Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

A Role Playing Game… with Imaginary Rules and Dice

Our session played out a bit differently than the one pictured here.

[At supper the other night, my wife asked me to come up with something for everyone to talk about. This is how I handled that… uh…  opportunity.]

Game Master: Okay, you’re in the tenth level of a horrible dungeon. As you have fought your way down, you have seen every last henchmen and hireling die in varying degrees of agony. All that are left are you three: a wizard, a warrior, and a thief. You are in a cavernous room that is held up by four pillars. You see a twisting passage going one way and a narrow passage going in another. There is a crooked wand here. What do you do?

Daughter: The wand! The want! Get it!

Son: Is there a way to find out what it does?

Game Master: The wizard cases a detect magic spell and the wand begins to glow. You know that you can wave it at something in order to find out what it does.

Son: We wave it at one of the pillars!

Daughter: But… that might not–

Game Master: The pillar disappears.

Daughter: (That could have been dangerous.)

Game Master: You hear sort of a rumbling sound.

Daughter: Is it coming from one of the passages?

Game Master: A rock falls from the ceiling above you and lands nearby.

Daughter: Quick! Do something!

Son: We wave the wand at the ceiling!

Game Master: The ceiling disappears. You see a balrog falling toward you.

Son: We wave the wand at the balrog!

Game Master: The balrog disappears. Now… which character are you playing?

Daughter: I’m the thief!

Game Master: And what about you?

Son: I don’t know….

Game Master: You have all the ideas about what to do with the wand. Why don’t you be the wizard, then?

Son: Okay….

Wife: What is the object of this game?

Son: Well… you just sort of–

Daughter: You have to beat the monsters!

Game Master: You know, I….

Daughter: Wave the wand at something else!

Game Master: Oh, uh… well the wizard has the wand now. You’ll have to ask him before it can happen.

Daughter: What?! That’s not fair!

Game Master: Well, what you want to wave the wand at?

Daughter: The wall!

Game Master: Which one?

Daughter: I don’t know…

Game Master: Well I guess there’s two main sections. More of a brick looking wall and more of a natural cave looking wall.

Daughter: The bricks! The bricks!

Son: Yeah, we wave the wand at the bricks!

Game Master: The wall disappears… and you see massive amounts of treasure.

Son: Heh heh. Man, that was so funny when that xorg started falling and then we waved the wand at him.

Game Master: The xorg…?

Son: Oh, yeah.

Game Master: What’s a xorg look like?

Daughter: They have horns and a pig nose and three legs and only one eye…!

Game Master: Okay. While you guys are talking, you look up and you see two holes in the wall up past where the ceiling was. There are uglucks in each one pointing at you and grunting.

Son: I wave the wand at them.

Game Master: Okay, a couple of them near the edge of the hole disappear. [Pretends to roll some dice.] Ffft! The others all run away!

Wife: What were you doing?

Game Master: Well, that was when I’d normally have to roll some dice… so I just did it.

Wife: Does it not work if you don’t make that sound…?

Game Master: Eh, not as well I guess….

[The next morning at breakfast….]

Daughter: Daddy, could you tell the story…?

Game Master: Uh… well….

Daughter: PLEEEEASE!?

Game Master: Well, uh… does anybody remember what was happening before…?

Son: We found that wand and we made the pillar, the ceiling, and the xorgon disappear.

Game Master: Xorgon…? What’s a xorgon…? Ah, well… never mind that for now. Okay, you’re in a cavernous room. You see a twisting passage going one way and a narrow passage going in another. There are three pillars here–

Wife: A hard pillar, a soft pillar, and one that is just right!

Game Master: You see way up high two large holes in the wall. They must be some sort of passage. Before you lies the largest pile of treasure that you’ve ever seen. What do you do now!

Son: We should get the treasure and take it back to town!

Game Master: But tell me how you do that….

Son: I, uh… well… I go grab a few gold pieces.

Game Master: So… you’re walking towards the pile of treasure, then?

Son: Yeah, but…

Game Master: And you’re reaching down to touch the treasure?

Son: Okay, yeah.

Game Master: At that exact moment a voice booms out, “who dares to disturb the ancient treasure of level ten?”

Wife: “Oh, uh… hi there. Sorry about that! We’ll just be leaving now if that’s okay with you!”

Game Master: “None may so much as touch it and live. Prepare to die, puny mortal!”

Wife: I am protecting the wizard with my sword and shield. I do not draw my sword, though.

Son: I wave the wand at the treasure!

Daughter: Oh no! Don’t–

Game Master: The treasure disappears. The voice booms out, “my treasure! What have you dared to do?!” The ground shakes as suddenly a twenty foot tall red skinned monster comes into view. He has horns and terrible gnashing teeth!

Son: I wave the wand at the monster!

Game Master:  [Pretends to roll some dice. Pretends to peer at them earnestly.] You hear kind of  a weird sound sort of like something fizzling out. The wand doesn’t glow anymore. Nothing happens.

Son: Oh no!

Game Master: By the way, I didn’t mention this, but the thief has the ability to scale walls. Those holes that were way up past where the ceiling was, you could easily get to them.

Daughter: (Mispeaking) Can I be a weezard?

Wife: (In a cartoon voice) “I want to be the weezard, Stimpy!”

Game Master: No, you’re the thief. It’s too late to change that.

Daughter: But I want to be able to cast spells and stuff!

Game Master: Well, you do have a potion of invisibility on you.

Daughter: Perfect! I drink the vial of invisibility fluid and then I run behind the monster and climb up his back!

Game Master: [Pretends to roll some dice.] It worked!

Daughter: Now I want to strangle him.

Game Master: What, with a 50′ rope or something?

Daughter: No… no… wait…. I want to cut his head off!

Wife: Don’t you want to tickle him instead? Wouldn’t that be better?

Daughter: (Indignant) This is a game about blood and death and violence.

Wife: But…

Game Master: What do you use to cut his head off with?

Daughter: I use my knife. No, wait. I use my shortsword! No, wait… I use a chainsaw!

Game Master: [Pretends to roll some dice.] Okay, you’ve gone to work on that neck, there. The monster doesn’t notice. But as for you two, the monster is coming toward you. He is about to smash you with his gigantic foot!

Wife: I grab the wizard and help him to dive out of the way.

Game Master: Do you go along with that, do you resist, or do you try something else?

Son: Uh… well… I don’t know….

Game Master: Do you resist the warrior’s attempt to help you or not?

Son: Uh… I let him push me out of the way.

Game Master: Okay, okay. This is serious. We both have to roll for this. [Game Master and son both pretend to roll some dice. The Game Master peers at them earnestly for a long time while pretending to add up modifiers.] Okay, wow. You did it! The giant foot smashes down nearby you, but you are safe for the moment.

Daughter: Is his head cut off, yet?

Game Master: Yes, the chainsaw cuts through and the head falls to the ground. You have slain the monster!

Daughter: I take his head back to the village and show it to everyone. Everybody thinks we’re the greatest adventurers of all time. I am the hero. We win!

Game Master: All right! You win. Ha ha!

The End

9 responses to “A Role Playing Game… with Imaginary Rules and Dice

  1. Role Play Craft December 25, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Haha, this was a very entertaining read.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, by the way.

  2. earlburt December 26, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    That’s a fun exercise, and very you. Wife obviously has one (or both) feet in role of mother/teacher/goodexampler rather than playing for real. But I guess that’s cool.

    I know you’re really attached to non-arbitrary meothds of arbitration. But, try to play a diceless game without dice sometime. Try it even without pretend dice. Just be a story teller and let it play out. I bet that’s be a good growth exercise for you. Not that I’ve ever done that or anything. But I’d like to try it. Grownups are too inhibited to make such a session likely. That’s one of the few things kids are really good for ;).

    • jeffro December 26, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      It is not uncommon to have one player that is out of sync with the others… or that otherwise has a different definition of fun. Because the gamemaster is continually reframing the situation and/or pushing things forward… things can still work anyway. I’ve noticed that the other players will enforce whatever “code of gaming” they think is self-evident far more harshly than what a GM (as host) will tend to want to do. At any rate, gaming with kids is not fundamentally different than gaming with adults. I see the exact same issues emerge at both tables.

  3. Robert Eaglestone December 30, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Your daughter is cool.

  4. Pingback: RETROSPECTIVE: The Eyes of the Overworld by Jack Vance –

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