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Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole dusty 
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole dusty
Yes you read it correctly, I'm going to start running a game after a nearly 18 year hiatus (Monday night ne'er do wells, no not for you all)


My daughters asked me this weekend if I would run a game for them after talking about the Monday games I'm in, the TV Show 'Titans Grave' I just stumbled on and the domesday articles I've written.


I've looked forward to when they wanted to play. However …. there is a fly or two in the ointment that I haven't thought about till now


They are 10 & 8 ½ years old, so they are younger than even I was back when I first played. With that, how have you all that ran games for their kids refocused games to younger playes. What are good adventures or adventure ideas for young 'pre-teen' girls ??? I'd have an idea if they were a bit older and were already inthralled by Tolkien Lewis et al, but now … a few years earlier than that ???


Also, there will only be the 2 of them … I've never ran a game with fewer than 4 players … how do you dial back a game for just 2 players.


Part of me says run NPCs and hench men and help. However, I'm afraid I'll step in and 'help' them too much How are they going to learn to enjoy and play a game when I have played characters that have stood in the gates of hell holding back the devils and anther character that held a winter pass from giants ogers and orcs while the party escaped, died in the drow pits, and oh so may other adventures and can't help myself from stepping in to save the day ???


What about level progression … how did you keep them interested in their character and level advancement when class progression slows

Similarly, what rules did you all add or take out to keep the game playable by younger players


Oh yeah, my biggest weakness, in-depth development of character background and history … What is a good target to work them toward when they are that young ?

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Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:27 pm
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Good luck, man!!

It's gonna be a blast for you and them.

I have a few thoughts . . since I returned to gaming after 30 yrs or so to run a game for my daughter and 2 nephews some many years ago.

Yes, use an NPC to guide them - this worked perfectly for me so the young PCs didn't do anything too rash or crazy to get themselves kilt.

No half-orcs (your call really, if you think you can explain how they come to exist).

Simple starting adventure for them - at the local Inn, a farm family is asking for assistance in locating a missing dog. Mebbe a few goblins stole the dog. So the PCs will find the cave where the gobs have the dog. No killing combat, but mebbe some boxing of the ears rather than sword play to get the dogs and bring the gobs to jail.

More later as I recall some of the other things I did with a youngin' party.

:P

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Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:40 am
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Yup. Like Rhu said. Flesh out the party with NPCs. One campaign I played had one of the NPCs used to dispense a little advice or direction when the younger players got 'lost' in events. Can be a double edged sword though if they come to start depending on that so is best used sparingly or mixed up with other NPC dialogue stuff.

Younger players can actually be easier to GM for since they are not as worried about the details or involved story arcs. Think of it as writing a fairy tale and play it as such with plenty of heroic action and larger than life characters to interact with, less nitty gritty grimdark stuff. Works in most cases. :) My two-bits mate. Good luck!

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Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:06 am
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
My kids started "playing" by watching my then current gaming group. So they had their expectations set for them by watching us play every week. So all I had to really deal with was their short attention span, which got longer and longer as time went on.

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Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
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Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:55 pm
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
As far as background goes, you don't need to do anything. Kids haven't yet forgotten how to imagine, and they'll tell you about their character through the whole game.

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Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:35 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
That's great Les! When my son and I started playing about 4 years ago, making him 10 at the time, I was away on a long term project. I'd call on Sunday afternoon and we'd play over the phone for a few hours. When I happened to be home for a weekend we'd play, sometimes with my daughter and wife joining in.

Mostly it's just him and I playing. He runs 2 characters now, and I fill in with 3 NPCs that they met at The Keep. It can be challenging at times to DM and run the NPCs, but the fun is worth every minute. I encourage him to take the lead and not let me speak for the party. It actually works well.


Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:37 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Totally agree with Aergraith, the character backgrounds will develop naturally as part of the action. For developing a scenario, take your cues from your girls rather than your own experience. Watch them as they play pretend and take note of what themes and settings they tend to explore on their own. Pay attention to the shows they choose rather than the ones you recommend. Not to replicate the show but to take note of what genres appeal to them.

Johnn Four's 5 room dungeon design could be ideal for children because encounters can be completed in one sitting allowing a feeling of closure each time. The final piece of that encounter can include some twist that provides a hook for the next game day so the action can carry on and feel like a campaign.

The Tower of Roses is a classic fairytale like adventure. I like it because it twists the Princess In The Tower trope. Your girls might find that amusing or thought provoking.

I would not add an NPC guide because of the danger of you accidentally directing the play and removing their agency. If you are concerned about them dying then make a game with less violence. If you are concerned that they won't know what to do then spread a tonne of clues and hooks to help them muddle through.

Level progression. Kids play for the joy of playing; they don't need those kinds of rewards.

I would be inclined to use RISUS as a an intro to role playing. It tends to go a little gonzo which I think most kids like, the rules are pretty simple and you can make it a game where death & violence don't have to be the centre of the action. I made a RISUS game once where two characters were lab mice who had to escape a cage and make their way through a scary facility. The boss encounter was an ordinary housecat. It involved more problem-solving than combat and depending on your kiddos that might be a nice fit for them.

Links:
5 Room Dungeon Design https://roleplayingtips.com/5-room-dungeons/
Tower of Roses https://wiki.rpg.net/index.php/Tower_of_Roses
RISUS http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/risus.htm


Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:00 pm
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Lore Drake

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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
I have run a few games with small numbers. Since you won't have a full skill set, my recommendation is to tailor the adventure towards the characters' strengths. For example, if they choose warrior-types, you can have lots of straight up combat, but if they go with rogues, then make it an adventure of sneaking and skuldugery with no combat. That will help ensure they have a good experience and not get frustrated with difficult tasks.

As for henchmen, well maybe you can bring them in for those things in which their characters aren't skilled. That way they won't ever outshine their own characters. And if you can finagle a situation where they "save" the henchmen at least as often as the henchmen help them, then they likely won't have hard feelings.

Hope that helps. Best of luck with it!


-Fizz


Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:00 pm
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Politely disagreeing with Penny, an NPC guide/advisor/sage would not remove the agency of the players. It might however, remove a TPK and/or some other very unpleasant experience for young first time gamers.

And of course, the CK is always directing the play – so using a guide (if necessary – and it might not be depending on the youngins) to help the players get started can work very well.

To wit . . 1 daughter, 1 niece, 7 nephews all got the hang of it after a session or two with some close encounters that were made smooth by the use of the NPC guide.

Then the NPC fades into the background or retires and the PCs rise to the challenges of the game and how to use their characters to full advantage. They may keep the NPC or in one case in my game, one of the players assumed that character and their PC.

Les, any chance Mom is going to play?

My wife tried a session for 10 minutes and gave up, much to my surprise as she loves almost all types of games.

:)

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Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:11 pm
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Again, I am siding with Rhu on this one regarding NPC inclusion.

One of the campaigns I played in was ran by my then wife...yet I wrote all of the material for the campaign. I played a simple fighter, a mercenary, whose tag line when the members of the party would voice a question about our surroundings or situation, was "I could tell you, but it will cost you."

In that light, it would be simple to set up an information broker NPC for the PCs to utilize rather than have any accompanying NPCs provide such (The info broker is a good way to relieve players of much coinage also since some information may be more dear than others,) and simply use them for guidance regarding tactics or situational awareness as it relates to their own class/profession. Such as a fighter voicing their concern about splitting the party being a bad idea when exploring a cave system or a cleric mentioning the aura of evil they can feel from that weird black chalice on the shelf someone is about to touch. Either of which is something a real player with experience would be saying without subverting the actual players. It is also a good way to teach dungeoneering skills to the newer players without resorting to lecture mode between sessions.

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Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:40 pm
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Great post, Google. Lots of excellent idea (especially the gold relief angles which I liked to use later, if and when the party seemed to have accumulated too much loot!!)

And your other thoughts are spot on, IMO!

Well done, young fellow! ;)

You need to run a online game ~ count me in!!!

:D

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Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:08 am
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
I hope we can agree to disagree. Adding an NPC is an easy solution and if you are really busy and want to take shortcuts then I totally get it. But any problem that can be solved by adding an NPC to the party is better dealt with through responsive design. Because ...

the most important thing to consider is how to make the girls be the heroes and stars of the game. If an NPC rescues them or tells them how to play you take away a lot of the fun and some of their power. The game stops being about them. If they don't know much about tactics have discussions after the game about what else they could have tried. Don't lecture them, let them come up with their own solutions. As they do so they will develop analytical and problem solving skills. Some of their solutions may surprise you with their brilliance. Kids tend to be divergent thinkers and these kinds of experiences make them even smarter than they already are.


Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:12 am
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Penny, i do agree with what you're saying . . for older kids.

For younger ones, I think some guidance can be useful until they get the hang of an RPG.

:)

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"By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes:" - Macbeth


Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:41 am
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
thanks for the replies and ideas

I may have solved some of it myself ... on the drive home from work, I remembered Harvester ... I bought both girls a copy years a go just for this occasion. Now, I have to find where I hid it so they wouldn't find it. Hope it isn't in a storage box in the garage ...

If I do find it, I think my younger daughter will like it more than a regular 'D&D' game. She is a bit more 'silly' minded than her older sister, so she will be drawn to playing a chattering squirrel, or twitch little brown mouse. Plus it will help me keep it focused on them as kids and not slip into GDQ , Forgotten Realms, & the like. I'll give them their copy each of harvester, and then ask if they want to play that or Tolkien - how they have come to define fantasy.

Hmmmm, maybe, I can fold in some pixie / fay into the harvester world. They will both like that. Ha, here I go already getting ready to house rule things right out of the gate :lol:

Penny, thanks for the links. Especially Tower of Roses & room dungeon. I can did a lot of ideas from them, even if I do go with Harvester.

Similarly, I guess I need to dig out the ole Grimm's fairy tales for more ides

Tree, sadly, my only gaming opportunity is our Monday night ne'er do wells, so they don't have that example to draw from. Also, rgr on short extension spans. If I was to bet, that will be the biggest issue with my younger girl .

Aerg, rgr on 'kids haven't forgotten how to imagine' they both have a healthy imagination and my older daughter has a great one ! With that, I'm going to have to feed into 'the theater of the mind' for them in the game and let the game (and their character) develop naturally.

For NPC henchmen, and focusing on the specific skills of the 2 characters, I'll have to play it by ear ... I'll keep it nice and simple on the first game and see how it goes. Make it something they won't need help on. Then, as they play more expand it. Heck Bilbo had the dwarves, and they had Gandalf, Frodo had Strider ... And they were the heros of the books and not the more powerful experienced characters. However, like Penny pointed out I HAVE to make sure the girls are the star of the story.

Rhu, their mom play ... nope not going to happen ... She is the love of my life, and a geek on her own, but her flavor of geekieness is very different from mine and she has no desire to ever game. She is a sci fi / comic book geek through and through, but rolled her eyes when the girls asked me to run a game for them, and even when I told them we could run star wars, or a hero game ... nope no 3rd player there

Again, thanks

Now time to start digging for Harvesters ...

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Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:41 am
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Rhuvein wrote:
Penny, i do agree with what you're saying . . for older kids.

Except that Lurker's girls are 10 and 8 1/2 - and if even if they are precocious, your advice is way over their heads!

:P


My son started playing at 8 and soon after made his first adventure. My day job was teaching. I know what elementary kids are capable of.


Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:42 am
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Penny-Whistle wrote:
Rhuvein wrote:
Penny, i do agree with what you're saying . . for older kids.

Except that Lurker's girls are 10 and 8 1/2 - and if even if they are precocious, your advice is way over their heads!

:P


My son started playing at 8 and soon after made his first adventure. My day job was teaching. I know what elementary kids are capable of.



Yes, for sure - your son is an exceptional gamer and a great guy. I very much enjoyed playing with him

I think the idea is that different things will work for different kids and their parents. I'm only offering suggestions to Lurker. He will of course assess our thoughts and advice and use what will work for his children.

I realize that some of my suggestions may not work for everyone!

:P

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Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:55 am
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Lurker wrote:

Hmmmm, maybe, I can fold in some pixie / fay into the harvester world. They will both like that. Ha, here I go already getting ready to house rule things right out of the gate :lol:


Since you mention pixies, have you seen http://www.rpgnow.com/product/29572/Fae ... eluxe?it=1
Christina Stiles and Robin Laws were involved with it. It's optionally diceless and looks like fun.

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Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:43 am
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Penny...you are right to a point on the NPCs. It really depends on how they are utilized, which should be sparingly. While not a teacher my sister has a degree in child psych so I am not unfamiliar with how inventive kids can be myself. :) I've ran a lot of games for players from age 7 to 70 over the last 40+ years and that is why I noted to keep plots simple and the kid engaged as if the game were a fairy tale in my first post. :) If the kids were older in this case, like 13+ I would recommend having them run two characters each though that can tend to ruin their immersion into the game.

Rhu...I'm not much of a computer guy. About the closest I could come to running anything online would be Play by Post. The other stuff just confuses the hell out of me not to mention I get really self conscious talking online/phone if someone else is in the same room or such with me. Afraid I'm a face to face gamer only. :)

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Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:02 am
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Aergraith wrote:
Lurker wrote:

Hmmmm, maybe, I can fold in some pixie / fay into the harvester world. They will both like that. Ha, here I go already getting ready to house rule things right out of the gate :lol:


Since you mention pixies, have you seen http://www.rpgnow.com/product/29572/Fae ... eluxe?it=1
Christina Stiles and Robin Laws were involved with it. It's optionally diceless and looks like fun.


Wow. This looks amazing. Kid friendly themes and conflicts for Lurker's game but they've allowed for dire faeries for those who might prefer a more menacing Shakespearean kind of land of Faery. Let's try this one at home! We'll have to go to the costume store to buy some wings.


Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:24 am
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Aergraith wrote:
Lurker wrote:

Hmmmm, maybe, I can fold in some pixie / fay into the harvester world. They will both like that. Ha, here I go already getting ready to house rule things right out of the gate :lol:


Since you mention pixies, have you seen http://www.rpgnow.com/product/29572/Fae ... eluxe?it=1
Christina Stiles and Robin Laws were involved with it. It's optionally diceless and looks like fun.


This does look interesting. And I see that Colin Chapman wrote one of the adventures, The Frog Prince that comes with the game!

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Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:38 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
I went through this with my son when he was 8 also. First I played the board game Dungeon! with him several times once a week to get him used to the concepts involved. (Movement, Combat, Dice Rolling, Treasure etc...). Next when is was time to jump in to the full game I kept the adventures simple with a specific goal.

Examples:

I used the old T&T solo module Sword for Hire as a C&C adventure. Simple goal find a way out return the map to the Wizard. I was short but lots of challenges and went over well.

I've used B1 In search of the unknown with a quest-goal of retrieving a piece of the Magic Stone on level 2 for a local hedge wizard.

These kinds of narrow goals will allow the kids to not worry about running away from the monsters or dwelling to long on some section of the dungeon. You'll find that once they get used the format of adventuring things can get more free form. My son and I had a great deal of fun doing a totally random adventure using the Charts in the DMG where we each had 2 characters and we randomly rolled the map and encounters and then made up the story together. We ended up with 5 levels of dungeon like that.

You might also find that your group might grow :) Once my son was playing some of the older players wanted to get back into it and I ended running the entire Castle Whiterock for all of them. The 1st Level Knight my son started in Sword for Hire is a 10th Level Knight now and quiet seasoned.

-Mike


Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:01 pm
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
I've not read all the replies.

I do run a game for my son and his peers, and have done so for about 7 years. They were all 10/11 to start and now are off to college in the fall in various parts of the country. Quite sad the gaming with them will pretty much come to an end now.

That said, best pieces of advice.

Don't get hung up on rules at all. Get hung up on providing exciting situations, "cast" and adventures. Run the game for THEM and not for YOU. Been there a few times, done it, wished I never had. Believe me , you will have much more fun when they are having more fun- even if it's not something you would normally do, or like.

With my 6 yo girl, I run disney princess games with her dolls and little character cards I make up for her. It's as girly girly as it gets. Some days I just want to stab myself because I'm close to 50 and just cannot relate, but she has a blast playing our adventure games, and I'm always smiling when the game is done....no matter how much I hate doing the pink unicorn-horsey voice ;)


Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:57 pm
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Mogrl

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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
I agree, jeff. When my daughter first showed interest in playing she wanted to be a Pixie, and I let her. Which ended up being the perfect thing for her to play, because when she was at the table, the Pixie was there to help out the party, when she wandered, so did her Pixie, and all my players had to agree that having such a young child playing a Pixie was perfect casting of a character. Then, when her interest got strong enough to keep her at the table for the entire 8 + hour game sessions, she moved on to more traditional characters.

When we had time during the week, I would do little adventures with just her Pixie, which was things she was doing when her character wandered off during the main game session. Which I think contributed to elevating her interest levels high enough to get her to stay at the table at a younger age than she otherwise would have. Of my 3 kids, she is still the most serious role player of them all, running her own gaming group every week, etc...

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Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:02 pm
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Sincere apologies to Penny for some of my comments that could have been worded better. I am going to edit some of my posts.

Sorry Penny!

:)

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Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:18 pm
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Lurker wrote:
I may have solved some of it myself ... on the drive home from work, I remembered Harvester ... I bought both girls a copy years a go just for this occasion. Now, I have to find where I hid it so they wouldn't find it. Hope it isn't in a storage box in the garage ...

*snip*

Now time to start digging for Harvesters ...


Hope you find this book. I've been reading through it today and yesterday and yeah, it's really excellent. John did a great job with this RPG - and I think adults might enjoy it too.

Those that have read Brian Jacques Redwall series will really appreciate this book.

Lurker, let us know what you think about using the book for your girls (again hoping that you find it).

:)

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Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:23 pm
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
I finally got into playing "furries" a couple of years back. Got pulled into a game at a convention, and playing from the perspective of a mouse (Mouseguard RPG) was a very refreshing change of perspective, as well as great fun. Plus the RPG is based upon a series of graphic novels, which are also fun to read.

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Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:52 pm
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Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
:lol: I'll admit I'm jealous of Tree's daughter. One of my long un-fullfilled characters desires is a Pixie. Back in the AD&D days I wanted to Psionic Pixie just to keep it weird. Someday.

-Mike


Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:07 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Location: Oklahoma
Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Found them !!

Along with a copy of an out of print hard back CS Lewis Narnia collection book.

I gave it to them tonight after dinner (and listening to their stories from summer Church camp) .

They flipped through it, asked random questions from random pages, and then ..... the monster stat blocks ... The HAD to know what each line meant , and why it was important. Then the questions ... "But why does the rattle snake cause fear" ... "But why is it immune from sleep and charm" ...

Then it was like looking at myself years ago ... "KFR, turn off the light, you were supposed to be asleep 40 min ago. Put the book down and go to sleep"

A very good evening ... which was needed after a long crappy day ...

However, I did make a tactical error ... I bought the girls one book each ... You notice I didn't say I got 3 books ... one for the DM ...
I think I got the PDF a while back ... I hope I did any way

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Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:52 am
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Greater Lore Drake
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Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:37 pm
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Location: North Coast
Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
Wow, so much I missed in just one week! I'm not even going to try to read all this right now...

But I did the same for my son and his friends at about that age.. all boys though, they were into video games, Gauntlet, and LORD of the rings.. but not purists (I actually fought with them their elves should not eat the orcs they just killed).

I would suggest each girl play a PC their age (apprentices) who are given small adventures by their mentor (your NPC or two).. if they say "no dad, we don't want to play kids".. heck, talk to them ask THEM what they want to do how they want to play it and what THEY are looking forward to doing.. you might be surprised at how blood thirsty your daughters are...

My cousin "trinket" just stepped back into gaming after a long break and he had a seasoned group mixed with total new players.. he had each player write a story about their desired player, their back history, their life, etc and major events in their life up until the game started. He then blended all those stories together to make the start of his adventure.. it was pure gold, the town was attacked by red dragons, defended by an ancient silver dragon as all the young PCs came together under fire and destruction to flee into the night.. a bond was forged and the game began.

I so envy you, relax, don't worry, make it fun for them on their terms and you will enjoy the ride!

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Wow, Another Natural One! You guys are a sink hole for luck. Stay away from my dice.


Sat Jul 22, 2017 1:27 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:37 pm
Posts: 2133
Location: North Coast
Post Re: Advice and encouragement needed in picking up the ole du
One more option is two simple PCs each. One plays a fighter and a mage. The other plays a fighter and cleric. Then the old guy NPCs is the thief... doing what needs to be done.. or something like that.. see if they want to play two PCs.. its not a bad way to go so that when one PC goes down the other is playable. Keep in mind if you have two PCs only then half the game is on hold with a knock out.

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Wow, Another Natural One! You guys are a sink hole for luck. Stay away from my dice.


Sat Jul 22, 2017 1:32 pm
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