except you play a dwarf or an elf or something like that and you gear up go into a dungeon, a kind of maze of tunnels under the ground filled with monsters and treasure."  Their eyes kind of lit up and for a moment I thought I'd dig up the original D&D rules online, track down a range of polyhedral dice and just go old school - which I thought they would like and which would be easy to run.

But after that instant passed Ben shouted, "I'm going to be a Troll with an AXE!"  And Graham declared, "I'm going to be a demon!  With BLACK ARMOR!"

And I thought, "Okay. I might need a system that's more flexible to pull this off."

I'll admit, I wavered.  After my experience with The Pool<Sorcerer of course.  But what of Demons?  What of their Needs and Lore and Humanity and all of it?  I feared I'd end up sending my niece and nephew screaming from the room by asking more of them than I should by some accident prompt of the rules.

On the other hand, I was really curious to see how the conflict rules would work with children.  ("See! Even children can do it!")  And if I made the game a Sorcerer & Sword<Taking Care of Your People.<The Tower of the Elephant, Red Nails,
« Last Edit: July 25, 2009, 04:02:28 AM by Ron Edwards » Logged

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2009, 02:42:16 AM »

i]do a lot, and in general, they treated them more like pets that they liked and wanted to keep safe rather than creatures to send into battle.  So, their Powers are low, but I bumped them up with Stamina to help the PC in fights if the Ben, Alexandra or Graham wished.  (Here's an example of something I did add to the fiction: I noticed that Alexandra's character, Honeydew, had worked at her parent's inn all of her life and knew a lot about being a merchant, but really wanted to be an adventurer.  So I guessed I was going to give her a higher Will than Stamina.  So I suggested that her kitten, Ruffles, could make her move faster (Boost Stamina) allowing her to hit targets faster and dodge attacks.  She liked this idea, so I added it to Ruffle's notes.)

The next day, after writing down all the info and creating the paragraph bios, I checked with them about the Score Descriptors.  Most of them were self-evident, but I really wasn't sure about Will for any of them.  I ran several options by each one of them, and wrote down the one they picked.  I also asked them about their Demon's Needs and Desires.

The children named their PCs.  All other names came from me.

do[/i] a lot, and in general, they treated them more like pets that they liked and wanted to keep safe rather than creatures to send into battle.  So, their Powers are low, but I bumped them up with Stamina to help the PC in fights if the Ben, Alexandra or Graham wished.  (Here's an example of something I did add to the fiction: I noticed that Alexandra's character, Honeydew, had worked at her parent's inn all of her life and knew a lot about being a merchant, but really wanted to be an adventurer.  So I guessed I was going to give her a higher Will than Stamina.  So I suggested that her kitten, Ruffles, could make her move faster (Boost Stamina) allowing her to hit targets faster and dodge attacks.  She liked this idea, so I added it to Ruffle's notes.)

The next day, after writing down all the info and creating the paragraph bios, I checked with them about the Score Descriptors.  Most of them were self-evident, but I really wasn't sure about Will for any of them.  I ran several options by each one of them, and wrote down the one they picked.  I also asked them about their Demon's Needs and Desires.

The children named their PCs.  All other names came from me.

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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2009, 02:44:32 AM »

Graham's Character: "ASSASSIN"<BENDAYOR 
a creature of powerful fire

Abilities: Bendayor allows Assassin to breath a powerful and dangerous attack upon his enemies.  He can also breath fire upon his weapons (sword, arrows, whatever) which causes the weapon to burn with intense fire and do extraordinary damage when used upon his enemies.

Type: Parasite
Telltale: Fire in the host's eyes

Need: Attention
Desire: Burn Things

Stamina: 3
Will: 4
Lore: 3
Power: 4

* Fire Breath (Ranged, Special-damage Lethal)
* Enflame Weapons (Special-damage Lethal)

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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2009, 02:45:50 AM »

BEN'S CHARACTER: EARTHCRACKER<KARINTAR
a small serpent

Type: Demon-Beast
Telltale: A wisp of greenish mist off the creature's skin as it moves

Need: Nature and nature settings
Desire: To be around action

Stamina: 4
Will: 5
Lore: 1
Power: 5

Abilities:
* Poisonous Bite: (Special Damage Lethal)

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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2009, 02:47:57 AM »

Alexandra's Character: HONEYDEW<RUFFLES
a small kitten

Type: Old God
Telltale: It's strange patchwork of orange and black fur; it's strange, knowing eyes

Abilities: Ruffles has a nasty natural bite and scratch, but her scratch can also poison people with terrible damage.  She can also make Honeydew move very fast, making Honeydew harder to hit in a fight and able to striker at her enemies more quickly, causing more damage.

Need: To chase and be chased
Desire: To destroy the other Animal Gods of the land

Stamina: 5
Will: 6
Lore: 2
Power: 6

* Poisonous Scratch: (Special Damage Lethal)
* Boost (Stamina)

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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2009, 08:44:27 AM »

Christopher,

Quick question: Some of those Needs and Desires seem a little off from the way one normally formulates them.  Specifically, some of the Needs seem too broad and some of the Desires seem too narrow.  Were you deliberately being a little flexible with them because of the kid nature of the game?

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2009, 09:56:26 AM »

The Needs are fine. Two of the Desires are a little more focused than the by-the-rules rules. (I have a terrible time explaining to people that Desires are not supposed to be customized and specified.) However, the fundamental content of the corresponding Desires (destruction, and either worship or power) seems to be present, so I think it's not a big deal.

Best, Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2009, 11:00:30 AM »

Hi Christopher,

Quote
(I have to admit, I was really intrigued with the notion that Disney's Mary Poppins was a Demon summoned by Jane and Michael.)

Fits way too well, doesn't it? This sort of thing seems almost redundant.

Anyway, I've often wondered how Sorcerer would go with kids. I was in a game store recently, describing the game to an adult, and a kid about ten (charmingly) butted in ... and within moments, understood and paraphrased the point of play far better than I was probably capable of doing, finishing with "So it can go a good way and a bad way, no matter whether you get what you want." I looked at the adult in the conversation and said, shrugging: "Exactly what he said."

I really like the logic you applied in arriving at the various scores for the characters, and I also found their characters' back-stories to be quite good: full of potential, enough to play from almost directly, and yet not too enmeshed in story-before.

Best, Ron
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2009, 06:50:37 PM »

Notes on the Game Prep<very<look at while I'm prepping.  I'll take that week between the character session and the first session of play, creating more NPCs, mulling possible connections and motivations.  Maybe the sister's husband is a member of the Kicker that is part of the PC's Kicker.  Things like that. 

By having a lot of fictional "clay" to work with (both in prep and during play) I know we all have enough to riff off of to let the branching choices of the characters intriguing, while still keeping the tale looping back within the webs of relationships that the Players have already set in motion during their own character creation.  As the Players have their characters decide to risk Humanity or try to salvage it, to have them burn off alliances or make new friends, there is enough fictional clay on hand to play with.  (And, again, the Players might never even find out about the sister's husband by the time the Kickers are resolved.   But that isn't my concern.  My concern is having enough fictional material to play with.)

Since I was using Sorcerer & Sword<Sorcerer & Sword<The Need to Learn the Rules<anything?

My niece and nephews had never played the game before.  More importantly, I had no idea how well (or not well!) the brains of a trio of 10 and 8 year-olds would grasp the mechanics.  I didn't want to push them into situations where they ended up doing a lot of conflict with their demons when they really didn't know what they were getting into.  Because they liked
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Lemonhead, The Shield
Finarvyn
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2009, 06:11:58 PM »

I had worked up some notes for a Sorcerer setting called Goblin Lords for them: the idea is that kids get "creatures" that can do cool things when they behave badly, and the creatures only get them into more trouble.  I was thinking about Where the Wild Things Are, Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Iron Giant,,  Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice (where Micky Mouse floods the castle with the walking brooms), and Disney's Mary Poppins and Pinocchio.  (I have to admit, I was really intrigued with the notion that Disney's Mary Poppins was a Demon summoned by Jane and Michael.)
Your Goblin Lords concept is pretty sweet. Any additional details about the setting that you can share with us?
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Marv (Finarvyn)
Sorcerer * DFRPG * ADRP
I'm mosty responsible for S&W WhiteBox
OD&D Player since 1975
Eszed
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Posts: 29


« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2009, 12:56:01 PM »

Yes, please.  This was such an entertaining write-up that I've been looking forward to hearing about how the first session went! 

Story Now!!!

:-)
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