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Author Topic: [TPK] First-time Princes' Kingdom, with a six-year-old!  (Read 8737 times)
Doyce
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Posts: 442


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« on: September 09, 2006, 08:50:33 AM »

So, I was planning for a pretty game-filled weekend anyway, but I got a great surprise when I got home from work: both the Shab al-Hiri Roach and my hard copy of The Princes' Kingdom had arrived in my mailbox. Awesome.

So... my co-parent* is babysitting our friends' six-year old daughter last night at our friends' house, and also has our own 1 yr-old in tow.  She had already called and asked me to drop off a play-pen for our daughter to sleep in, and I'd been toying with the idea of running a few Mortal Coil conflicts with her to get a better handle on the system.  These new arrivals changed my plans.  I grabbed TPK, a ziplock full of d4s, d6s, and d8s, print some character sheets, grab the dogs and the playpen, go over, and ask the six-year-old if she wants to play one of those games like us grownups play all the time (after getting the high sign from her folks, who are both regular and constant members of my gaming circle -- her dad and I had already been going "hmm, this gives me an idea" over Princes' Kingdom).

So, less than an hour after I get it in my hands, I'm starting up The Princes' Kingdom with two players, one of whom is a six year old first grader making up a princess named Rose with talking mouse named Ginni.

Let's review the participants:
Me: Right. 35. Gaming since age 10. First indie game was Inspectres, then Sorcerer, trollbabe, TSoY 1 and R, DitV, etc etc.  I helped raise my nephew from age 9 to 15, currently have a one-year-old little girl, and am divorced.

"Kitten": Rose's player is six, just started first grade, is very inventive and smart, has two gamer parents in a very loving-and-morally-firm home, loves playing the older sister for my daughter, and is missing the four front teeth that my daughter just got in.

Jackie: My coparent (ex-spouse with a healthily acknowledged, long-term relationship as parents of our mutual child).  Jackie's history with gaming started about 12 years back with Dangerous Journeys and moved through Amber, D20 of various flavors, Nobilis, Inspectres, Sorcerer, Heroquest, TSoY, and so forth. DitV held little interest for her; her favorite games are Sorcerer (for which she's independently gone and acquired copies of both the main rules and &Sword) and InSpectres (she loves her some Confessional time).

Right then: Chargen

I read both players bits and pieces of the description of Islandia and what the Palace and King's Court was like (summarizing it for the adult as "Tamora Pierce, with more boats", knowing that she's loves that author), and we started with Names.

I'd no sooner saying "you need to come up with a name you like for your princess" (both girls didn't mind me referring to all princesses and princes as just princes, but wanted "princess" used when I referred directly to them) when Kitten said, "like Rose."  And I said sure, and asked what kind of name she liked, and she said "ROSE. I just said..."

Right. Heh.  Jackie named her princess Isabella.

I went on to picking ages.  Kitten made Rose six, "because *I'm* six too!"  Jackie originally started at 9, but switched to 10 for (a) a nice round number and (b) to make a 'better older sister'.

Traits:
This is where the players started to see the benefits/downsides of their relative ages.  As I was explaining how many Strong and Troublesome traits different ages got, Kitten asked "Why does Isabella get so many trouble things?"

I said "Because older kids usually get in trouble more."

She smiled, looking embarrassed. "Heh. Yeah, is THAT really true. They do all the TIME..."

For Strong Traits, Rose had Swimming, Karate, Medicine, and Princess.  Isabella had Noticing Things, and Good Talker.

For Troublesome Traits, Rose had Sneaky; Isabella had Princess, Curious, and Shooting my Slingshot.

Relationships:
Once again, Jackie was grimacing at the downsides of being the older sibling.  She also noted (privately, to me) that she knew how this older/younger sister thing was going to work out, and took a Troublesome relationship with Rose at d4.  Kitten, unaware, took a Strong relationship with Isabella, as well as with 'Collin' a boy who lived in the castle (and I think the name of her 'boyfriend' at school).

So for Strong Relationships, Rose has Collin and Isabella; Isabella has Natalie, one of the other sister-princesses.

For Troublesome Relationships, Rose has Ari, a mean boy; Isabella has Rose, and the Head Maid in the castle.

Stuff
This one was pretty easy, those it took the adult a lot of time, cuz they went a little nuts with writing down like... I dunno... EVERYTHING THEY COULD THINK OF.  Then, when I explained how to rank the items as either Awesome, Okay, or Cruddy, and explained (twice) there there was no limit to the amount of Awesome you could have... well.

Rose's list was pretty simple; Kitten knew what she wanted, and she knew that everything that was worth writing on the sheet was Awesome.  Rose as a red, white, and Pink cloak ("because red and white make pink!"), a magic sword, a slingshot (ENTIRELY because Isabella has one -- darn little sisters), and Ginni (as in guinea pig) the Mouse (again, all awesome). 

Isabella had an awesome purple, silver, and white cloak, an awesome slingshot, cruddy pictures of things ("becuase I carry them around all the time"), an awesome bow, normal matches, an awesome harmonica, a awesome magic ring that lets me talk to animals, cruddy candy, a cruddy old dictionary, and a normal jeweled ring of my Mom's.

Proving Yourself
Struggle Resolution I explained to both players like so:

Quote
"When you want to do something that will get you want you want, you push forward two dice to show how strong you think the thing you're doing is, so big numbers mean a big strong thing you're doing.  I have to try to match that with as few dice as possible -- if it takes me more than two dice to do that, it's going to bother me later, and if I can do it with just one dice, it's really good for me.  Then it's my turn, and the same rules work the other way."

The six-year-old got the mechanics of it, if not the tactics of it, and the adult asked further questions to understand how fallout and turn the blow worked.

Now, somewhere in the "gear" stage, I mentioned that it was cool that Isabella could actually talk to Ginni the mouse, cuz of her magic ring.  Kitten piped up that Rose could talk to Ginni too, and actually started figuring out what Strong trait to erase off her character sheet so she could write that down.  I told her to hang on, because there was a way she could get that ability as a brand new thing.

So, to give Kitten an example of how everything worked, I started the Proving Struggles off with Isabella.  We talked a bit about what Isabella's struggle should be, discarding a couple suggestions that were redundant with the Traits she already had.  "I want to prove I'm a good talker." "But... you already are." etc.  Cribbing from the game itself, I suggested something like "Prove I can act like a grownup," which Jackie liked.  I set up a scene almost exactly like the one in the book, facing off against her with her older sister, Zoe.

I rolled pretty darn well in this -- I saw Isabella's opening Raise easily and returned with a Raise that either would have used up her three best dice, or required six smaller ones -- Jackie opted for the six dice of 'talking' fallout, then added her "Good talker" and "Notice things" traits to turn the tables: complimenting Zoe on how nice she looked "And isn't that Mom's necklace? I'm surprised she let you wear it to a party like this." Clearly caught breaking the rules, Zoe fled the party in tears.  Isabella picked up "Act like a grown-up" as a strong trait, used her Growth Fallout to make her Slingshot a strong trait (gamer :), and took Zoe as a troublesome relationship for her long-term Fallout.

Rose's Turn.  Her proving struggle was convincing her teacher that she really could talk to Ginni the Mouse and be understood, and vice versa.

So, again, I had some decent dice on this.  Rose and Ginni chattered back and forth at each other in Kitten's impromtu nonsense-mouse-talk, in front of the teacher, after which Ginni rolled over and then curled her tail in a circle.  The teacher frowned and said "well, it's clear that you have that animal trained very well, Rose, but unless you have something real to show me, I think we're done here," and I raised with something like an eleven, leaving me with about 4 little dice, totalling seven, in my pool.

Kitten looked at her pool. She slowly counted up her pips and only barely had enough to See with what she had.  She was forlorn.  I asked her if she had any traits that would help, and we went down the sheet:

"Would your... Swimming help?"
"Nnnooooooo...."

"Would your.... Karate help?"
"Nnnooooooo...."
"You could kick your teacher in the face."
"*giggles* Don't be silly, Uncle Doyce."

.. and so on.

When we got to Collin, she said "Yeah! Collin can help! He can have an idea!"  And grabbed Collin's relationship dice, since Collin was (clearly) there in the room for this.  I also told her that since Ginni was there, she could help too, so she grabbed another d8 for her Awesome Talking Mouse.

She rolled the 2d8 and got a 7 and an 8.  Holy cow.

So just as Rose was about to give up, Collin stepped up and said he had an idea.  He would go around the corner and set something on the floor. Then Rose would send Ginni to look at it, then come back and tell Rose what it was, and Rose would tell the teacher, and the teacher would see that Rose had to have been told by Ginni.  Kitten saw my raise with the Collin-rolled 7 and another dice, then use the Ginni-rolled 8 and a 6 to crush me with her Raise.

So awesome. You should have seen Kitten just... beam[/i] when the schoolmarm stammered out an apology for not believing her. She had convinced a grownup she was right!

With that, it was just about time for bed, so I said that the next morning, both princesses were down at the docks, being sent off on their voyage into the rest of Islandia.  Kitten was surprised and pleased (and I think a a little relieved) that the two sisters got to go on their journey together, and narrated Ginni happily chattering away on her shoulder about what great swimmer she was.

The King walked out the crowed, and told both princesses how proud he was of them, and that he knew they'd do a good job helping the people. Then he hugged each one and patted them on the head, and asked them where they would be going first.

I was expecting the players to have no idea, so that the king could suggest the Island From The Book, but I should have known better.

"We're going to the Emerald Isle," said Isabella, quite firmly.

"The Emerald Isle?" the King said.

"Yeah!" Rose replied, picking up on the idea immediately. "The Emerald Isle!"

"That's very far," said the King.

"That's okay," said Rose. "We're going together."

---

Where else do you end the session but there?

Great, great, night.  Thank you, Clinton. Thank you, Vincent.


With that, I present the Artifacts of play:

<a target="_blank" href="http://random.average-bear.com/img/rose-tpk.png">Rose's Character sheet[/url]

<a target="_blank" href="http://random.average-bear.com/img/isabella-tpk.png">Older sister Isabella's Character sheet[/url]
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Doyce
Member

Posts: 442


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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2006, 09:01:43 AM »

Oh! I forgot: per Kitten's narration, the thing that Collin had hid around the corner was a vase with flowers in it, and a card on it that said "For Rose."

... there aren't words. :)
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2006, 10:25:33 AM »

I'm renedered speechless by the power of cute.
Great report :)

Is there something wrong with those links? I can't get them to open.
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Doyce
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Posts: 442


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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2006, 10:41:01 AM »

Hmm. Try just this and this:

http://random.average-bear.com/img/rose-tpk.png
http://random.average-bear.com/img/isabella-tpk.png
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Storn
Member

Posts: 228


« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2006, 10:52:44 AM »

Thank you for posting that.... wow... I got such a warm fuzzy...and I ain't being a smart alek.... I really got a warm fuzzy... that is freakin' awesome actual play!
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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2006, 03:32:58 PM »

Stuff
This one was pretty easy, those it took the adult a lot of time, cuz they went a little nuts with writing down like... I dunno... EVERYTHING THEY COULD THINK OF.  Then, when I explained how to rank the items as either Awesome, Okay, or Cruddy, and explained (twice) there there was no limit to the amount of Awesome you could have... well.

Rose's list was pretty simple; Kitten knew what she wanted, and she knew that everything that was worth writing on the sheet was Awesome.  Rose as a red, white, and Pink cloak ("because red and white make pink!"), a magic sword, a slingshot (ENTIRELY because Isabella has one -- darn little sisters), and Ginni (as in guinea pig) the Mouse (again, all awesome). 

Isabella had an awesome purple, silver, and white cloak, an awesome slingshot, cruddy pictures of things ("becuase I carry them around all the time"), an awesome bow, normal matches, an awesome harmonica, a awesome magic ring that lets me talk to animals, cruddy candy, a cruddy old dictionary, and a normal jeweled ring of my Mom's.
Just focusing on this for a second - it's really interesting how the apparently redundant terms okay and cruddy terms are still important. What else could awesome contrast against, if they're not there (even though they're not used). Even though the terms are almost entirely absent, they are important.

It reminds me of how D&D 3E tries to explain that even one rank in a skill is exceptional (so even starting characters are heroes) - most of the game worlds populace doesn't have it. But it doesn't really ring true - exceptional/awesome compared to...what?

I think it's an facinating sort of investment eel trap - can you imagine someone sitting there and just writing a bunch of cruddy stuff? Eventually they will look at all the cruddy stuff and somewhere inside they will want more. And what they write awesome next to, will be more (their type of more). There's nowhere to go to but awesome, even if there's just one awesome thing (which makes it even more awesome, perhaps, when it's just the one thing).

In terms of cute - ehh, I think the term obscures things a bit. There's a bunch of analyticals going on with the 6yo - it's just hard to pick them out, can't see a particular tree for the forrest sort of thing. I've begun to think children have a savage intellect, devoid of any devotion to flowery adult concepts, because they have no emotional investment in the BS behind that (that's why I call it savage - it cuts through that like a knife through butter). Looking forward to more actual play accounts :)
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Philosopher Gamer
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JasperN.
Member

Posts: 41


« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2006, 01:22:19 AM »

I think it's fascinating how Kitten brings real life issues to the game, such as the "boyfriend" from school or the "convincing an adult" bit. Of course it's your interpretation of her behaviour, but still, it seems like she cannot but bring what she is and what matters to her to the game in some way, to a degree she feels comfortable with. That's awesome. I often hear adult players say "Too personal" or "Let's not even go there", even when it's about smaller RL issues. I have no interest whatsoever in turning gaming into some kind of therapy, but neither do you have to explicitly exclude everything that might concern you as a real person. Here's some nice examples of how to use elements from your real life in a fun way, I think, and how that can make a game more rewarding.
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Doyce
Member

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« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2006, 06:40:47 AM »

Just focusing on this for a second - it's really interesting how the apparently redundant terms okay and cruddy terms are still important. What else could awesome contrast against, if they're not there (even though they're not used). Even though the terms are almost entirely absent, they are important.

It reminds me of how D&D 3E tries to explain that even one rank in a skill is exceptional (so even starting characters are heroes) - most of the game worlds populace doesn't have it. But it doesn't really ring true - exceptional/awesome compared to...what?

Well, it should be noted that 'Awesome', 'Normal', and 'Cruddy' all have dice values associated with them in the game.  An awesome cloak, when narrated into play, provides a d8 to roll, as opposed to a cruddy one, which is a d4.

Also, to the comment about how Kitten pulled in "Collin" from her real life.  "Ari" was actually from real life too.  She needed a troublesome relationship, and it took her all of two seconds to pull up Ari as "a mean boy who didn't like me in school last year."

I'm told that the next morning was full of tales about Ginni the Mouse, some random make-believe play with mommy that involved the Magic Sword changing into various useful things (though never actually used as a sword), and the announcement that I and Jackie had to babysit the next time Mommy and Daddy went out, so we could play and go to the Emerald Isle.
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2006, 03:17:39 AM »

Hi Doyce,

No, I mean the awesome/okay/cruddy system works to capture a players sense of whats awesome. Even when cruddy items aren't really used, the mere fact that they can is very important (compare that to a game which attempts to force everything to be cool - when everythings cool, nothings really all that cool anymore). I was comparing that to the D&D manual trying to explain how a single skill point is pretty amazing - when the D&D system doesn't try to capture what a player thinks is amazing/awesome and basically, one point is cruddy (your always going to compare it against higher levels of skill).
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Philosopher Gamer
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