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My latest EN World column, Gaming at the Kids' Table, is up as I review +Justin Halliday's Hero Kids. Is it fun for the kids? Is it fun for adults? Is it fun for all-ages? :)

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At ENWorld, I review the all-ages game, Little Wizards. Is it fun for every age? Is it fun at the kids' table?

By the by, there's a free preview of the game at the link within the article.

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At EN World, I reviewed Monster Slayers: Heroes of Hesiod and Champions of the Elements, a pair of free all-ages light board games/light tabletop RPG encounters from Wizards of the Coast to find out if they're fun for the kids? Would they work at the adult's gaming table?

Star Wars Session 1

Session: ~50 Minutes

Welcome back everyone! Tonight we started Session 1 of our Star Wars game. Mom wasn’t able to join us, but we did have a new guest, 6 year old Julian joined the group.

Here is the character line-up:

Julian, age 6:
Seth, age 5: Scout
Mason, age 4: Bounty Hunter
Samantha, age 3: Doctor

For their story, I am using an old West End Games Star Wars module called Starfall. Here is the synopsis:

A group of Rebel agents finds themselves imprisoned aboard a battle-torn Star Destroyer. With them is one of the Alliance’s top engineers, Walex Blissex, designer of the Victory-Class Star Destroyer. They must make their way through the ruined ship to the hangar bay, in hopes of finding an escape craft. The only obstacles between them and freedom are legions of Imperial troops, 900 meters of twisted wreckage, and a ruthless Imperial captain bent on their destruction.

But the Rebels soon discover that their lives and the life of their charge are not all that hangs in the balance. The Star Destroyer, recently pounded by a Rebel strike fleet, is not as wounded as it appears. It has one last weapon to use against the returning Alliance ships. It has itself.

Set to self-destruct, the ravaged engines still contain enough power to obliterate the shattered Star Destroyer and its fast-approaching enemies. Can a handful of Rebels save the unsuspecting fleet before time runs out? This is the challenge that must be faced in Starfall.

The group starts their adventure in a detention cell block just as the Star Destroyer is attacked.

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The group solved some puzzles to open their cell doors. This was the puzzle line up:

Samantha, age 3: Place in proper order, numbers 1-10.
Mason, age 4: Place in proper order, numbers 10-100.
Seth, age 5: Match color words to the proper color.
Julian, age 6: Match opposite words with each other.

Once their cell doors were opened up, they saw the hew of glow rods coming from down a corridor along with the shuffle of boots. The PCs hid in their cells and waited to ambush the unsuspecting guards. Once the guards were in position, they jumped out and attempted to subdue them. Julian and Samantha were able to knock out two of the four guards right away, Mason and Seth struggled to get a good knockout connection. With some assistance from Samantha and Julian, the other guards were knocked out.

While gathering the gear and equipment off the guards, they heard a scream coming from down the other hallway. Rushing to investigate, they come across an open door illuminated by a single glow rod. As they enter the room, they are taken by surprise by an interrogation droid. In the surprise round, Mason takes a direct stun blast and is knocked off of his feet. The others make short work of the droid. Gathering up Walex, they make their way to the main hub of the cell block. As soon as they open the doors, they are greeted with blaster fire from an Imperial officer and three guards.

After the first two rounds, Seth took a direct hit and lost half of his hit points, and the beginning of the third round saw Samantha go down. By the end of the 4th round, all of the Imperials were defeated. The group looked for and discovered some med kits and administered aid to Samantha, granting her 2 hit points gained.

This is where we ended the session and we will pick up the adventure next Sunday!

Here is my Sunday Update - We will be starting our Star Wars campaign next week instead of tonight as I have family in town.

That being said, the kids are super sad about it and there have been tantrums surrounding this issue. I take this as a good thing because the kids love it enough to throw a fit when they don't get to play... much like daddy when he doesn't get to play :P

See you in a week!

Session 5: ~ 35 minutes

As the group completes the lock combination, the doors large locking mechanisms slowly rotate into motion. The doors are pushed open to reveal a large chamber. Surrounding the room are cages filled with the village children and sitting at a table munching on a cow sits a giant!

The giant pauses from his meal and looks up to notice the adventurers. “You fools, you think you can save these children?!? You must face me first!”

The giant jumped over his table while grabbing his club and charged in attacking Seth. His swing went wild and missed! Seth returned the attack and his sword struck home. The battle raged on for several rounds with lots and lots of poor rolls, but in the end, the adventurers felled the giant!

Their next challenge was to unlock the cages holding the children. The puzzles were to identify shapes and size match them. For this puzzle I used cut up 3×5 cards and each puzzle consisted of 4 pieces. Two pieces had a shape of equal size and the other two pieces had the same shape but a different size.

Seth was able to figure out his puzzle rather quickly but learned what an octagon was and how the word “oct” represented the number 8. The other two were able to solve their puzzles with minimal assistance.

After freeing the children, they made their way back to the village and were received as heroes. The group then returned home with the stolen treasures and were greeted by grateful and proud families and villagers.

This ended the first campaign for the kids. They have decided to run a Star Wars campaign next and I am excited to report on how that goes to you!

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Session 4: ~55 minutes

We left the heroes as they were entering a cave guarded by some Orcs and Goblins. As they entered the cave, they saw a murky hallway lit by low burning torches and heard the laments of children and the roaring banter of Orcs and Goblins echoing off the cave walls. The group investigated the left hallway first which led to a doorway. The door was unlocked and opened to a treasure storage room with a sleeping goblin. They knocked the goblin out and tied him up and searched for their towns missing treasures.

After a bit of searching, they found what they were looking for along with some more powerful swords for the knights, a bow for the druid and a new wand for the wizard.

They investigated the opposite end of the hallway to find a chamber full of sleeping orcs and goblins. They quietly left them alone and continued their search for the missing children. The next hallway they came to ended in a large double door with light glowing from beneath it. Beyond the doors they heard chatter and banter of Orcs and Goblins. The continued down the main corridor to the next hallways. The left hall ended in the same as the last, double doors with voices behind them.

They investigated the other end of the hall and found an unlocked and a locked door. The unlocked door led to the bathroom which smelled so icky.

The locked door needed to be unlocked. To unlock the door, each child had to draw a shape.

Samantha had to draw a square

Seth a Triangle

Mason a Circle

After each child drew their shape, the door unlocked and led to a short hallway with four doors, two on each side. The doors on the left led to empty rooms but Orcs were found in the other two rooms sleeping. The group battled them and achieved victory. Samantha finishing the first one off with a fireball and Seth the second with a vicious strike from his new sword.

They continued on in the main corridor and came to a large doorway which was locked. Beside the door were three very interesting shapes which had to be corrected.

Once the children corrected the shapes, the doors unlocked to a large chamber filled with cages. They had found the kidnapped children and a large Giant guarding them!

~End session~

Session 3: ~50 minutes
We have a new addition to the party as of this session. Mom was invited to play and she accepted! She decided to play a druid that could shape change into a wolf.
We got to use the new dice and they worked great! One tweak that made sense to me was to, instead of the player rolling the difficulty die in some situations, I would roll one and apply the result to everyone's roll.
For example, when rolling a notice check, everyone would roll their respective die for that skill and I would roll the difficulty die and apply it to everyone's result.
In other instances, I would allow the player to roll the difficulty die along with their action. I am looking forward to testing this method/mechanic more.
The Story:
Last session the group left a half burning village on a mission to recover their kidnapped children. A druid overheard the town elder requesting that the young adventurers find them and joined the group in the search.
They made their way up the winding mountain paths and came across what appeared to be a very distraught ogre. Taking the shape of the wolf, the druid slowly approached the ogre.
The ogre taking notice, simply told the wolf to go away and continued in his own misery.
The wolf left and returned as an elf asking the ogre what was wrong.
The ogre responded sadly: "My shoelace came undone while I was walking and I tripped and fell. I'm ok, but I can't tie my shoelace."
The young adventurers were eager to assist this ogre with tying his shoe.
I then produced a shoe and had each of the kids practice tying the laces. Once all the kids successfully tied the shoelaces, we continued the story.
The ogre, very grateful that someone had assisted him in his time of need, told them that not 2 hours ago a large group of orcs, goblins and children passed by heading up the mountain. He bade them farewell and continued on his own journey while the adventurers continued up the mountain.
Running, they reached a camp surrounded by wooden pikes at the mouth of a large cave in the mountain. The only entrance was guarded by an orc with several goblins and another orc visible within the camp.
The small party decided to move around to the left side of the camp and dig a few pikes out to enter the camp. Looking in the make-shift wooden huts, they searched for any sign of the missing children, but they were not there.
They decided to search the cave next but the mouth of the cave was guarded by another goblin. The two knights (Seth and Mason) threw rocks in two different directions to distract the orcs and goblins and snuck in the cave.
The session ended there and the run-time was ~50 minutes. I'm looking forward to their first dungeon crawl next week!

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Session 2:
The kids decided to change the type of characters they were playing... so that being said, here is their new lineup:
Seth - Age 5
Knight with Sword & Shield
Mason - Age 4
Knight with Sword & Shield
Samantha - Age 3
Wizard with fireballs and force field spells
Shortly after the victory in the arena, the kids were asked to retrieve a stolen gem and some gold that was stolen by some monsters from the mountain. Eagerly they agreed.
They started down the long road towards the mountain and were ambushed by some wolves. They fared very well. There were 4 wolves and the two knights escaped with minor bite wounds while the wizard escaped unharmed.
After a bit more travel, they finally arrived at the base of the mountain where a village rests. The village was in flames as the village leader rushed to greet the kids.
He begged for their assistance. The town had just been attacked by monsters from the mountain and all of the kids had been taken away! The monsters were only a few hours ahead.
This is where we ended the session. We played for 30-45 minutes. The kids were eager to continue (and are still talking about it!) but I don't want to give them too much too soon.
We also got to work on number recognition for Samantha, and simple addition and subtraction for Seth and Mason. All in all, this session was a success!
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I have officially picked up some difficulty dice and marked them accordingly. Here's how it works:
Green difficulty = up to a -2 (4 blank sides, one -1 and one -2)
Yellow difficulty = up to a -3 (3 blank sides, one -1, one -2 and one -3)
Red difficulty = up to a -4 (2 blank sides, -1 to -4 on the remaining sides)
Black difficulty = up to a -6 (all sides represent a -X)
I am thinking about adding an orange die for the up to -4, making the - 6 the red die and the black difficulty a D8 with up to a -8 difficulty.
I will be play testing this on Sunday and will update then.
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