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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Suprise gaming with a seven-year-old  (Read 3461 times)
Maura Byrne
Member

Posts: 21


« on: November 28, 2004, 09:40:14 PM »

While spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my brother and his family, I found myself gaming, kind of, with my seven-year-old niece.  For most of the time, my nieces and I didn't do much together, mostly because I'm really bad at playing My Pretty Pony.  But on Friday, my older niece made a sword and shield for herself and her three-year-old sister, and they had a lot of battles with various monsters.  It didn't take long for me to get tired of being the dragon they always slew (and pretty handily at that), so I came up with a treasure-hunt game instead.  They would be adventurers and I would hide pieces of paper that were "clues" to the treasure (a broken music box).  As they spent time out of the room, I hid the treasure and the clues.  By this time, the three-year-old had rediscovered some other toy, which left me with the seven-year-old.  

When she came into the room, and I gave her the hint for finding the first clue, she turned to me and said, "What monsters?" Oh - she was still holding her sword and shield, and had made gauntlets as well.  Okay, she'll have to fight a monster.  I think I told her that she'd be fighting trolls or something like that.  She spent a great deal of time looking scared of the monster she hadn't fought yet, so I told her that a goblin was attacking her right now.  

"I cut off its head," she said, after making a swipe with her sword.

"It has two," I replied.  "Goblins always carry an extra head.  He's putting it on."

"I cut off its arms and legs and its other head."  Three more swipes.

So she finds the clues hidden in the house, and fights the monsters I make up.  When she finds the treasure, she asks me what's in it.  Well, it's got a lot of gold, and a chain which, when placed around the hilt of a sword, makes it very strong.

My niece really enjoyed the game, and immediately wanted me to hide everything again and have another adventure.  And she expected a magic item in each treasure.  She wound up with the chain, a pearl that can be placed in a shield to make it indestructible, and a ring that can make her invisible for two minutes.  So finally, I find something I can do with my nieces, and it's a dungeon crawl.  

After a few repetitions, she became less and less interested in fighting the goblins I threw at her.  ("I do all the stuff that I did before with the goblins.")  And she was more interested in the magic items in the treasure than anything else.  So after a while, it seemed more like the D&D I played in my youth.  Make the trek, kill the random monsters, get the gold BUT look for the magic items - because that's where the cool stuff is.  All that was missing was the die assortment.

In retrospect, I think that I could have kept things interesting for her by making her think up ways around more difficult obstacles.  She wasn't interested in the make-believe combat, but she was interested in facing scary monsters.  So for instance, instead of "there are six goblins, and three are dropping from above," I probably should have done something like, "You're in the hall of the goblin king, and there are more goblins than you can do battle with.  How will you get around them?"  And then maybe, as she sneaks around the mass of goblins, she runs into some beastie that she can do battle with and kill.

Her parents are still talking about how much she loved playing the treasure hunt game, and I'm not sure how much they're blowing sunshine.  But I thought I'd post the experience, because it seemed awfully random to me.
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Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2004, 09:40:57 AM »

Quote
Her parents are still talking about how much she loved playing the treasure hunt game, and I'm not sure how much they're blowing sunshine.


I don't know these people, but why would they say this if they didn't mean it?
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Callan S.
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Posts: 3588


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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2004, 06:44:33 PM »

Quote
"You're in the hall of the goblin king, and there are more goblins than you can do battle with. How will you get around them?"

I think it might be better to avoid 'you can't do so and so' situational problems. An old trick I learnt at RPG net is dramatic failure. Here, instead of 'no, you can't do it' it becomes 'no, and heres a new interesting scene because of what you decided to try'

For example, if she tries to fight the goblins, they may rush her and she is pushed back towards the edge of a large pit. If she keeps fighting, she falls in but manages to grab a tree root and is over the edge. And so on, until she tackles it in some more imaginative way.

There's no real need for character death to ever come in, unless you have a poor imagination for making things worse and worse.

Basically, instead of just saying 'no, you can't do so and so' to try and provoke an imaginative responce, your provoking her with exertions of your own imagination (making things worse).
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
friartuck
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2004, 07:40:00 PM »

What a great story. And congratulations for bringing some innovation into a kid's play (also: a goblin always carries a spare head!? I am so stealing that!). I have a four year old daughter, and every Saturday when the group gets together she loves to sit in my lap and help roll the dice. I'm still looking forward to the day she's old enough to roll up her own character and join in, but you've shown me a great way to start sowing the seeds early, and have a great time to boot. Thank you.

-Nathan
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Maura Byrne
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2004, 02:29:51 PM »

Quote from: Noon
Quote
"You're in the hall of the goblin king, and there are more goblins than you can do battle with. How will you get around them?"

I think it might be better to avoid 'you can't do so and so' situational problems. An old trick I learnt at RPG net is dramatic failure. Here, instead of 'no, you can't do it' it becomes 'no, and heres a new interesting scene because of what you decided to try'


That's a good point.  There are some things I can't get away with saying to a seven-year-old girl, or at least this one, and "You can't" is pretty near the top of the list.  It would only become more of an issue for her to get her own way, and then the My Pretty Pony rule that guarantees that I suck at it will come into play:  If I say something that my fellow players don't like, it can be completely ignored.

Since our mini-dungeon-crawls seemed to get less interesting for my niece as time went on, the unexpected consequences probably would have maintained her interest better.

Nathan:  thanks for the note.  The way my family was going on about this,  it seems like they expected that an afternoon with me would have ended in tears and maybe blood.  I appreciate the perspective.  (And Vax, I hope that answers your question.)

-maura
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