Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Playing Labyrinth Lord with Seven-Year-Olds

I’d gotten my son some dice, a Rose Estes “Endless Quest” book, Raid on Cynosa, and a metal figure for his birthday early this year. Summer rolled on by and as my daughter’s birthday got nearer, all I heard about was princess stuff and fingernail polish. (Usually she wants the exact same stuff that her brother gets.) I tried to keep a stiff upper lip and I didn’t want to push my hobbies onto her, but I really thought that she was growing up so fast that our gaming days were over. I mean… she was turning seven…! But then after her birthday she realized just how much she wanted another “Endless Quest” book of her own. And when people were over talking about gaming with me, she made it clear that she wanted to bust out the old dungeon fantasy games again.

So the other night when my wife and son were away, we took advantage of the opportunity to play. I got out all of our Dungeons & Dragons stuff and brought up our most recent session report. I read it to her out loud and she resisted it at first– her brain seemed to have garbled the events of several sessions together in the intervening time– but by the end of it she began to accept my account. She turned back from the rainbow bridge and returned all of the treasure except for one gold piece. When she started to leave with it, everything started to shake again. Well, she wasn’t going to leave with no treasure… she decided to make a run for it with that single gold piece. As her party left the caves, a giant boulder rumbled behind them and blocked off the entrance.

We ended things there, but a couple of days later I found myself roped into a longer one hour session. This was going to be an authentic gaming experience. We’d have all our gaming stuff at the table this time and she’d even get to have a small can of ginger ale. I was nervous though. In the past, she’d sometimes get upset with my rulings or else get grouchy at the end even after I tried to craft things to fit with what I thought she wanted and (more importantly) what I thought she said she wanted. And she’s different than my son, too. She absolutely has to win… but she’s also getting more sophisticated in that she also wants to feel some genuine accomplishment as well. She’s kind of a tough crowd.

Well, she insisted on Labyrinth Lord. It had to be be Labyrinth Lord. Based on some stuff she’d said, I figured she was tired of puzzle-oriented and free-form play, so I hit her with a group of ten skeletons. (I have a set of plastic miniatures I’d clipped out and glued together with my son a few weeks ago.) My daughter chose to cast ventriloquism:

Pink Girl: I scare them with a sound.

Labyrinth Lord: What kind of sound do you make?

Pink Girl: I don’t know… you choose.

Labyrinth Lord: Okay… uh… over the hills the sound of tromping feet come your way. You hear bugles and shouting… and a voice that boasts of how strong the group is. Unfortunately for you, the skeletons… are… COMPLETELY… unfazed!

Pink Girl: What’s unfazed mean?

Last year’s Christmas presents for the kids. Good to finally put them through their paces!

So the fight was on. My daughter outnumbered them, so she could send her giant cat (HD3, +2 to-hit, 1d8+2 damage) around the side to flank them. She retired her wounded men-at-arms to the rear area to get healing potion treatments. We rolled our giant-sized twenty-sized dice over and over again and used other dice to mark damaged figures. The skeletons gradually got worn down, but in the end she lost four of her ten men-at-arms. She actually seemed a little concerned about losing that amount of “resources.”

We had more than a half hour left to fill at this point and I wasn’t sure how to proceed. My daughter chose to return to the Keep on the Borderlands. As she marched back, I described this mysterious and ominous looking cloaked figure that was blocking the road. After putting down an army of ten skeletons, she was unimpressed. She sent Gandalf the Huge Person and the six men-at-arms on ahead to dispatch him. The cloaked man raised his staff and… the Labyrinth Lord rolled 2d8 and… uh… all six men-at-arms fell over asleep!

My daughter then tried to reason with the cloaked man with Gandalf the Huge Person, but the man wasn’t friendly. He lifted his staff and… zzzzzot! A blue bolt shaped like a hawk flew out from it and jolted Gandalf! (Fortunately, that player character has survived the Palace of the Silver Princess, so he could take it.) This was a bit much for my daughter and she moved her Pink-Girl figure up to face this guy. (It was this moment when it dawned on me that Pink-Girl is her alter-ego in the game!)

Pink-Girl: You there… what is your name?!

[Labyrinth Lord ruling: okay this is an accomplished magic-user to an accomplished magic-user. So he talks this time.]

Bob: My name is… BOB!

[At this, my daughter immediately started chuckling… and seemed to derive a hint out of it.]

Pink-Girl: Why do you wear a cloak over your face?

Bob: Because everyone makes fun of my bald head….

Pink-Girl: You… leave us alone or… I’ll scare your pants off.

[Labyrinth Lord ruling: translating this from kid-speak into game reality… this is actually a pretty serious threat.]

Bob: You wouldn’t dare!

Pink-Girl (to Labyrinth Lord): Okay, I make that sound, daddy.

Labyrinth Lord: There is an eerie howling sound… and it gets louder and louder until it turns into a scream. In that moment, Bob turns to flee… and… his pants fall off!

[By this point, my son had put down his magazine and come to the kitchen to check out the proceedings. He and my daughter completely lost it and started laughing until they could hardly breath.]

Labyrinth Lord: A while later, you see Bob come back to the road. His legs are all scratched with briers now. He finds his pants and starts to put them back on.

Pink-Girl: Now go away or… or… I’ll scare all of your clothes off!

Bob: No… please! Please don’t do that! Anything but that! No!

Pink-Girl (to Labyrinth Lord): Okay, daddy… I do it again!

Labyrinth Lord: You make the sound again… and Bob is so scared this time, that he literally jumps out of his clothes. You see him run naked over the hills into the distance.

And that’s how we ended things. My children laughed for nearly five minutes and told and retold the story of the game. My daughter’s party made it back to the Keep. (And if anyone thinks that Pink-Girl has a bit of a sadistic streak, let the table note that she gave her hard-won gold piece to the poor.) I declared gaming victory and put our stuff away.


3 responses to “Playing Labyrinth Lord with Seven-Year-Olds

  1. yacheritsi October 23, 2012 at 9:54 am

    These stories are so cute.

  2. Pingback: Review: Pyramid 3/44 Alternate GURPS II « Jeffro’s Car Wars Blog

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