A Game for All Ages...
I ran a very interesting session of Dungeons & Dragons at Archon over the weekend. It was a 7:30 - 11:30 PM session, my last of the convention, and I was exhausted. I really just wanted everything to be over by that point.
Then up to the table comes a 40-something year old dad and his two daughters, age 8 and 11. "We signed up for this, but none of us have ever played any sort of roleplaying game, other than Fantasy Flight on the Playstation." Great, I think to myself, just great.
Soon another father shows up with his 13 year old son, but they've both played a little. And the 6th player was an experienced gamer who didn't mind in the least.
And it turned out being the best session of any D&D I've ever run at any convention. It took some time to explain the very, very basic concepts and rules, but it all boiled down to "just tell us what you want to do and we'll help you do it."
Those three kids came up with some of the most creative, clever and original ideas to overcome various challenges. There was not a single rules argument or issue. Nobody argued that a spell should have lasted longer, or that they should be able to move an extra space. And nobody had to be reminded it was their turn.
One great example -- during a battle that ensued with these small, nasty little fey called "dobbin" at the beginning. The players were getting peppered with tiny arrows. The 11 year old said "We're in an old dead tree, right? I'll light my torch and threaten to burn their home down if they don't throw down their weapons and surrender." Then she turned to her dad and said "I'm just pretending." And then she rolled a Natural 20 on her Intimidate check. Classic.
In another section of the adventure, there's a rope ladder nailed to the wall, allowing access to the second floor - but the first one up spotted a spider swarm on the ledge, close enough that only 1 or 2 people could climb up before engaging the swarm. They didn't have any way to deal with it other than a few torches, so they tried thinking of creative ways to get past them.
They all flipped the character sheets over to look at their equipment, and a bunch of great ideas came out -- such as tying rope to the edges of a 6' x 6' tarpaulin they had to create a massive "sling" and scrape the spiders off the ledge, or using the spell mage hand to grab a tree branch and sweep the spiders off the ledge.
But the winning idea was when the 8 year old said "Why don't we use my hammer to remove the nails from the ladder and just re-attach it over on the other side?" And the 13 year old worked off that by suggesting he could use his spider climb potion to carry it up the opposite side of the wall and secure it so the rest of the group could climb up. Those parents beamed with so much pride, it was awesome.
What a great session.