Archive for February, 2011

Religious people vs. D&D

Posted in Uncategorized on February 10, 2011 by Atlemar

Every so often I see things like “Read an RPG Book in Public Week,” which I take to be aimed at demarginalizing RPGs. It’s a geek hobby even in a culture in which geeks supposedly rule, so let’s show those other people that we’re here!

And so, at least in my mind, the (and I know there must be a better word for this, but) opposition has been some sort of melding of jock and straight. Now that we’re adults, it’s the people in ties whose hobbies are more normal, watching baseball and fishing and really just watching TV. And I figured D&D was just really considered geeky and weird, by the same people who don’t play modern board games because they’re too hard.

But I’ve had two incidents recently that reminded me, rather shockingly, that D&D is still considered *bad* by people.

The first episode was sparked by my third-grader, who wants me to run a D&D game for him and his friends. I called one friend’s parents to ask if the friend could come. The mom called back and said no, one boundary they’ve drawn for their kid was that he couldn’t play Dungeons and Dragons, “because of the murders 10 years ago.”

There was some irony to this, because she had invited my kid to see a movie — Green Hornet — and we said no because of the language and nudity that are reportedly in the movie. She was nice about it, and we kind of laughed about it. I didn’t argue with her; I think that would have been the wrong thing, because even though she is basing her boundaries on incorrect information, I have to base this on parent-to-parent etiquette and what’s best for my kid.

Then, just yesterday, there was some conversation about religion at work. I needed a Bible quote for a particular situation, so I asked a colleague who’s married to a pastor if she knew of one. Sometime later, I was asked if I’m Catholic. I’m not sure why. Anyway, I told them I was raised Catholic but left, or rather just stopped going, in high school. I’m not religious; I’m not really anti-religious either, I just get nothing out of it. Minutes later, the conversation shifted to that we were annoyed that we had to work a late meeting on a Wednesday; I was missing D&D Encounters for the second week in a row, and my colleague was missing her Bible study. And she made a comment along the lines of, Dungeons and Dragons, that’s why you’ve got a problem.

I didn’t respond. We were already on the way to the meeting, and it wasn’t time to get into it.

So, the point: Apparently religious people (and the first mom, by the way, is from a churchgoing family; my wife, kid and I are not) are still thinking about, talking about, Dungeons and Dragons as a threat. If that mom is the same age as me, then she was in grade school when the hysteria in the ’80s ran, so she’s had plenty of time to let it fade and become only geeky. And “10 years ago?” Where did that come from? No doubt from the fact that people around her are STILL discussing it.

So how come I never hear us geeks talking about this?


Running a game for kids

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4, 2011 by Atlemar

I have a game coming up that I’m running for third-graders — my kid, a couple of his friends, and one friend’s older brother and dad.

I’ve decided on a few things:

I’m going to simplify combat. No opportunity attacks or shifting; no FRW. For characters that have attacks that target FRW, I’ll just put a +2 on their sheets to make up for the higher defense. (Well, maybe +2. I’m going to look closely at the monsters I’m using first, to make sure that’s a good number.) I’m also eliminating healing surges as a limited resource — characters will have a heal value, but won’t have to keep track of surges used. (And the adventure won’t require them to get anywhere near using them all.) And temporary hit points will just be added to normal hit points.

I’m making pre-gen characters and allowing them to choose. The characters will match figures. The dad will get less choice; he’ll have to cover unpicked roles (so probably end up with the cleric). All the powers will be the simple ones; high-damage, simple effects.

I’m making my own character sheets. Page one will have their skills. Page two will have their at-will attacks, AC and hit points.

They’ll receive their encounter powers on cards at the beginning of the first fight, and turn the cards in when they use them. In the second fight, they’ll get their encounter and daily powers on cards.

The story is, the PCs are students at the Baldur’s Gate Academy for Defenders of the City — basically, adventurer’s school. The school’s mascot, an animated statue of a hedgehog, has been stolen, and they have to find it.

I’m threading a needle between making it awesomely violent for the kids, and keeping the violence down to suit my wife. I want them to use their skills to investigate first, to figure out where it went. I’m thinking right now the first fight will be against a flock of rats and stirges in a cave tunnel, and the second will be the goblins from the Chaos Scar adventure “Eyes in the Forest.” The goblins will have captured the thieves — kids from the rival Neverwinter School of Sword and Sorcery — but the PCs will have orders to bring the thieves back alive.

A lot of the action will be choose-your-own-adventure type; my kid has played D&D before, but the others haven’t. I’m still brainstorming ideas for how to give the PCs leads — I want to have at least two things for most skills, but I suspect it’s going to be a matter of fast thinking on my feet to reward a successful use of just about any skill. You rolled Arcana? Sure, you can detect echoes of the magic they used to get past the defenses. Um, streetwise? Sure, you see the kid across the yard, I bet he knows something. (If you have any ideas, I’d love them.)

It’s going to be a nerve-wracking experience.