Back when I was kid, Dungeons and Dragons appealed to me very much, but I think I was intimidated and/or too isolated to actually join a gaming group and play.  I made quite a few very detailed maps of underground caverns, but never did anything with them.

Many of my friends (hi Isaac, Andy & Martin!) enjoyed and still enjoy RPG’s, but I am still too intimidated at the level of commitment joining a serious group would entail. A couple months ago, I saw an inspirational impromptu RPG-like exchange between two anonymous users of “Omegle”. The story matter and level of violence were too intense for my taste (in terms of anything I’d do), but the lightness of touch and free flowing nature of this inspired me. “I could do that!”

So, I thought I’d try my family out on the activity.  I read up on how to run a “rules-light” RPG, and was inspired very much by the FUDGE and FATE folks, and especially by Robin’s Laws of Good Game Mastering.  Finally, this week, I decided to take the plunge…so I drew an outline of a map of an island on parchment paper, and just left it out overnight for the kids to see. 

Sure enough, the next morning morning they asked questions (I’d planted the seeds of doing a “do-it-ourselves game” earlier), and when I came home that night, Audra really wanted to work on the map and the game.

Here’s what we did:

Audra and I added rivers, mountains, cities, lakes (there’s a robber’s forest, too! and a mountain with a dragon inside). Then we drew another map of the main city that surrounds a castle.  Here we started adding details like a “market circle”, the castle inside, blacksmith, a magician’s hall, etc.

At this point, Colin joined, and he wanted to draw on the map at the same time.  Since Audra and I were still drawing, we let Colin add a lake outside the town, but then he got some paper from upstairs and had me draw a big circle, and then drew the entire planet.  He asked me to draw a small version of our island on the map, and then surrounded it with many, many other islands.

At this point, Audra wanted to “start playing”!  I pointed out that we _were_ kind of playing, and she said “you know, I want to do stuff!”  So we decided to choose our characters.

Audra’s character is named Arrowbird.  She’s 21 years old, 6 feet tall, is 3/4’th Elf and 1/4th human. Her human ancestors were warriors, and the elven ones were magicians. Her character is very familiar with Greek mythology, speaks Greek well, and is good with animals.  She lands on our island from overseas (Greece?) with a backpack, dagger and 500 gold pieces.

Colin’s character is named Moje.  He’s 14 years old, and a Dwarven Mage.  He’s really good at spells (for a 14-year old), especially spells that move stuff.  I’ll roll the characters specific attributes at some point, but I thought I’d hold off a bit.

Arrowbird wanted to own a horse.  I mentioned to her that horses are expensive to feed.  She asked how much — I said about 5 gold pieces a week. (I guess this was an Audra->GM meta-discussion)  She did some calculating, then asked how much a big dog would take to feed.  I tried to say almost that much, but she bargained me down, clever thing.

In parallel with that discussion, we said that Moje was dropped off in town by his parents to apprentice as a magician, also with a leather backpack, the family wand and 500 gold pieces.

Arrowbird decided her first task was to buy a big happy dog (like our neighbor’s Burmese Mountain dog, I suspect).  Moje decided he wanted a small, warrior dog.  Colin went back to drawing his globe.  Arrowbird went to the market and asked the woman how much a dog was. The woman told her 100 gold pieces. Arrowbird balked, and said “what would it take for the price to be 25?”  I rolled our dice, and the answer came out slightly negative, so I said “it would take about 75 gold pieces for the price to be another 25”.  She asked if there was anything she could do for the woman.  The woman replied that there was a wolf nearby her farm that occasionally kills dogs, and that if Arrowbird could take care of that problem, it would be worth 75 gold to her.

At this point, it was time to go to bed, but Audra’s wheels were churning.  By the time she was climbing in to bed, she was going to attempt to tame the wolf to get a pet for free and earn 75 gold.  I told her “that’s interesting, but don’t count on that working — only the dice will tell for sure!”  She said “okaaay dad…but I want you playing tomorrow — that way it’s not just dice I’m working with…”

Oh boy, I think we’ve created a monster (or four).  All of this was about 2 hours from start to finish.

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