I admit, I barely had enough energy to do this (stupid cold — I’m recovering, but I still have to take it pretty easy on physical activity, or I get shaky and have to go lie down for a while), but I did manage to run a 13th birthday D&D game for Anand, Kavi, and two friends.
Complicated by the fact that I’ve never actually been DM for real D&D, and one of the kids HAS, and so periodically she was (quietly) correcting me when I got things wrong — I tend to take a very…loose…approach to the classic mechanics, since I don’t really know how they work.
But I learned some stuff, and she was patient with me, as only a 15-year-old can be with a slow-but-well-meaning adult. After the game, she asked if I’d ever DM’d before, and I said no, not for real D&D, and she said I’d done a good job for my first time, which I think was mostly her being kind. She’s a very nice kid! I need to drop her mom a note and tell her so!
But I think they all had fun regardless — I asked Anand if he wanted a silly or a serious game, and he went for silly (using the map he drew in my game design class a few years ago), so I could unleash all my birthday goofiness. At various points in the game:
– a massive wind blew across the plains, and they had to blow party noisemakers to give their strength a boost to try to stand up against it (some of them still fell down, alas, and broke some of their gear in the process, but that’s the way the dice roll sometimes…)
– they staggered, bruised and battered, into a village that was in the midst of its annual Masquerade of Healing, and if they put on birthday masks and joined in the dance (yes, I made them actually get up and dance) for at least five seconds, they were healed of all their wounds
– after another battle, in the dense forest, they encountered the unicorn guardian of the forest, that protected the trees, and if they put on pointy birthday hats, they could pass as trees, and be healed by the unicorn
– the kids all pointed out loudly at this point that it would make more sense if they were supposed to be passing as other unicorns, instead of trees, but will this DM put up with someone critiquing her storytelling mid-game? well, yes, she did, because she had to admit that that would’ve made more sense, but we stuck with the trees anyway….
– and so on. There were also various points when they discovered treats and treasure, which came out from behind my GM shield — Jaffa cakes and strawberries, as it turned out.
A very silly game, but we ran the whole thing in an hour (with an hour beforehand for rolling up characters), which was about as much energy as I could manage, and I think they all had fun.
It was Kavi’s first D&D game, and even with me fudging the mechanics quite a bit, I think she got at least a little sense of it. She’s still not super-enthused, but her friends are, so we might be able to coax her into playing again, especially if I can figure out how to run a game that’s less combat-focused. The tricky thing is that Anand loves the combat. So combat for him, but something else for her. Something to ponder….