Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Adventures for 1st-Level Characters and New Young Players

Role-Playing for First Time Gamers

I'm proud to mention here that I'm soon to begin running a game for my two daughters Reese and Olivia and one other girl named Zoë, the daughter of a close family friend. This will likely be the first actual game for all three of them and just for them. For accuracy, my daughters have each had at least one turn in a gaming session or two with my sibling in-laws. During those sessions, I would play really loose with the rules (for them). I don't think we ever actually completed their characters except for the basics. In all honesty, my goal was to game with the adults, but I appeased the kids enough to let them play along. We had fun, but they weren't the focus and the game went over their head just a bit.

But now, I've decided that they are both old enough (aged 8-11) to play the game for real. Zoë's parents also agreed, as we all used to game a bit back in college. And now it's going to happen.

The Basics: Rules and Setting

It is a given that we will be playing D&D 3.5 edition. I don't have the 4th edition books (except for the one Dark Sun adventure I got at Free RPG Day) and I don't plan on buying them any time soon. I considered using the Dark Sun campaign setting and using the 3.5 rules from Burnt World of Athas, but a more traditional fantasy setting makes more sense for this crowd. We can "graduate" to Athas or Planescape on some later date.

I'm going to be using a home-brew setting called Zethul that I've been using and musing about for the last few years. I've told the girls they live in a city, but not much else about it. There are not too many back-story details that I will burden them with to start. I'll let them discover them as we go along.

Character Creation

I decided early on to start the characters at 1st level. This seemed like a good idea at first so that the girls could learn the game as their characters grow. But I've run into a bit of a perplexity because I've never really played (or DMed) at this level. Most of the time that I played with Nate, Kate and/or Beth, I had them start at 5th-level and the traditional starting point for the stuff I did for Dark Sun was 3rd-level. My preparation has been researching 1st-level adventures and getting into the mindset of what motivates less-experienced characters and younger players.

Dad, Can I Have a Unicorn --Or Perhaps a Pegasus?!

The first thing that I realized very early in character creation is that I'm going to still need to play things a bit loose as far as the rules go. And I should try not to get too stuck on the verisimilitude aspects. When picking skills and spells for Olivia's newly trained Wizard, she hit a sudden inspiration moment and asked what sort of stuff would she need in order to get a Unicorn. This also evolved into wanting a Pegasus so she could fly around. My initial reaction is to look at her 1st-level Wizard and the magical flying horse, whose stats would make it a challenge for an 8th-level party (of four characters probably) and to explain that this wasn't likely any time soon. However, I want her to be excited about the game and put her imagination into it, so instead I've logged that mentally as a possible future storyline. At the very least, it should be an easy way to motivate her and her character to quest for a magic horse or the money to buy one. This could get interesting and a bit wacky.

Zoë and Olivia also did something unexpected in that they both chose to create an elven wizard. And from there they made their characters related (sisters). They are going to share spell books pretty easily I assume.

Reese surprises me by choosing a simple halfling fighter. She had a sharpshooter concept that she wanted to create, an archery expert, most likely inspired by Legolas from Lord of the Rings.

The Stage Will Soon Be Set

And that's where we have it right now. I told the three of them that their characters are already friends and looking for work. There are a few minor details to finish up and then they'll be setting out. I'll post updates about how it's going whenever I get a chance.

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