Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 7

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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, role playing an elf and role playing a halfling. Today we are going to talk about the easiest and hardest lesson all of us have to learn, how to be a human.

You would think that role playing a human would come naturally and easily to everyone. After all, we are all human (I assume) so it should come naturally. On the other hand, if you play a human that means you have the entirety of human experience to draw from. That’s a pretty large pool of experience. This can be hard to manage if you are an adult. I have good news for you though, it comes pretty naturally to kids. Kids understand what humans are because, well, they are also human (most of the time anyway). Some kids are just not into being an elf, dwarf, dragonborn, etc. There’s no problem with that because those children can play humans. The challenge for them might come into how humans relate to the other creatures in the game. It’s pretty easy for a human to forget how old and elf is, or for them not to understand that the reason a dwarf is angry at them has to do with something their great grandfather might have done.

Even in the game rules as set out, humans are everywhere. While there might be a few places you find few or none, most places in the game settings tend to have humans. If you want to experiment with that and have it be that humans are their own little civilization far apart from the rest of the creatures in the game, you are welcome to do that. The opposite is true, you can have humans just be everywhere all the time. That’s the way it usually is in my game. While orcs or elves or whatever might have a general attitude towards humans, each individuals’ opinion of them will vary. Not all orcs and humans have to hate each other, even though that’s the typical way it plays out. In fact it usually is the case that some humans and orcs get along because otherwise there would be no half-orcs. How you want to play that is up to you.

In the rules humans are not as specialized as the other playable races we will talk about. There’s not one skill that you can say, all humans are really good at that thing. So instead, they get to have all of their stats increase by one instead. There is a way you can change that with a variant rule where humans would instead be better at two abilities, one skill, and take what is called a feat. Feats are some kind of awesome thing that you can get to do in certain situations. Some dungeon masters absolutely hate these and will ban them from their game. Personally, I think they are pretty nifty, depending on what they are, and I love letting my players use them, but that’s just me. Just know that if you decide you want to let your kids take a feat, you should read what it is and see if it will completely interfere with what you think should happen in the game. Make sure you let your kid know why you are or are not letting them take that feat. For the purposes of the rest of this post, I am going to assume that you are not doing the variant rule but if you need to know more about that variant rule, check the text box in the basic rules, look at the feats, and then treat the human in the same way we did all the other playable races we have talked about.

Before I get into all the score increases etc., let me just give a word on names and locations that are listed in the rules. There is a whole section of names, and made up locations in the entry on humans in the basic rules. If you want to use those, absolutely knock yourself out. Personally, as a dungeon master, I have a really hard time keeping track of what human might be a Tethyrian vs a Reshemi vs an Illuskan etc. They give a bit of description and location as well as name suggestions for each human area in the game. Here’s what I do with that when I am playing with kids. I ignore that section. I mean, I do sometimes take the names out of those sections if I need to name a character or something but I don’t memorize all the rest of it. I figure that humans are everywhere and I can name my human any name from any human I want to. While playing with adults it might feel silly to name a character Jeff, just Jeff, kids will not mind this sort of thing at all. It’s all to your taste as a dungeon master. One thing I will recommend when it comes to names, and this goes for any non-playable character you have, don’t make the name one that is too difficult for your kids to pronounce. What those names are will vary kid by kid but it can be frustrating when they are trying to talk to someone and can’t say the name. If you do go with a name that is tough to say, maybe consider a nickname they can be addressed by as well.

One more note, some people will say that wanting to play a human fighter is boring and the most basic thing you can do in the game. Here’s why that is wrong. First, wanting to play a human fighter doesn’t mean you are boring, it means that… you want to play a human fighter. You know what’s wrong with playing a human fighter? Nothing if that’s what you want to play. Some of the mechanics are easier than other race/class combinations in the game but there’s still plenty of cool stuff to do with a fighter. Don’t discourage a kid from playing that if that’s what she wants to be in the game.

Now onto the traits

Human Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a human.

Ability Score Increase

Your ability scores increase by 1. That’s all six scores. Most other races only get one or two things to increase here.

Age

Do I really have to explain how humans age? I mean, think of humans. They are somewhere in that age range. Playing a 100 year old human is going to look a lot different than playing a 15 year old human.

Alignment

Humans come in all variations of good to terrible people. As usual, my recommendation here is to let kids play the hero. If they are really wanting to play an evil character, I would recommend telling them no in this instance. Most kids want to be the hero and having an evil character makes that very difficult for the rest of the people playing.

Size

Again, do I need to explain human size here? People come in shapes from Danny Devito to Shaquille O’neal. There is no right or wrong shape to play so let the kids have their characters look the way they want them to. For fame rule purposes, whether you are very small or very tall, your size is always considered medium.

Speed

While you might make the argument that humans can be faster or slower than this, the movement speed for humans is 30 feet.

Languages

Humans are able to speak Common and any one other language. Humans do tend to know a little bit of everything so if you want to have a human character speak more, that’s fine if that’s what you want to do. Also, as I have said before in earlier posts, if you have a campaign that is going to be dominated by one language, Giant, for example, make sure that your kids characters speak that. If you have a human character, that’s usually a good character to have speak any language needed.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Being Human

Kids are generally pretty good at being humans. They understand human emotions and attitudes because they have felt them. What can be tougher, really, is how kids who play humans relate to kids who play other playable races. Try to have kids remember that humans don’t live that long compared to other playable races. The other thing that humans have going for them is that their institutions outlive them. They might not know all of the history of something that has happened in the game world, but humans make written records, long lasting structures and organizations that exist for centuries. For that reason, humans can find answers to things they were not around for. Have kids who play humans lean into this if possible. When an elf comments how a human is gone in the blink of an eye, they might reply that the organization they are working for will be there long after the elf is gone.

As always, it should be played more or less how the kids want to and how it works best for you. You can feel free to use all the tips I gave here or ignore them all, just do what works best for your kids.

Next time we will start getting into what are called, “uncommon races” starting with Dragonborn.

Until then, please, practice being a good human.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Curse of Strahd – Campaign Diary Session 5

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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 too far, fair warning that this has spoilers for The Curse of Strahd.

You can read the first four campaign diaries here, 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 Tser Pool Encampment and the Vistani that live there, including Madam Eva. This section also has a key element of the campaign, which is the Tarokka reading, basically a fortune telling section, that determines where key items, allies and enemies will be during the campaign. I rehearsed this several times. I was hoping to have it memorized enough that I could do the reading without having to refer to the book but, there are 54 cards, a whole lot of text and a ton of variations on how this reading could turn out. I did end up improvising but I at least had the layout memorized and was able to still make it feel pretty special to the players (I think).

I also took a look at the reddit thread here. There is a section on the Tarokka reading and while I did end up using all the cards, there were still some useful tips in there, especially if you have played this before. I also prepared some random encounters as the session involved a bit of travel. I tend to like to have my random encounters pre-rolled so that there is less flipping of pages on my part when combat breaks out. That doesn’t mean you have to do it that way, but if you want to be a little more organized in your prep, I recommend always rolling for encounters and random treasure ahead of time.

The Fifth Session

At the start of the session, Ismark was ready to take Ireena to the town of Vallaki, where he believes the Burgomaster can shelter her. Of course, he has never met the Burgomaster himself and is pretty protective of his sister, so complications will undoubtedly arise. On the way, the party encountered three Scarecrows. They were able to handle them quite easily, although they did set a small forest fire. They put it out though. Miles Adelard is still getting his magic under control but he was able to display its power pretty well this session. Lady Elarian is growing as a fighter and although her go to move is to just attack it with a long sword, she is learning to use some of the fighter mechanics to benefit her attacks.

After the Scarecrows were dealt with, they arrived at the Tser Pool encampment. The Vistani all greeted them warmly, as if welcoming long lost family. They invited the PC’s to tell a story at the campfire. Miles told what basically amounted to the story of Orpheus, especially as told through the musical Hades Town. I thought that was great as my players are very well versed in musical theater and there are references in one way or another to Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, and Little Shop of Horrors dotted into my campaign. Some references come from the book itself, so that’s going to be pretty fun as they discover these things.

Tser Pool Encampment

Lady Elarian was much more tight lipped and Ismark and Ireena were more or less standoffish to the Vistani. At the end of the night, Madam Eva called the players into her tent.

Lady Elarian and Miles had woken up in a previous session to find the Sheperd and Anarchist cards in their possession after a dream was sent to them by Madam Eva. She first asked for them back and told them that she sent the cards because she felt they could help to free Barovia from Strahd. The players are pretty much just wanting to go home and Miles is pretty sure he can just have a rational conversation with Strahd to get out of there. Who knows, he might be right?

After a little bit of small talk and demands to know why they were there, Madam Eva did the Tarokka reading for them. I am going to spoil some locations of items here so if you happen to be a player, maybe don’t read this okay? Okay good.

Madam Eva
  1. The Tome of Strahd – This will be in the Wizard of Wines Winery. This is pretty good because 1., in Vallaki the Martikovs have visiting the winery as a ready made quest. And 2. because in the next session I have some Blight encounters ready for the players which should nicely foreshadow their enemies.
  2. The Holy Symbol of Ravenkind – This will be found in Castle Ravenloft in one of the crypts under the “Mad dog”. While this is likely to be the hardest item of the bunch for the group to find, I’m pretty thrilled with how they were left wondering who or what the mad dog is. They have a dog with them and think maybe there is some connection there (there isn’t) but otherwise they have no clue.
  3. The Sunword – This will be in Rictavio’s wagon. This is in the town of Vallaki so it’s likely to be the first item they get. Rictavio is a false identity for another character in the story, so my only concern here is when and how to reveal Rictavio’s true agenda to the players, especially once they inevitably go routing through his stuff.
  4. The ally – The good news for the players is they already have her. Their ally is Ireena. Part of me is really excited about that because they feel like they accomplished something without even trying to do anything other than help people. But the other part of me is a little disappointed because that may mean one less NPC to get to meet down the road.
  5. Strahd – They will be meeting him at the tomb of his mother. The card was the raven and the reading mentioned that so now, they think almost anything raven related could lead them to him. That’s kind of fun because there is one heck of a lot of raven imagery in this campaign.

After the reading, they said their good nights and that’s where we ended the session. Next up should be the road to Vallaki and possibly getting into town and little bit of exploring. I’m looking forward to it because I feel like the campaign can really get going from here on out.

What I would do different

For this session, there are a few things I would change. It went relatively well though, so it’s not an overly extensive list.

  1. It was hard to memorize the whole Tarokka deck. If I had it to do over again, I would have practiced a lot more, to the point where I knew what each card represented and where the treasures were hidden without having to look. That’s a lot of memorization though so I’m not sure how practical it is. I also briefly considered stacking the deck but a. I don’t think I could pull off the slight of hand and b. this is the first time I am running this campaign so really anywhere they get off to will be interesting to me.
  2. This is not so much for this session but for previous ones. Madam Eva is a pretty major deal, so I think I would talk her up more in the town of Barovia next time and make it seem like it’s really hard to get to talk to her and that only a privileged few get to. I’d want to make her almost mythical before they meet her.
  3. Now, I didn’t know that they would intersect with Rictavio, but in reality he is a legendary vampire hunter in disguise. While Ismark definitely knows a dude named Rictavio rolled into town a few months ago, I feel like I want to talk up the vampire hunter side of his personality a lot more. As written in the module, in this section the Vistani talk about the Mad Mage of Mount Baratok. This is a really cool NPC and I hope my characters meet him, but they already knew a little bit about him. If I had this to do over again, I would instead have the Vistani and the Tser Pool encampment talk about Van Richten (the vampire hunter) instead. There will be more chances for him to be spoken of, but I feel like his reputation could easily have been bolstered, had I known for sure the players would likely encounter Rictavio. I think if I ever did a stacked card reading with him as an ally, I would absolutely do that. For this time, I don’t regret doing the story of the Mad Mage, but I also wish I had the vampire hunter in there.

I’ll be back next time to tell you if the characters make it to Vallaki and if anything interesting happens along the way.

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 6

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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 and role playing an elf. That makes today, Halfling day!

I’ll be honest here, unlike elves and dwarves and humans, there are just not a lot of examples of halflings to base your characters on. If you have read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, those are essentially your guides beyond what is available in Dungeons & Dragons. And there is a lot in common with both the Halflings in D&D and those that Tolkien created. I’ll go through what that typically means in a role playing sense but in my mind, I tend to just think of them as shorter, longer lived humans, who mostly prefer staying at home. So essentially, me when you get right down to it. These characters are pretty good for kids to role play because most kids can relate to a reluctant hero and being dismissed or ignored because they are too small to take much notice of.

One difference you do see between D&D halflings and Tolkien hobbits is that halflings in D&D can be nomadic. They still want to be at home for the most part, it’s just that home can move with them. Also, the D&D halflings are actually, shorter on average than hobbits are. They tend to be about 3 feet tall and weigh 40-50 pounds.

You might also be wondering why in D&D they are called halflings but in Lord of the Rings they are called hobbits. Let’s just say that it was a long drawn out legal issue and therefore in D&D we play as halflings but it’s totally okay if in your mind you pretty much think of them as hobbits.

Halflings tend to be cheerful and friendly. They are loyal to their friends, kind and sharing. They also tend to blend into just about any society or culture. In addition, they are good at stealth and hiding because, well, they are small and everyone underestimates them.

One of the tougher to solve riddles to me if you play a halfling is why they want to leave their homes. Sometimes it is because they are different from other halflings and don’t really belong. Others it is because they have an adventurous heart. To me the most interesting reason, though, would be that they want to protect their homes from something that threatens it. This is why Bilbo and Frodo leave their shire and it’s still a gripping narrative to latch onto even if you are a kid. It’s easy to understand how you would want to do that and how difficult it might be to set out in the first place.

If you are playing with a kid, I usually would recommend playing to the most obvious of halfling characteristics. They are curious, and love their homes, they love their family and friends, and sometimes, they want a little adventure, even if they may not be aware of it in the first place. That being said, there is no restriction against playing against type. You could play a halfling who just can’t wait to leave home, is hardly ever hungry and simply doesn’t like most people. It’s all in how you want to play it and I think halfing is one of the playable races that tends to be pretty flexible. The only problem is that like I said above, there are not tons of examples to point to. So if your kid wishes to be a halfling that is a little different, I would say have them think of a human character they like and then just give them the halfling traits.

Speaking of which, here they are.

Halfling Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a halfling

Ability Score Increase

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

Age

A halfling is an adult at 20 but can live to be around 200 years old. So there is a lot of life in these characters and depending on what age you play, they may have a very different outlook than a human.

Alignment

Halflings tend to be lawful good. That means they are going to follow rules and laws the majority of the time. But don’t feel like you or your kids have to stick to that. Sometimes, breaking a law, is a good act and that doesn’t make the halfling bad if it happens.

Size

Like I said above halflings are about 3 feet tall and don’t weigh a lot. They are pretty much human child size and can easily be mistaken for just that, especially on first glance. Mechanically speaking, in the game, your size is small.

Speed

Shorter legs means it’s a little harder to keep up with humans and elves. These creatures walk at a speed of 25 feet. Basically they can keep up with a party of humans and elves, but they are going to be at the back of the line.

Lucky

This is one reason any kid might choose to play a halfling. They are lucky. Who needs to be able to wield a heavy sword when you can just be lucky enough to be bending over at the right time when someone attacks you? And then lucky enough that your frying pan accidentally knocks them out. In most situations in the game, when a halfling rolls a 1, they get to reroll the die. They have to take the new number but it at least gives them a chance at something better than total failure.

Brave

They might be small but never let it be said that a halfling lacked in courage. They tend to be brave in circumstances that would leave most other people cowering. Because of this, when they have to roll to see if they are frightened, they get advantage. Don’t worry if you don’t know quite what that means yet. Basically, when something happens that could impose the “frightened” condition on a halfling, they get to roll the dice two times and take the higher number.

Halfling Nimbleness

If you are a halfling and you are up against any creature that is bigger than small, you get to move right through their space if you want to. Considering the fact that almost all monsters are at least medium size, this can be used to huge effect (pun intended) on the battlefield.

Languages

Halflings speak common and well… halfling. Halflings tend not to teach anyone other than a halfling the halfling language so that second language is only useful in pretty specific circumstances. Also, it’s generally not a language most other players take as one of their optional languages. Just be aware that there is a halfling language and halflings speak it.

Subraces

There are only two subraces for halflings in the basic rules which is kind of nice because that makes it easy to choose.

Lightfoot Halfling

This subrace of halflings is a little more spread out and just a bit more adventurous so you tend to encounter them more often. Because they are affable and friendly, and not an uncommon sight to most other creatures, they get to increase their charisma by 1. This comes in really handy when you are trying to sweet talk a dragon out of it’s treasure or trying to get the best deal from a merchant on a hunk of cheese.

In addition, these halflings are really stealthy. If there is a creature that is bigger than the halfing, they can hide behind it. And depending how intelligent it is, the halfling might even be able to hide behind the creature they are fighting. There has been more than one halfling who was able to fell an ogre because the ogre didn’t realize there was a halfling riding on its back.

Stout Halfling

Some say that these halflings have some dwarven blood in them. That might be why the special things they get are very similar to what dwarves have when it comes to resisting poison. They get to increase their constitution by 1. They also get to have advantage on saving throws against being poisoned and have resistance to poison damage. In other words, it’s pretty hard to poison these creatures.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Halfling Characters

Usually this spot is reserved for me telling you what I think works best for kids in playing whatever race they chose. In this case, I am instead going to give you a reading/viewing recommendation. Our model halflings pretty much come from The Hobbit in which our halfling plays the reluctant hero called to grand adventure and The Lord of the Rings in which our halfling plays the reluctant hero called to grand adventure in order to save the world. I highly recommend reading The Hobbit book to and with your kids at any age. It’s a beautifully crafted and fun story. The Lord of the Rings is extremely more complicated and for older kids is amazing. But it can be hard to wrap your head around if you don’t have the vocabulary for it. Both of these stories are essentially the hero’s quest story. Even if you have never read these stories, you’ve seen the hero’s quest. It’s what Percy Jackson does, it’s what Will in the Ranger’s Apprentice series does, and it’s what Luke Skywalker does in Star Wars. Here’s the one major difference between those series and the ones with halflings; the halflings don’t want to leave home but the others do. That’s it, it’s that simple. Now like I said, the halfling can be played a bunch of different ways so you don’t have to stick to what I recommend but if you want an iconic halfling to base a character around, choose between Bilbo and Frodo. Sam’s also great for his loyalty but there is a reason he is not the main character. He’s not called to adventure, he’s called to his friend. And for a kid, that can also be an absolutely wonderful motivation for his character to leave home. Let your kids imaginations go as far as they want for these creatures, and then just remember that they have specific halfling traits.

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 how to be human. It’s definitely something we all need a little practice with.

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 4

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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 too 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 4

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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

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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

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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 – Role Playing Games with Children

Hi out there internet people, Slick Dungeon here. This post is going to be a little off topic from the usual for my blog but I promise I will get back to my review of terrible movies and books nearly no one is reading in the upcoming posts. I just had a thought and wanted to share it with all of you lovely people out there.

When I was a kid, there was a game that a few of us quirkier kids played called Dungeons and Dragons. My bet is that you have most definitely heard of this game. This was back when I was in elementary school and people basically knew only two things about it. One, it was for nerds. And two, there was a lot of math involved and maybe some Satan worship, depending on who you were talking to. Now, with constant streaming of content like Critical Role or Acquisitions Inc, the newfound inclusivity of the game, and celebrities talking about it at the drop of a hat, this thing couldn’t be more popular. In addition, you definitely don’t have to be a nerd or a math whiz to play it.

As much as I love Critical Role, Acquisitions Inc, the D&D references on Stranger Things and the celebrity endorsements, one thing has been bugging the heck out of me about all this for a while. Almost every one of those things is made for adults. Sure, kids of a certain age can watch Stranger Things and depending on how you want to raise your kids you might be perfectly fine with letting your eight year old watch Critical Role, f-bombs included. No judgement from me if that’s your parenting style.

When I was a kid, my dad had no problem with me watching R-rated films and reading plenty of Stephen King novels, but for Dungeons and Dragons I had to do that at someone else’s house. Why? Basically at that time adults didn’t really understand the game. They seemed to think it was either the work of the devil or just some incomprehensible fad that kids were into.

As an adult, I wanted to get to share my love of Role Playing games with my son. I have played countless sessions with him and his friends for years. It’s easy to get lost in the game and have a true bonding experience with your children through Dungeons and Dragons or other RPGs like it. But, when he asked me if there were podcasts or YouTube streams where he could watch, there was a lot of content that made me straight up uncomfortable with allowing him to view it.

It’s almost as if the whole idea of this game being one for kids that adults don’t understand has completely turned around into an adults only arena.

Well, I am here to tell you that it’s not just for adults and that if you are a parent, you should absolutely learn to play an RPG for an awesome day of family fun.

Sure, you can have a great time with your buddies, maybe with some adult beverages and snacks on hand, and come up with awesome adventures but do me a favor and at least try to get your kids in on this with you.

I’ve had a lot of parents tell me that they have a kid who really, really wants to play D&D but they just can’t get their friends into it. To which I reply, “Why don’t you play it with them?” The answers usually come in one of two varieties. It’s either, “I don’t have the patience to learn that.” Or, “My kid wouldn’t want to play that with me but I remember enjoying it in college.” My replies to that are, yes you do and, your kid does too want you to play this with you, and it will be even more fun than when you did this in college.

As far as patience goes, if you have ever in your life finished one complete game of Monopoly, you have the patience for Dungeons and Dragons. Sure, there’s some reading involved for you to understand how the mechanics of the game work, but you can also change and simplify those rules if you want to. It says so right in the rule book itself!

To the second point, if your kid is actively telling you that they want to play Dungeons and Dragons but they don’t have someone to play it with, here is what they are really saying, “Please play this with me and teach me how to play it.”

I guarantee you that whatever wild adventures you thought you came up with in your adults only group are not even half as creative as what your kid can come up with. I honestly thought I had seen it all until my son, playing a Halfling Rogue, proposed marriage to a Hobgoblin as a distraction and then attempted to sell cheese to a Hill Giant in order to avoid an attack. This stuff blows my mind every single time we play. Your kids are going to come up with insanely creative things too.

A more rare comment I get is, well is Dungeons and Dragons really worth all that time? I mean my kids are busy with sports, school and then they just want to play MarioKart all night. I can relate to all of that. MarioKart is awesome and who would want to put that down? But you know what? Role playing games are really, really healthy for a kid’s social interaction skills. Letting kids play a role of being someone that they are not helps them to accept themselves for exactly who they are. I don’t think there is a better gift a parent can give than that.

The next argument against playing this with kids is the fact that right on the starter set it says this is for kids 12 and up. Well, kids 12 and up enjoy it, sure, but you know what? Much younger kids can play this too. In fact, I can tell you how to make this work for a kid who doesn’t like to read, hates doing math, and would rather shove a pound of broccoli down their throat than put down a video game controller. I know, because I have done it.

That’s not to mention the fact that there are now books, games and other cool things being made for kids under 12 to let them in on the whole RPG fad. D&D can (depending on the kid) be good for kids even as young as 4. It’s more about how you play with them than what their age is.

I hope that in the near future we get more of this kind of content because I would seriously love to see more (for lack of a better term) family friendly or kid appropriate content. I know that a lot of people don’t want kids involved in this game and do want to just see the Matt Mercers of the world DM epic campaigns that have tons of innuendo and profanity. I have no gripe with anyone wanting that. What I do have a problem with is cutting kids (or anyone else really) out of this game.

So, for my part what I want to do is a series of posts about why and how you should play tabletop RPGs with kids. Or at least enable your kids to play them on their own. And heck, while you are at it, maybe you’ll make a YouTube stream that my kid can watch once you give it a try.

I have a whole system I developed that I can share with you for ways to play Dungeons & Dragons with kids, what the benefits of that are, and how to overcome some of the mistakes I made at first. But before I do that, I want to know if this something people out there would be interested in.

There might be a big portion of people out there who just want me to stay in my lane and write about cult cinema and do book reviews. You know what? I am perfectly fine doing that and I will keep doing that either way. There also might be a good chunk of people thinking, hey don’t you review a lot of horror films and stuff that my kid probably shouldn’t see? Yes, yes I do. But I also play a LOT of Dungeons & Dragons with kids and never once did I have to resort to horror film reviewing tactics to make it fun for them.

So, what do you think? Let me know in the comments if you would like me to post more about Dungeons & Dragons, Role Playing games and how to make it work for you and your kids. Just keep it family friendly, whether you are a Half-Orc Barbarian or a Gnome Paladin. I can honestly talk about this stuff for days on end but that doesn’t mean anyone wants to hear what I have to say. Just let me know either way.

Imaginatively yours,

Slick Dungeon