This summer I started the boys on the old D&D basic books.  This was an interesting adventure that I recommend for all gamer parents.  And there are lots of resources out there to help and encourage you (I honestly thought that I was the only parent who was “mean” enough to inflict this on share this with my kids):

  • Kevin Makice, writing for Wired’s Geek Dad (I love that blog), talked about the difficulty his kids had in picking up the complexity of 4E, and how he created a DnDish variant that was easier to pick up and quicker to get playing.  In the process of his description, I picked up a lot of good little tips and ideas for what I would do.  Instead of creating a whole new variant of the game, I opted to go all the way back to the simplicity of the Basic ruleset from the Red Box.
    • I started out with one of the digital PDF editions that you can get to from the WotC PDF Store (they aren’t very expensive), thinking that we could play from my tablet.  One of the best parts of the rule books, though , was always being able to curl up in a big chair and learn all the points and characteristics and nuances – having an actually book to hold and pass around, etc.  Also, not being able to keep my finger in a page and flip bcak and forth during character creation with the boys was a pain.  So I eventually went on e-bay and bought the basic, master, and companion sets of the old manuals for cheap.
  • Several people (and here) pointed out WotC’s D&D for Kids (available for free) – I considered this but ultimately decide against it.
  • The had a bunch of great resources that helped us.  This included some good information about the uses of role playing to help promote and develop problem solving and story telling.  This is especially important to me because story telling is my super power.
  • Daniel Danahoo, also writing for Geek Dad, was really helpful as I tried to get my boys to understand the whole concept of attributes and stats.
  • The WotC site has a New to D&D section that helped me to see the game from the point of view of, and explain it to, someone who has no background or pre-exposure to the various concepts.
  • Play D&D With Your Kids on YouTube by aFistFullofDice was influential.
  • We haven’t used it yet, but I like the idea from Heroes Against Darkness of using crackers to represent HP.  Loss HP, eat a cracker.  Crackers are gone, you die.  Drink a potion, add more crackers.  Remember, I’m dealing with kids who had a horrible time getting their heads around attributes and stats.

After we worked through a modified version of the starter solo quest (our younger son is a new reader and I didn’t want to help them both separately through the solo quest, so we modified it a little) and the quest in the DM book, I wasn’t really ready to jump into the supplemental quests.  So I started in on making my own quests.  I found graphics of the classic map elements that I turned into vector graphics (I’ll talk about them in another post), and got to work building maps in Adobe Illustrator.  So I finished up a couple of maps and what happens?  School started and summer ended.  With all the homework and violin and my wife has new voice students – I will let you know how it goes when we finally get around to playing the new quest.  After we battle test it maybe I will put it up here for download.