New DMing Dad With Some Questions

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So my three step-kids recently saw the "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" episode of Community and have been begging me to play. I picked up the Red Box and made some characters with them, which they actually had fun doing, but then it came time for their first encounter as a team.

Not really what we were expecting based on the Community episode that got us pumped to play in the first place. Frown

Every time used an ability, I was all like "ummm... okay so I add your attack modifier and then... um... okay +4... sooo...." and it was just way more intense and technical than what we were hoping for. We basically just want to play out silly Adventure Time-esque stories, solve some Zelda like puzzles, kill bad dudes, and score sweet loot, but outside of the realm of video games. All the grid-based hoopla is kind of bananas and feels like chess with math, not at all like going on an adventure.

They really like their characters and I have a fun idea for a campaign story that they're all really looking forward to, but there's so much to memorize about combat that it's a bit overwhelming for their little ADHD brains to handle and my mushy old man brain is just like... whatever man.

Is there a previous version of the game with less complicated combat so that we can just use our imaginations and play? If not, are there any recommended ways to modify the rules to make combat more streamlined? Is there any sort of prep work I could be doing as DM so that I don't have to compare everyone's stats on their character sheets to the enemy's in the book for every single roll?

Or were we just expecting this game to be something that it's not? (I really hope that's not the case because they made it look so fun on the show!) 
I am Blue/Green
Check out 3.5 or Next. Aside from that, learn the system a bit more before giving up. 4e is ridiculously simple, even for kids.
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The standard d4 is somewhat (SOMEWHAT) rounded on the top, the older models are even flat. The Lego is shaped in such a way that in an emergency, you can use one as a makeshift surgical knife.
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28.) Making a "Drunken Master" style character (Monk or otherwise) does not require my character to be completely shitfaced, no matter what the name (and fun interpretation) implies.
29.) Making a "Drunken Master" style character does not require ME to be completely tanked, no matter how "in-character" I want to be..
Depending how old your kids are, you can deal with Combat this way. Each line is optional on its own.

- Ignore Stats, Items, Feats.
- Roll d20 to Hit Enemies. 9- is a miss, 10+ is a hit. If there is Combat Advantage, you get +2. If you're Charging, you get +1 Attack. If Blinded, -4.
- Monsters hit on most players on a 11+. If there is Combat Advantage, they get +2. If Blinded, -4. Attacks against the clothie is +2, against the Defender -2. Marked Enemies take -2 to attacks against all except the Defender.
- Except for Minions, every Enemy has 5 HP. Each hit does 1 damage, Strikers do 2.
- Players have 8 HP, except Defenders have 10 HP. Each time they are hit, they lose 2 HP. Brutes and Chargers deal 3 damage (if you want to be that complex). Twice per Encounter, Healers can heal 4 HP 1/turn as a free action, or 5 HP if they're healing a Defender.  Others have to use their Standard Action to let themselves or an adjacent character heal 2 HP. Each Character can heal 2 HP this way only once per Encounter.
- If a player is at 0 HP, he's unconscious until he's healed. At the end of his turn, he can roll a d20. If he rolls 18+, he can regain 2 HP, but remains down, and unless he does something, Enemies are not aware that he is down.

That should be decent enough. The tricky part is that Treasure won't help a lot.

If you want to do without all the funky powers, build Chars based on Heroes of the Fallen Land, and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms.

=================

Alternatively, you can try the following "powers".
Every Character starts with 1 power (either one), and they gain 1 more at Levels 2,3,5,7,9.

Defender: You mark all enemies within burst 3 OR You regain 2 HP as a free action.
Defender: When an enemy hits your ally that is within burst 2 of you, you swap places with your ally and the enemy rerolls the attack.

Striker: You can reroll an Attack OR deal an extra 1 HP damage.
Striker: When an enemy enters an adjacent square, you shift 2 squares.

Healer: You can use your healing power 1 extra time. (as above, you start with 2 uses of healing)
Healer: You take half-damage from an attack that hits you.

Well.. not sure if that's what you wanted, but oh well.

I am Blue/White

Not really what we were expecting based on the Community episode that got us pumped to play in the first place. Frown

Well, that's a TV show. Nothing is quite how it's portrayed on a TV show.

Is there a previous version of the game with less complicated combat so that we can just use our imaginations and play? If not, are there any recommended ways to modify the rules to make combat more streamlined? Is there any sort of prep work I could be doing as DM so that I don't have to compare everyone's stats on their character sheets to the enemy's in the book for every single roll?

What you need to keep in mind is that the only function of the rules is for conflict resolution. Something in the game is acting: does it accomplish what it is trying to accomplish, or not? That's all any of it is. You could answer that with a coin flip, or even by what you think sounds coolest. The rules attempt to add some realism, and impartiality. One of the original designers compared it to playing Cops & Robbers, but without the inevitable "I got you!" "No, you didn't!"

Or were we just expecting this game to be something that it's not? (I really hope that's not the case because they made it look so fun on the show!)

As far as the show reflects reality (which probably isn't very well), it's reflecting a reality in which at least some of the players have been playing for a while and have a firm grasp of the rules. Like anything, it takes practice, and plenty of people toss out chunks of the rules they don't want or need. Feel free to do the same, and to ask questions here.

You have some good instincts. Focus on those, instead of on the rules. The rules are just dispute resolution devices. You can have fun without them.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I ran a game for my 8 year old nephew about a year ago, it didn't really work. But he did teach me a few things about running games for kids. My nephew ignored all the pages on the character sheet except the front page. He might write stuff on the equipment section but it was usually not gold, but monster trophies.

He had his list of skills he could use. He remembered his AC, dump the other fix defenses. He had his characters name, race and gender with a good picture. He sometimes remembered to track his hit points, forget the healing surges and surge values. My nephew only used his basic melee and ranged attacks, so it was just hit and damage, forget all the other powers on the sheet. He hand no trouble with movement speed. Standard action, move action and minor action maybe, that's all he needed to know.

Attacks of opportunity, cover rules, difficult terrain, conditions and any penalties, infact the rest of the rule system he didn't know or care about. Just trim it all back as Centauri suggests. [:D]

Welcome to D&D.
If you're looking for something like the Community episode, I'd suggest looking into Dungeon World.  It's got most of the classic D&D tropes, but is gridless and a bit more freeform - it plays much more like that episode than, say, 4e (which, don't get me wrong, is a great system, but I'm not sure if DW might be more what you're looking for) and is a lot easier to pick up (although 4e is still easier than many previous editions).

I believe the pdf is only ten bucks, and in addition to containing a whole game system, also has some excellent general advice for DMing.

The other thing I would suggest is that if you stick with 4e, to do all the math in advance.  Rather than adding a bunch of little modifiers every time you go to roll an attack, figure it out in advance and write it on your character sheet.  This way, you can roll d20+9 rather than d20 + STR + 1/2 level + some feat bonus + magic weapon.  It makes the math a lot quicker.
DM advice: 1. Do a Session Zero. 2. Start With Action. 3. Always say "Yes" to player ideas. 4. Don't build railroads. 5. Make success, failure, and middling rolls interesting. Player advice: 1. Don't be a dick. 2. Build off each other, don't block each other. 3. You're supposed to be a badass. Act like it. Take risks. My poorly updated blog: http://engineeredfun.wordpress.com/
Or, you can follow this elegant and finely crafted link to the free online DungeonWorld: book.dwgazetteer.com/

It's a game that ought to play a lot more like most TV games of D&D do, where they eliminate 90% of the mechanics, and stick with the interesting-to-watch fictional interactions.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Greetings!

I love reading stories like this about parents that get their kids involved with the D&D game. Before I got married, I dated a girl who had a son who was 11. His friends were the 2 sons of one of my cop buddies & they had two or three friends who also expressed an interest in playing.

I was impressed by their maturity and their ability to think their way through problems & of course, they slew monsters with all the enthusiasm of a bunch of 8-11 year old boys who want to be heroes

My relationship with her didn't last (My choice) but it certainly left me regretting not having children of my own.

Now that I'm remarried, it's something my wife & I both want.

My best friend who I've known for years has an 8 year old son who simply loves D&D. Some folks think that 8 might be a bit young but I firmly believe it depends upon the kid.

I've had 20 year olds who were FAR more childish and annoying than any young player I ever DM's in a game.

Now for my shameless plug.

You want an excellent system for young people then I HIGHLY recommend going Old School.

Either 1E AD&D or (And this is the version I would us since it is SO simple.) Basic D&D.

The current Red Box version is 4E and I simply find the system far more complex than the old Mentzer set. You can pick up a used box (or at least the books) for around $40 or so all the way up to !
$100+ if you want an unopened collectible.

The Player's book gets you "playing" right away with only two or three stats and a "choose your own adventure" as you learn about the game mechanics.

A few more pages and you have a character (a Fighter) that is essentially ready to play in a real game.

The choice of characters is limited to Fighter, Cleric, Magic-User and Thief (all human) or you can play an Elf (Fighter/Magic-User), Dwarf (Fighter) or Halfling (Fighter).

New character options are made available with later boxed sets but no worries.

My suggestion is to find a copy of the Rules Cyclopedia which covers all the boxed sets in one book.

You can find all sorts of material online to help with using Old School versions as well.

I'm not trying to start an Edition War here but I just find the "less is more" approach a lot more appealing to a younger crowd.

Rather than having them start with characters who have all these inherent abilities, multiple modifiers requiring calculations that feel like a math test and other things that are just distracting for a young person and slow the game down, you need to keep things simple, fast-paced & fun.

I know when my friends & I started playing, we didn't do a lot of roleplaying & preferred bouncing dice.

Lots and lots of dice.

I will tell you one thing, you just can't go wrong with the old Mentzer Red Box and a copy of "The Keep on the Borderlands."

These things are classic, timeless and just loads of fun!

Just be prepared to have your kids demanding more & more.

(I am running two new players along with a couple of veteran gamers through The Caves of Chaos which is detailed in The Keep on the Borderlands.)

Everything and I do mean everything you need to start a campaign is in that one little book!

If you want tons of detail, you will have to do some prep work but that's the appeal of being a DM.

I've run dozens of new players through that module & never had a single bad experience. (Unless character death is a bad experience.)

There is something about it that just draws the players in and gets them hooked. (It's kept me playing for 30+ years.)

At least check it out because it seems from your post, you want something simple with a fast pace. I think this is your answer!

Let me just say, you're an AWESOME dad!

 

Dungeonmaster314



 
Now for my shameless plug.

You want an excellent system for young people then I HIGHLY recommend going Old School.

Either 1E AD&D or (And this is the version I would us since it is SO simple.) Basic D&D.

The current Red Box version is 4E and I simply find the system far more complex than the old Mentzer set. You can pick up a used box (or at least the books) for around $40 or so all the way up to !
$100+ if you want an unopened collectible.

The Player's book gets you "playing" right away with only two or three stats and a "choose your own adventure" as you learn about the game mechanics.

A few more pages and you have a character (a Fighter) that is essentially ready to play in a real game.

The choice of characters is limited to Fighter, Cleric, Magic-User and Thief (all human) or you can play an Elf (Fighter/Magic-User), Dwarf (Fighter) or Halfling (Fighter).

New character options are made available with later boxed sets but no worries.

My suggestion is to find a copy of the Rules Cyclopedia which covers all the boxed sets in one book.

You can find all sorts of material online to help with using Old School versions as well.

I'm not trying to start an Edition War here but I just find the "less is more" approach a lot more appealing to a younger crowd.

Despite not being a fan of the design and apparent intent of the earlier editions, I actually agree with most of this. Keep it easy, and require mostly single die rolls to resolve things.

The early editions worked, as much as they did, when DMs were willing to be flexible. Not all of them were, of course, whence comes the tradition of stickler DMs hewing to ridiculous assertions supposedly based in the rules. DM flexibility is still crucial to the game, but the point at which they have to diverge from the rules to provide plausible options has shifted, as has the point at which they will find they must place their thumb on the scales to make the players' choices balanced.

So, whatever system you use, be flexible. Say "Yes," a lot, and then build off of that. If you find yourself wanting to check the rules (which you will, even with the basic sets, which had atrocious rules) stop and just rule in the players' favor.

The main drawback of the earlier editions is that some of the methods intended to balance player choices, particular between magic using classes and mundane classes, either never worked or were poorly explained. They might not mind the wizard being largely useless early on, and the fighter being largely useless later, but I don't know that I'd want to risk it, or risk them accepting either the flimsy justifications for why that's part of the "balance" of the game (though no one who isn't a kid should really accept them) or accepting attempts by the DM to manually balance the classes by, say, breaking the fighter's weapon, or stealing the wizard's spellbook.

So, I also don't want to start an edition war, but I know that kind of thing frustrated me when I first started playing, and you will need to watch out for it.

What might help was one thing the rules definitely didn't make clear to me, which was that killing all the monsters isn't always the best plan. When the only thing several of the classes are good at is killing all the monsters, and everything has defenses, hit points, and damage output, it sure seems like the point is just to hit things. But one of the subtle things about the basic game is that every gold piece acquired nets the players experience points, meaning that the players can advance their characters without ever dropping a single enemy. Be open to them finding ways around encounters, which they will need to do when they're low on spells and HP. I didn't get that about the original game (and neither did many others, which is why the game is the way it is today, with a refined combat system) but maybe it will make sense to you.

I will tell you one thing, you just can't go wrong with the old Mentzer Red Box and a copy of "The Keep on the Borderlands."

These things are classic, timeless and just loads of fun!

Just be prepared to have your kids demanding more & more.

Which is how we got to where we are today.

If you want tons of detail, you will have to do some prep work but that's the appeal of being a DM.

No, that is not a selling point.

I've run dozens of new players through that module & never had a single bad experience. (Unless character death is a bad experience.)

It is a bad experience. Do not make death the only failure mode for young players. Find other ways for them to fail, interesting ways that keep the game moving forward.

There is something about it that just draws the players in and gets them hooked. (It's kept me playing for 30+ years.)

I guess it did get me hooked, but only because I saw potential that the early sets didn't achieve.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

First and foremost, thanks to everyone for all the helpful replies! It's pretty rad to know the D&D community is so helpful and welcoming to others, so that definitely has me a little less discouraged and way more pumped to play, so thanks!

I really like crimsyn's idea of doing all the math beforehand, so I'll definitely do this for our next encounter. Maybe I'll make up some sort of quick sheet for each character comparing their stats to those of the enemies in the encounter so I'm not constantly flipping pages and sifting through papers.

I also noticed during our game that they were heavily reliant on their skill cards, so rather than get into the role or narrate their actions, they'd just call out the moves on the cards. "I use Stone Blood" "I use Back Stab". It sort of felt like playing Final Fantasy or Pokémon and they were just robotically selecting moves from the list, so it made the game feel a little lifeless and turns were taking a while because they had to read the effects of each ability before deciding. Any suggestions to make it flow a bit more breezily?

I was thinking of just having them memorize the gyst of what their moves do, but keep the cards out of the game (they're moves are all written on their character sheets anyway).

So, we did the first group encounter from the Red Box where they fight some wolves and goblins. They didn't say it, but I could tell they were a bit dissapointed and bored with it, so I really want to make our next encounter a bit more fun. I think I want to start off by fleshing out more of a story and better explaining to them that this really is a worl where they can do whatever they want (within the limits of their characters' abilites, of course.)

For the next encounter where they start off at the entrance to the goblin lair, I think I'm going to have them one by one tell how they all found each other so solidify some sort of bond and get them all into the storytelling part of the game. After that, I'll have my Wizard and Cleric pick up on a faint magical energy coming from a giant boulder. If someone gets a good perception roll, they'll notice a tiny crack in the boulder and realize that the entire massive thing is hollow. What's in there? The rock is too thick to break with brute force, but maybe there's something nearby that they can use. So then I'll have them explore the area until they notice the corpse on the map outside the goblin cave. They'll find a bomb, blow up the wall, and find treasure chests that are actually mimics, but I'll probably give them some gold or cheap items as a reward.

Does this sound okay? I wanted to hit the main notes of what the game is about imagination, exploration, and fighting stuff. At least that's my personal perception of what it's about, anyway.

The Red Box campaign ends with the heroes recovering a mysterious box as a favor for a dwarf, and leaves it up to the DM to decide what's inside. From here, I'm just gonna' go balls-to-the-wall silly and make it a guitar pick made from the scale of a crystal dragon. The pick was used by the guitarist of the Dwarfs favorite band, and he was on his way to a nearby villaige to get it signed by his idol. They then discover that the band is basically a washed-up and disbanded 80's band who's glory days are long gone, but they soon uncover a plot that involves the lead singer being brainwashed by an evil wizard king so that he can use his righteous powers of rock for evil. It will be up to the heroes to re-unite save the singer and reunite the band so that they can once again bring the power of rock to the land while saving all of existence at the same time.

The set-up will be: go to a town, track down a band member, fetch his magical lost or stolen band gear, then maybe have some of them opposed to putting the band back together to inject some conversation and diplomacy checks so that the players have to persuade them and whatnot. It will lead to the mind-controlled lead singer as a mini boss, then a final showdown with the evil wizard king but, right when the heroes think they've won, the dwarf that they started off helping (his been tagging along the whole time and is a super fanboy), transforms into a giant overpowered dragon!!! Turns out, the wizard king was working for the dragon. DUN DUN DUNNNN!!! The dragon roughs them up for a little to make things dramatic, then the band swoops in to save the day with their magical shredding rock sounds. Their powerful tunes summon forth a great rock demon that battles the evil dragon who would dare twist the purity of music for his wicked desires.

I also plan on making cartoony drawings of all the NPC's and monsters just to solidify the setting a bit more. Too ambitious for a first campaign? 
I am Blue/Green

You could also check out D&D Encounters at your FLGS.  They can provide pregen characters and walk you through all the stuff.


Or check out Chris Perkins DM'ing for Robot Chicken


www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJN1JvnRGWE&feat...


TjD

I also noticed during our game that they were heavily reliant on their skill cards, so rather than get into the role or narrate their actions, they'd just call out the moves on the cards. "I use Stone Blood" "I use Back Stab". It sort of felt like playing Final Fantasy or Pokémon and they were just robotically selecting moves from the list, so it made the game feel a little lifeless and turns were taking a while because they had to read the effects of each ability before deciding. Any suggestions to make it flow a bit more breezily?

Yes: make it clear that the players can do anything they want.

Understand where those cards come from: prior to their introduction, players had very, very few options unto themselves. Anything they wanted to attempt outside of very basic actions had to go through the DM, which meant that if the DM didn't know how to adjudicate the action, or didn't like the action, the action was usually hindered. Some DMs would even take player requests as an affront. Players, therefore, tend to try to use only the options they know won't be questioned or mitigated. In past editions, this meant fighters just swinging their swords. It went quickly, but it was dull.

The main exception was with spellcasters, who did have a lot of options. And I think you'll find that a lot of those players also just looked at what they could do with their spells, rather than try to get creative. Or, worse, the DM would allow creativity with spells, but not with swords, greatly increasing the power gap between spellcasters and non.

Now we have powers, on the player side and the DM side. No one has to ask permission to be able to achieve a baseline level of coolness that they get to customize upfront. And, as before, people stick to the safety of that, lest they be tought that greater creativity will not be tolerated.

So: tell them and demonstrate to them that the creativity will not just be tolerated, but very much appreciated. If you don't like them just using powers, then whenever they step beyond using powers you'd better make their ideas work and work well. Otherwise, it's not worth their time to take the risk and they'll just go back to what they're sure will work.

So, we did the first group encounter from the Red Box where they fight some wolves and goblins. They didn't say it, but I could tell they were a bit dissapointed and bored with it, so I really want to make our next encounter a bit more fun. I think I want to start off by fleshing out more of a story and better explaining to them that this really is a worl where they can do whatever they want (within the limits of their characters' abilites, of course.)

No. Whatever they want. Do not discuss limits until later, or you will shut them right back down to using their power cards.

For the next encounter where they start off at the entrance to the goblin lair, I think I'm going to have them one by one tell how they all found each other so solidify some sort of bond and get them all into the storytelling part of the game. After that, I'll have my Wizard and Cleric pick up on a faint magical energy coming from a giant boulder. If someone gets a good perception roll, they'll notice a tiny crack in the boulder and realize that the entire massive thing is hollow. What's in there? The rock is too thick to break with brute force, but maybe there's something nearby that they can use. So then I'll have them explore the area until they notice the corpse on the map outside the goblin cave. They'll find a bomb, blow up the wall, and find treasure chests that are actually mimics, but I'll probably give them some gold or cheap items as a reward.

Oh, lordy.

First of all, don't create the adventure yourself. Talk to them about exactly the kinds of challenges they'd like to face and then make that happen. I recommend even going so far as to make the first adventure with them. Players, as you've seen, are easily bored by things the DM creates on his own. Players are more engaged with things that they had a hand in coming up with.

The idea of backgrounds is a good idea. Ask them questions, and make sure the questions add things. "The land you come from has legends about this part of the world. What's one your character was raised on?" Also, it's not about whether the PCs get along and work together but why.

What if none of the players gets a good Perception roll? Don't hinge progress in your game on whether or not someone attemptes and succeeds on a roll. What if they don't explore? What if they don't find the corpse, or get the wrong idea about it? What if they don't find the bomb? What if they find it but use it for something else?

Mimics are a "gotcha" monster. They are a great way of teaching players to be distrustful and overly cautious. This, traditionally, is boring and slow. Avoid it.

The Red Box campaign ends with the heroes recovering a mysterious box as a favor for a dwarf, and leaves it up to the DM to decide what's inside.

Foolishness. The group should decide together what is inside.

From here, I'm just gonna' go balls-to-the-wall silly and make it a guitar pick made from the scale of a crystal dragon. The pick was used by the guitarist of the Dwarfs favorite band, and he was on his way to a nearby villaige to get it signed by his idol. They then discover that the band is basically a washed-up and disbanded 80's band who's glory days are long gone, but they soon uncover a plot that involves the lead singer being brainwashed by an evil wizard king so that he can use his righteous powers of rock for evil. It will be up to the heroes to re-unite save the singer and reunite the band so that they can once again bring the power of rock to the land while saving all of existence at the same time.

Lordy. Just make sure your players give a care before running them through that.

The set-up will be: go to a town, track down a band member, fetch his magical lost or stolen band gear, then maybe have some of them opposed to putting the band back together to inject some conversation and diplomacy checks so that the players have to persuade them and whatnot. It will lead to the mind-controlled lead singer as a mini boss, then a final showdown with the evil wizard king but, right when the heroes think they've won, the dwarf that they started off helping (his been tagging along the whole time and is a super fanboy), transforms into a giant overpowered dragon!!! Turns out, the wizard king was working for the dragon. DUN DUN DUNNNN!!! The dragon roughs them up for a little to make things dramatic, then the band swoops in to save the day with their magical shredding rock sounds. Their powerful tunes summon forth a great rock demon that battles the evil dragon who would dare twist the purity of music for his wicked desires.

None of that will go according to plan. Then what?

I also plan on making cartoony drawings of all the NPC's and monsters just to solidify the setting a bit more. Too ambitious for a first campaign?

The last bit isn't, no.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

First and foremost, thanks to everyone for all the helpful replies! It's pretty rad to know the D&D community is so helpful and welcoming to others, so that definitely has me a little less discouraged and way more pumped to play, so thanks!

I really like crimsyn's idea of doing all the math beforehand, so I'll definitely do this for our next encounter. Maybe I'll make up some sort of quick sheet for each character comparing their stats to those of the enemies in the encounter so I'm not constantly flipping pages and sifting through papers.



Are they using the online character builder or making their character sheets old school with pencil and paper and index cards?  The online character builder tends to do most of the work for you, but you can easily do it with index cards.  Just have the power card say "Attack:  d20+9 vs. AC" rather than "Attack: Wis vs. AC" and so forth.

I also noticed during our game that they were heavily reliant on their skill cards, so rather than get into the role or narrate their actions, they'd just call out the moves on the cards. "I use Stone Blood" "I use Back Stab". It sort of felt like playing Final Fantasy or Pokémon and they were just robotically selecting moves from the list, so it made the game feel a little lifeless and turns were taking a while because they had to read the effects of each ability before deciding. Any suggestions to make it flow a bit more breezily?

I was thinking of just having them memorize the gyst of what their moves do, but keep the cards out of the game (they're moves are all written on their character sheets anyway).



Well, if everyone wants to just do "I use Stone Blood" and roll and are satisfied with that, then there's nothing wrong with doing it that way.  Whatever people are comfortable with and happy doing is good.

I wouldn't take away the power cards, to keep the game flowing it's best to have all the relevant info in front of players ready to go, rather than having to dig for it or try to remember how something works.

Also, remember, the fluff part of the powers (the italics bit where it says something like "A brilliant ray of light sears your foe with golden radiance") is completely optional and can be reflavoured however players want.  For example, a Wizard can say that his Magic Missile is a silvery bolt, fireball, flaming skull, or a cream pie to the face of the bad guy.

If you want to encourage them to be a bit more cinematic, one thing I sometimes do is when they land a good hit, I say, "Cool, so what does that look like? ... awesome!"

For example, it might go something like this:
Player: "I use Backstab.  23 vs REF, 11 damage"
Me:  "Cool, that's enough to kill him.  What does that look like?"
Player:  "Uh... I sneak up behind him while he is distracted by the fighter and stick my dagger into his back.  He falls to the ground before he even knew who hit him."
Me:  "Awesome!"

So, we did the first group encounter from the Red Box... Their powerful tunes summon forth a great rock demon that battles the evil dragon who would dare twist the purity of music for his wicked desires.



Centauri has some really good advice.  I used to plan out big long story arcs, and then when my players inevitably did something I wasn't prepared for and went "off script," I had nothing and wound up getting frustrated.  I don't want to sound like a Dungeon World evangelist, but I'd recommend you read the section in the DW book on DMing - it helped me greatly improve my game (not just DW, but DMing in general), and made me less frustrated and prone to DM burnout.
DM advice: 1. Do a Session Zero. 2. Start With Action. 3. Always say "Yes" to player ideas. 4. Don't build railroads. 5. Make success, failure, and middling rolls interesting. Player advice: 1. Don't be a dick. 2. Build off each other, don't block each other. 3. You're supposed to be a badass. Act like it. Take risks. My poorly updated blog: http://engineeredfun.wordpress.com/
Also, remember, the fluff part of the powers (the italics bit where it says something like "A brilliant ray of light sears your foe with golden radiance") is completely optional and can be reflavoured however players want.  For example, a Wizard can say that his Magic Missile is a silvery bolt, fireball, flaming skull, or a cream pie to the face of the bad guy.

If you want to encourage them to be a bit more cinematic, one thing I sometimes do is when they land a good hit, I say, "Cool, so what does that look like? ... awesome!"

For example, it might go something like this:
Player: "I use Backstab.  23 vs REF, 11 damage"
Me:  "Cool, that's enough to kill him.  What does that look like?"
Player:  "Uh... I sneak up behind him while he is distracted by the fighter and stick my dagger into his back.  He falls to the ground before he even knew who hit him."
Me:  "Awesome!"

These ideas work extremely well, I've found. Reflavoring is particularly powerful. I am playing a mage right now, who has never cast the same spell twice, or in the same way. I once played a rogue who had the power "Sand in the Eyes" and only once did he use actual sand; the other times it was wine, a handful of tiny gears, and even the remnants of a spell someone had just cast. As long as you're still applying the rules correctly, the way they look really doesn't matter.

Another thing to consider is the effects of keywords. Sometimes they matter, and sometimes they don't. If you attack most monsters with a fire attack, the fact that they took fire damage doesn't really matter - it's just damage, so you can describe it however you want. In fact, just let players describe it however they want and don't bat an eye if their description doesn't quite match the mechanics.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

So my three step-kids recently saw the "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" episode of Community and have been begging me to play. I picked up the Red Box and made some characters with them, which they actually had fun doing, but then it came time for their first encounter as a team.

Not really what we were expecting based on the Community episode that got us pumped to play in the first place. 

Every time used an ability, I was all like "ummm... okay so I add your attack modifier and then... um... okay +4... sooo...." and it was just way more intense and technical than what we were hoping for. We basically just want to play out silly Adventure Time-esque stories, solve some Zelda like puzzles, kill bad dudes, and score sweet loot, but outside of the realm of video games. All the grid-based hoopla is kind of bananas and feels like chess with math, not at all like going on an adventure.

They really like their characters and I have a fun idea for a campaign story that they're all really looking forward to, but there's so much to memorize about combat that it's a bit overwhelming for their little ADHD brains to handle and my mushy old man brain is just like... whatever man.

Is there a previous version of the game with less complicated combat so that we can just use our imaginations and play? If not, are there any recommended ways to modify the rules to make combat more streamlined? Is there any sort of prep work I could be doing as DM so that I don't have to compare everyone's stats on their character sheets to the enemy's in the book for every single roll?

Or were we just expecting this game to be something that it's not? (I really hope that's not the case because they made it look so fun on the show!) 

First time I DMed without help from my Uncle the Dungeonmaster, all I had was a basic understanding of the concept of Fighters, Thieves, Clerics and Magic-Users going into taverns and dungeons.

Having no real combat table, I just made something up. Generally a high roll on d20 was good, and a low roll was bad. The other players didn't have any pre-conceived notions (except that fighters must be good at fighting, thieves are sneaky, clerics are holy and Magic-users, must be wizards. I understood that armor class had something to do with whether you hit the opponent and Hit Points were they key to survival.

I didn't have a monster manual. So my monsters looked like this:

Medusa - level 5 monster
AC (number needed to hit it): 15
HP 5d6 (all my monsters had d6 hp)
To Hit Your Armor Class - d20+5+any bonus for strength or dex
Damage: Short sword d6
Specials: Turns you to stone if you look at it. If you make your saving throw against petrification, you are okay.

And then I gave them stat scores like characters.

In actual play, I didn't always keep up with anything but the player's HP. I'd pick a number out of my ear and tell the player that was enough to hit the monster, or make a saving throw. If something wierd happened and I didn't know the rule, I'd say. Roll the percentile dice; you have a (insert number) chance to do it.

As the DM, you make the call. You can use the books for tons of ideas, but as far as game mechanics, the book rules of any edition of D&D are just a means to an end (a fun game). Don't waste time being a stickler, especially with kids who tend to be as impatient and have short attention spans (like adults, huh?). Just pick a number for them to roll and carry on into the adventure.

As far as preparing adventures beforehand... some say no, but I say that yes... that's a GREAT selling point. If you are a DM, you have lots of cool stuff you can do between sessions, the players aren't staring at you like frightened goats because they know you're prepared. And you're night staring at them like a frightened goat because you're not. And even if you don't use even half of what was prepared for a given session (you probably won't, this is true), like a jazz musician practicing the scales that you will riff off when it's showtime. Except, of course, that these are DRAGON scales!

---
This reminds me of when I made my 1st edition dragon because nobody sold monster manuals in our area (and Al Gore hadn't invented the internet yet)...

(from my notes)
DRAGON (Rawwwr!!)
High AC, like plate mail plus shield
They come in different sizes, so maybe 18/50 strength or even 18/00!
The smallest size is like a level 5 fighter and they go all the way to level 20 for a really big one.. maybe 20 hit points per level (after all, it is dungeons and dragons!!!)
They have claws and a bite, so they do a lot of damage if they hit.. like longswords plus a two-handed sword!
And they fly, fast as a horse or faster, but horses don't fly unless it's pegasus.
They breathe fire, like maybe a fireball 6d6, but half if you make a save vs. breath weapon.
The really big ones have a big fireball that does like 6d20, so you better look out!
They have flashlights for eyes, so they can see you in the dark.
OH. And they have like a million gold pieces and a two-handed sword that gives you +1 to hit cause it's magic.

---


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A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
They really like their characters and I have a fun idea for a campaign story that they're all really looking forward to, but there's so much to memorize about combat that it's a bit overwhelming for their little ADHD brains to handle and my mushy old man brain is just like... whatever man.



As one DMing Dad to another, it might be worth you considering a DDI subscription.  The Character Builder really does simplify things, when it comes to working out all the various additions etc.  Plus we all know how the younger generation takes to anything on a computer ;)

Well, if everyone wants to just do "I use Stone Blood" and roll and are satisfied with that, then there's nothing wrong with doing it that way.  Whatever people are comfortable with and happy doing is good.



As for the skill cards, I guess I just need to get across to the kids is that they aren't limited to JUST using the cards and can come up with more solutions around things. Every turn was basically just them trying to decide which card to use and what each one did, but I didn't make it a point to let them know that they didn't HAVE to use the cards each turn and that their options are limited only by their imaginations.


Or check out Chris Perkins DM'ing for Robot Chicken


www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJN1JvnRGWE&feat...




This was BRILLIANT! I love how it started off story-centric, teaching everyone that they could each make decisions that could that effected the plot, and then having the little riddles with the NPC before getting into a room with a deadly puzzle. I'm on the 5th or 6th video and they haven't even fought any living creatures yet, but it's been a super fun ride and easy to keep track of! Each new area builds on the area before it and it plays out. I really wish the Red Box would have been constructed a bit more like this instead of focusing so much on the grid combat, but at least it gives me ideas for future encounters.

I really hope Wizards R&D browses these forums and takes posts like this into consideration when creating future products, because the advice I've been given so far in this thread has been terrific, but seems like pretty basic stuff that should have been laid out from the get-go in the starter set.
I am Blue/Green
I'm surprised no one mentioned Heroes of Hesiod.
www.wizards.com/dnd/article.aspx?x=dnd/4...

It's a rules light, simple, easy to play, easy to run, kid friendly version of D&D.

Check it out. It's like a mini D&D that covers all the basics and uses just a tiny bit of math.
As for the skill cards, I guess I just need to get across to the kids is that they aren't limited to JUST using the cards and can come up with more solutions around things. Every turn was basically just them trying to decide which card to use and what each one did, but I didn't make it a point to let them know that they didn't HAVE to use the cards each turn and that their options are limited only by their imaginations.

And don't, but make it clear that there's no "right" decision, and whatever they think they'd like to try can be made to work. I find that most people have a pretty good idea of what they think would be "cool" to try on their turn, but they're either not sure how to do it, or are afraid it won't work. Get over them using the cards. They're going to use the cards, because they're comfortable. But you can make other options just as comfortable. Don't force them away from the cards, but embrace and encourage every step they take that doesn't involve them.

Each new area builds on the area before it and it plays out. I really wish the Red Box would have been constructed a bit more like this instead of focusing so much on the grid combat, but at least it gives me ideas for future encounters.

It doesn't really focus on grid combat, it's just that the history of the game has taught the designers that combat needs to be formalized, and that requires a lot of rules. Things like NPC interactions and puzzles require fewer rules and less formalization (though some helps), and take up correspondingly less time and space in the game.

I really hope Wizards R&D browses these forums and takes posts like this into consideration when creating future products, because the advice I've been given so far in this thread has been terrific, but seems like pretty basic stuff that should have been laid out from the get-go in the starter set.

They don't seem to care about the forums, but they do listen to feedback and unfortunately the voices of people who either aren't aware of or have forgotten the confusion and problems of past editions have come to the fore and the next edition sounds like a major step away from the balance and flexibility of the last edition.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Well I'm going to plug Fate Core here.  Fate is probably the best RPG that exists for the fast, fluid, story based type of game.

Outside of plugging Fate I'm just going to say that in general I find it way easier to teach 4e than any other edtion of the game.  4e is put together very logically, it is designed to make sense and is full of unified systems and simple mechanics.  Other editions, not so much.  Then again I have the most experience with 3.5 (outside of 4e) so that might be my problem.  I have heard that the pre 3e editions were much simpler.
I'm also a dad with 3 kids - we played 4e, not much fun overall. Too much random crap. So we switched to 2e. They love it!

You should come join out Google+ group for it.

plus.google.com/u/0/communities/10539798...
Use Dungeon Dice - track your party's die rolls, experience and leveling online @ http://dice.ajb.bz
If you're sticking with 4e, get DDI; it's got a compendium for all the info you could ever need, and an online builder which does all the math for you (for the most part) and you're set. As for premade modules...Reavers of Harkenwold + Cairn of the Winter Kind + Madness at Gardmore Abbey to get em started. I just picked up Madness at Gardmore Abbey and will be running it very soon for my home group....supposedly the best module for 4th.
RIP George! 4-21-11 RIP Abie! 1-2-13
Funny Forum Quotes
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58115148 wrote:
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63797881 wrote:
The standard d4 is somewhat (SOMEWHAT) rounded on the top, the older models are even flat. The Lego is shaped in such a way that in an emergency, you can use one as a makeshift surgical knife.
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My wife asked me if her pants made her look fat. What do you think I said?
Wife: Do these pants make me look fat? RedSiegfried: I just killed a bunch of orc women and children.
63797881 wrote:
82733368 wrote:
28.) Making a "Drunken Master" style character (Monk or otherwise) does not require my character to be completely shitfaced, no matter what the name (and fun interpretation) implies.
29.) Making a "Drunken Master" style character does not require ME to be completely tanked, no matter how "in-character" I want to be..