It turns out the Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs were trickier than I thought, so we took a break and dialed it back.
We have to walk before we run.
Today we turned the bottom part of some pant legs into bags for dice.
I opted to do it this way so I didn’t have to pull out my sewing machine. We have a real love-hate relationship. And I swear it can sense my mood. As my patience wears thin the feeder doesn’t work properly, the spool catches and I end up with a big old mess.
Cut the fabric to a bag size
I just sort of winged this. Mostly I looked where the rips were in an old pair of toddler jeans I had and cut the line below that. You should do whatever size works for you.
Sew the bottom together
You could swap the order of this and sewing on the button. It doesn’t really matter.
I ran my thread along a wax block I have to make the thread a bit stronger. Then I got the stitching started for Rugrat #1, who I set to work with a simple stitch.
I did the work for Rugrat #2 and Rugrat #3, and then I went over Rugrat#1’s work. He had done a great job, but I knew if by chance it broke, or a hole was too big, he’d be upset.
Sew on a button
I let the kids sort through a few jars and bags of buttons I have. I picked up a big bag of mixed buttons from the dollar store a few years back. They were cheap and varied. I meant to use them for scrapbook, but with three kids I just never had time. I also picked up a bag of pink buttons last week for pig noses. And we have this collection of jars of buttons I inherited from my nana.
They had a great time going through and picking the right button for them.
I started each of them off, and I secured the button on the bag. Then I set them to work going over what I did to make it more secure, and to get them familiar with how to stitch on a button.
Rugrat #1 hated it. He hates buttons. I don’t think he actually owns a single thing with a button on it.
“What would you do if a button fell off your shirt?”
“I’d never own a shirt with a button,” he said.
“What would you do if you had kids one day and the button fell off their shirt?”
“I’d throw it away,” he said.
I know people who do just that, but I figure, sewing a button back onto a shirt is far less work than having to hunt down a new shirt at the store. And it’s a great skill to have. So I made him do it anyway.
Rugrat#3 surprised me the most with this part of the project. She has some trouble with her needle coming unthreaded. I offered to help, but she insisted she try threading it herself. She patiently tried over and over. And she did it!
When Rugrat#2 pulled the needle too hard while working on his project, she even managed to thread his needle!
Add something to secure it with
Rugrat #3 loves rainbows. And sparkly things. So I found a few pieces of embroidery thread and braided them together with her. We secured the braided string around the button. Now when she wants to close it, she just wraps it around the bag, and then the button.
Rugrat #2 and Rugrat #3 both opted for how I originally thought I’d do it, stitching a single piece of embroidery thread around the top of the bag, making a drawstring. The two ends can then be pulled and wrapped around the button.
And now the kids have run off to roll their dice and see what the sums add up to. I’m calling this a win!
A Review of Tails of Equestria, The My Little Pony Roleplaying Game
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has been a fixture in our household for some time. It’s one of the rare programs that appeals to all three rugrats, as well as, if we’re being completely honest, Mummy and Daddy Rugrat as well. I am going to go ahead and assume that whomever is reading this knows what MLP:FiM is, but I will say that it is certainly the richest piece of branded programming I can think of. What we are looking at here, is Tails of Equestria – The Storytelling Game licensed by River Horse Ltd. and Published by Shinobi7 in the United States and Canada; let’s see if I think it is worth your family gaming time.
The Cutie Mark Chronicles
I want to start by mentioning that having a My Little Pony Roleplaying Game licensed for development by a third party is hilariously ironic. MLP is owned by Hasbro. The most popular RPG in the world, Dungeons & Dragons, is owned and developed by Wizards of the Coast. Which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hasbro. Weird, right? Anyway… let’s move on. The Tails of Equestria book is a slim 150 pages, with around 135 pages of content after you exclude the table of contents, index, ads, and dice charts. The text is written in a large enough font to make my aging eyes happy, and is presented in relatively simple language throughout to make it easier for younger players to grasp. The text is broken down into twelve numbered chapters, with an unnumbered adventure module, and an appendix.
Appleoosa’s Most Wanted
After a brief introductory chapter, chapters two to five, as well as chapters 8-11 are devoted to the creation, maintenance, and advancement of your PC (that’s pony character in this game). Why they planted the two chapters of game rules in the middle of the character rules, I couldn’t say, but I find it a bit irritating. Chapter 2 – Creating Your Pony Character is short and provides an overview of the process which is detailed in the following chapters. Once you’ve read the rest of the book, Chapter 2 will suffice for most of a player’s PC building needs. Chapter 3 – Pony Kinds details the three different types of Ponies one can choose from: earth ponies, unicorns, and pegasi. Earth ponies are physically stronger than the other two types, and they get an additional boost to tests that use their Body trait once per session. Unicorns are more innately magical than the other pony types and they start the game with telekinesis. Pegasi have wings and can fly. There is also a note in this chapter about Alicorns (unicorn / pegasi hybrids with the physicality of earth ponies), stating that they are not available as a player type, likely due to issues of game balance.
A Flurry of Emotions
Chapter 4 details the Elements of Harmony: Kindness, Generosity, Laughter, Loyalty, Honesty, and Magic. In Tails of Equestria the Elements are treated as alignment is in D&D. They don’t have rules implications, but each player chooses one for their PC which can help guide that player in how their pony deals with the challenges that crop up in the game. It’s nice and subtle, and honestly a lot easier to interpret than alignment is, in my opinion. Chapter 5 details each pony’s traits, which are the equivalent of ability scores in other games. There are three traits: Body, Mind, and Charm. Each pony starts with a d6 rating in Charm, and can can assign a d4 and a d6 to the other two traits. Earth ponies upgrade their body trait by one step, so a starting earth pony can either choose to be very strong, or to be completely balanced. Stamina is the equivalent to hit points in other games, and is determined by adding a PC’s Body and Mind traits together, so a starting PC has 10 Stamina (or 12 Stamina if they are an earth pony).
The Mane Attraction
We’ll jump to Chapter 8 to continue with the character rules. This chapter deals with Talents and Quirks. At the game start, each PC chooses a Talent, such as Healing Touch. Some Talents are available only to certain pony types. The book contains sixteen Talents, some of which, such as Creative Flair can be further focused. Quirks on the other hand, give ponies a gameable drawback. Each PC has one at the game start, and when they come into play, they reduce the PC’s ability to complete the task at hand. The book has seventeen suggested quirks ranging from phobias, to being too silly, to MeMeMeMeMeMeMe! Chapter 9 deals with pony naming conventions, cutie marks, and the pony’s look, all of which will ideally tie into each other and result in a memorable PC!
A Friend in Deed
Returning to Chapter 6, we learn about Friendship. More specifically, the chapter is about Friendship Tokens. Friendship Tokens can be used to re-roll failed tests, re-roll with a d20 rather than the listed trait die, or to auto succeed. Tokens can be granted from one PC to another, and while the text mentions that doing so might have some additional effect, it never codifies this. In my sessions, I formalized this by ruling that one Token granted to another PC allowed them to re-roll a failed test with a d20 (this costs two tokens if a PC spends them on themself), and two Tokens granted to another PC allowed an auto success on a test (this costs three Tokens if a PC spends them on themself).
Testing Testing 1, 2, 3
Chapter 7 contains the rest of the game rules. Tails of Equestria uses a die step system, increasing the die rolled by a step, from a d6 to a d8 for example, rather than adding a pile of modifiers a la D&D 3.5. The game has exploding dice (called Exploding Hoof, naturally); when a player rolls the maximum on a die, they get to then roll the next die type, and can do the same if they roll the maximum on that die, and when they have no more dice to roll, they select the most advantageous result and use that to resolve their task. In play, Tails of Equestria feels a lot like a simpler Savage Worlds. A chapter on money and equipment follows, which is brief but informative; Tales of Equestria characters are capable all by themselves, they don’t focus on money and stuff. The character rules are then rounded out with a chapter on leveling and advancement, which is a suitably straightforward affair. The last numbered chapter contains some player advice, as well as some really good advice on how to run a game like an episode of MLP:FiM.
Mmmystery on the Friendship Express
The included adventure module, The Pet Predicament, is nearly forty pages long, taking up a substantial portion of the book. It has the PCs take over the care and handling of the Mane Six’s pets while they are on a mission, to predictably disastrous results. With an experienced Gamemaster running it, the adventure is really neat, and ably shows how to move from more physically conflict-oriented games to one where solving problems and working together are paramount. There are sections of the adventure, however that are really light on information and boil down to telling the GM to let the players resolve the problems however feels right, which may be difficult to do for most new GMs…
Keep Calm and Flutter On
In a nutshell, Tails of Equestria is a great game. It provides a surprisingly simulationist rules framework in which a group of players can have a lot of fun solving problems and exploring the world, and their relationships to each other. It is also easy to read in an afternoon and have an adventure ready to play the next day. It is not perfect however. I would love to have a chapter on the land of Equestria included; many licensed games also serve as an excellent resource about the lore of the IP (Dragon Age and The One Ring spring to mind). I would also like to see more information on campaign creation, as well as a more fleshed out adventure included. Finally, there are some typos and grammatical errors (Princess Cadance is referred to as Princess Cadence in every reference to her. I know it’s a weird spelling of the word cadence, but it’s the poor pony’s name for goodness sake!) Overall, I give the game 4 stars and am looking forward to reading the other books in the game line.
Are you familiar with Letters from the Flaming Crab? If not, it is a monthly series of Pathfinder-compatible supplements; each Letter focuses on exploring a different topic to give gamemasters and players new, exciting options that can be dropped into any campaign. We’ve talked about them before (Murder Bunnies, Dinosaur Companions, Gnomes vs. Gremlins, and Household Magic Catalog), and we’re back again about the most recent one.
These ghost-like creatures assign themselves to children and act as companion and guardian to their chosen ward. Each has a different appearance, shaped by the imagination of the children they protect.
Nine children, including two of our rugrats, contributed to this entertaining collection of “monsters.”
Rugrat #1 and Rugrat #2 had a great time with this project, and Rugrat #1 even went so far as to write two of the imaginary friends found within the magical pages. His growing love of Pathfinder, combined with an urgent need to acquire enough money to purchase a new package of Pokemon trading cards, meant working in the gaming industry was the best thing ever. While we don’t love his obsession with those cards, we had to applaud his work ethic on their project, and his desire to take part in RPG design.
Truth be told, both Ken and I think Rugrat #1 could make an excellent GM in a few years, and FCG giving the next generation a chance to test the waters is a really cool thing.
Rugrat#2 brought his favourite stuffed elephant (named Ella) to life, while Rugrat #1 created two monsters whole-cloth. His creativity in their abilities, what they were, and how animatedly he described them admittedly surprised us, even though we know he’s an avid reader with a pretty cool imagination. Rugrat #2 mostly held onto Ella in a loving/territorial fashion while we asked a lot of questions, but I could sense his excitement hidden behind the understuffed lovie.
The colour illustrations included in the PDF were all created by the contributors, and watching our rugrats focus so intently on creating these imaginary friends was so enjoyable. They colour a lot, but we see way too many Pokemon, so watching on as Rugrat #2 painstakingly drew his beloved Ella, well it was a nice change.
For people worried about the stat-blocks for the imaginary friends, rest assured they were created with input from the children named in the project and then (at least in our house) written by the adults before (per usual) being edited and developed by the amazing J Gray at FCG.
I’m a little biased, but I whole-heartily recommend you hurry over to DriveThruRPG and pick up this fun little PDF. Then, when your PCs make trouble in town, you can put them up against something a bit different: the imaginary friends of the local children.
Last October our family started this fun series of children’s adventures. We had an ESL student we had hosted some time ago visiting for a few days, and it seemed like a great activity we could all enjoy. We shared a review of Adventures in Wonderland #1: Chasing the White Rabbitat that time, and the kids loved it. So much so Kelly ran the second adventure the same night with only a quick scan of the PDF before playing. The third was played the next day.
Then a long time passed. Our former student returned to Japan. The kids begged and begged to find out what happened to the white rabbit. We played another fun kids adventure. And eventually a new chapter in the AIW series came out.
With Rugrat #3 old enough to not be napping, but young enough she can’t quite grasp everything that’s going on, we set her up as Kelly’s animal companion. She sat on Kelly’s lap, rolling her own set of dice randomly and chiming in to repeat what people said.
As gamer geek parents to a trio of rugrats, Kelly and I are always looking for ways to get our kids involved in our hobby. Something that troubles me however, is that the methods that most RPGs use to resolve tasks are pretty much the exact opposite of the values we are trying to instill into the ‘rats. It isn’t that we are utopian idealists; the ‘rats are still pretty young. The whole fantasy-reality divide is still a pretty complex notion for them. Rugrat #1, age 7, is sweet and sensitive; he finds violence scary and wants to find a diplomatic solution to every in-game challenge (this is not mirrored in his interactions with Rugrats #2 and #3; violence and disdain are his go-to methods for handling disagreements with them). Rugrat #2, age (nearly) 5, wants to hit everything. Hard. Finding the balance point between the two styles of play can be a challenge. Additionally, we frequently tell the Rugrats that violence isn’t a solution to their problems, but in most RPGs, the reverse is often true. How do we instill the value of discussion, compromise, and compassion in real-life while laughing at the slaughter of innocent, imaginary kobolds in-game?
Nonlethal combat isn’t really an answer; it is still violence after all, and while I’ve seen plenty of suggestions for pitting kids against non-humanoid adversaries, in the real world it is no more acceptable to beat up a dog, cat, wolf, or rat than it is another person. Many games feature mechanics regarding the use of social skills, but they can also be troubling, as often they revolve around intimidation (bullying) and bluffing (lying).
I’ll be honest, I don’t have a lot of answers to the issues I’ve posed above; mostly I write this because I’m trawling for ideas. However, listening to the kids’ entertainment selections does provide me with a few ideas.
Environmental challenges are great to pit children against. While I’m not certain that I’ve seen a full episode, I’ve heard approximately one billion episodes of Octonauts and Paw Patrol. Often the drama and challenge faced by the protagonists is provided by the environment: some innocent creature is caught up a tree / has fallen in the water / is lost… you get the idea. While I’m not keen on having them slay dragons quite yet, I can definitely see the value in having them rescue people from a village that a dragon is burning down.
Stealth based challenges are also quite nice for kids. While I don’t want to teach them that sneaking around is a good thing to do, I think that letting them attempt to tiptoe around a table full of goblins who are dozing due to drinking too much bug juice is fun. It also helps to teach the rugrats that, dire as they are, there is real value in looking at a problem from all angles and selecting the best resolution method at their disposal. To further this, I think there is a benefit in placing obvious items in a challenge environment that will allow the protagonists to trap, avoid, or otherwise neutralize a threat without resorting to beating it with a stick. If the players don’t catch on to the obvious items, mention them a few times. Be obvious. These are kids. Teaching them this lesson now could very well lead to more excitement at the game table when they are older.
So What’s Out There?
Before I wrap this up, there are a few companies making quality RPG material intended for a younger audience. In the Pathfinder and D&D 5th Edition space, Playground Adventures has released a number of excellent modules that we’ve run for the rugrats (The Chasing the White Rabbit series by J Gray has been very much enjoyed with repeated queries from the kids regarding when the remaining parts will release). I particularly like that PGA offers adventures with diverse challenges and offers non-violent resolution methods in many cases.
Legendary Games also offers the Legendary Beginnings line of adventures in both PFRPG and 5e. Legendary Games’ offerings, such as the Trail of the Apprentice Adventure Path have a more “traditional” presentation than PGA’s, and hew a bit more toward classic RPG tropes such as dungeon delving. It needs to be noted as well, that Legendary Games’ adventures spend less space than PGA’s on suggesting non-violent task resolution. All of the above aside though, and Trail of the Apprentice is a really nice series of adventures that I’m looking forward to running when the children are a bit older.
Outside the big two of fantasy RPGs, No Thank You, Evil! By Monte Cook Games strips down the already lean Cypher System even further to present a family friendly game that I haven’t read but know I will get to sooner than later; No Thank You, Evil! has great word of mouth, and I really like Monte Cook Games’ other games.
Evil Hat Productions’Young Centurions is a FATE Accelerated game of teenage pulp heroes. Young Centurionsis a great read and an exciting setting for those who are looking for something other than typical fantasy/sci-fi. FATE Accelerated is also a fantastic system for first-time players. It provides the structure that the game needs while keeping out of the way of the story being created.
Do you have suggestions or ideas regarding this topic? Any favourite kid-friendly roleplaying games or adventures? Let us know in the comments!
My love of roleplaying games was ignited when I received the Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set (Mentzer/BECMI) for my eighth birthday. I imagine my mum picked it out for me because she knew how much I had enjoyed reading The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia the previous year. The truth is, while I truly had enjoyed these newly discovered (by me) fantasy classics, I was not a fussy consumer of the written word. I could, and did, read almost everything I could get my mitts on, from Greek myths, to The Great Brain, to the Babysitter’s Club, I read it all. And once I was introduced to D&D, all of it informed the kinds of games and characters I wanted to play.
Our eldest rugrat is approaching the age I was when that iconic red box with the Larry Elmore painting was seared into my psyche, and he is as voracious a reader as I was. We have played a few, mostly successful, sessions of Pathfinder RPG, and I am eager to keep him enthusiastic between adventures. The following is the first in a series of musings about stories that are universally excellent, and will appeal to both kids and their RPG loving parents – in my opinion at least.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum
Long before Narnia, Middle Earth, Prydain, or Hogwarts, were committed to paper, Lyman Frank Baum introduced the world to the land of Oz. Bordered on all sides by desert that will reduce anyone who sets foot upon it to dust, Oz is a kitchen sink land wherein Baum mashed together fairy tales and fables with a healthy dollop of imagination and a pinch of good, old-fashioned psychedelia.
I’m not going to write at length about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; you likely already know the story (or at least the classic film’s version of it). It makes my list because it is the first of a fourteen book series Baum wrote about the setting. That’s right. Fourteen. (Not including the dozens written by other authors after Baum’s death.) Each of which is better than this first one (in my opinion, of course), and all but one of which have numerous beautiful illustrations by John R. Neill.
It is also worth noting that, for a series written in the last years of the 19th and first years of the 20th centuries, the Oz books are remarkably progressive with regard to gender equality. There are numerous female protagonists, among them Dorothy, Ozma, the Patchwork Girl, and Betsy Bobbin, all of whom are the equal of any of the males in the series. In the interest of full disclosure, however, the human characters are largely, though not entirely, white and there are a few troubling ethnic stereotypes evident (which have been stripped out, along with those gorgeous illustrations in many modern editions of the books).
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the series that followed, offers young readers hours of reading that will ignite their imaginations and give them plenty of fodder to fuel their roleplaying adventures.
Jeff Smith’s Bone is a marvel from its hilarious beginning to its heartbreaking conclusion. The series begins with the titular protagonist, Phone Bone, travelling through a wasteland with his cousins, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, after being run out of their hometown due to Phoney’s most recent scheme. The Bone cousins soon find themselves driven into the Valley by a massive locust swarm, where they meet one of the best casts of characters ever evidenced in a comic book, and get drawn into a tale of legacy and destiny.
Bone introduces its plots very deftly, drawing the reader in with humour and appealing artwork, but peppering the trail with questions and mystery. Who is the Lord of Locusts? Why is he obsessed with Phoney Bone? Why is the Great Red Dragon watching over Phone Bone? Where did the rest of the dragons go? Why does that one rat creature love quiche so much? How did Kingdok get so BIG?
Further, from the perspective of a role player, the protagonists model the general dysfunction of every single party of PCs I’ve ever experienced. Phone Bone (neutral good) wants to help Thorn (neutral good) and Gran’ma Ben (lawful neutral) but scheming Phoney Bone (neutral evil) ropes Smiley Bone (chaotic neutral) into his capers and inevitably leads everyone into danger.
I have no criticisms of Bone. It is one of the few comic series’ that I have purchased as individual issues, collected black and white trade paperbacks, the massive black and white one volume edition, and the colour Graphix/Scholastic trade paperbacks. I don’t have the colour hardcover collections, but there is still time – don’t test me. Better yet, go get them for your kids (and read them yourself if you haven’t already).
Nancy Drew Mystery Stories
Carolyn Keene (pseudonym for various authors)
You could replace this with Hardy Boys Mysteries if you wish, but I always preferred Nancy Drew. She was the gateway for my lifelong love of girl detectives (shout out to Veronica Mars and Liv Moore). Like many of the books I read in my childhood, I stumbled upon my first Nancy Drew mystery, The Clue in the Crossword Cipher in my grandparents’ pool (as in billiards) room. Nancy was talented, intuitive, and sassy; it was love at first read. In my first exposure to her, Nancy solves a number of mysteries, via means that would likely be considered quaint, if not antiquated, by modern standards, that eventually lead her to the Nazca Lines in Peru.
The story kept me captivated throughout, and had me scouring my grandparents’ bookshelves for other Nancy Drew Mystery Stories… of which there were several, along with mysteries featuring those aforementioned Hardy Boys. Nancy has been solving crimes since 1930, so there are hundreds of novels featuring her just waiting to be placed in your kids’ hands. I was recently perusing the shelves at a local used book store when I noticed they had a massive collection of Nancy Drew mysteries; it may be time for me to go pick some of them up.
How about you?
So there there it is, the tip of the iceberg. What material do you recommend for kid gamers? And were any of the above favorites on your childhood bookshelf? Sound off in the comments below!
Ah spring break. A glorious time full of fun and excitement and a break from the monotony of every day life.
And as a work from home mother of three small children with no child care, it is also a really long two weeks where I struggle immensely trying to juggle work and rugrats intent on getting up to no good (I believe it was day two that Rugrat #2 shoved half a dozen smurfs into the baseboard heater while I was showering).
Gardening, baking, colouring pictures, and Pokémon Go can go a long way, but Ken and I decided spring break was also the perfect time to break out another RPG adventure for the kids. We agreed it was time to play For the Hive, a really well reviewed adventure written by J Gray and published by Playground Adventures. I thought it could be fun to add a fourth player to our game, and I suggested we try bringing another child into the mix. So a couple of weeks ago I called the mother of Rugrat #1’s best friend.
It was an awkward call because I have never broached the topic of RPGs with other parents. “So, uh, hi Parent! Do you have a minute? I wanted to talk to you about something.” Immediately I realized it sounded bad, like her child had done something wrong. She was driving, using her car’s speaker phone, so there was also that awkward bit where you feel like you have to talk extra loudly while introducing role playing games to someone when you can’t even see their face to gauge their reaction. She’s awesome though, so with the promise of letting her look over the adventure before we played it, she said it was a go.
Time to Game
A week and a half later, the first Saturday of Spring Break, was the big day. Rugrat #1 & #2 were bouncing off the walls with the impending arrival of Friend 1, who arrived grinning ear to ear. Getting the game started proved a bit tricky. We had gone ahead and premade the characters for the kids, guessing what type best suited Friend 1. The sheets were bang on, but the lure of the pawns, tokens, and visible map were strong. The kids kept trying to play them like a board game and had trouble listening. Eventually, with food in their bellies, Rugrat #3 safely in her crib for a nap, and pawns and character sheets sorted out, we began.
Here is where I jump in and say that if you want to read a review of For the Hive, you can find Ken’s here. There are also some reviews with the product here.
Really Time To Game
With everything set, the adventure began. Ken adjusted it slightly, setting it at a nearby library we like to visit, but as written, the adventure makes it easy for players to become invested – who doesn’t want to help a friend, and save a bee hive while they are at it?
Friend 1 sat quietly and super still, listening intently as the story unfolded. Rugrat #1, who is seven next month, squirmed and wiggled, which is typical for him. The key things Bzzercup had to say could have been stressed better to the kids (the Rugrats had trouble focusing), but that was not the adventure, it was our kids and the delivery of those facts – a good reminder not all kids focus as well as Friend 1! GMs playing with kids for the first time: remember your audience!
Rugrat #1, who is an anxious child, had a lot of difficulty with the idea of shrinking in size, even when we stressed it was just pretend. With some convincing from Friend 1, he reluctantly agreed, and we were are able to set off across the grass to the hive. Here the beautiful map came into the play. The kids loved this map, and we had to run off to print a few extras (how hard sharing can be).
One of the big things I noticed running this adventure for kids is how much (at least mine) needed to be reminded we were doing this together, that we were a team, and that we all had to help each other. It’s a hard thing to learn – accepting you won’t excel at everything, but that what you may not be able to accomplish someone else on your team can.
A great example was the magical looking glass lost in the huge expanse of grass. Rugrat #1 was super upset he couldn’t activate it, but I pointed out that without him we wouldn’t have even known what is was or what it could do. Teamwork let us jump forward across the lawn (but downside – he didn’t get to come across the praying mantis he saw in a piece of art, and there was a bit of an upset about that).
So How’d They Do?
Simply put? They succeeded in the goal of the adventure. And not all groups do. There were some hurdles though.
One major thing Rugrat #1 had trouble with is things not going his way. This is a fun little educational adventure, but (much like any other RPG session) the joy gets sucked out a bit when a player throws a tantrum and storms out of the room because his dice aren’t rolling well. After being given the chance to calm down, Rugrat #1 did rejoin the party, and he was just in time for the big final show down.
Rugrat #2 remained quiet for most of the adventure, chiming in during combat to grin and yell “I hit it!” (naturally we made him a barbarian). He was feeling a bit under the weather and lounged across his chair, with his feet on me, or sat on my lap for most of the adventure. When Ken and I game we sit in the basement on a big day bed with a table nearby. It’s super comfortable. It’s also a space that would have kids bouncing all of the place and playing with pillows. Be sure to find a space the kids can focus, but everyone can be comfy – sitting on our hard wooden IKEA chairs for a couple of hours with a four-year’s bony bum wiggling around wasn’t exactly ideal.
Over the course of the adventure, Friend 1 would randomly grin and exclaim “This is so much fun!”, making the afternoon so much better. He was the wild card for us as we’ve played with the Rugrats on a few occasions, and I must say he was a delight. (There may have been mumblings afterward of sending Rugrat #1 to his house next time and having Friend 1 come by and game on his own.)
Rugrat #1 and his friend told us they had completed a unit on bees in school, and knew most of the bee facts that were shared during the adventure, but Ken and I found them interesting. I would recommend that anyone GMing to the younger crowd makes a point of these facts. It is really easy for them to get lost in the excitement of the adventure, and they are pretty interesting (plus a great educational take away).
Rugrat #1 hates conflict. And not being awesome. Obviously these are serious hurdles with Pathfinder. On more than one occasion he stormed off, hiding in his room. I’m not sure there’s a great way to avoid this if you have a similar child in your life, but reminding him (or her) ahead of time about teamwork is a good idea. This adventure also did a great job of not having the players “kill” anything. Opponents were paper wasps. Wasps actually made of paper (and it was a great tie-in to a previous PGA adventure). This meant instead of killing a living thing, characters destroyed or ripped the paper, defeating the paper wasp – a very nice touch for children who are sensitive or otherwise upset by violence. I think this made it easier for Rugrat #1, and Rugrat #2’s favorite thing was “ripping the paper wasps.”
All in all, the Rugrats and Friend 1 had fun with this adventure, and both older kids said their favorite thing was helping the queen bee, but it seems Adventures in Wonderland is still the reigning favorite, and the Rugrats are eager for more of that soon. (More on that later!)