First Session with Katherine GMing

Over the past years, I've run a few sessions of the Hero Kids RPG for my daughter Katherine (9), her brother Charles (7) and a friend of theirs (8). Hero Kids is kind of a light-weight tactical game with figurines (or cardboard cutouts) moving around a 1-inch dungeon grid.  It is a bit less "theater of the mind" than I usually enjoy, but my daughter in particular has seemed to like it. And suggestions that we might try something without the figures and dungeon tiles had her skeptical that you could get a good idea of where everyone was without them.

Sessions in the past have either used pre-published scenarios or, more often, just me laying out dungeon tiles and plonking down figures at random for her to fight.  Which is fine with her, but I find not very mentally engaging.

So today I suggested that she run a game instead and come up with the adventure herself. She's pretty in to creative projects of any sort, and took to the challenge with gusto. I almost think a part of her wondered why she didn't think of this earlier.  And while her brother and I played a quick board game, she put together a small dungeon for us to fight through.

The system she chose was very loosely based on Hero Kids along with some innovations I didn't entirely follow.  Basically, as I understand it, each turn:
  • Roll 1d6 and move that many spaces.
  • If you're adjacent to an enemy you roll 1d6 to attack, as does the enemy (higher is better).
  • You start with 4 hearts and lose a certain number based on the value of your attack roll vs. that of your enemy (I was unclear on exactly how this worked out.)
  • You could drink a healing potion at the end of your turn.
  • If there was anything other than fighting that it might be fun to roll dice for, roll 1d6 and see what happens (higher is still better).
  • Healing potions might refresh at the end of each fight or dungeon level.
The whole thing was paperless (for the sake of simplicity.  The only things to keep track of being the number of hearts an enemy has left.

Today it was just Katherine, Me and Charles playing. Charles chose a robot for his figure (I think the Game Crafter "future person"), and I semi-randomly grabbed an ancient Libyan warrior with a sword.

We were sent to investigate a dungeon where we'd heard moaning and immediately found an area of stone statues, some of which looked ancient and others which looked like people frozen in place.  Several of these came to life of course, and all were under the control of a paralyzed chicken-wizard being carried by a giraffe/hyena/buffalo thing (old figure from a Naboo playset).

Play progressed through two levels containing several rooms of danger and one room with spells where I managed to summon a lizardman ally and Charles powered-up before we had to confront the big end-boss, a disgusting wizard who wielded his own farts and vomit (saved up in nearby reservoirs over the years).  Who we finally managed to defeat, earning us access to new potion types in town.

Things were a bit chaotic and free-form, really an interesting harmony between free-for-all pretend and organized, by-the-rules roleplaying.  I got the sense that Katherine was really comfortable and excited to improvise a lot throughout this, and she pretty much went with any suggestion Charles or I made, often giving us a chance to at least roll the die to see if something would work or not.

I thought Charles was going to be discouraged after he rolled a bunch of 1s in a row.  But Katherine's flexibility, seemingly fuzzy rules (generally in our favor), and apparent Monty Haul game style, kept him laughing and nearly ecstatic throughout.  By his reckoning it was among the most fun he'd ever had. Katherine herself seemed happy and pleased when we were done.  I think this might have scratched some creative itch she didn't realize she'd had.

So, all round a good first session running the game.


  1. Very nice! Soon you'll be able to toss her a monster manual (any game / edition ... it's really about the art and short descriptions at this stage) and she'll be off to the races.

    1. I've got a shelf full of monster manuals and cool looking game books I've been trying to get them interested in for years. Stuff I would've been fascinated with as a kit. But if it doesn't come from her own head, I just don't think she's interested.

      Case in point: The initial wizard who is a paralyzed chicken, who turned people into stone. I pointed out to her that there's a chicken-headed creature called a cockatrice which turns people into stone. But she immediately indicated that she's aware of cockatrices, but thought a chicken wizard sounded funnier.

  2. Congrats to Katherine!

    Also, I would say that it sounds like she IS interested in things that come from outside her head (like the cockatrice), she just wants to reskin them and make them her own (like a chicken-headed petrifying wizard) before using them. That's not pure imagination, but it is creatively building something new on top of what came before.

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