I managed to clear my schedule this week to help Tavis with his after-school D&D program. I guess this is Week 4? (I probably shouldn’t call this Part 2, since it’s the fourth week, but hey.)
My job was to help one of this week’s Dungeon Masters with her prep, and to help her batch of kids stay focused. Five things were noteworthy:
1. Our first sandbox!
Although Tavis had observed several railroad adventures in Weeks 2 and 3, this time around we had our first sandbox dungeon. “My” Dungeon Master RaQuel, with help from her dad, obtained one of those poster-sized battle maps used in 4e: a small town adjoining the ruins of a castle. The Dungeon Master had prepared a little encounter in each building, which could be explored in any order. The encounters were plausible, interesting, and (weakly) interconnected. It was delightful to see. (I think Tavis said her dad used to be a gamer, and she admitted he helped her a little; I’m curious how involved he was with the design. But regardless, it was very well done.)
2. Our first GMPC.
“Okay . . . So, this fire goblin jumps on your head! He is eating your brain!”
“Ha ha ha, my brain…. my brain . . . . it’s so big, it’ll be a big meal!”
“Okay, so when the fire goblin is eating your brain, he becomes good. He’s a good guy now. He is your slave because of your brain. He is like, ‘Yes master!’ because your brain is so strong.”
(a round later)
“The fire goblin turns into a boulder. [Places wad of tinfoil on the map.] It’s a boulder made of tinfoil. With eyes in it. And the tinfoil is like really good armor.”
(a round later)
“Okay, you could run to the tower, but the Fire Tinfoil Goblin says, ‘Master, jump on me, I’ll roll there, I’m faster.’ Okay, so do you jump on him to roll there?”
(a round later)
“The prisoner won’t leave without his parakeet, but the parakeet wants food. There’s a peanut in the tinfoil goblin! It says, ‘Master, I have the food. If you want it.’ Do you want it?”
3. You Will Never Guess What Victor Did!!
The Dungeon Master wrote on the map “Adohna’s Chest!” But then Victor wrote down “MAdonhna’s Chest” and we opened it! Hee hee hee!
(This was, to the 8 year old boys, indescribably hilarious. They hero-worship the 12-year-old boys like Victor.)
4. Elementary School Teachers are Vastly Under-Appreciated
Spending 80 minutes supervising 5 little kids and getting them to focus on something is hard work. Oh man. One kid was literally bouncing off the walls, doing flips over the sofa, doing weird postures that would break his neck if any other rambunctious child bumped into him. (As a lawyer, I look at this child and see FUTURE PERSONAL INJURY PLAINTIFF written on his forehead.)
I don’t know how teachers handle 30 of these little dudes. I leave the classroom and want a belt of rum just to steady my nerves.
5. These Kids Like D&D
Leaving the session, I asked Joan (one of the other Dungeon Masters), “So, hey, is this stuff fun?” And Joan responded, “Yes! It’s my favorite game, even more than chess!” Which made me feel really happy.