Little-gamer Spawn

Raincoaster's Unicorn ChaserI was recently reading Doc Rotwang’s post about his three-year-old daughter’s interest in the Traveller RPG. I have two small children (daughter – 3 years and son – 15 months). I try to encourage their creative, imaginative sides….because I want them to game with me when they get old enough, damn it.

I’ve been telling them both that I‘m their father in my Darth Vader Vadervoice since….well, since they were born. I’ll actually tell my son that if he won’t turn to the Dark Side, then perhaps his sister will…to which she jumps in with “NOOOOOO! I won’t turn to the Dark Side”. Mind you, neither of them have actually seen Star Wars yet (too scary at this point), so you can see my subtle planting the seeds of my Little-gamer Spawn like Emperor Palpatine in his ploys in the Senate……Muh ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Actually, my daughter and I are already doing some gaming together. Most evenings, when we’ve finished reading together, we turn out the light and lay in her bed together. There in the dark, we make up a story together (a “Cinderella Story”) that usually involves Cinderella/Other Disney Princesses, Pixies, Ogres, Angry Monsters, Friendly Monsters, and us. Its free-form role-playing and it really is a lot of fun for both of us. It really amazes me how quickly kids take to this stuff.

On top of that, we wrote a quick two-page role-playing game with bit more structure (since she’s really in to my dice…especially the little pink ones). The full game is posted in my widget (and includes some Disney images that we appropriated from the web in the spirit of fan fiction). Here is the text portion:

The Bear’s Super-fantastic Mermaid Game

ArialBy: Little Bear and Adaen of Bridgewater
The Bear and Dad work together to write their very own Mermaid Game…..with Dice and neato pictures.

Mermaid are pretty cool. Not to mention pretty. So we want to make a game in which we pretend to be and play with mermaids and other fun stuff in the Sea. We really like ‘The Little Mermaid” and “Finding Nemo”….Go Disney! Our game will seek to preserve all the fun that they had and tell really great stories about about the ocean and things that live in it….even friendly sharks.
The Rules:
1) Everybody should have fun.
2) All the players must play fair.
3) All the players should work together.
4) All the players should work together to agree as to what happens in the story.
5) If there is some uncertainty as to what happens, everyone agrees on a number that indicates how difficult (D) a proposed action is and then we roll dice. If the number on the dice is higher than the difficulty, the action succeeds. If it is lower than the number on the dice, the action fails. The difficulty number (D) should reflect all circumstances, skills, moral dilemmas, fair play, etc. that are in effect.
6) Nothing really, really bad should ever happen in the Mermaid Game. People can be mermaids, crabs, fish, or friends.
7) Everybody should have fun.

Best Practices:
1) Everyone ought to take a nap before playing,,,everyone has more fun that way.
2) A grown-up should help with the dice….especially figuring our difficulties.
3) The grown-up should find lots of fun mermaid pictures for the kids who are playing
4) Everyone should have a good, nutritious snack…because it is fun and it helps you be strong to grow.
5) No one should eat the dice
6) No more rules….they just mess stuff up.
7) If everyone gets bored of Mermaids, they can use the same rules for an Aladdin Game…

Pretty simple really, but since she can read a 6-sided die (with pips)…we’re making some headway. It won’t be long until we involve the boy as well. For that matter, we’ll soon be CoCinvolving their mother (who is still a non-gamer). She has expressed an interest in trying out Call of Cthulhu at some point when we have some time. We shall see how that goes.

At this point, I’d be really happy to hear about how other people have been gaming with their kids….