My daughter’s first game of #dnd

So as a kind of tradition I teach my children how to play dungeons and dragons on their 11th birthday; the age I was when I discovered the magic of D&D.

This last Friday it was my daughter’s turn.  We took a trip to Dr. No’s for her first set of dice and her own miniature.  She picked out a pistol wielding piratess.  When we got home after her birthday dinner we got right to work building her character. 

After about an hour of the basics of statistics, classes, races and skills, we wound up with an eladrin ranger built to be a pirate.  So Sammy began her first adventure, traveling on her ship under the command of Captain John (she picked his name as part of her backstory).

I was working off the cuff on this with only about 45 minutes of bainstorming to make a couple hours of gameplay but I managed to have five basic story arcs that she would pick from.  Her ship pulled into port to unload “liberated” goods and Captain John gave her some gold and a note to deliver to an old friend of his. 

She wandered the marketplace and bought a candied rubarb stick before stumbling across a strange tent of dark red fabric.  The odd thing was if you looked at it from a different angle the cloth looked bluish (protip: this is a sledgehammer clue).

She avoided the tent but stumbled into Captain John’s friend and exchanged the note for an elaborate and ancient key.  She immediately took this to her ship only to find that Cpt. John was nowhere to be found.  She asked around town about him but to no avail.

This is where my dear girl threw me for a loop.  She took over the story!  She said she searched around and found Cpt. John’s bootprints in the mud leading towards the odd tent.  I accepted that and told her that as she neared the tent everything grew quiet, as if listening through thick wool.

This was because everyone was stopping and staring at her, she said.  I told her the flap of the tent was open, but she couldn’t see more than a couple of feet within. 

It was an illusionary door according to her, and an unseen servant opened it.

Inside, the tent was a riot of color, the muted outside hiding the spectacular array of vibrancy within. 

She said that the same illusionary door acted as a prism from within, making the colors dance from any light outside.

An old man was seated at a low table behind a curtain of gausy material and bid her take one of the cards he presented her.  Reversed, they showed a skull, a leaf, a crystal, a mushroom and a snake.  She chose the mushroom.  The old man faded away, leaving her alone in the tent.  She also noticed that all the noise from outside was gone.

This was the second time she blew my story out of the water: the noise was gone because when she walked outside, the market was empty, and mushrooms were growing from every surface.  She narrated how she tiptoed through the mushrooms and found Cpt. John near the boat.  Together they boarded the ship and found the crew in the brig.

Working with what she gave me, this went a little darker than I wanted.  Some of the crew had eaten the mushrooms and were becoming ill.  She retired to her quarters and while pondering the meaning of her card, fell asleep.  Sammy awoke several hours later with a feeling of unease.  Something wasn’t right, the ship was too quiet.

She went to her door and almost opened it when she heard an eerie susseration in the hall outside.  Pulling the door open a crack, she saw that only a handfull of the lanterns were lit, and a vague shape was shuffling around in the hold at the end of the hallway.  As she watched it, another figure moved in front of the door, one of the ill crew members.  His skin had a chalky sort of pall to it and he had odd protrusions on his arms. 

I proceeded to describe how her fellow crew members were slowly turning into mushroom men (myconids for you grognards), and were propogating the same mushroom she saw on her card.

She said she closed the door and held the card in front of her and said the first word that came to her mind.  It was a magic word that made the old man appear.  He told her that the card was evil and bad luck.

I agreed and explained that the mushrooms were a powerful reagent that she needed for the times ahead, and that she should not trust Cpt. John with the key (PT: that’s called foreshadowing). 

She said that the old man disappeared and his assistant showed up to help her with the mushroom men.

His assistant was a shadow, who told her how to fight them and provided her with a bag of spores that would counteract the mushrooms natural pheremones that caused people to want to eat them so they would be safe to carry.

She exited her room, expertly dashed the mushroom men’s perception checks and snuck her way up on deck, only to find it completely deserted.

Her response was that there were longboats on the side of the ship and she took one, leaving the ship to row back to the mainland. Also, there was a hole in the boat.

I had to stop here. “Wait…the pirate ship is sinking?”

“Yeah, we put a bunch of bombs in the bottom of it.  SILENT bombs, but they worked too.”

I figured what the hell, lets run wih it.  So she’s rowing away, and as the ship is sinking, a figure climbs the mast and leaps into the water. 

“Is it swimming towards me?”


“I keep rowing.”

“It can’t catch you if you keep rowing.”

“Oh, then I wait for a minute.”

I describe that she can’t quite make out the figure, but it’s certainly swimming towards her.

She says that it’s Cpt. John, and he’s growing mushrooms too, and they’re getting bigger as she’s watching.  She waits till he’s almost at the boat and throws some of the powder on him, because the powder can also get rid of the mushrooms if she really really wants the person infested with them to get better. 

We ended the session with her and Cpt. John rowing towards civilization.

Now!  Dillema: I want my daughter to enjoy D&D as much as possible, but I also want her to stretch herself when faced with a challenge, not just change the story.  Should I let her co-storytell or enforce my right as DM and call her on her Deus Ex Machina of the story?  I’m figuring somewhere in between, but i’d love some advice from you, my handful of readers.


~ by darkpatu on November 20, 2011.

6 Responses to “My daughter’s first game of #dnd”

  1. I often wonder how and when I’ll introduce any of my own children to the game. Thanks for sharing this story!

    • Like I said, it’s kind of a traditional 11’th birthday thing with my kids. Though, I did state before we made this rule that I was waiting until I felt confident that they could understand the rules of the game, OR until they were 11. Guess which came first?

  2. There’s something to be said for creative players. They add a lot to the nature and spirit of the game. However, I’d advocate against letting her ret-con or alter the story. I’ve run across to many players that just “find” or “overhear” important information or widgits. In a One-to-One game its cute. In a party setting it’s highly annoying to thw other players. It also makes the game boring over time.

    The challenges are to be overcome or out thought, not just written out of the story,

    My 2 cents.

  3. I would allow her to make stuff up as long as it didn’t change the story, but actually changing the tone and the story you have set up is a no-no. You let her do that and she will never find a game she’ll be happy with again.

    • I allowed it since it was her first game and she just wanted to have fun with it. I’m running another game for her and her brother this week since they have the whole damned week off for thanksgiving and we’ll make sure she understands what her limitations are. It needs to be ‘can I do…’ instead of ‘this is what…’. But as a first game, she got into it pretty well.

  4. Sounds like she wants to DM!
    It’s a tricky scenario. You could try explaining to her how coop roleplay works, how it’s like improvising within circumstances someone else gives you. Maybe get her to play a game with her siblings there as well, so she can see how they do it?
    I wish you luck!

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