D&D for kids

Tattoo of a sword-pencil surrounded by the platonic solids

This past long weekend, we were up at Evans Lake Camp for the l’√©cole bilingue annual family camp. This year, in part because the weather looked variable, but also just to offer a new activity for kids, Leah suggest I bring up some D&D materials to run a quick campaign intro for some kids. So on Sunday, I broke out some pregenerated level 1 characters, brought along Tales from the Yawning Portal, and started running the Sunless Citadel adventure.

I also borrowed a bunch of minis from a friend, which turned out to be an excellent idea, and off they went. I had 6 kids, ranging in age from 8-12, along with 2 curious adults. It was glorious chaos. With an eye to fun over rules, we definitely streamlined the adventure some, and the ways in which these kids chose to solve things was amazing!

  • Why climb down a rope when you could just jump and open your cape like a kite?
  • All rats love cheese, and giant rats must love cheese more. So how about charming the giant rats with giant cheese?
  • Goblins are greasy and stinky so they’re probably flammable. Maybe I could set them on fire with a candle?
  • “Kobolds are scared of farts. I’m going to create a mega-fart illusion so they all run away”
  • “Can I make this kobold my pet?”

They loved figuring out how to manoeuvre along the map-tiles, where they’d like to be positioned in a fight, discovering which objects were breakable (wooden tables yes, stone tables no), flammable, etc.
In the course of 3.5 hrs, they all:

  1. customized their characters
  2. introduced themselves
  3. ran through the “kobolds” part of the adventure.
  4. made friends with Meepo
  5. slaughtered some goblins
  6. returned the dragon to the kobolds.

They had so much fun that I was asked to run a second adventure later that day – which I did, creating a quick diversion to a haunted shack where a ghost who just wanted to be left alone was preventing some caravans from resting on their long trip to Oakhurst.

D&D with kids was great fun – I’m hoping I can figure out a way to create an after-school session throughout the school year to run for them (for the 1,000th time, I wish the school day was set to mimic a workday). And also, this is all the excuse I needed to indulge in a love of buying minis!

(aside: the image attached is my latest tattoo, which is very-much D&D-inspired.)

36 hours of Kinect – initial thoughts

On Saturday, I bought a Kinect for my Xbox. I loved the idea of the tech, and thought, that like the Wii before it, could provide better gameplay for Liam, whose hands are still too small to properly use a regular xbox controller.

And…I have mixed thoughts on it so far. In no particular order:

  • The “wow” factor truly is there. I love that I can sit down on the couch, wave & it’ll log me in. I like saying “xbox play disc” and it’ll launch a game. I like the Minority Report-feel of moving things on the dashboard with my hands.
  • I’m not a fan of the 2 games we have: Kinect Adventures & Kinectimals. While both showcase the power of the device well, they’re not terribly interesting (although Liam seems to really dig them).
  • There is a clear delay between my movement and the response on screen. This has led to some frustration for both myself & for Liam for twitch-games on the system.
  • There seems to be some physics interpretation issues – throwing a ball often doesn’t seem to go anywhere at all where I’d expect a real ball, had I thrown one, to go. But as there’s no real “let go of the ball” motion, this makes sense – the system has to guess that.
  • Much like the Wii fit, I’m discovering that I generally prefer to play games sitting down to relax, not to get all worked up. That being said, the exercise/workout genre will likely be really excellent. I’ll know more in a week or so when EA Active 2 comes out, which I plan on buying.
  • The amount of room I’ve had to clear to be able to properly play really is big. So big that it wrecks the layout of our family room. This is partially due to some poor architectural decisions (by the house builders) and poor furniture decisions (by us), but the end result is that the TV is so far away that I have to strain my eyes to read small print or watch a puck during a hockey game.
  • I think because of the height difference between myself & Liam, we have so far had a really hard time with the Kinect keeping track of both of us.
  • Now that I have a Kinect, I want a bigger TV.¬† I’ve figured out a way to re-arrange the family room that should work for the above, but I don’t know when I’ll actually get around to doing that – but for anyone who has a TV 42″ or smaller (like us), you’re probably going to want a bigger TV once you’ve rearranged your tv-watching space. Or put a couch on wheels.

So as you can see, there’s lots I’m not a huge fan of. But I still really love the device. It’s still really early days and, much like the Xbox itself, it’ll take months, possibly years before we see developers truly doing innovative things with it. & I look forward to trying those out.

One last thought: It had occurred to me that a Kinect version of, say, Portal, would be really, really awesome.