Little known fact: Heroes of Hesiod is actually the fourth incarnation of my D&D game for kids. The others never saw the light of day, and thatâ€™s probably for the best. When I started out, I didnâ€™t know what I was doing. The games were too time-consuming, too complicated, too directionlessâ€”but worst of all, they took too long to get to the fun part.
Running games for kids was a crash course in cool. They are not shy about letting you know what they like and donâ€™t like, and at first, running games for them as an adventure in itself. But when you get it right, it is the most rewarding feeling in the world.
So, when I was approached and asked to put something together to promote Monster Slayers, I was ready.
I wanted to make the game that I wanted as a kid, but never got to play. A game a six year old could learn on their own and run for a bunch of six year olds. A game that speaks to kidsâ€”or to the kids in adultsâ€”rather a game that adults want to think speaks to kids. And I wanted a game that even those who have many enjoyable pursuits with which to fill their spare time would want to play. To give the world a taste of why I love D&D in a fun, easy, and quick package.
I wanted to make something that you would play because it is fun. So often we feel guilt about that! But why? Is it our puritanical roots come calling? Is it our parents talking to us from inside our own treacherous heads? It makes me so sad, the number of people who miss out on the joy of reading because they were told that the books they loved were not acceptable, were not â€śproper literature,â€ť and so they stopped reading entirely. We should never feel guilty for wanting to play a game or read a book that is fun! It is not wasted time because it is time devoted to having fun. And all the educational benefits in the world are futile if the game is not first and foremost fun.
The harder it is to get to the fun, the less likely you are to stick with it long enough to find out how awesome it is. And learning the rules, for most people, does not qualify as fun. In fact, itâ€™s a substantial barrier to fun. I wanted Heroes to give kids a taste of the flavor of D&D, to show them why D&D is cool, rather than just telling them. Once theyâ€™ve seen for themselves why D&D is so awesome, seen for themselves all the possibilities, then they will happily sacrifice short-term fun (learning rules) in return for greater long-term fun (years of D&D awesomeness!).
Your free time is valuable; you only have an hour or two free that isnâ€™t devoted to other things. Instead of having to read a lot of rules before you get to have any fun, I wanted Heroes to teach the basics of D&D combat in a mini-game. And I wanted game-play itself to be quickâ€”itâ€™s just supposed to be a taste, to leave you wanting more!
Trying to take all of D&D and condense it into something fun, quick, and easy, that a six year old with no exposure to D&D could and would pick up and run for other six year olds within five minutes of reading it, was tantamount to trying to take all the works of Shakespeare and condense them into a short picture book. So instead, I decided to focus on capturing all the flavor and adventure of one aspect of D&D in a mini-game.
I chose monster slaying because it is such a big part of D&D, and one that the kids I ran games forâ€”and the kid I used to beâ€”would get really excited about. Besides, if the kids were anything like the ones I played with, they would likely add their own stories on top of the mini-game anyway (what kid needs rules for how to play pretend?). If it turned out to be popular, I had so many more ideas for mini-games, each focusing on a different aspect of D&Dâ€”eventually, perhaps even rolling them all up into one, awesome adventure for kids! Without ever having to read more than five minutes of rules before getting to the fun.
This is the part where you get to tell me what you think! Heroes of Hesiod has touched a chord in manyâ€”tens of thousands, Iâ€™m told!â€”and I am so happy that kids are enjoying the game. But what do you think? Try it out for yourself, and let me know!