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Monday, July 11, 2016

In Search of the Unknown

(Note: This post is missing my usual weird content, like glass spheres or wretch goblins or something about my Waste setting; those will be coming in the future. For now, enjoy a lighthearted entry into gaming for my oldest child. -SDM)

My Daughter's First Adventure


Quick Story: I have never once thought about gaming with either one of my children. As it stands, being a "Secret DM" had me very afraid of openly discussing gaming with anyone, especially my children. Even after I came out of my shell and started openly discussing gaming as me, I still thought I would never introduce this to my kids. Not because I didn't want them to play but, to be perfectly honest, because I wanted them to discover this game on their own, the same way I had when I was eight years old.

But forget that, I needed players, and ufortunately I only had my seven year old nearby.

So I decided to run her on a simple, vanilla adventure. And of course, I let her make most of the decisions and use some randomization to get the dice rolling. Because dice rolling is fun and she's seven and seriously that's probably all she wanted to do at the beginning anyway.

Save or die, little one.
1) I had her pick a set of dice from my dice box. She chose blue, and she chose red for me. Even though she knows blue is my favorite color. Already she's trying to invoke my wrath.

2) I set the scene

ME: "It's long ago...a time before television, and phones, and the internet. A time before Girl Meets World. A time of castles, and kings, and valiant knights, and dragons."

HER: "Like the Romans?"

ME: "No not like the Ro--yes, like the romans."

(Seriously, why the hell was I arguing? I'd gotten her to sit still this long without a plate of brownies in front of her.)

3) I asked her to decide on one of the following: You are an apprentice to a powerful wizard, You are an apprentice to the blacksmith making swords and armor in town, or You are friends with magical creatures in the forest.

She chose to be friends with magical creatures in the forest. Okay so she's a druid. I figured at this time it's probably too early to explain the druid circles and how in order to advance at the highest levels she'll need to defeat each druid above her in combat and also to really play her character correctly she needs to remain True Neutral but aww hell, screw it, the kid likes unicorns and rainbows and stuff.

4), I had her name her character and record it on her sheet. She came up with Samantha Ranina.

5) I had her roll her character's age: 1d6 and add 6 to the roll.

She rolled a 6! She was so excited.

Because she rolled the highest, I told her that she would start the game with a special ability: Speak with Animals. She would also be able to cast one spell, and I gave her these options:

Freeze someone in their tracks, Protection from Harm, Invisibility

She chose Invisibility. I explained she'd be able to use this ability once and it would last a little while.

6) I asked her to name the town where her character lived. She named it Orange Grove.

7) I offered her a pet; she chose a parrot, and she named him Rautiy.

8) And then, the adventure began.

I told her she returned home from a walk into town with her parents, and when she went to her room, she found that Rautiy was missing. And then I asked that fateful question that has started many young people on the path to adventure:

What do you do?

She got into the game very quickly from that point on. She immediately started calling out for her parrot, then listened for him, and followed his squawking to the backyard, where she found him facing off against a wolf coming in from the woods behind her home. She decided to pick up a rock and throw it at the wolf, and then she made her very first attack roll -- a hit! She smacked the wolf square in the nose, and the startled creature whimpered and ran off back into the woods.

But Rautiy chased after the wolf! So young Sam ran off after her parrot, and after awhile of weaving through the trees and darting this way and that, she was lost in the middle of the woods. And my daughter was actually upset. But then she heard a noise: the sound of a woman singing, and she went to see who was singing. She stumbled upon a small lake fed by a waterfall, with a stream that curled away into the woods. Laying on a rock at the center of the lake was a young woman with flowing blond hair, singing a soft melody. She asked the woman if she had seen a parrot, and the woman, slightly startled, smiled and said that "yes, yes I had seen a parrot. And I'll gladly tell you where the parrot went, if you would kindly do me a favor?"

My daughter thought for a minute, then agreed to do the favor. The woman explained that behind the waterfall was a cave, and she had lost something inside there. She needed Samantha to go in and retrieve it, and for doing so, she would tell her where her parrot had gone. So my daughter had her character Samantha swim through the lake to the waterfall, and slipped behind the rushing water.

Inside was dark, but Samantha pressed on, feeling her way forward. Then she tripped on something, but, making her first dexterity check (at this point I had her roll 3d6; she rolled a 9, and that became her character's dexterity. She rolled a 7 on the ability check, just beating her dexterity score), she managed to land on something soft, rather than hurting herself.

Meanwhile, what she tripped on was a rock, which started to glow a bright yellow color, filling the cave with light. This was the object the woman had lost in the cave! But there was a problem: the soft thing that broke Samantha's fall was a hibernating bear! She had to make another dexterity check to try to slip away without disturbing the bear she was laying on...but she failed. Suddenly her allergy to bears triggered and she sneezed loudly, filling the caves with noise. The bear woke up, rising on its legs and towering over the little girl that disturbed its sleep. It bared its teeth and growled with a deep and terrible noise, and swiped down to grab Samantha...but she cast Invisibility, and the confused bear paused for a minute and tried to find her by sniffing at the air.

She picked up the glowing rock and raced out of the cave. Turning the rock over to the woman, she watched as the woman transformed into a mermaid. The mermaid then explained that she needed that magical rock to return to her true form, and had been trapped there for quite awhile. As promised, she told the girl to follow the stream to find her parrot, and then gave her a magical necklace with a clam shell on it, and explained that if she's ever in danger and near water, if she holds the clam shell, help will come. Then the mermaid dived under the water in the lake. Samantha continued on, following the stream through the woods.

Soon she came upon a clearing, where a single grey tower rose up, with a large red door on it. The stream bent around the tower and continued through the woods on the other side, but Samantha stopped and listened to see if she could here her parrot around the tower. She did hear the squawking of a bird, and then suddenly an explosion bellowed from up above, and white smoke poured out of a tiny window at the top of the tower. She decided to investigate, and opened the red door.

Inside she found a staircase winding up to a hatch in the ceiling, and in front of her a door leading someplace under the staircase. She chose to quietly make her way up the stairs. As she drew close to the hatch, she heard a man coughing and yelling about "stuffing you worthless bird!" and so she put her hand on the hatch and slowly pushed it up to get a better view of the room above her and...

...and that's where we stopped. But she's very excited to see what happens next, and I'm so incredibly excited for her. It may have been one of the most generic stories I've ever run, even taking into consideration my DMing duties when I was 10, but it was an absolute blast. It reminded me of the choose-your-own-adventure stories I used to read as a kid; which admittedly were probably a source I drew upon for this impromptu adventure.

Afterwards, I put her to bed, and then I spoke with +David Lewis Johnson online about the experience, and I mentioned that I wanted to do something special for my daughter; I wanted to immortalize her very first adventure experience in a piece of artwork.

And an hour later, this arrived in my inbox:

There and back again. Err...at least the "There" part. She still has to go back home.