Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Training Dungeon

So, 6-year old, wants to do D&D. However, there is a problem. Small person, like most other small people (and if you've got a small person, you will know this) tends to get easily disheartened if things don't go his way.

What could be more disheartening than a TPK two rooms in, caused mainly by his total lack of knowledge of the game mechanics? I know that many of us have experienced TPK before and just picked up the 3D6 and gone off and rolled up another character (or now, in this more technological age, logged on to the Dragonsfoot character generator), but then we're not six years old and we can contextualise character death a lot easier than small boys.

Solution - create an environment in which he can learn the mechanics of the game whilst at the same time not losing a precious character or two due shall we say, unfortunate happenings?

Thus, the training dungeon. The concept was that the characters are running through what, for the want of a better term, is a VR dungeon. For them, it's totally real, but each time a character dies, he reappears at the start of the dungeon, intact and ready to restart the adventure. They get no experience points, because they don't face real death. What they do is face situations where their knowledge of the combat system, saving throws, spells and class abilities is expanded and advanced.

I sat down and listed out all the things that needed to be learned and then drew up a list of situations in which those things could be introduced.

Save vs. DEX? A narrow ledge over a diluted green slime pit, with a DEX throw needed every ten feet.

Cleric needs to learn about turning undead? Rooms of zombies, skeletons and ghouls.

The virtues of carrying rope, iron spikes and hammer? Access to the lower levels by 40' shaft only.

And what better introduction to combat than rooms full of goblins, kobolds and orcs, ready for it and tooled up?

You get the picture.

Thanks to Gozzy's map generator (www.Gozzy' - recommended) I soon had three levels and then started stocking them with the created situations. Eventually, I had a 38-room dungeon ready for its first influx of characters, with one aim - explore!

Because that's what it's all about. It's not for nothing that the first B module is called In Search of the Unknown. Exploring is fun, exploring is scary, exploring is not safe - it's like Forrest Gump's life: you never know what you're going to get.

Remember when we were young. And shone like the sun...(oops, too much Pink Floyd). And being scared was the most fun we could have. I can still remember my first dungeon and I should think that most of us can.

However, we got to experience our first exploration in our early to mid teens. My son is a lot younger than that, and needs something that little bit safer to ease him into it. I think that the Training Dungeon is it.

I could have waited until he was in his mid-teens, another six to eight years. But by then, I'd be in my fifties and he might be lost to the X-box and the Wii.

I can't risk that, so that's why I can't wait.

Francis Xavier, a Jesuit leader said "Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man"

Grognards, the man has spoken.

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