March 2018


Dungeons & Twinimals

When I was first introduced to Roleplaying Games as a kid in the early 80s (in the form of Dungeons & Dragons), it fired my imagination like nothing else. I loved it!  The only problem was that most of my friends weren’t that into it, so I only got to really play a few times. Nevertheless, the lack of playing companions didn’t stop me from buying and poring over countless game rulebooks and adventure modules. Over the years, my collection grew and grew, encompassing Dungeons & Dragons as well as RPG systems based on Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Niven’s Ringworld.  I think I had mostly stopped collecting this stuff by the time I got into college, finally accepting that I simply wasn’t ever going to have other people to play with…

But fast forward 30 years or so. Janet and I got married, and eventually our girls came along. I think that from almost the very beginning, when I heard we were having twins, there may have been the spark of a thought that maybe someday when they were old enough, I could introduce them to RPG gaming and finally get to play some of these games I’d always dreamed of playing. (There’s nothing wrong with using your kids to fulfill your dreams, right?)

Well, I’m happy to say that time finally arrived a couple weeks ago. The girls are almost 9 years old now. They read just about as much as they possibly can, and they’re creative enough that they frequently write their own stories. What’s more, they’re already basically always involved in some type of role-playing game of their own… (For example, one of the games they play quite often is called The Woodchopper Children. In this game they each take on the roles of orphan siblings who live in the forest and chop lumber to sell to nearby villagers in order to support themselves. They’ve been playing it for at least a year, and it seems quite elaborate. Basically anything that they’re doing together in real life can be transformed into a scene from the lives of The Woodchopper Children. Was I this imaginative when I was a kid? Probably? I mean, I hope so!)

I figured the easiest way to introduce them to the game (and get reacquainted with it myself) would be to use a simple adventure module that was designed to be played solo. It’s basically just a “Choose Your Own Adventure” with some die rolling for combat and some randomization. Their first couple experiences with The Ghost of Lion Castle ended swiftly and tragically due to some truly horrible die rolls. But they were undeterred and eventually prevailed, and as I expected they totally loved it!

The Ghost of Lion Castle

The Ghost of Lion Castle

In fact, they loved it so much that mere minutes after completing their first adventure, they went right to work co-writing their very own sequel adventure for Janet and I to play through, complete with detailed maps of every room! Of course, it was eerily similar to the adventure they had just played, but it was so much fun to see their imaginations at work as they tag-teamed as the Game Master! A few times I made sure my character checked for very specific traps, just to give them ideas for the future. And there were plenty of times we could see them inventing creative new details on the fly — an essential quality of a good Game Master, to be sure!

One of the highlights came when we were exploring the castle brewery and encountered a Giant Beer Monster! Fortunately, I remembered that earlier in the adventure I had come across an unlabeled potion that I strongly suspected was poison — so I unstoppered the flask and hurled it right into the Giant Beer Monster, promptly killing it. Another big highlight that induced a good ten minutes of belly-aching laughter from the girls was when Janet and I were sorting through some treasure and discovered magical Elven Nose Dinglers. In case you didn’t know, an Elven Nose Dingler is a small magical item that is worn over the nose which greatly enhances a person’s ability to smell things. I wonder if a super-powerful sense of smell might actually be more of a curse than a boon when you’re adventuring in a castle dungeon filled with monsters.

I think we’re all looking forward to our next adventure together!

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