Curse of Strahd – Campaign Diary Session 4

Classic Dungeons & Dragons back in print! - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Well hello you little dungeon monsters you. It’s Slick Dungeon back again with a little campaign diary for the ultimate RPG vampire Strahd Van Zarovich.

Before I go to far, fair warning that this has spoilers for The Curse of Strahd.

You can read the first three campaign diaries here, here and here if you want to.

I am going to tell you how I prepared for the session, what happened in the session, and what I would change if I ran this again.

Preparation

First, of course, I read the part of the book that deals with the village of Barovia since that’s where the characters are. There are a good number of NPC’s there to manage but it’s not a huge village so it’s more or less manageable. I took notes about each one since I wasn’t 100% sure what the characters would choose to do.

I also took a look at the reddit thread here. There is a great section on beefing up the village of Barovia since there aren’t a ton of obvious missions to do there. I also re-watched the video below.

This is just one of a great series of Strahd DM videos

The Fourth Session

At the start of this session, Ismark who is now the Burgomaster of Barovia because his father recently died, has two goals. First, he wants to bury his father. Second, he wants to get his sister Ireena to the town of Vallaki so that she might be safe from Strahd’s clutches. The players basically have one goal. They want to get the heck out of Dodge which is proving very difficult right now. They do keep having dreams that feature Madame Eva, a powerful Vistani psychic. They even find a Tarokka card once they wake up. Ismark has told the players he knows where a Vistani camp is and that he will accompany the players to it, if the players help him to bury his father and get Ireena to Vallaki in exchange. Everyone readily agreed.

My players also seem to have some idea that vampires must be invited to enter a building. To my players what this means is that, they want to become experts in Barovian real estate law, and say that Strahd is not rightfully invited to his own castle. I think that’s their plan anyway? It can be hard to tell with players sometimes.

As the players were waiting around to have the funeral start, they explored town a bit. There they ran into a woman with a cart who is selling meat pies. Now, my players are musical theater fans and so the instant they heard the words meat pies, their suspicions were up. If you have read the Strahd module you will know why. And of course, they are right. But so far, the woman has only presented herself as a sweet old lady. A lot of people around town seem to be really into the pies though. My players bought some but then gave them away. Then they bought some more but never ate them. Honestly, I don’t think that the characters actually have to eat these things for the part that comes later in the book to still be horrifying.

Once the party had wandered around, it was time for the funeral. It was a somber affair with a good portion of town showing up. Ismark was of course sad and Ireena was nearly inconsolable. Ismark didn’t even want Ireena to go to the funeral, figuring it was not safe.

Ireena

If you read far enough into Curse of Strahd, you will get to a character called Rahadin and to me this is one of the most interesting and awesome NPC’s in the book. The guy simply radiates evil. He has killed so many people that if you get within ten feet of the guy, you can hear the screams of all the men and women he has killed in his lifetime. When I first read the module, I felt he was sorely underused. Thankfully the reddit thread I have linked to above gave him a great cameo and I used that.

So, the players meet the Priest, father Donavich. He has a bandage on his hand but is a kindly man. He brings everyone out to the graveyard, not going through the church, but rather around the back, and has a quiet service for Ismark and Ireena’s father.

After the service the players notice a man standing in the shadows. He comes over to the party and they hear the screaming of tons of voices that sounds like it comes directly from him. (Note: I did not use this trait in a combat sense for this encounter because the players were never threatening toward him and vice versa). This of course was Rahadin and he delivered a letter to Ireena and faded away. It was a fairly sympathetic letter from Strahd himself. Hopefully by now my players are realizing that Strahd is fond of correspondence and can basically drop a letter to anyone anytime anywhere.

Miles, the human Acolyte sorcerer player asked Rahadin if he was okay and if he could hear anything odd. Rahadin said no and wished everyone a good day and disappeared into the mists.

That left the players pretty well freaked out. Ismark and Ireena are none too happy either. They said their good nights and got some rest. But before they left, Ismark asked Miles to look into the fact that people have been disappearing in town lately. He’s pretty sure it’s not Strahd’s doing but he hasn’t had time to figure out what’s up. Miles agrees and Ismark tells them that they have a couple of days to get it sorted out since they need to pack at any rate. Also, Miles asked Father Donavich to look around for books related to Barovian real estate law. He said he’d give it a shot.

Father Donavich

Wandering around town the next day, the players made it to Mad Mary’s house. To tell you this next part, I need to tell you a little history of Mad Mary. Also, this part is more or less from that reddit thread, with a little from the book. Mad Mary has a daughter named Getruda who she never told anyone about. Gertruda has been locked up in Mary’s house for ages. Well, Gertruda is a fifteen year old girl who wants to see the world. The week before the players arrived, she escaped her house. She has disappeared but it’s totally unrelated to the missing people in town.

Gertruda is the owner of the dog that has been palling around with the players. So as they walked by the house, Lancelot, the dog, runs into the house and sits in Mary’s lap. Mary has been essentially driven insane so she doesn’t make a ton of sense when she speaks to the characters. (That was fun but also a little difficult to role play) The characters do get out of Mary that she has a daughter who is missing but she’s confused on when it might have happened. She also saw someone dragging a body through the streets. She’s sure that the body wasn’t Gertruda and that it was not the same night that she left. The fact that the two events were not the same event wasn’t conveyed very well but then again, Mary is not in her right mind.

The characters explore a little more around town and find a house that seems to have been broken into and has a bloody candlestick holder on the ground. Eventually they made it up to the church. It turns out that Father Donavich had a son who went off to fight Strahd. It did not go as planned and the son who was in his twenties or so, was turned into a vampire spawn. With a little intimidation and some persuasion, Lady Elarian and Miles got the priest to admit the fact that he has been knocking people out and then feeding them to his son to sate his blood thirst.

The players were smart enough to not want to tangle with a vampire spawn on their own so they convinced Donavich to do the right and noble thing and kill the thing in the basement. They helped him sharpen some wood into stakes and waited until the deed was done.

With that accomplished they went back to Ismark and told him what had happened. They also ran across the meat pie woman once more but still did not eat any pies. Shame.

Ismark let them know he and Ireena were ready to go and they are provisioned up and going to set out at dawn.

That’s where our session ended and I’m really looking forward to the next session or two because very likely we will be doing the Tarokka reading for the players which should be quite fun.

What I would do different

For this session, there is not a huge amount of stuff I would change. I did have a couple points though.

  1. It was really difficult to get my players to understand that Gertruda is missing but no one knows who she is because she has never been revealed to the world. The only real clue to her is the dog and it’s not even guaranteed that the players will come across her in the game but now they think that they have to find and rescue this girl. We’ll see what happens with that because they also think it’s possible this happened years ago, since Mary has not been in her right mind in a long time. They got that impression from an offhand remark Ismark made about Mary being “mad Mary” for a long time. I think I would have someone else provide the clues about missing people if I went with this scenario again.
  2. You can never fully predict players so I seriously did not expect them to want to become experts on ancient Barovian real estate law. But they do want to be which makes sense in a roundabout way. They also have a deed for a house and windmill so technically there has to be some law surrounding property in these lands. This is not something I would change since I didn’t predict this whole thing, but I think I am going to do all I can as a Dungeon Master to have these characters running around all over Barovia looking for the one guy who knows real estate law. I haven’t exactly figured out how to do it but for now, they were just told to check in the town of Vallaki. In the town of Vallaki I will have someone tell them to go somewhere else and so on until I finally give in and let them meet some random NPC who just loves real estate law. That should be entertaining.

I’ll be back next time to tell you if the characters make it to Madam Eva and what she tells them if she does a reading for them after we have our next session.

If you want to get a physical copy of Curse of Strahd for yourself, check it out below.

Cursedly Yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 5

D&D Campaign Adventures for Storm King's Thunder - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf. Today we are going to continue by talking about role playing Elves with children.

Elves are mystical and ethereal creatures in Dungeons & Dragons. They tend to be thin and just slightly under average human height. They are very long lived and can be well over 700 years old.

For a kid, those are a lot of fun traits to portray. Who doesn’t want to feel like they can live forever, be beautiful and graceful, and know more than most of the people around you? Still, this can be challenging to role play. But remember that kids are the ones driving their characters so if they want to role play the Elf they play as being younger and not knowing as much, there’s no problem with that. And if they start acting like their Elf knows everything, but you know in fact that what they are saying is silly, don’t spoil it for the kid. Let them believe their character has vast and deep knowledge if that’s how they want to play it. Don’t let your own worldview cloud what they think is deep insight. Elves also tend to be diplomatic. For most kids, that’s not an easy thing to role play but it can be done. As long as they understand that their character would be the one that is trying to smooth a situation over, they’ll be able to give it a shot.

Most elves come from woodlands and tend to be more in tune to nature than shorter lived races such as humans. The most common reason that elves take up adventuring in the first place is more or less out of boredom. They have long lives and want to see the world, so after a few centuries of hanging out with your family, you’d probably want to get out for a bit too. That doesn’t have to be why your kid’s character plays one but it’s pretty easy reason to give if they need one.

Another cool thing about elves is that they get to choose when they are adults. No one declares it for them. A lot of kids can get behind that for sure. In the basic rules they give child names and adult names for elves. This can be confusing, so make sure you know if your kid is playing an Elf who is a child or an adult.

Elf Traits

There are a few things you get for being an Elf.

Ability Score Increase

Elves get a Dexterity increase of 2. Again, if you don’t want to have to do complex math with your kids, just let them know that Elves are fast and flexible. Dexterity is one of the six abilities their character will be good at.

Age

As stated above, the ages can range hugely with elves. Typically a 100 year old elf is going to be a young adult and one who is in their 700s is getting on in age.

Alignment

Elves tend to be a little chaotic in their alignment but tend to be more on the good side. The definite exception to that is the Drow, which we will talk about when it gets to subraces below.

Size

For this I would just think slightly shorter, somewhat skinnier human. Mechanically speaking, their size is medium which can be important in game play.

Speed

The speed for elves is 30 feet which makes them pretty much the same speed as humans.

Darkvision

One of the cool things about being an elf is that you can see in dark and dim lighting. If it’s dim light to everyone else, it’s bright light to you. If it’s dark to everyone else, it’s dim to you. That effect extends out 60 feet. But when you are in darkness, you can only see shades of gray and not colors.

Keen Senses

In the rules it says that Elves have proficiency in the perception skill. The main thing to remember if you are the Dungeon Master is that elves are far more likely to notice a threat before others do.

Fey Ancestry

If you are new to D&D and you read, “You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep.” the second half probably seems fine but the first half of that sentence may be confusing. There are some magical ways that a creature can be “charmed” which is a condition that affects the character. Basically elves are hard to sweet talk into doing anything they don’t want to do, even when someone tries to do it magically. That’s one of the advantages of being an elf,

Trance

This is honestly my favorite thing about elves in D&D. They don’t have to sleep! They basically meditate for four hours a day and they are fully rested. Between this trait and their high perception, elves make the best creatures to take watch in almost any situation. They are much more likely to detect a threat and rouse the party. That can be a ton of fun to role play.

Languages

Elves speak common and elvish. The elvish language is beautiful and melodic. This is perfect for bards to weave into song, that is, if they can get a grasp on the complex language. While it can be nice for other characters to be able to speak elvish as well, I don’t think it is as vital as having at least one character be able to read Dwarvish characters.

Subraces

There are three basic subraces for elves and I definitely have one that I prefer when it comes to kids.

Drow

There is one subrace of elves that I personally don’t recommend much for kids to play. That’s the Drow. The reason? Almost all Drow are supposed to be evil. The most famous Drow of all is Drizzt Do’Urden, ranger of the North. He has had tons of books written about him and gained the trust of most of the people who have fought by his side. But guess what? It’s really complex to play a dark elf how is just trying to break through and be good. Some kids, of course can run with this and make it work but in my experience I wouldn’t recommend this for a kid under 12 or so. If your kid just really wants to play a Drow, there is no reason you can’t have Drow be good aligned in your campaign. And again, this is just me but I think most kids want to be the hero of their story rather than the villain, which is just much easier if you don’t come from an evil group to begin with.

High Elf

These elves are a bit more knowledgeable than others and therefore they get to increase their intelligence score by 1. They are good at using the longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow. In addition they get to learn a spell from the wizard cantrip list which is always fun. It can be a little complicated when you get into spellcasting so that can be a barrier for kids when there is too much to figure out. These elves also get to speak an additional language. When I picture this type of elf in my mind, the character that comes to me is always Elrond from Lord of the Rings. That’s just my take on this subclass though, it doesn’t have to be yours.

Wood Elf

Wood elves are my favorite for kids. These creatures get to increase their Wisdom score by one, they get to have proficiency with the longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow, they get to add 5 feet or movement to their movement speed, and can attempt to hide even when they are only lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena. Which makes them exceedingly useful in any campaign that might take place with some woods or some bad weather. I love to see it when kids try to sneak up on their enemies and are successful. Plus this subrace is more in tune with nature and plenty of kids can relate to that. I just think this kind of elf is a whole lot of fun and the role play potential is huge.

Slick Dungeon’s tips on Elf characters

As always, everything I put up above is totally subject to change based on how you want to run your campaign. Elves can be a little difficult to role play since they are supposed to be aloof. Some kids interpret that as silence. I can see why too. If you watch Lord of the Rings, Legolas does a lot of standing around staring and looking graceful. He spends a lot less time chit chatting than the other characters. While that works awesome in a movie, that’s hard to pull off with kids. If you kid wants to play a talkative wood elf, there is no reason she can’t do that. If your kid wants his elf to be clumsy and a bit silly, that works too and could be really fun. I think getting some of the mechanical stuff in this class is really useful. Like I said, they make great lookouts and they are very good at stealth a lot of the time. Plus elves are generally deadly when it comes to combat. I would just make sure that your kid really wants to play one and understands, not necessarily what elves are supposed to be like according to the rules, but how they want to play an elf. Make sure it’s something you can get on board with and that won’t just turn into the role player staying silent to seem aloof.

As far as playing Elf NPC’s, that can be a little easier. You just need to make sure you understand the culture of the elves in your campaign. Are they a secluded society or do they tend to blend in with everyone? Would it be uncommon for someone to encounter elves in your campaign? If so, why? The typical trope is to play elves with English or Welsh accents but you don’t have to do that. You can have an elf who sounds like he is from New Jersey or Boston or whatever if you want to. They don’t have to have any kind of accent either, but since elves do tend to be ethereal creatures, there is usually something to make them stand out. Other than the pointy ears of course. Just decide what that is for your game and lean into it, I’m sure you and your kids will have a blast.

Thanks for reading the post. I hope you got a couple of good tips out of this and I would love to hear how your games with kids go. Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Next time I will be writing about role playing a Halfling.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Curse of Strahd – Campaign Diary Session 3

Guild Adept PDFs - Available exclusively @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi all you dungeon creatures, Slick Dungeon your friendly Dungeon Master back with more campaign diaries for the Curse of Strahd.

You can read the first two campaign diaries here and here if you want to.

I am going to tell you how I prepared for the session, what happened in the session, and what I would change if I ran this again.

And once again, warning that there are spoilers below so if you are playing Curse of Strahdwait until you finish to read this post. That goes for my players too!

Preparation

After being stranded in the lands of Barovia and defeating the “Death House”, my players were ready to see more of the area. They basically had two choices, try and go through the deadly mists (that they didn’t know yet were deadly) or head toward the village of Barovia. Guess which they ended up choosing?

I knew they would have to walk down the road so I was ready to roll on some random encounter tables and I had stat blocks handy for what they might run into. I also took a look at the reddit thread here. There is a great section on beefing up the village of Barovia since there aren’t a ton of obvious missions to do there. I also made a lot of notes on NPC’s because, there are quite a few in this book.

Finally I took a look at this video to prepare.

With that all set up, we were ready to play.

The Third Session

Right off the bat, I told the players that they were on a road and on one side was a mist and in the opposite direction there was a sign pointing toward the Village of Barovia. They were pretty freaked out by Strahd from the last session so they wanted to try to get out of there as quick as they could. Unfortunately for Lady Ellarian Brysalor and Miles Adelard just entering the mist gives you one level of exhaustion. It didn’t take them long to figure out that they were going nowhere that way. They headed towards the village, along with the dog they found in the Death House.

I rolled on the random encounter table and it came up with four wolves. I was pretty sure that they would totally kill the party if any roles went really bad so the wolves followed and kept getting closer. In addition to that there was a raven that seemed to be leading the part along, although I don’t think my players actually made the connection there. That’s fine though because the raven is actually a Wereraven and will come into play later in the game.

It took them about two in game nights to get there and the wolves did end up attacking. Miles rolled really low again so none of his spells worked (he’s a sorcerer at level 3 at this point). Luckily before the wolves totally overwhelmed them, a swarm of ravens attacked the wolves and the characters made it out of there.

A hungry wolf looking for supper

When the pair (or trio if you count the dog and yeah, my players totally count the dog) got to the gates of Barovia they were a bit weary. They knocked on the first door they saw and found a Barovian family with a sick father. Miles leaped into action to cure the father but rather than be appreciative, the people just seemed kind of hollow. This is because they don’t have souls as is written for many Barovians in the campaign book. The players thought it was a little weird that they weren’t more appreciative but didn’t think too much of it.

Gates of Barovia

They made their way over to the Blood of the Vine tavern where they met a few Vistani. Considering the experiences they have had with Vistani so far, my players are not very trusting of those people and I can’t say I blame them, what with them getting tricked into going to Barovia and all. They also met Ismark Kolyanovich, a pretty major NPC in the book. He asked the party to help him protect his sister from the vampire Strahd and so far they have an uneasy trust of him.

They explored the town a bit and made it to Bildrath’s mercantile where they met Bildrath who gave them a quest in exchange for a discount at his store. They ended up finding and fighting an Ankheg, and successfully brought the goods back. Even so, Bildrath is a real cheapskate in this book so he still tried to take advantage of the characters.

Later that day, Ismark wanted to show the players just how dangerous it was to take on Strahd. He told them he would help them find a Vistani encampment in exchange for helping him to escort his sister Ireena to the town of Vallaki where he thinks she will be safe from Strahd. Then he showed them that there was an army of ghosts that walk toward Castle Ravenloft at midnight every night. This is all that’s left of the previous adventurers that tried to take on the vampire. I think Ismark showing them that before he allowed them to agree to their mutual deal gained him a lot of trust from the party.

Ismark

At that point the players decided it was time for a good long rest but they did spend a few minutes talking to the bartender at the Tavern and to the Vistani there. The bartender is soulless and so that gave the characters a good chance to ask about what was wrong with the guy. They learned that not everyone here has a soul and in fact, there are a lot of people that don’t. The Vistani told them a little bit about what they knew about Strahd but not much. The characters also wanted to know how they could get their hands on Stanimir for bringing them here in the first place. They’re not too happy with that guy.

The next day, Ismark plans to go with Ireena to bury his father’s body. We ended our third session here so I will be back more with what happened next in later posts.

What I would do different

I think most of this session went well but there are a couple of things I would change if I ran this again.

  1. I think I would roll ahead on the encounter table prior to the session to make sure that whatever the players encounter wasn’t going to wipe out the party at the earliest levels. (I do usually do this but wanted to give it a shot the other way this time)
  2. Honestly, I am kind of tired of playing merchants who can’t stand their customers so I think I would make Bildrath less miserly the next time I played this. I know it’s kind of a common trope to have merchants that are overpriced and just don’t like that characters and while that fits well with this story, it gets old just telling players that everything is way out of their price range.
  3. I think the thing that worked best was Ismark earning the trust of the characters but I will be honest, I didn’t feel like I role played him that well. I should have read up on him a little more before the start of the session.

I’ll be back next time to tell you how it goes with the burial of the Buromaster in our next session.

If you want to get a physical copy of Curse of Strahd for yourself, check it out below.

Cursedly Yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 4

Huge Discounts on your Favorite RPGs @ DriveThruRPG.com

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple rules, went through the Introduction of the simple rules with you and walked you through the first section of the simple rules. Today I am going to talk about the first step in creating a character for the game which is choosing a race. I will also talk about role playing a Dwarf.

There are a ton of choices when it comes to choosing a race for a Dungeons & Dragons character. It can be overwhelming for a kid, especially if you aren’t familiar with what each one is. The most common race in D&D is by far the human race. This is easily relatable to any human because, well, we are all human. But, for kids this may be dull. In each of my posts for a while, I will be delving into the separate races listed in the basic rules and talking about any unique challenges or benefits when it comes to role playing with kids. There’s really no limit on what kind of creature a player can be in the game, but the ones most commonly played do have a set of rules around them. Like anything in the game, you can change and adapt them to suit your campaign.

One thing I would recommend as a Dungeon Master when playing with kids, is to make sure to let there be all kinds of races show up in your world. The kid doesn’t have to play a fantasy race, like a gnome, to enjoy the fact that they are there. Just like in the real world, in fantasy settings, the larger the city, the more kinds of people you are bound to find there. So, even if none of your players are non-humans, be sure to include some characters that are. There can of course be sections or areas that are dedicated to say, only dwarves, but make sure that lots of creatures get encountered by the kids. It can be fun to play into what is expected with these characters but it can also be really fun to play against type. A half-orc that cries whenever it gets a paper cut? That is great and can make for a ton of fun role playing opportunities. Just keep in mind that whatever, “race” the character belongs to is not the only definition of that character.

No group in this game should be a complete monolith, even though certain races tend to have certain traits as described by the rules. The same thing goes when considering gender. A boy does not have to role play a male character and a girl does not have to role play a female character. And although, this comes up less when it goes to role playing with kids, this goes for sexual orientation as well. Just be mindful of how you want to play but just as in real life, there is no one right way to be someone.

Before we get into role playing a Dwarf, we need to talk a little bit about the mechanics of Racial Traits. The rules as set out, give each race some things that are common to members of that race. This doesn’t mean you have to use it, it’s just shorthand for role playing.

Briefly I will talk about Ability Score increases, Age, Alignment, Size, Speed, Languages and Subraces.

Ability Score Increase

When making a character, everyone has ability scores. These were listed in the simple rules and in the last post I wrote for this series. It’s one of six things that a character can be good at. These include Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Just know that depending on what Race your kid decides to play, they may be better or worse at some of these things. As I go through each Race, I will tell you what is usually the increase that the character gets just for being that race. If you don’t want to have to do a lot of math in your character sheet, you can just let the kid know that their character is good at x because y race is usually good at that. Then make sure to mark off on the character sheet what thing the kid’s character is good at. (P.S. let me know if I should do a post with a walk through of a character sheet as I know those can be confusing)

Age

In the simple rules, they tell you at what age each race is considered to be an adult. It’s very likely your kid will want to play an adult, but it’s also fine for their character to be a kid if that’s what they want. Just use common sense though. If an Elf is supposed to mature at 100 years old but your kid plays one who is fifty, they are not going to be as strong or as experienced as an older Elf. Same goes for any race, relative to their maturity. If your kids want to play an older person, depending on how old they are, they may be less strong than they would have when they were younger. Generally age is not too much of an issue when playing with kids, as long as no one is trying to play an infant or someone who is extremely elderly. I would give broad leeway to letting kids choose the age of their characters.

Alignment

If you spend about five seconds researching Dungeons & Dragons you will see that there is a huge argument about alignment in the role playing community. Some people love it, some people hate it. It’s one of the aspects of the game that can be totally irrelevant at times and at times can make for great role playing opportunities.

Each race is supposed to have a tendency towards a certain alignment. If you want to keep that, feel free. If you want to just ignore alignment, sure but I will give one word of caution when it comes to kids. I would not recommend letting kids play into any evil alignments. It gets too morally gray and messy. For adults, this can be hugely entertaining. And while kids are not necessarily thinking about the world in strict terms of good and evil, it can be difficult for them to navigate in a role playing setting.

I am sure that there are plenty of kids who would be fine with playing a chaotic evil character and have a blast doing it and have no problems outside of the game with it. But I recommend against it for two reasons. One, the point of the game is to get to be the hero of the story and that’s what most kids want in the first place. That’s pretty difficult when you are committing acts of evil in the game. Two, it can cause huge problems with the other players. If you have two kids who are being, “the good guys” and one who is, “the bad guy,” you are just inviting arguments. To me it makes more sense to simply, not consider alignment at all, and kind of operate on the assumption that your kids want to be heroes. As they get to be older, say 12 and above, then it makes more sense to bring alignment into the picture.

If you have read this and still have no idea what alignment is or why it is there, don’t worry. It’s not the most essential part of the game and it’s just there to kind of inform how a particular character might act in a given situation. That will change with every individual player anyway, so don’t stress too much about this part.

Size

People come in all shapes and sizes. This is also true for fantasy creatures. Most of the races in Dungeons & Dragons are between 4-8 feet tall. There are a couple of smaller races that tend to be 2-4 feet tall. The main thing to know is if your character would be small, medium or large. This is strictly a height measurement for the game. You could have a large halfling, but that would be extremely rare and, honestly, I’m not sure how I would role play that. I guess like Buddy the Elf from Elf? Anyway, there are some rules that matter when it comes to size. It’s much harder for a halfling to wield heavy weapons and it’s a lot harder for a Half-Orc to hide. This doesn’t mean those things can’t be done, just that they are more difficult. For this part of character building, I would tend to stick to the book descriptions on size more for the rules that go along with it than anything. If you explain to a kid that halflings are small, but that they can easily hide from an ogre, they are going to understand that pretty quick.

Speed

This I would more or less strictly follow if you are planning on using miniatures in your game. If you are doing only theater of the mind, it’s a little less vital but you still need to know if the character can move a lot or a little each turn. Even if your kid can’t count past ten, you can have them know if their character is faster or slower than other characters.

Languages

This one can be a little tricky with kids. Each race has a particular set of languages that they can speak and write. These can be added to and changed around with the personalities and background section of the rules. Most of these are pretty obvious, a Dwarf speaks Dwarvish and an Elf speaks Elvish and a Halfling speaks Halfling. The player characters will also be able to speak common which is just the default language everyone talks. If you know Star Wars and that people speak different languages but almost everyone speaks basic, you can think of it like that. Common is essentially the basic way everyone communicates. However, if you plan on having a campaign that is just chalk full of Giants and you know that Giants don’t necessarily speak common, you need to do one of two things. You can either, just assume everyone in your campaign speaks basic so that you can role play with your kids or you can make absolutely certain that one or more player characters speaks Giant. With very young kids I would go with the first option, and with kids from say 7-12 I would go with the second option. Older kids can get into the fact that they may not necessarily understand everything that is said by a non-player character but younger kids might just get frustrated by that fact. It’s up to you how you handle this but think about whether even having different languages matters in your campaign.

Subraces

Some races have subraces. In other words you could have a dwarf that is a hill dwarf or a mountain dwarf or something like that. Mostly this is just a bit of flavoring for role playing but it can be something to consider when building a character.

Role playing a Dwarf

Dwarves are bold and hardy. They tend to be tough warriors and skilled with their hands. They can live up to 400 years, so they take the long view when it comes to human friends that may only last a quarter or that time at best.

Dwarves can be stubborn and set in their ways, not just because that is who they are, but because they have been around a while and have a pretty good idea of what works and what does not. They also tend to remember it if you wrong them. Likewise they remember if you aid them. It usually is a good idea to be good to a dwarf.

Most dwarves are part of a clan and while they welcome outsiders who are friendly to them, there are things that dwarves never share. For example, dwarves who are good at crafting weapons may never share those secrets for fear that in the next century, humans might go to war with dwarves. Male dwarves tend to have beards and be as prideful of them as the hippest of hipsters. To cut the hair of a dwarf beard is not highly recommended.

Dwarves tend to be loyal to their friends but you really have to earn that loyalty. They are slow to trust, especially from a human point of view but they can make excellent allies.

Dwarves tend to become adventurers for a myriad of reasons, from just wanting to see more of the world, to finding a specific item for their clan.

I think the most typical trope you see about dwarves in fantasy role play is that they have a Scottish brogue. I for one, can not come even passably close to this accent. So when I role play a dwarf, I just tell people that they speak in a Scottish accent.

There are pretty handy suggestions for names in the simple rules for dwarves, just make sure you and your kids agree on how to pronounce it.

Dwarf Traits

There are a few things you get for being a dwarf.

Ability Score Improvement

First your constitution score increases by 2. Or, if you don’t want to do the math, this is one of the things that dwarves are good at. That means it’s hard for them to get sick or poisoned, which can be greatly helpful in the game.

Age

Dwarves are mature at around 50 years old and live to be between 350-400 years old.

Alignment

Dwarves tend to be lawful but again see above for my thoughts on alignment. They also tend to have a sense of fair play so they are mostly good.

Size

Dwarves are between 4 and 5 feet tall. This means they are medium sized for rules purposes.

Speed

Dwarves walk at 25 feet. That means for each turn that is how far they go. This is on the lower side of average so dwarves tend to be a little slower than some of the other races in the game.

Darkvision

One of the cool things about being a dwarf is that you can see in dark and dim lighting. If it’s dim light to everyone else, it’s bright light to you. If it’s dark to everyone else, it’s dim to you. That effect extends out 60 feet. But when you are in darkness, you can only see shades of gray and not colors.

Dwarven Resilience

Another great thing about being a dwarf is that you have advantage on saving throws against poison. And, you have resistance against poison damage. We’ll get more into what those things mean in later posts but just know that dwarves are pretty hard to poison.

Dwarven Combat Training

Dwarves are good at using battleaxes, handaxes, light hammers and warhammers. In other words, they are pretty deadly in a fight!

Tool Proficiency

Dwarves can use smith tools, brewer’s supplies or mason’s tools. These are all tool sets that can come into play during a game but don’t necessarily. It’s up to you if you really want to get into these too much with kids.

Stonecunning

Dwarves know about the history of stonework. There are some mechanical rules behind this but my rule is just that if a dwarf is looking at anything carved of stone, there’s a really good chance they know all about it.

Languages

Dwarves speak common and Dwarvish. If you do go with using languages one thing to note is that a lot of the other languages in the game tend to use Dwarvish characters so it is usually good to have someone who can read those symbols.

Subrace

There are technically three subraces in the simple rules if you include Duergar. These are basically evil dwarves who live underground so might not be the best choice to role play with kids. It can work though if you make one of them a misfit who wants to go to the surface and do some good in the world.

Hill Dwarf

As you might expect, these dwarves come from the hills. These dwarves get to increase their wisdom by 1 and their hit point maximum increases by 1, as well as increases by 1 with every new level. To boil that down, these dwarves are wise and hardy.

Mountain Dwarf

These guys are a little stronger than the other types of dwarves so they get to increase their strength score by 2. In addition, they have proficiency with light and medium armor, meaning they can use a lot of different defensive options to increase their armor class (how hard it is for an enemy to hit you).

Slick Dungeon’s tips on Dwarf characters

Now that you have read all that, feel free to throw as much of it as you want out the window. You can play a dwarf who has never done a days hard labor in his life if you want. You can be a dwarf who really loves climbing trees. If you are the Dungeon Master, I would recommend that you tend to have the dwarves be in several settings and have them all behave differently as people but maybe keep one thing in common with all of them. For my games, I tend to keep it that dwarves take huge offense to anyone insulting their clan or to anyone with the audacity to trim their beards. Other than that, I try to play them as individuals, but it’s up to you how you want it to be. If your kid is role playing a dwarf, I would have them look up dwarves in the rules, decide what they like about them, and keep that. Toss out the rest and fill it in with personality for the character.

Thanks for reading the post. I hope you got a couple of good tips out of this and I would love to hear how your games with kids go. Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Next time I will be writing about role playing an Elf.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Curse of Strahd – Campaign Diary Session 2

D&D Campaign Adventures for Tales of the Yawning Portal - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone, Slick Dungeon your friendly Dungeon Master back with more campaign diaries for the Curse of Strahd.

You can read the first campaign diary here if you want to.

I am going to tell you how I prepared for the session, what happened in the session, and what I would change if I ran this again.

And once again, warning that there are spoilers below so if you are playing Curse of Strahd, wait until you finish to read this post. That goes for my player too!

Preparation

My players were left stranded in Barovia on the road leading to the village and the first building they came to was a house. Outside were two children who beckoned them to come in and save their little brother from a monster in the basement. The players readily agreed but did not know they were entering the so called, “Death House.”

The Death House is a module for 1-3 level players that you can find in the appendix to Curse of Strahd. You can also get this as a free module to play as a stand alone one shot adventure here. This is a great module to do if you want a bit of a grinder haunted house for low level characters. I think it would probably be fun to run around Halloween and I would say it takes about four hours total to run so it’s not a huge session commitment.

I prepared for this part by reading the Death House section in Strahd, then I took a look at this reddit thread and used some, but not all of the changes in there.

I am kind of an over preparer so I made notes between the book and the thread and wrote an outline that I then printed out. If you do that when you run a campaign, remember not to rely solely on your notes. It’s still fine to improvise right in the middle of what you are doing and there is no predicting what your players will do. I often find myself happy to have the crutch of the notes but then only kind of glancing at them during the session.

With that all set up, we were ready to play.

The second session

Lady Ellarian and Miles Adelard have entered and explored the first floor of Durst Manor. They found a few curious items such as a book that told Miles’ life story in exact detail up to the moment he was in, with the last page saying a creature attacked and then a blood splatter at the bottom of the page. When Miles went to look behind him, there was no creature. Lady Ellarian looked into a mirror and found herself reflected back but ten years older. There was a room where some stuffed wolves moved but… only when they were not looking.

They made their way up to the second floor at which point they made their first mistake. They rushed past a suit of armor only to discover that it was animated. The suit kept trying to push them off of the balcony but they eventually defeated it. Miles did have to make some death saving throws first though. He passed them and his character is still alive.

The battle was pretty vicious but the characters got to level up as a result. They explored all the rooms and realized that the only way to go was up.

In one room they found a note written by Strahd Van Zarovich and they freaked out. It was pretty awesome because they were convinced Strahd was there and were panicked about what to do. That’s perfect in a horror setting because you always want the players to feel unbalanced and like anything could happen.

Eventually they encountered a few ghosts, ghasts and spirits and started to piece together what happened years ago at Durst manor. They story is that the father of the house had an affair with the nursemaid. The mother who was already going a little off the deep end lost it. They had been conducting rituals with a cult in tribute to Strahd in hopes of gaining his favor. One night, the mother, locked her two oldest children in their bedroom so that she, her husband and the cult could complete this ritual. But before that happened, the wife killed the nursemaid, the husband hung himself and then the wife sacrificed the baby. The ritual worked, but it didn’t call Strahd, it called a Shambling Mound instead. That creature devoured everyone who was left in the basement dungeons, including the wife. Strahd thought this whole family was pathetic and was pretty much glad to be rid of them for annoying him with their stupid rituals in the first place. Poor Rose and Thorn starve to death in their room, thinking that there is a monster in the basement, because that’s what their mother told them. In addition, they are pretty sure someone took their baby brother Walter down there. That’s why Rose and Thorn ask anyone passing by to help out.

After a few encounters with these ghosts who are in the house (all of them non-combative) and finding some keys, the party was able to unlock some secret doors that would allow them to go down into the basement dungeons. They also picked up a dog that is still following them around.

That’s where things started to get serious. They started by entering the crypts of the house. Somehow, even though I gave pretty much every clue possible they couldn’t figure out that the crypt labeled Walter Durst was for the baby. I don’t think that was my failure in this case, I just think that they missed it.

They found some treasure which was exciting for them but then promptly fell into a spiked pit trap which was also exciting but in more of an oh no we are going to die here kind of way.

While exploring the Larder they were viciously attacked by a Grick. This one knocked out Miles with ease and although he technically died in the encounter, he was brought back although he is not sure how. I do but I’m not going to spoil the surprise here because it should come into play in a later session.

The Grick was a lot tougher creature than I remembered though and it had a pretty easy time going after the adventurers.

In their next encounter they had a little more warning because Lancelot (the dog that they found) started whimpering when a hand rose out of the ground. The fought courageously against four ghouls and stood their ground.

After that they moved onto a room with a statue in it and the statue was holding an orb. Miles touched it and boom, now Strahd knows the adventurers are in town. Of course the players and PC’s don’t know that but I do.

As they delved further into the basement they realized that there were ghostly specters performing rituals over and over again. The characters were either going to have to stop the ritual or stop whatever the ritual called forth. Or I guess they could have sacrificed the dog and completed the ritual but, who wants to kill an innocent dog? So the Shambling Mound was summoned and there was a loooong battle. Miles hit it with some magic and Lady Ellarian stuck it with her longsword more times than I could count but in the end they were triumphant.

Then chaos broke loose. The house began tumbling down around them. We ran a skill challenge for them to escape before sudden death. They had to succeed on four skill checks before getting three failures. Using dexterity, stealth, acrobatics and deception, they were able to avoid various obstacles and survive.

What did they find once they got outside of the house? A gift basket from Strahd himself with four potions of healing and a thank you note for dealing the the “Death House” for him.

To say the players feel off balance would be an understatement I think. They are essentially stranded on a road that leads one way and have to basically walk into the town where they know things can’t be good.

What I would do different

Here’s what I would do different next time I run this part.

  1. I would use Lancelot more as an early warning for characters to realize combat is coming.
  2. I would give even more clues about the whole situation of what lead up to the death of the Dursts.
  3. I would probably ratchet the Grick down a bit depending on how experienced the players I am playing with are. That thing hits really hard once it has hold of you.
  4. I would find more opportunities to have Rose and Thorn show up. (By the way if you use Rose and Thorn, showing their picture just kind of makes it so the characters won’t trust them. They can actually be helpful to the characters so I hid their picture from my players.)

I’ll be back next time to tell you what happens on the road to the Village of Barovia.

f you want to get a physical copy of Curse of Strahd for yourself, check it out below.

Cursedly Yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 3

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple rules and went through the Introduction of the simple rules with you. Today I am going to talk about the step by step process of creating a character. This is the first chapter of the simple rules and is a good outline of what we need to do in order to have a character. We won’t be able to go into everything in this post alone so keep an eye out for each section as we go along.

CHAPTER 1: STEP-BY-STEP CHARACTERS

Here’s the list of things you need to do to create a character according to the simple rules.

  1. Choose a Race
  2. Choose a Class
  3. Determine Ability Scores
  4. Describe Your Character
  5. Choose Equipment
  6. Come Together

Additionally this chapter talks about what happens beyond 1st level.

If you ask me, some of that list seems obvious and some of it seems pretty difficult. The first time I read Dungeons & Dragons rules, I was scratching my head for a while and had to read through everything, go back and figure it out again. I mean, equipment sounds easy right? I get that characters need stuff. But what’s an ability score and how do I figure it out? Why am I describing my character after choosing a class and race? Aren’t those things descriptions of my character? And then of course, what are the levels, what do I do with that? This can all be overwhelming and confusing. I am hoping to make this a little less painful and also, let you know the parts that are a little more flexible with kids.

As usual, the secret to all this, is right in the text at the beginning of the chapter. Here’s the beginning of the first chapter of the Simple Rules. “Your first step in the Dungeons & Dragons game is to imagine and create a character of your own. Your character is a combination of game statistics, roleplaying hooks, and your imagination.”

Don’t let the word statistics scare you off there. The point is, you (or your kids) need to just imagine what type of character you want to play. You could simply have them describe their character to you and go on and play, without even figuring out the game statistics. You’d just have to make judgement calls on whether or not it is reasonable that their character accomplished something.

Still, most of us want rules and structure around this game. So let me go into brief detail about each of these sections. I’ll also give you my advice on whether or not to focus on each section the first time you play with kids.

The main thing to remember here is that this game is about storytelling so make sure it’s a story your kid wants to help tell. The best way to do that? Make sure they get to make a character they really want to play.

Let’s dive into the steps.

CHOOSE A RACE

This one seems obvious to me, but then again I have played D&D for a long time. Your kid needs to decide what kind of a character they are going to play. As it says in the chapter, “Every character belongs to a race, one of the many intelligent humanoid species in the D&D world.”

You might be thinking, great but what does that mean exactly and what are the choices? Okay so for this game you get several options as far as race goes. Now, I am operating under the assumption that you are playing in a fantasy type setting. However, if your kids are more into superheroes or whatever, you can adapt these races to fit your narrative. For example, Elves are graceful, wise creatures and Dwarves are bold and hardy. So just think of characters from the world that you are imagining and fit those to that description.

The races that you have as options in the simple rules are as follows: Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Human, Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc and Tiefling.

Some of those probably seem obvious and you’ve likely seen some portrayal of them in popular media. Others might just seem like someone typed a jumble of letters in a keyboard and hoped for the best. I’ll give a super brief description of each one here but in later posts we’ll take a deep dive into each one.

Dwarf– This is pretty much what you would guess. Strong, hardy folk who love to mine, drink ale and fight. They are tough and they are difficult to poison. They can be a really fun race to play in the game and most kids can wrap their heads around this one.

Elf- Again, this one seems pretty straightforward. If you have seen Lord of the Rings, you have a pretty good idea of what an Elf is like. They are kind of mystical, very graceful, often wise but they can also be lethal when called to action.

Halfling- There are not a ton of Halfling examples to point to outside of The Hobbit, so if you are thinking of Bilbo or Frodo Baggins, that’s exactly what Halflings are all about. They are small, live for a long time, and most of them are not big on traveling everywhere all the time. That said, there are always a few that want to go on an adventure and Halflings can be really fun to play.

Human- I don’t think there is much to explain here. Humans do have the advantage in this game of sort of being a jack of all trades and can learn stuff easier than some of the other races listed, so that’s something to keep in mind when choosing a human. They do have the disadvantage of not getting racial bonuses in the game mechanics at the start, but like all real humans, they can improve over time.

Dragonborn- A what now? Yeah, Dragonborn you may not be familiar with. These are basically dragons walking on two feet. They don’t have all the characteristics of dragons but they are scaley, they look like they are tough (because they are) and they can in fact use a breath weapon that does a type of damage that an actual dragon from the game would do (just on a smaller scale).

Gnome- These folks are small and energetic. They’re even smaller than Halflings and are endlessly curious. They love to live life and are enthusiastic about just about everything and that can make them excellent adventurers.

Half-Elf- This is a combination of an Elf and a human. They walk between two worlds but are never entirely accepted in either. This can be a little hard to role play as a kid, but if they want to be a little bit elf, and a little bit human, this is a great race to choose. The fact that these characters don’t quite belong anywhere makes them very good at being diplomatic and understanding the needs of others.

Half-Orc- Unlike Half-Elves, the Half-Orc stands out in a crowd no matter where they go. They look like Orcs and many people mistrust them. This could be due in part to the fact that a lot Half-Orcs are very strong and quick to anger. This is a great race to play if your kid wants to be a fighter.

Tiefling- Again, this might be one you have never heard of. These creatures look like demons but in humanoid form. They have a very tough time fitting in to society because everyone assumes the worst at first glance. The fact is though, that there are plenty of good Tieflings who just want to have an adventure.

Like with everything in D&D, you don’t have to play to the classic type on these. If you want to play an Elf who is clumsy, go for it. A dwarf who can’t stand being in a mine? Sure thing, no one is stopping you. Let your kids have fun with the race they choose.

CHOOSE A CLASS

To make this part easy, just think of this as the job that the character does. Like with races, I will do a post with a deep dive into each of these.

Here are the options you have for class: Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlocks, and Wizard.

I’ll again give you a super brief description of these.

Barbarian- Barbarians are excellent fighters, they tend to like being outdoors, they love to be in the thick of battle and are quick to anger.

Bard- Bards are entertainers to the core, be it through music, poetry or some other means. Bards are excellent at supporting other characters with their magic and can make the whole party better at anything they are trying to do.

Cleric- Clerics get their strength through the gods. They can wield powerful healing magic or deal devastating damage and they are imbued with divine magic.

Druid- Always in tune with nature, Druids never try to claim control over it. These characters use natural forces and natural magic to accomplish their goals. One of the neatest things about this class for kids is that some of them can change into animal forms which makes for an endless amount of role play opportunity.

Fighter- Yes, this is what it sounds like. Fighters are good at fighting. There are a ton of different options for how you fight, but all fighter are, well… good in a fight.

Monk- The strength of a Monk flows from within. Unlike fighters, most Monks don’t use weapons but they can pull magic out of themselves. If you have seen any of the best of the Bruce Lee movies, you have a great idea of what a Monk is and can do.

Paladin- Paladins are bound by oaths to stand against the forces of evil. They are the closest to knights of the round table that this game gets. They try to do the honorable thing, whatever way they interpret that. They are capable of great fighting and strong magic and are a highly playable class.

Ranger- Rangers roam the wilderness on the hunt for monsters that threaten the lands. They tend to be loners and isolated but never forget the people they fight for. They are very good at surviving in the wild and are great at hunting and tracking.

Rogue- Rogues are stealthy and skillful. They are good problem solvers and pick things up quickly. While not every rogue is a thief, a great many thieves are in fact rogues. They are excellent for sneaking into a lair and dealing massive damage through their sneak attacks.

Sorcerer- Sorcerers are gifted with magic through a number of methods but unlike wizards, it’s not from book learning. You can’t learn to be a sorcerer, you either are one or you are not. They are fantastic at magic spells and can do a great many things, however, the magic can sometimes go a little astray and cause damage to themselves and others. This is a very fun class to play because of the unpredictability of their magic.

Warlock- Warlocks make pacts with supernatural beings to gain knowledge of magic. They are beholden to these beings and the role play potential with this class is enormous from that fact alone.

Wizard- The most traditional of magic users, this class learns from books and a natural talent for magic how to cast spells. Think Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter and you have a great idea of a wizard.

DETERMINE ABILITY SCORES

To me this is the hardest part of making a character and when it comes to playing with kids, the least important. For now, my advice is this. Understand what the ability scores are, and have your kids just choose one of them that their character is good at.

So what are the abilities that there are? Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. I’ll give you the two second take on each one and like I said, just have your kid choose one that their character is good at.

Strength- Just what it sounds like, how strong you are.

Dexterity- How nimble you are. Can you dodge a sword blow? Can you you dodge under a falling rock before it hits you? Then you have good dexterity.

Constitution- This is how hardy you are. Can you eat anything and never get sick? Is it tough to poison you? Then you have good constitution.

Intelligence- This is basically your book smarts. You want high intelligence if you are a wizard but anyone can be intelligent if they put enough effort into it.

Wisdom- This is your life experience. You might not be educated in the traditional sense, but you can tell when someone is trying to fool you.

Charisma- This is essentially how charming you are. An important note on this one, is that charming doesn’t always mean kind. In Harry Potter, Voldemort is charismatic because he has many followers that do what he says. If you want to be able to influence people, for good or bad, Charisma is important.

DESCRIBE YOUR CHARACTER

This is taking the character you have so far and giving her personality and a back story. I’ll go into the options on this more in a later post but the possibilities here are as endless as storytelling itself. This is the spot where imagination really helps. That being said, there are some short cuts you can use in the simple rules to drive your imagination.

CHOOSE EQUIPMENT

Each character is going to need stuff. A swordsman needs a sword, a wizard needs a spell book and materials to make spells with. Some of the equipment is automatically given based on a characters class and background but there are options to buy the equipment using the gold in the game. I’m obviously not going to go into every item that can be purchased but the simple rules have a handy section for that. I would just say, try to make the equipment purchases be something that makes sense for the character and the type of adventure you are trying to have.

COME TOGETHER

This is just having the players form up as a team. This is usually done through role play with the Dungeon Master at the beginning of a campaign. There are an infinite number of ways this can happen so be creative here.

GET YOUR KIDS EXCITED ABOUT PLAYING

This is not an official step in the rules but I highly recommend it before playing.

In my next posts I am going to start going through each race in more detail. But before I end this post, I wanted to point you to some resources to help your kids start to think about what kind of character they want to play. Lucky for us, Wizards of the Coast, the company that publishes Dungeons & Dragons has a bunch of resources for this.

I’m not pushing you to buy these but if you do decide to and order through my site, it will help out the site a ton. If you are considering buying these books, consider purchasing through this post, it will not cost you anything extra at all.

I will eventually do a review of each one of these books but suffice it to say that both of these are great at getting kids excited about playing D&D.

Warriors and Weapons is a primer on characters you can play and the kind of equipment they can use. It has great pictures, easy to digest information and is a really fun read, even if you are an adult.

Wizards & Spells is dedicated to the magic users and beings in the game. It’s a great little primer on magical characters and creatures and will give kids a good idea of what can be done in the game with magic.

I actually think the whole series of these books are great but the two above are the best for learning about characters and what they can do. Even if your kids can’t read, the illustrations convey a ton of information so I highly recommend them.

Next time I am going to take a deep dive and delve into the world of Dwarves. Until next time, I hope you all stay safe and have fun. Roll high!

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Curse of Strahd – Campaign Diary Session 1

DriveThruRPG.com

Hey everyone out there, it’s your friendly Dungeon Master Slick here. I’ve had a lot of time to hang out with some friends lately and we decided to play a little game you may have heard of called Dungeons & Dragons. We wanted to go with Curse of Strahd since none of us had played it before. I got to be the Dungeon Master and I have two players playing. Before you ask, yes we did this while practicing social distancing. I stayed in my dungeon and they stayed in theirs and we played online. If you click the link above for Strahd, do be advised that it is for Fantasy Grounds that is an online platform you can use to play Dungeons & Dragons, not just a PDF you can download. I will also provide a link at the end of the post where you could get a physical copy of the book if you want.

A couple notes before I get into the game session here. First, if you have been reading my Kids Kill Monsters series about playing Dungeons & Dragons with kids, this post is not about that. I will get back to doing those posts soon but I really do not recommend Strahd for kids or dungeon masters new to the game because it gets a little complicated, there are dark horror elements to it, and there are so many ways this can end up going wrong. That said, if you have a kid who loves horror (I have since I was like eight years old) and you feel they are mature and sophisticated enough to take on some pretty dark stuff, have at it. Also, there will be spoilers for the module of Curse of Strahd so if you are a player who is either about to play or is currently playing this campaign, you should probably not read this. That goes double for my players! Don’t read this guys.

I’ll wait for players to exit the room and we have all Dungeon Masters or would be Dungeon Masters here.

Okay the coast is clear, DM’s read on.

In these diaries, it’s my intention to tell you what I did to prepare, how the session played out, and what I would try to change or improve the next time. I hope you’ll find the story a little bit entertaining but mostly I hope I can give some advice to anyone interested in running this campaign for themselves. I’m going to be writing these campaign diaries with the assumption that you know at least a little bit about how the game is played but if anything in here seems confusing, feel free to ask about it in the comments. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Preparation

I’m going to give you the most obvious advice ever but, if you want to run a campaign well, one thing you have to do is… read the module. Yeah, I know, you probably know this already. In order to prepare I did just that. I read the book. After reading the book, I still had a ton of questions on how I wanted to run certain things, and how certain things worked.

If you have read this module you will know that there is this sort of Tarot card style reading using what they call a Tarokka deck. You can use regular playing cards to do this reading, as long as you have all 54 cards in the deck (jokers included). The module tells you to do this reading once on your own and once with players. I highly recommend practicing this a few times. I think I have it down, but that hasn’t been put to the test yet because my players have not gotten to the point where they would have their reading done.

Once I read the module and I felt like I had a somewhat decent handle on how it’s supposed to run, I started scouring the internet for resources. I love the Gothic horror aspect of the campaign, although I do cringe at some of the parts of the module that seem like they might lead into uncomfortable territory for players. I did find a really handy resource though and if you want to run this campaign, I think you should definitely check out this channel, and the resources on it. Lunch Break Heroes has thoroughly turned up the narration and the horror on this campaign to eleven. I linked to the whole play list of his videos for the campaign below so you might want to start with the earliest videos about adventure hooks and running the “Death House” module first.

If you would rather read through his awesome guide, you can get it here on his Curse of Strahd Reloaded reddit thread.

I took the parts that I liked from the module and from the book and added a little of my own flavor to how I thought things should go. Once I was prepped, we met to make characters.

Characters

One player decided to be Lady Ellarian Brysalor, a wood elf noble fighter with a tragic past and the huge burden of having inherited a large estate after her whole family was wiped out in a zombie attack. (My players decided to make it a zombie attack because I have zombie anxiety dreams and they thought it would be funny… so yeah there’s that.)

Also just a side note, I am not sure where the pictures I am posting below come from so if anyone knows, let me know and I will credit the source. Or if you own the image and want it removed just let me know and I will take it down.

The other player created the character of Miles Adelard a human Acolyte Sorcerer also with a tragic back story. When Miles was young, his family was killed by a cult of some kind. Later in life he was adopted by a kind hearted family. They taught him the ways of Lathander and he became a devote religious student. Sadly, his family was also attacked and killed by what may be the same cult as before.

I don’t know why my players both wanted to have their entire families dead at the beginning of this but Strahd is definitely dark enough to encompass this sort of thing.

We decided to start everyone at level one. I’m not going to put all their stats and stuff here but if you really want me to, just let me know in the comments. Since we were going to begin with level one, I had to make a couple of decisions. First, what adventure hook did I want to play and, should I run the so called, “Death House” module that is in the appendix of the book.

I decided to go with the “Mysterious Visitors” adventure hooks with a couple of the changes from the reddit thread I posted above. In this hook, basically, the characters start in Daggerford, are asked to deal with some bandits who turn out to be Vistani from Barovia (the realm that Strahd rules over) who then ask the characters to come and help them. I added in the little plot idea that Madam Eva, an important NPC that shows up later in the game has sent them some dreams that have haunted them for the past few nights.

I also decided to run the Death House module which was a little trickier because we weren’t starting in Barovia. The reason I didn’t want to start in Barovia was twofold. First, my players are quite familiar with The Sword Coast and were pretty good with starting there. Secondly, I like the idea of feeling like you pass from one realm to another, with no way out. Again taking a cue from the reddit thread above, I placed the house, rebranded Durst Manor just outside of the village of Barovia.

After all that was set, we were ready to play.

The first session

At the beginning I leaned hard into the roleplay. I wanted to set the tone and the mood early on, so I didn’t just read the boxed text that says the characters are having dinner with Lady Morwen. She’s a noble character so I thought it made sense that she would know Lady Ellarian Brysalor. Miles was accompanying her because they had in the past befriended one another when Miles was curing one of Ellarian’s townsfolk and asked for no repayment or reward. From then on, the two of them had become fast friends and often traveled together. Ellarian had some business to take care of in Daggerford and got the invite to dinner with Lady Morwen.

While at dinner, Lady Morwen made it known that there had been some trouble outside the gates of town and her guards seemed like they had potentially been the subjects of a charm spell. Naturally the players offered up their assistance immediately.

When Miles and Ellarian approached the Vistani wagons, they wanted to go in stealthily but Miles failed his stealth check badly so he fell on his face and the Vistani were well aware that the characters were traipsing around the camp.

In the book, Stanimir is supposed to be the leader of the Vistani here and tells a little story about Strahd and how he is more or less cursed and a tyrant. Then he is supposed to ask the players to come and free Strahd. I felt like that was a little too straight forward so I played Stanimir as if he was a little sketchy bur really friendly and warm. I think the book expects for the players to suddenly think these people are totally harmless even though Lady Morwen is suspicious of them. If I did this over, I think I would have just made Lady Morwen ask the characters to conduct some business on her behalf instead of cast the Vistani in a poor light right from the get-go. I did even have one player say during the story that it felt like an adventure hook. He was right of course and he’s an experienced player so I am not surprised by it, but I didn’t want it to feel quite so railroaded. I also took the advice from that reddit thread above to say that the characters could share stories with the Vistani before Stanimir did his. Miles told an excellent impromptu legend about a dragon that swooped in to save some heroes during a mighty battle. It was a really great role playing experience and was my favorite part of the session. Then Stanimir started talking about the same woman that the characters had seen in their dreams, Madam Eva. I won’t say it convinced the players to go, but it didn’t hurt.

In the module Lady Morwen basically wants the characters to leave by dawn but the characters are supposed to go with them. I felt like this part did not work at all because also in the module the Vistani in this camp agree immediately to leave at dawn anyway. So mission accomplished. Like I said above, if I ran this again I would change a bit of what Lady Morwen is asking here. Lesson learned for next time.

After a bit of back and forth, the players went back and reported to Lady Morwen what they had seen. The players were still really suspicious of Stanimir. In order to get them to sympathize a little more with the Vistani I revealed that Lady Morwen’s servant had been caught trying to steal the Vistani’s wine, so they roughed him up for that. I even had Lady Morwen go apologize to Stanimir to get them to agree to go in the wagons toward Barovia.

In the module as written, the characters travel a while with the Vistani and then the forest suddenly becomes unrecognizable as the fog creeps in around everyone. The players don’t know it but this is a plane shift. Of course, when I described it to them, the players lost it on Stanimir and got pretty mad at him. Stanimir talked them down a bit as if it was no big deal but told them that it would be a bad idea to go into the fog on their own.

In order for the Death House module to work, it made the most sense to me to have Stanimir leave the characters when they were just outside Barovia. He stops the wagons, confesses that Madam Eva has banished Stanimir and his group and that his punishment is to bring people to these lands until someone frees Barovia of Strahd. He then splits out of town in a hurry.

The rain starts to pour and it gets late. As the characters are stumbling around in the dark, they see a lantern. They make their way over to it and see a girl with her little brother. The girl tells the characters that there is a monster in their house and they are worried about their little brother. I honestly thought I would get to role play this part a little more. Rose and Thorn are the siblings here and I did find them pretty interesting in the book. But the players were just like, yep, let’s go save that kid, find the basement! Hehehe… trap sprung.

I will say that one of the really smart bits of advice in the reddit thread is to not call this part Death House. I’ve just been referring to it as Durst Manor. I think the players are aware that they are in a haunted house but they have no idea what they are really in for.

They spent the rest of the session trying to figure out how to get to the basement. In the dining room there was a magnificent feast laid out and Miles took a huge bite out of a pheasant. I had him make a DC 15 wisdom save. He rolled a 7. After a minute the food turned rotted and to what it really was and Miles is currently poisoned.

It wasn’t all bad for poor Miles though, as he did find a very serviceable crossbow in one of the cabinets. The players then figured out that there was no access to the basement from the first floor, that the front door was locked, and that the only way to go on is up.

That’s where we will be headed next time.

What I would do different

Here’s what I would do different next time I run this part.

  1. Reduce the role of Lady Morwen and her demands or start the characters right in Barovia.
  2. . Play up the dreams that Madam Eva sends more (this is straight from the reddit thread not from the Curse of Strahd module so don’t look for it there)
  3. Find a way to get a little more star time for Rose and Thorn.
  4. Make the Vistani a little less suspicious but definitely keep the storytelling around the fire.

I’m sure there are lots of other mistakes I made but I would say overall it was a really fun session. I’ll be back to tell you all how the next session goes once we have had it.

If you want to get a physical copy of Curse of Strahd for yourself, check it out below.

Cursedly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

I’m Geeking Out Over the Comic and RPG Goodness Available Today

DriveThruRPG.com

Hi everyone, Slick Dungeon here and I just saw a bunch of awesome comic and RPG stuff that you can get your hands on for relatively cheap and wanted to share these with you. I’ve listed the deals below in no particular order.

Bloodshot: Definitive Edition

Hardcore comic book fans will be well aware of this but if you don’t know, the Valiant comics universe is one of the most underrated comics universes out there. They have a huge wealth of characters and stories to choose from. One of the most beloved is Bloodshot. Today you can get the Definitive edition, which is the first 14 issues for just $12.49. It’s a great deal and if you haven’t read this, I am envious because you’re in for a great ride. It’s intended for readers 12 and up. No matter whether you think Vin Diesel is the right guy to play him, the Bloodshot comic is well worth a read.

Valiant Universe RPG: Transcendent’s Edge

Once you have read up on the Valiant Universe you might do like I do a lot of times, find yourself itching to play a game set in that universe. Well, good news! If you have $9.99 (discounted today but I’m not sure for how much longer) you can get in on the action. This book is a campaign setting for the Valiant Universe RPG. The summary of it below has me itching to play this. This is a campaign book so it won’t give you the full set of rules BUT it does give some expanded rules and characters to play around with. If you want the rules, though I have good news. It won’t cost you a penny: Valiant Universe RPG Rules

From DriveThruComics – Hidden beneath Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is a massive, secret Project Rising Spirit facility. Powered by unknown energies, it can morph and transform itself at will to keep horrific villians, creatures, and alien entities trapped within, while allowing endless experimentation. But rumors of the facility’s existence and its most prized possession have leaked, and the Valiant Universe’s most powerful organizations—the Harbinger Foundation, the Sect, the Abettors, and many more—are taking an interest. And the world may never be the same…

Dark Astral: Chapbook for Zweihander RPG

If you play Dungeons & Dragons you may be familiar with Zweihander’s Grim & Perilous adventures. It’s still a fantasy setting but it encourages more… morally ambiguous actions than D&D tends too. It’s a really fun setting and I enjoy it as a more sophisticated game when playing with adults. This chapbook is only $9.99 (again discounted today but I am not sure for how long) and is perfect for fans of things like Dune. This is another one I am itching to play and since my buddies and I have extra time on our hands, I’ll be doing it soon. Check out their blurb below. If you need the core rule book this will run you a little more but it’s hours and hours of fun. Check it out here if you need it: Grim & Perilous Core Rule Book

From DrivethruRPG – DARK ASTRAL casts the familiar trappings of ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG through the lens of Biblically-inspired science fantasy. Steeped in superstition and living in the wake of an apocalypse, Characters struggle against the dangers of unknown Eden. Humanity ekes out existence within the crashed flotilla-megalopolis of Outremer. Inspired by Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unrealized take on Dune, mixed with a healthy influence of Xenogears and gritty science fantasy, this chapbook expands your ZWEIHÄNDER game into a whole new world of grim terror. Inside, you’ll find six unique Professions, a host of technological trappings and all-new weapons, gear and mods.

Elder Scrolls Call to Arms

I think I may have saved the best for last here. If you love Skyrim or Oblivion or any of the other Elder Scrolls video games, why not expand that into tabletop war gaming with your friends? Right now for $5 you can get The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Quests. That’s less than a latte would cost you, and you probably can’t go get a latte at the moment anyway so why not use the money for hours of fun? But, even if you don’t want to spend the money on the quests, you can still get right into this RPG for pretty much no money. You can still get the following parts of the game for absolutely nothing: Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Core Rulebook, The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Escape from Helgen, and Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Dice Set Print N Play. The core rulebook has all the rules you need to play, Escape from Helgen is a good beginners guide and gives you some scenarios to get familiar with how to play the tabletop game and the dice set is cool if you just have regular dice to mess around with but want to fancy them up a bit.

In case you want to know more here’s the blurb from DrivethruRPG – The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms is a tabletop wargame set against the epic, sprawling backdrop of Tamriel. From the teeming cities of Cyrodiil to the towering mountains of Skyrim, across the ash-plains of Morrowind, and through the steaming swamps of Black Marsh, you must lead your Party of bold warriors on the path to glory. In this game, you must select a mighty champion to lead your Party, surrounding them with heroes and staunch followers. Players can take on quests, unearth magical artifacts, and fight roaming monsters as they do battle against their opponent, using a combination of strength, stealth and magic to win the day. Call to Arms is a simple game to learn, but a challenge to master; your Party can be assembled in an almost endless variety of ways, each unlocking new tactics and abilities with which to test your skill as a commander and challenge your enemies.

Honestly, I don’t usually find this much awesome stuff at once for cheap so I just had to share it with all of you. I hope you found this post helpful and found something to pass the time!

Excitedly yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS: Need some dice? You can get them here: Dice Envy

DriveThruRPG.com

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 2

It’s your friendly DM Slick Dungeon, back again with a few tips for preparing to play Dungeons & Dragons with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kids, why playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple rules.

Haven’t read the rules yet? No problem, we are going to start at the beginning of the rules and talk about the Introduction which includes Worlds of Adventure, a little bit about How to Play and Adventures. I’m going to pull out the key ingredients from those sections that will make gaming with kids fun and easy.

Introduction

The first sentence of the rules says, “The Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game is about storytelling in worlds of swords and sorcery.” Notice how they say it’s about storytelling? That’s the emphasis here. A lot of kids will absolutely love sword and sorcery worlds. But not all kids. We’ll get more into this later but if your kids love robots and can’t stand knights of the round table stuff, this game can still be for them. My recommendation here is that whatever your kid is most into, that’s what you want to set your world in. It’s fine if rather than barbarians running around, you have a bunch of ponies making friends with each other. (They do have a different game for that if you want but we’re not talking about that one here) The point is to have fun and tell a story. What stories do your kids love? Those are the stories they will be into. It can be a show they watch, a book they read, or something completely original that you make up based on thoughts in your own head.

The next part of the intro goes into a long description of the surroundings followed by comments made by players about what they want their characters to do. For teens and adults it’s a great description and works well to demonstrate how DM’s and players can go about playing. For kids, it’s way too much description.

Unless you have kids who are really into fine details, describing the location should be relatively brief. You want to point out any important points, especially things where their characters might do something. The clue in this is the player comments. One player wants to look at the gargoyles. The other one is trying to check out the drawbridge. As a dungeon master you probably already know the gargoyles could be more than statues waiting to attack, or whether or not the drawbridge is a trap. If you run D&D with kids and you want to describe a castle that has gargoyles and a bridge that their characters should check out, I would do it like this. “You come up on a big castle. It has a rickety old drawbridge and some creepy looking statues that look like gargoyles. What do you want to do?” That’s going to keep from overloading them with unnecessary detail while also highlighting the things they might have their characters do. And for kids, sometimes they will need more of an A or B option than the open ended what do you do? In this case you might even suggest that some things they could do are, get a closer look at the statues or the bridge. When you start out, I would go with minimalist descriptions. but if your kids get into it, you can definitely make it more as time goes by. Just test it out a bit and see what works for them.

The next part of the intro has the player characters making checks with the dice. Do give your kids the chance to role the dice often. They will likely enjoy the feel and action of rolling, but don’t make it the main focus of the game. The point is the story, so if it’s something that their character can even reasonably do, just let it work. We’ll get more into when and when not to roll dice later in this series of blog posts but my rule of thumb is, if the kid is getting kind of fidgety and could use the distraction of a dice roll, call for one. If not, keep the story going as much as possible, as long as they are contributing.

The next part of the intro talks about the difference between a player and a Dungeon Master. Other than the cool title, the main thing to know is that the DM is the describer of the situation and the decider of the rules. And that’s pretty much it. The players get to be the heroes, you get to provide the world in which they are heroes.

They go on to describe a campaign. I think the easiest comparison is in a television series. An episode of a television series would be a session of game play. That is, it’s a short bit of the story. The campaign is the entire season. And just like some shows can have more than one season, some campaigns can go on longer than others. For now. you don’t need to have a full campaign figured out. What you’ll need most in the coming weeks is a good amount of material for a session. But not yet. For right now, you just need to know the difference between the campaign and the session. So again, one session is an episode and a campaign is a season.

The next thing I want to highlight in this section is vitally important to having a good understanding of the game. “There’s no winning and losing in the Dungeons & Dragons game– at least not the way those terms are usually understood.” Okay so a few things here. Kids can get really black and white and will want to know if they, “won” almost every session. If they had fun, they won. If you had fun, and they had fun, everyone won. Yes, they can win a combat or defeat the big boss of the campaign and they might think of that as winning. If they do, that’s fine. But it’s not like Monopoly. This is cooperative storytelling, not a winner takes all game. If they lose a combat, they can also take that poorly. In that instance you will want to remind the kids that there is no real, “winning” or “losing”. You can even point them to the rule book and show them that is exactly what is printed on the page. This is one of my absolute favorite things about this game. It’s not about beating someone else, it’s about imagining yourself doing incredible things, along with a bunch of other people also imagining themselves do incredible things.

One note I have here about the section on winning and losing. It says that some characters might come to a grisly end and that maybe the rest of the adventurers can revive that character or the player can change to a new one. With kids? Don’t do that. Don’t kill their characters. If they want to change characters, that is totally fine, just figure out a way to incorporate the new character but if you take nothing else from this post, just never, ever, kill a kid’s character. It’s devastating to them. Just don’t tell them that you will never kill their character.

Worlds of Adventure

This section is cool to read but there is really only one key ingredient you need to pull out of it when playing with kids. “The worlds of the Dungeons & Dragons game exist within a vast cosmos called the multiverse… Within this multiverse are an endless variety of worlds.” Did you catch that? You can literally set your D&D world anywhere. Want it to be a fictional place where there is a weakling prince who rides a big cat and transforms himself into a powerful warrior by saying some magic words? You got it. Want your world to take place where there are glittery vampires who are obsessed with one average high school student because of the way she smells? No problem. (I might not recommend that one for kids but whatever floats your boat) Want to set your world where it’s the future and there is a robotic boy hero that flies around a modern city, helping citizens? There is plenty of room for you to do that. Now, you might need to change some of the “monsters” that are available in the simple rules, but you are completely allowed to do that. This really is why I think D&D is an awesome game for kids. There’s not a lot of limitation imposed on it.

Now if you are overwhelmed and you feel like, there is no way you can make all these adjustments and come up with your own world, don’t worry. Also, if you are thinking, but I love the classic D&D stuff, I want my kid to fight a dragon and go in a dungeon, also don’t worry. There are modules put out by Wizards of the Coast that you can use that make it pretty easy to have a story to tell with your kids. You might still need to make some adjustments but you don’t have to start from scratch.

The next part of this section just tells you how to use the rule book so I am not going to go over that. We’ll go through section by section until we have made it through all of them.

How to Play

This section has a lot of good information in it and sums things up nicely. However, it can be a little daunting for someone who has never played before, kids included. I’m going to pull out what I think is important here.

The first part that is really useful is the description of the pattern that is used in game play.

They list it like this.

  1. The DM describes the environment
  2. The players describe what they want to do
  3. The DM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions

They don’t add lather, rinse, repeat but they might as well have. That’s actually a really good summary of how games should go. Tell the kids where they are. Let them tell you what they want to do. Decide if they can do it. If it’s a maybe, have them roll dice. Decide if the dice rolled high enough for it to happen or not. Narrate what happens. Do it over again.

I don’t have a lot to add here because they pretty much nailed it on the first try, whether you play with kids, adults or someone in between.

They next go over the dice. I did that before so I am just going to say, if you need some dice, check out Dice Envy. They make really good dice.

Next they talk about rolling dice and adding modifiers. This may or may not work for your kid. I’ll get into how I do it later on, but if your kid can’t do addition and subtraction, can’t count past 10 or are very math averse, adding up bonuses, modifiers and penalties can be a real chore and feel like homework. This is a section you may want to minimize as much as possible, and you can still make the game work without a lot of that stuff. As you kid learns more math and understands more of the game, you can add this stuff in.

Here is their description in brief.

  1. Roll the die and add a modifier
  2. Apply circumstantial bonuses and penalties
  3. Compare the results to a target number

In terms of younger kids, you are going to roll the dice, not worry about modifiers, apply bonuses and penalties but as a DM you should be doing that, and compare the results to a target number. That target number is generally going to be what tells you if the player fails or succeeds.

The whole point is to figure out if the player does the thing they are trying to do. So, I feel like the third step here is what is really important, and why we can get away with fewer modifiers.

They then get into Difficulty Class and Armor Class but we’ll talk about those further along the rules. It’s just a way to figure out how tough something to do is.

Advantage and Disadvantage are the next topics. I think this system is great, and really good for kids. Basically, there are some situations where you will have the players roll twice instead of once. If they have advantage, they get to pick the higher number. If they have disadvantage, they have to choose the lower number. It’s also a great way to reinforce counting. This calls for doing it with a D20 but if your kid can only count to 10, I have a really easy solution. Use a D10 instead. They still have the 50/50 shot of succeeding most of the time, although I know, the D20 changes the probability mathematically (depending on the situation), but we’re talking about younger kids here. They just need to know if what they tried to do worked or failed.

The rest of this section leaves you with two rules that you really should know, even if they don’t make total sense right now. Firstly, specific rules beat general rules. I can give you an example here. Generally, players cannot fly. Specifically, if a player has a magic spell that says they can fly, that character can fly, even though others can’t.

The last rule in this section is Round Down. This is pretty straight forward but it comes up more often than you might think. If at any time, you are dividing a number and you come up with a fraction, round down, even if the fraction is greater than one half. It takes some getting used to but if you see a fraction, just round down.

Adventures

This section starts off by talking more about the whole idea of heroes adventuring in a shared story, like those in a television series as mentioned above. They talk about longer and shorter adventures. One rule I have for kids is this, the adventures are short, the heroes are long. That is you can use the same characters as many times as the kids want but keep your session short. Less is more.

Then they talk about the three pillars of adventure.

  1. Exploration
  2. Social Interaction
  3. Combat

Exploration can be really fun for kids but it can get tedious because it sometimes takes a lot of time and description. Like I said above, keep the descriptions brief and expand as needed.

Social Interaction can be really fun. It’s where you get to act as the characters that the kids are talking to. If you are able to ham it up, and be goofy, your kids will loooove this. If you don’t feel like you can do this and it’s embarrassing , that’s okay, every Dungeon Master has felt that way at one time, Matt Mercer included. It’s not strictly necessary for you to ham it up and be silly, but try it and you might find yourself getting really into it.

Combat can be tricky. You need to know what your kid is comfortable with. Some kids are just going to want smash, slash and destroy stuff. If you and your kid are okay with that, no problem go for it. If you need to tone it down, that’s something you will have to work on. There are tricks for this and I’ll get into it when we get to the combat section of the rules. But for now, just know that if you are pretty sure that your kid (or anyone who might be listening in on your session while you are playing) would be horrified to hear that he just chopped off a creature’s head and threw it’s agonized body down a well, don’t describe that. You can always make it more later as they get older.

Combat also has the most rules around it (maybe with the exception of magic) so it’s something you probably are going to need to simplify both for kids and to make yourself a little more sane.

The next section talks about Magic. This is a subject that’s a little too broad to get into here but suffice to say, there are special rules for magic and as the Dungeon Master, what you are going to need to know is what the spell should do. Most of the time the name of the spell gives a clue but not always, so we’ll go over in more depth later. And yes, your magic might actually be, the arc reactor blast that comes out of a super suited chest plate instead of what is written in the rules, but you can still use the same idea of the spells.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post and found something or other of value out of it. I’m really excited about the next post I am going to be doing because we are going to make some characters and this is finally, finally, a step where the kids can participate!

Introductorily yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a comission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

DriveThruRPG.com

Horror Fans: Get a 500+ Page RPG Book for Free today 3/20!

Slick Dungeon here. I just wanted to let you guys know about a really good deal on DriveThruRPG.com. Just a note though, this one is not for kids so if you have been reading my posts about playing role playing games with kids, this one is not for them. It’s too good of a deal for me not to tell you about though.

Wraith is a horror RPG where you start off as a ghost or undead who cannot rest. There is no heaven or hell for these creatures, just the Underworld where you start, the Oblivion below and Transcendence above. It sounds like a really cool game and perfect for anyone looking for something a little darker to play. While I haven’t played this edition personally, the publisher Onyx Path Publishing is responsible for the excellent and always evolving Vampire: The Masquerade which I have played and always have a good time with. You can get the 571 page PDF for nothing right now. It’s normally $29.99 and looks like it is full of rich, moody art that is absolutely perfect for any horror fan out there.

Wraith is free today 3/20 only. If you haven’t grabbed a copy and you need something to do once you have screened everything you can on Shudder, pick this up, find a few friends to video chat with and whip up some ghostly, ghouls and otherwise undead and unleash the adventure in the Underworld. I know what I’ll be doing tonight.

Eerily yours,

Slick Dungeon

P.S. Need a full set of awesome gaming dice? Check out Skull Splitter!

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a comission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!