Dear reader, it is with a fair bit of sadness that I write the last of my regular articles for the Mad Adventurers Society. The Society is a great bunch of guys and gals and has been fun and very rewarding to get to know them and to contribute in my small way.
I hope to write the occasional article in the future to keep you updated on how the RpgGamerFamily gaming is going as the months and years progress — but I can’t promise to keep to any regular schedule for either these article or RpgGamerDad Podcast (which will be on hiatus from next Monday).
A couple of months ago the nature of my work shifted a bit (in a positive way) which meant a lot less time for podcasting. This was fine and I kept things going OK with some very late nights, but recently RpgGamerMum got a new job (again, a positive) and this makes it untenable to keep the podcast and articles going regularly, at least for now.
Oddly, this doesn’t mean I will be spending less time with the kids. In fact, I will be spending more time with them and will be gaming just as much as in the past. But the process of recording and editing games for the podcast is very lengthy and it changes the nature of the games which become more of a performance and less of a chill-out session.
So, given that we’re all super-busy now, I thought it would be best to focus on the ‘chilling-out’ side of things rather than the ‘raising your game to produce top-quality podcast entertainment’ side of things.
Naturally, I will also have less time to write Mad Adventurers Society articles. We will also have less time to try out and experiment with new games, and I feel that I can’t keep writing about the same 5 or 6 classics which work so well in our house.
We will be trying out new things, but not that often. Maybe this could be more of a school-holiday kind of activity. In fact, I just came up with a pretty good idea to try out:
At the start of each holiday buy a new game and take a decent amount of time playing and getting to know that specific game. If you love it, add it to your regular repertoire of go-to games.
Bonus tip: In the final week of each school term, spend a bit of time discussing which game to get. This could be a fun activity in its own right and it will heighten the anticipation.
Anyway, as I mentioned, we have still been doing a fair bit of gaming. We finished off our epic Meteor Man story (a Rory’s Story Cubes actual-play series) and gave him a decent send off. We’ve been playing a little RpgGamerKids RPG and GamerBoy has been particularly keen on playing dungeon tile-and-miniatures-based D&D.
A few weeks ago I gave him a boxed set that I don’t use very much which happens to have dungeon tiles and virtually indestructible miniatures in the box. He was so proud to have his very own game that he plays it daily. Often in the mornings I come down and find he has already been up for an hour, happily playing D&D as both player and GM.
So I guess my tip there is:
Don’t just play your games with your kids. Buy them their own books/boxes/sets occasionally (ideally something with lots of nice components) to spice up the enthusiasm. I suspect this will work best if you don’t do it too often — keep it as a special treat, something to be treasured.
We have also been working on Christmas Minecraft Dungeons, obviously. On Christmas Eve, we will each play through a dungeon created by another member of the family in a Minecraft video-game world.
I’m pretty happy with what I’ve made so far — there are some cool puzzles, lots of fairly cunningly hidden secret areas, a nice sprinkling of baddies, a decent amount of lava with difficult jumps to get over and, of course, a boss fight with all kinds of awesome terrain and features kicking around to make things interesting.
What’s my tip here? Hmmm,
Look at what gaming or proto-gaming your kids naturally love and find a way to make it a fun, creative, family activity.
As for what new gaming we will try out this holiday: I’m hoping to receive my Flat Plastic Miniatures before Christmas. This is a Kickstarter by Arcknight that I backed about a year ago which will hugely add to the variety of the miniatures we have access to, including a large number of NPC-style figures.
I’m envisaging a (Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay-based) encounter where the Heroes end up stuck in a walled village beset by a Chaos Horde. We can lay it all out on a table-top with scenery and use the minis tactically to repulse periodic attacks. But, at the same time, the Heroes have to sift through a whole bunch of mysterious happenings and strange coincidences within the village which lead to a dark secret — the reason why the Chaos Horde is so intent on getting into the village.
I think this will make good use of some shiny new minis but should also allow for plenty of roleplaying and an awesome showdown with some Greater Demons and, hopefully, some discoveries which will aid the Heroes in succeeding against the odds.
So I guess I’ll be dusting off my old Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st edition rulebook and rolling up some characters with RpgGamerBoy (and hopefully GamerUncle if he’s around). Rolling up WFRP characters is awesome.
My tip here is the inverse of my last tip:
Remember what gaming you love from your younger days and try to bring some of that magic to your children.
This reminds me, what with the long dark nights and all those Christmas candles (and open fires if you’re lucky enough to have one) it will be the perfect time to get in a bit of HeroQuest (the game I most love from my early gaming days.)
As a conclusion to my regular mad Adventurers’ Society contributions I’d like to go off on a little bit of a tangent:
Tabletop gamers are a fairly disparate bunch. If you pick any random two, they will have a lot in common but also a great many differences. This is because the hobby offers many different experiences and you can cherry pick what you want to do when gaming. The true genius of this is that different players can cherry pick what they want do to in the same game and at the same time that other players are choosing different elements to focus on.
For me, gaming is about writing stories in various ways; as a GM coming up with the framework adventure or as a player driving that narrative. Hopefully in the process the story becomes the best that everyone has to contribute and way better than I could have come up with by myself.
I sometimes write up games as short stories or take ideas from gaming sessions and weave them together into a different short story.
I also love a chance to indulge in some amateur dramatics, to play a role, pretend to be someone else, do a funny accent, make myself laugh, behave in a way I wouldn’t normally.
RpgGamerBoy loves gaming because he also loves making up stories, but he also gets a huge kick out of getting loot, levelling up, pimping his characters and becoming overpowered. I can see how this appeals to a 6-year old (and, of course, to many adults).
RpgGamerGirl loves gaming because she likes telling stories and she likes pretending to be a princess and/or a pony. But also because she really enjoys joining in with whatever everyone else is doing and feeling like she is an important part of the social activity.
RpgGamerMum likes gaming because she can indulge her love of fantasy and science fiction genres, but mostly because it keeps the rest of us happy.
Others enjoy gaming because there is always a shiny new game/toy to get excited about.
Others enjoy the excuse to get together with friends and eat unhealthy snacks.
Others enjoy being artistic, making models, painting minis, making beautiful things.
I’m sure there are at least another 100 reasons to game and every gamer has a handful of those reasons in their top 5 of things they enjoy about gaming.
So overall my point is, if you’re going to game with your family, figure out what makes everyone tick — what makes everyone happy — and find ways to game that allow you to focus on that.
Put another way, tabletop gaming is just a great excuse to spend quality time with friends and family. Have fun, create some traditions and start building happy gaming memories for your kids.
All the best everyone. See you soon.