I know, I said less time spent on D&D, but this one was good enough that I don’t care.
So, I don’t know if anyone else here bothers to follow the blogs over on Wizards.com, but they’ve had a particularly excellent ongoing series for awhile now called D&D Kids – in which the author shares his experience of running D&D for a few groups of kids ranging from about 8-11 years old, give or take. You can find the latest one here.
Here’s what I want to know: why does this guy’s game sound more fun to me than any other D&D game I’ve ever been involved in, ever? And why can’t the DMs I know roll more like this guy?
I guess it goes back to the old truth: there are no bad games, only bad gamemasters.
On the flip side, gaming with kids sounds absolutely awesome, and it reinforces my own goal of being able to play with my kids someday. I want them to have this kind of fun, and I want to share it with them.
Of course, that’s a long, long way off. . . but I digress.
The other thing it reminds me of is one of the best things about 4th Edition as a game system (and indeed, about most of the games that I’ve kept in my personal library): it’s very, very, very hard to break it. If someone says, “hey, I want to play this thing out of the Monster Manual that looks really freakin’ cool,” you could probably eyeball a level equivalent and say, “Sure — if you earn it.” Make a few minor tweaks, devise a level progression (the way that he does in his article, see above) and you’ve given them what they wanted without seriously breaking “teh mathz.” And, since you’re making them earn it, and incorporating how into the story. . . you’ve kept the player’s interest. (If my DMs had been this cool, I probably wouldn’t be so burned out on D&D).
Mutants and Masterminds makes it even easier: if someone wants to play a monster or some oddball thing, cool; just find a way to stat one using the number of points everyone starts with. No problem! Or, alternately, do the same thing; make them earn it.
Anyway, it’s a great read, especially if you’ve ever gotten the idea that D&D is “hard,” or something . . . or if you’ve ever had any interest in doing stuff with kids. And I think there are a few general principles that apply well regardless of your game of choice.