Surprisingly ( and wonderfully), my boys and I have kept our weekend sessions going for the past four weeks. In that time I have a few more tips and lessons learned from playing with kids.
Don’t tell them I called them kids, they are 12 and almost 14 – but still kids to me.
The first tip – gaming with only two players, hit points are precious. After four weeks of play and at least a week of character creation, the boys are totally invested in their characters. I am trying not to kill them. Sometimes they don’t understand dangerous “things” (monsters). At first and second level this is a tough thing.
Bless my youngest son for taking the flaw “always rushes in” – so much danger and so much inspiration handed out. But it can be tough when you’re 12 and you roll bad and the monster hits you and suddenly you have 3 hit points and there are at least three goblins sizing you up. I have learned to be judicious with bad guys and how many and what kind.
Second tip – rolling bad is very bad. Rolling a critical fail is awesome. After a night of bad rolls, the boys found a die they consider lucky and they have been sticking with it (a light up d20 my wife got me from ThinkGeek). I had them face a couple of hobgoblins with a pretty good AC, they hated missing. But a critical fail is an opportunity to make up cool stuff. Making up story is something they can get behind, and helps improve the fun.
Third tip – keep the sessions short. Even if it means that you wont have any combat, a short session is better. So far, we have kept things to under two hours (Sunday night is a school night). Sometimes we just advance the story a little bit and introduce some new characters or background and history.
Fourth tip – give them allies, and let them roll for them. In the fight with the hobgoblins they worked to have the goblins fight with them, so they had a couple extra fighters to both soak damage and get more attacks (more die rolls). As long as they did the rolling and made decisions about what their allies would do, they seemed fine to share the spotlight.
For upcoming sessions, I’m going to test out giving out some magic items. Neither one is planning on being a caster, so magic items will be their primary way to use magic. I think the best way to do this is to use the “leveling” magic item that grows in power as the character levels up.
Next week I am back to DMing the “adult” group – more Tyranny of Dragons. I am very interested to compare play styles and see what I can use (and not use) for both groups.