Teach Kids to Game: Nico and Rory’s Stories

Earlier this week, Dave sent me a link to an event called “Teach your Kids to Game” and Dave thought it would be a good idea that I dug in my archives to bring back my  posts about how I brought my kids into gaming, namely through bedtime storytelling.

Long time readers will remember some fondly and I hope that new readers will discover some of the best gems of this little corner I call my blog.

And just so everyone is up to speed, I have two children: Nico, a 9 y.o. boy and Rory an 8 y.o. girl.

The stories I will link to range from 2008 to 2011.

Nico’s Quest: What started it all

Upon my return from Gen Con 2008, riding high on a thousand ideas and projects, I decided to turn my son’s bedside story into an simple, freeform interactive roleplaying game. It worked so well it sparked a mini-campaign:

If you click only one link in the whole post, at least click the first one, it will be worth your time.

D&D 4e vs a 6 y.o. Attention Span

During the bedside campaign, I tried playing D&D 4e with Nico, using pregens and a very simple improv adventure. After a 30 minutes encounter, Nico’s attention wandered and we never returned to that game, but you can see some of the cool things that can be done with D&D and a 6 year old.

An Old Classic gets the Nico Treatment

Some time later, Nico and I decided to play the bedtime story game again and we managed to cram a great session in one session. It featured the now classic Super Nico (Laser Knight Esc.) and was about saving a young prince in the clutches of the evil Red Dragon Smaug.

What is really ironic is that I just showed him the original post and asked him if the name Smaug rang a bell.

Nico: Yeah, wasn’t that the dragon in The Hobbit?

Chatty: What are the chances?

Nico: Daddy!


During Gen Con 2008, I wrote a long, crazy, disjointed live-blog post which I will spare you.  In this post, one H. Gygax left a comment about remembering the early Gen Cons as she was serving drinks and hot dogs in her basement…


We exchanged a few messages on Facebook and when she read about the stories I did with Nico she shared a great Gygax family story. She told me that Gary would often gather all the kids in a bedroom and start doing a grand interactive story with all of them. The kids loved it and really got into it. And often, Gary would fall asleep in the bed while the kids kept adding to the story.

I love stuff like that, thanks Heidi.

Unfinished Tale

At one point I had a harder time keeping up with the Laser Knight  stories I did with Nico. They all started to feel like they were the same. One such story did stand out and I recount the first part here:

I’m sad I don’t remember that last part of that story because I do recall its conclusion was cool.

Variations on the Same Theme.

As time flew by, we tried other versions of bedtimes stories.

One was about Nico taking on the role of a Mecha pilot

The story was really cool and let Nico deploy new ideas based on technology and whatnot.

But my favorite of the gang was the Indiana Nico series, of which I have only one post:

In that post 7 y.o. Nico shared a fundamental piece about what many people like about RPGs; we call it the Rule of C4 here.

New Breakthrough: The Notebook RPG

The bedtime stories petered off with Nico (I’ll talk about Rory real soon) until I stumbled upon the idea of playing an adventure using a visual support: A notebook.

To this day, more than 2 years after we tried it, Nico still talks about the experience and wants to “upgrade” it with more players, minatures and bigger paper…

…i.e. a full blown tabletop RPG.

 Culmination of an Art: The Lego Campaign

The following two posts describe a battlegame we created with only Rock-Paper-Scissors and what I call “Mouseburning” it . It was when Nico asked me to play with some Legos with him and I suggested we made they whole thing into an adventure game. We had a lot of fun.

It’s Not Just a Boy’s Game: Introducing Rory

My daughter Rory has mostly been less interested than Nico in doing those story games, with a few very notable exceptions.

First when she was very young:

After that experience, she didn’t want to play alone for 3 years. But when we did, what a result! (This is from earlier this Fall)

The sensitive nature of Rory that you see when she was a preschooler has flourished in a richer, stronger ability to forge a story.

I remain constantly amazed at the skills my children are developing through these games. I do hope they become as useful to their lives as gaming has helped me in mine.

All together Now: Brother and Sister Editions

Nico and Rory played the story games twice, both were notable events, with, shall we say, interesting results…

In which siblings fight for narrative control and unlock the power of synergy when they finally team up.

In which both my children were introduced to Sword and Sorcery ( a D&D 0th edition retroclone) and had fun talking to the quest givers.

Leaving The Nest

I always wondered how these games would shape how my children would play with others. Well it turns out it had more influence than I thought…

In fact, Nico, Rory and thier friend Felix are playing an extremely complex Lego game right now where each player has to trade gems to the other two to be allowed to purchase specific parts to build machines and people.

The complexity of the game baffles my mind.

Oh and all three  now share a Minecraft server  (very originally called Nicocraft) that my friend PM setup for them.

How’s that for having guided them into gamerland?

So what’s your “Teach Kids to Play” story?


  1. It all started with wanting to play more D&D. I found a friend a few years ago who also had two girls similar age to my two girls who are currently 10 and 7. So on the excuse of a “playmate”, I would go over to my friends house to game and bring the girls with to play with his girls. Their mom liked this idea as she would have the day to herself. My girls liked this as they could play with their friends all day. And I liked it as I could play D&D all day and fulfill my parental duties all at once. It was definitely a win-win situation.

    After about a year of that, my oldest daughter who was around 8 and youngest who had just turned 6 started asking about playing D&D. Off to Character Builder we went and my daughters built their first LFR character. My oldest having read the Harry Potter series, she wanted to be a wizard. But liking Legolas in the LOTR movies, she wanted to use a bow too. So she created an eladrin hybrid wizard/ranger named Leira. My youngest wanting to be like her older sister, but without the magic created an eladrin ranger named Petunia Rosalina.

    Then it was off to Daddy’s closet to pick their minis. Being a mini collector, they had many to choose from. Having seen Daddy perpetual quest to be mini accurate in his games, they deliberated for a while for the perfect mini to match their character. And since they were rangers, they each got a their favorite colored hair tie (which was actually theirs that I stole to use as marks) to use as quarry markers.

    My friend’s girls did the same and we started playing our favorite year 1 LFR mods with our kids. Whoever wasn’t judging had to play the leader as I found out that the best role for kids are strikers. They love to attack and do damage. And even if they do Twin Strike every round which is what happened at first, it was a very effective tactic. Teaching them their powers. How to read the attack and damage line. Explaining the differences between at-will, encounter and daily. Then both being rangers about Hunter’s Quarry and to always target the monster with the quarry. Finally, teaching them to add up dice rolls with their modifiers. And D&D to increase Math scores for the win.

    Our younger daughters could only focus for about 30 minutes before a break was need to play the Wii, dress-up and the like. The older ones didn’t and soon wanted to play with Daddy at the conventions he goes too. It was one thing to play home games, but public play with adults that was a whole other level.

    In LA, there are the Strategicon conventions that happen three times a year every three day weekend. And I was in charge of the RPGA content for the event which came out to around 100-130 tables over the course of 4 days. I cannot stress the importance of the other Dad in this equation. The first convention that our oldest daughters came too, one of us where always at the table as either fellow players or GM. Some adults were hesitant at first, but being in charge has its privileges. The girls needed help here and there, but definitely could carry their own weight at the table. After a couple of conventions, the girls can play without their Dad at the table and are perfectly fine.

    Now, Leira (my eldest daughters first LFR PC) is 14th level. She summons her “secret weapons.” Minis for her Summon Hellhound or Magma Beast which she keeps hidden from the judge in her mini box until she uses these daily powers. And she rides either a Unicorn (reskinned Giant Ant courtesy of an H1 from Agralond) or a Pegasus (reskinned Veserab from an H3 Luruar mod).

    My youngest daughter’s PC Petunia is now 6th level and has a play style which I call “Payback.” She uses Twin Strike every round until someone targets her, then she unloads with her encounters and possibly a daily if they do enough damage to her. You do not know the joy I experience when my 7 year old yells, “Payback!” and the damage ensues.

    Overall, bringing my girls into D&D has brought us closer and helped them with the math and vocabulary. Where else would a 7 year old learn what dexterity and charisma really mean.

  2. Awesome story, Mickeyt66! I’m the “cool aunt” and a newbie DM. I can’t wait to try some stuff out with my niece and nephew, who will be 8 and 11, this summer. This post has inspired me! 🙂

  3. I’m sorry for the late response, I’ve lost my good blog host habit these last few months.

    @Mickey: This is a great story! I absolutely love hearing about other people’s success story when gaming with children (either their own or others).

    @Robin: Thanks for the kind words. Let me know how the experience turns out!


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