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?
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.
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.
- Notebook Campaign: How I got my Son into Tabletop RPGs
- Notebook Campaing: Super Nico vs the 3 Hungry Goblins
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.
- Nico’s Lego RPG: Assault on the Crystal King’s Cave, Part 1
- Nico’s Lego RPG: Assault on the Crystal King’s Cave, Part 2
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?