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MoonHunter Sayeth 20171010

MoonHunter

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Adventures in Scouting - the Roleplaying Edition

A troop of Boyscouts wanted to learn "real gaming".

God have Mercy on my Soul, but after years of bashing D&D (I mean I have openly and actively disliked this game since 1977), I ran a D&D 3.5 game for our Boyscout Troop.

I chose 3.5 because it was the most portable game. If you learned it, you could learn earlier or later versions of D&D (and heartbreakers), Pathfinder, various D20 games (including Modern), and others. If they were going to go on gaming, they would have a good foundation to go on.

I did not run a traditional D&D mishmash of races, clases, and such. We are playing a game set in the time of English Chivalry (11th to 12th century). They are all squires (fighters), soon to be knights (if they level up a time or two), or are the sons of other key people in their Lord's Castle (ranger, ranger, fighter), or are part of the abby (cleric and cleric). They have realized that the DarkWoods (a magical domain inside the local large GreenWoods forest (east of Nottingham) was contained by ancient druidic wards and that these wards are being broken. So they are tromping through the forest mostly, looking for monsters.... trying to find out who did it and why... and trying not to get in trouble for shirking their duties at the castle.

Character generation was semi-random. I created blocks of stats/ skills and feats (which they could mix and match) I created a couple of roles for the game and stuffed them in an envelope with a poetic bit on the envelope so they might have an idea about the cahracter Inside it contained who they were, what they were (possible classes), and some stats. They then picked an envelope or two that had skill bits and feats, to help them fill out their roles. (There were X+1 envelopes for each class (fighter, ranger, cleric, and druid), where x was the maximum number of roles that could be that class.

Players like that they have choices and could take what they wanted... adding it all together to make their new character.

This basic idea of partial generation and mix and match has worked for me in the past in various systems and variations... at both convention games and for new campaigns (with new people).


Each session/ encounter in a session, we introduce more rules (or start more strictly enforcing the rules). It went going pretty well. They are learning the rules. They are learning how to role play. They are realizing that this is not a simplistic video game

They got their first taste of combat as we had a small "boys will be boys" incident at the pells. As we have had an encounter, we have added more rules (tightening up what was possible or all the rolls and such). Then they had actual combat against The Boar that had been terrorizing certain folk in the county. They learned some history and the combat systems. They have found some clues, discovered that the local tavern and library has the same information they have... and that going to the Other Town has more information. Later we had them fight a few Orcs.

It was our new sessions, we are just about to begin a fight with many Orcs.

After a few sessions of gaming with scouts, I think the hardest part is the camping outside, followed by the gaming outside.

During the game... Some where focused. Some where goofy. Some faded in and out. Same characters. Continuing on the same world and scenario. Tromping through the dark woods, they encounter a bunch of Orcs lead by the Evil Wizard, who bailed to get reinforcements. They were confronted by some Elves - during which we had a long discussion of about "did you really do or say that". Eventually the Elves said... okay a Human broke the barrier between our world and yours, you deal with it. Players who interruped and disrupted were told, every time you do it... the bad guys get more hit points. After a while they did shut up. They found the magic book and a druid to cast the repair spell required to save the day. They eventually stumbled around the forest and encountered the Wizard (all 6th level) and six super charged orcs 8+6 HP. (All but one of the characters is 1st level and that one is second). The second level cleric summoned monster (I screwed up on spell duration round not turn). Once celestial Dog later ran right at the evil wizard who realized that the heroes had actually repaired the cairn he had broken for his spell needs, on the same term he was about to unlimber "big magic" at them. The dog engage him in melee - no spells. Enough hit points later and the wizard was down. They cleaned up the orcs.... nobody died

Things learned:
They learned teamwork and that they need to work together as players and characters.
They learned that they should be paying attention to the GM


Things I learned to:
Why D&D is so big with teens and kids, because they can treat it like a computer game... some cut scene then the combat. They managed to keep it together and focus on the combat, while the other scenes are just something to get through.

Everyone has the thing they are looking for. We had someone who wanted to roleplay and did it badly. We had a couple of combat hawks. One person just wants to tweak rules and build characters. Another just wants to show off how bad ass his archer was. I knew this before, but it is more pronouced with teens.

It hit me a few days ago. I originally just thought it was a sarcastic thought, but no. My Boyscouts are used to computer games, side scrollers even. At their age, gamers of my generation were all about the books... much the way gamers and fan folk a decade or two later were all about the videos. This is their medium. This is the format they are used to having their "action adventure" in.

It might not be their attention span (but that is part of it)... it is just the way they are used to adventure stories... especially fantasy.

I remember how resistant many gamers were to my more novel like approach back in the day. I was all about storylines... I was more into alternate fantasy... Moorcock rather than Tolkien... and remember gamers that came to my games from other games... having a hard time adapting to these.

They were used to different assumption.

My Boyscouts come from different assumptions. Cutscenes between action scenes... incremental power increase after every encounter, not save up the EPs and maybe advance in a game session or three... simpler plotlines (more on the nose and being more of a clue thread than a plotline). This is what they assume fantasy is supposed to be like.

This is farther from my experience than those early gamers who had a hard time dealing with the fact that Elves did not have to be Tolkein like, Empire of the Petal Throne was not just D&D with a different equipment list, and quests were not just excuses to go after a big mcguffin.

So, I need to shift my paradigm a bit to get them hooked in. Then maybe I can get them to shift theirs somes towards a better gaming experience.
So the roleplayer was frustrated that he couldn't roleplay. (Which is amusing, as he wasn't very good at it.) Others were annoyed that we were not killing enough things and were constrained by these roles and social position.

Out next game was full book D&D with all the magic and random wierdness. No longer do we have chivalry and knights. We want magic and wierdnress. Okay... Into the Ruins and Dungeon they go. We did that a couple of times until I burned out and remembered why I hated D&D... i.e. the Dungeon crap.

We moved on to a more advanced system... BRP. They claimed they all wanted to play Steam Punk. Upon later talking to them all, it was obvious that none of them, but one knew what steam punk really was... and he had only seen steampunk people at a con.

Sigh.

So I tailored some BRP rules for steam and Victorian. I helped create rules to sculpt interesting character (steam limbs, cool gear, psionics, magic, or martial arts.) They tried and created characters that were interesting. A few decided to play Assassins Creed in steam. One decided that he would max status and weath so he could boss people around. My player who always wants to throw fireballs... find a pyrokinetic steam engineer. The rest did a good job of finding something they could like to play, even if we went towards anime. They were awful players, but they had fun. (Though they did not want to understand victorian times, steam tech, or anything... they just wanted to ... well mash things.)

We ran a couple of sessions of this. They, in the tradition of players, ignored the six or seven good clues/ plots, and fixated on the one "random clue that did not fit" (which combined with other random clues they were going to encounter in the next four sessions, would make sense). They left the villagers in those eastern mountains to die and headed to America via Airship.... private airship. They made it to Montana... found the big bad behind everything (he was going to liberate every clockwork being!) before he was anywhere near ready (so I upped the time table so we could have explosive endings). So they ended the campaign story arc.

I was a little distraught that they just went to America and left a bunch of people to die... just because "I want to travel by airship".

My next game to teach them was going to be GURPs or Hero. They needed to learn how to play a point based game. BRP was nice, but they needed games with advantages and disadvantages. (Also it was good STEM teaching, working with numbers.) I was going to teach them, but they could not select a setting/ genre/ anything. They were asked a couple of times. Even the outing leader waffled and could not decide.

That brought us to the ultimatum. Kick the Door in or Steampunk murder mystery. Knowing that they hated problem solving, I figured I would just actively try to kill them off in a dungeon.

So in the tradition of players everywhere, they went for door number three. (If you don't get that reference, look up Monty Hall and Let's make a Deal - the gameshow that had a big impact on gaming.)

They opted for Fate - in Feudal Japan.... a game system they didn't know, and a background they really did not know. But they... now I am a FATE believer, so something good came of it.
 
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