Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Keep on the Borderlands… with a six-year-old girl!

I started playing Labyrinth Lord with my kids in the past year or so. They are a bit young, yeah, but it has turned out to be my daughter’s favorite game. She asks to play it whenever mom steps out for an evening… and whenever she loses a tooth, she checks under her pillow the next morning to see what the role playing game fairy has left there.

So the other night my son had something going on and I took my daughter to the game store to try out Keep on the Borderlands. She rolled extra hit points for the players from the last game that had leveled up at the end of the Palace of the Silver Princess. When we rolled up a few extra characters, I let her reroll for the character that would have ended up with just one hit point. One character rolled a four for Charisma– this was just too horrible in her mind and she begged to reroll that, too. I reluctantly let her do it.

At this point, she was anxious for the game to get started. I read her the description of what finding the Caves of Chaos was straight from the module. Then I drew her a quick sketch of the caves area. She asked what the clumps of gunk were on the map and I told her they were trees. So she grabbed a pencil and started drawing a trunk on one– I had to explain that this was a top-down view! After figuring out the map a bit, she started to choose the kobold cave… considered another one instead… but after really thinking hard about it, she chose the Goblin cave. (It was just like Blackrazor said it would be!)

My daughter's first unprompted, spontaneous mapping of a dungeon description: the goblin area of the Caves of Chaos! (Note also the partially erased tree trunk where she started to correct my rough sketch.)

She carefully lined up her Cardboard Heroes so I would know the marching order. (She did this without me even asking.) And as I described that first intersection, she immediately grabbed her pencil and sketched it out directly on the map! (Usually I do the mapping for the kids so that they can focus on playing, but this was really awesome to me. This was like when regular people see their kids ride a bike or swim for the first time…!)

So it wasn’t long at all before some wandering Goblin guards showed up, sounded the alarm, and started fighting. She had two fighters up in the front, one of whom which was second level with high strength. They went back and forth a few times and my daughter ended up asking to reroll a one again. “That was just for beginning characters’ hit points,” I said. But she pleaded with me to let her reroll anyway, so I again reluctantly let her. This is where things started to fall apart.

The Goblin guards made their morale rolls twice, amazingly. And then I had reinforcements show up… including the Ogre. Then my daughter started sifting through the paper miniatures baggie. I figured at first that this was so she could find something to represent the monsters better, but no… she was getting reinforcements, too! (I guess she figures if I can randomly instantiate new monsters, then she should be able to conjure up new allies?)  She carefully lined up every single “good guy” type character in the bag and then sat back. “I’m ready, now,” she says, the odds clearly more to her liking.

So I got out the frost giant paper mini to represent the Ogre and brought him forward, making stomping sounds and threatening noises the whole time. She reached into the gaming box and pulled out a plastic knight. The two figures then engaged in an over the top wrasslin’ match to determine which side should submit to the other. And that was pretty much the end of the session.

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