Even though I play tested 4th Edition, I haven't run or even played in any games. However, now that school is out for the summer and the kids are becoming bored, I have begun a 4th edition game. I initially started the game with my enthusiastic eleven year old and my not-so-enthusiastic thirteen year old, but soon the seventeen year old and a friend were included. I suspect we may get more players because our seventeen year old has a steady stream of friends coming and going; however, I think I will probably cap the game at five for the sole reason that my eleven year old has a short attention span. I've run games with twelve people before, but those were adults and I had an assistant DM.
The first step I took was to subscribe to D&D Insider. I absolutely love the character creator and adventure tools. I hope they will continue to add features to the tools program. The boys loved it too. Kids nowadays don't seem to have much patience for reading and writing when it comes to gaming, probably because they are so used to getting what they want with the press of a button; however, the character generator was easy and fun to use.
When I play tested 4th, I didn't like healing surges. I thought they made the game too easy. I also didn't like the MMORPG feel of the mechanics. However, after seeing that they were bringing Dark Sun back, and the wealth of other books, I decided to give it another try. Dark Sun has always been one of my favorite settings, along with Ravenloft and Forgotten Realms. I played it frequently in 2nd Edition. Oh, and let's not forget Oriental Adventures.
I'm probably going to be adapting some house rules for the surges, and while I don't like the MMORPG feel of the game, the kids seem to enjoy it. They are all about the power and treasure. Let's never forget the treasure.
When they roped me into playing, I didn't have anything prepared. So, I decided to just run off the cuff. I used the Chaos Scar map. My Seventeen year old decided to play an Eladrin Ranger and just had to have a camel whom he'd promptly named Joe. Some of you might disagree about allowing a camel in the Forgotten Realms setting, but I tend to play loose with the setting when I'm playing with kids. It's all about keeping them happy and as long as they are happy, they will continue to enjoying playing. Too many adult gamers dismiss the kids, or try to treat them like adults when they come to the table. They lose patience when the kids don't play the way they want them to and lose sight of the big picture. If we are going to usher in a new generation of gamers, we have to understand what they want and need to enjoy the games. In fact, I enjoying running games for kids more than I do adults, but a lot of the adults are rules lawyers and really slow down the game and make my job harder. The kids are just learning, so it's okay if I make a mistake with the rules. If I were judging an adult game, I would definitely have spent a lot more time with the books first. But as it is now, we are all learning together and they are fine with that.
I ended the game on a hook, so they are all excited about the next game and so am I.