We had our final Dungeons and Dragons game in Game Club for the year and we all had fun! Emma, Heaven, Ana, Liam, and Candace joined me.
Two big things that I’ve learned this year from running two groups of teenagers:
1) It is easier to run large groups of teen role-players than adult role-players
Why? A couple of reasons. First, teens are role-playing to have a good time. They are just happy to be there. They don’t have the often high expectations that adult role-players have. Second, the teens I game with aren’t as hung up on the mechanics and the numbers and they are largely more interested in exercising raw creativity. So, if your players aren’t in it for the numbers, you don’t have to spend a lot of time mining numbers. Adult role-players have a tendency to fight for the DM’s attention. None of these experiences make adult role-players “bad” and teen role-players “good”. It means that the focus is more shifted to a style of game that allows for many more players.
2) I can’t run two groups and give a great experience to all students at Game Club.
This year was just a little unfair to students who like tactical games like Battletech and X-wing Miniatures. I introduced them for a few weeks and then they disappeared as I tried to fix our RPG problems. Many of the kids overlapped both styles of games, but many didn’t. This is part of the reason why I’m going all Tactical for the Overday.
Now with this year’s reflection out of the way, what actually happened in the game?? 😀
When last we left our fearless adventurers, they had just defeated a series of Umber Hulks in the mines below Snowspire Castle. Given that we had done quite a bit of combat this year, I knew that we needed to end with an emphasis on story and puzzle solving.
I used the same puzzle as last game, with a different context and some modifications. You can read about the basics of the “light” puzzle here.
For this variant, I started with the story context. In our last adventure, we had defeated the Umber Hulks. I started this adventure by emphasizing a change in Spinett, the resident NPC. Spinett has earned a reputation of boisterously panning party members for perceived incompetence. At the start of this session, Spinett got serious.
Spinett gazed off into space and mumbled. As the PCs listened, they found that she was saying that she convinced that she had been in this mind before as a little girl. She remembered dark things happening in the mine when she was a child. Just as she was about to explain this terrible omen and why the PCs should leave the Castle, an Umber Hulk burst through the ground, grabbed her, and ran into the same tunnel assembly as in the prior puzzle.
I made this puzzle slightly different in that I added a new movement option. In this puzzle, I allowed players to attempt to “push themselves”
Also, the basic setup was different. In the last puzzle, the PCs were chasing a monster. In this version, they are chasing a monster who had kidnapped someone, which introduces another liability that they have to contend with. At times, I determined whether there was a chance if an attack might hit Spinett instead of the Umber Hulk.
The puzzle unfolded as it did before. There was another Umber Hulk in the matrix and Candace’s and Heaven’s characters got beat up pretty badly by this second Umber Hulk.
The other players fanned out and searched for Spinett. Spinett wasn’t a “passive damsel”, by any stretch, and got some sound hits on the Umber Hulk before a “1” roll cost her the battleaxe.
After about six rounds Emma and Ana caught up with the Umber Hulk carrying Spinett and got some good hits in. Emma got Spinett free and finished off the adventure by using her Bag of Tricks. She rolled a “Giant Boar” result on the table. I had her make a ranged touch attack with the result and she rolled higher than the Umber Hulk’s very high 18 defense! With that result the Boar went right into the Umber Hulk’s face, Spinett rolled away, and the Boar landed on top of the already wounded Umber Hulk!
Mission accomplished! For next year, I promised to give any participant a quality magical weapon and either 1000 gold pieces to buy fun equips, or the option to get a “home base” like the other group elected.
Looking forward, I have one student, Ali, who might be willing to DM. She is very capable and has gained a lot of confidence this year. Next year, I will run one game of ten students, randomly drawn for a pool. Ali might run a game with a number of participants of her choosing. This will free me up for tactical games next year, so I can serve all students.
It was a great year and we accomplished alot, despite the stress needed to make it happen. Thanks again for our not so mysterious anymore benefactor, DJ, who contributed a lot of books and supplies to Club. They made a HUGE difference, allowing us to focus on the fun, and we did just that. Dungeons and Dragons is alive and well! Camaraderie, critical thinking, and shared goals are bring practiced!