Like most children of the 80′s, I have nostalgic memories of how cool we had it back then, regardless of whether those memories actually stand up to scrutiny. For example, I remember going out for pizza with my parents as being a big deal, a special night out. Of course, my clearest memory is the time we went to Godfather’s and the pitcher of Pepsi spilled everywhere. That and the fact that Godfather’s had a table top arcade game (Ms. PacMan I think).
I also remember (and this barely grazes the 80′s, but its part of the mass memory of the 80′s so I lump it in there) playing role playing games. In High School, it was at the public library, where Gurps like rulesets were built around a mostly Star Trek universe, populated with events and characters from science fiction books the library had in stock and were trying to encourage us to explore. So, a lot like the original Star Trek I guess – stealing from science fiction to build plots and all.
Fast forward twenty odd years, and here Kim and I are with our own brood of budding geeks (sorry Mom and Dad, we didn’t do this to them on purpose, but its a side effect of growing up in a household where internet access is more sacred than TV). Last weekend, we took opportunity by the horns – it was wonderful weather, hadn’t rained in a week, and we didn’t know when or if I’d need to go into work for a weekend to prepare for the holidays (like today). So we took the girls out to get pumpkins at the pumpkin patch, followed by a family dinner at Pizza Hut (who finally changed their pizza sauce to not include anchovie! yay!). I don’t recall going to the pumpkin patch as a kid – doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, just didn’t fall into the random bit of memories I’ve retained (to make up for it, said memories go back pretty darned far), so its especially magical to see the girls hunting down their pumpkins. Sometimes a little over zealously, as the pictures below no doubt attest to.
Last night, we took another stab at demonstrating to the kids that there was more than Netflix and McDonald’s in their lives (though still pizza, that great unifying food that it is). I’ve been somewhat nostalgically envious of my friends who play D&D these days, so on a tip from a friend, I went to http://newbiedm.com/rpgkids/ and bought the guide for a toned down, kids version. We then ran out, bought some dice and a blank map (’cause graph paper just wasn’t going to cut it in our house ), got some groceries and some pizzas from Wegman’s, and went home and played.
To say that Anna and Katy (Tara excused herself because it was dark outside, and therefore, time for bed, after admonishing all of us to keep it down so she could sleep) had a good time would be to put it mildly. To say we had an absolutely awesome time as my two girls led their two characters – Greg, a swordsman who knew no fear played by Katy, and Wizardy, the turn tail and run as soon as the trolls got too close wizard played by Anna – against a pair of trolls (I modified the game a little, but that’s the point, right?) is to put it mildly. We played for an hour or so one one adventure, and when it was over the girls were disappointed that we had to put them to bed. Anna asked if we could play the next chapter, or at least replay this one now that they knew the rules, and my heart grew about three sizes. Katy really enjoyed being able to explore being the tough, confrontational swordsman, rushing headfirst against the magical creatures that could shoot at her from five paces, even when she took damage and her sister had her character run away (yes, I keep repeating that, but it was hilarious at the table last night, I swear).
Oddly enough, I think the kids would have been just as happy with more rules (rpgkids is introductory, and I knew this going into it – there are no deep skill sets unless you add them, no complicated rolls, etc.). My plan is to finish out a full campaign or two with rpgkids, and if they’re still interested, invest in upgrading, or at least adding in more rules. But the fact that they wanted to roll for damage makes me optimistic. Enrique (newbiedm) has done a great job of making it simple enough to hold a kids attention span, but still complex enough to make it exciting for the kids to see what cruel twist the game will throw at them next. So if you have kids, and you wax nostalgic like me for RPG’s but have no opportunities to play with adults (or just want to give your kids an opportunity to play too), check out his site (link’s above).
And to close this long blog post (its what you get when I don’t blog as often, what with having a life and all), the closing shot below is as the final troll was sundered last night in the dark woods leading to the wizards hidden lair.