Just a quick announcement – Hero Forge Games, the makers of the Hero Kids! RPG system have published an adventure I wrote. Entitled Fire In Rivenshore, it challenges the heroes with putting out a fire in their home village. All is not as it seems however, and the kids must find the source of the fire – and grapple with a moral dilemma at the very end. More than just a “kill the monsters and gather the treasure” adventure – this adventure could even spark discussions on “the right thing to do” with your children! Check it out on DriveThruRPG. If you haven’t played Hero Kids! yet, I highly recommend it.
In recent years, we’ve seen a definite uptick in the number of RPGs aimed at kids. I think it has a lot to do with a generation of gamers who want to get their children involved in the hobby, and are looking for something that is less rules intense than D&D, GURPS, or Rolemaster. The market has responded (not a comprehensive list by any means), and as a parent myself, I couldn’t be happier. Being able to sit down with my kids and share my hobby with them is pretty fun, and if there’s a product that helps me do it, I’m all for it.
Hero Kids is one of the newer entrants in this category. It was developed by Justin Halliday, who you probably know from the adult RPG Heroes Against Darkness. The game is smooth, simple, fun, and definitely geared towards kids. But that doesn’t mean “dumbed down.” It just means “not overly complicated.”
This weekend, I was all set to test the RPGKids! system with my kids. I had the tokens. I read the adventure. I had the dice ready. Then, Sunday evening, the three year old was wound up beyond any hope of being able to sit and concentrate on… well, anything. So we didn’t play. In the downtime created by her hyperactivity, however, I had a brainstorm.
Every player is supposed to start the game with two vials of medicine. Instead of using the checkboxes on the character card, why not make a token that the player has to turn in when they use the medicine? And, of course, you can hand out more medicine tokens when the party finds treasure. Of course, I had to take that a step further… why not a whole bunch of potions to hand out to players?
I’m a big proponent of tactile elements to the game; from the dice to the miniatures to the poker chips I give my players as Action Points. So, here are the potions I came up with; when I first made them, I had something specific in mind, but upon further reflection, the symbol on each one could mean a lot of different things, so I also included some ideas for using them.
Ok, this one is medicine, and I wouldn’t recommend muddling the issue by assigning a different meaning to the symbol.
Makes the character fly for a certain amount of time
Gives the character the ability to talk to birds
Falling from high up doesn’t hurt the character
Character can control the wind
Character can run really fast
Character can breathe underwater
Unlimited water gushes out when you open the stopper
Character can talk to water creatures
Character can walk on water
Turns character invisible
Smashing causes a “twin” of the character to appear for a certain amount of time
Character can see in the dark
Character can see invisible things
Character can see far away
Character gets a bonus to search checks
Character can make someone else blind
Grants a reroll
Character can switch their “role” (e.g. a healer can become a
wizard) for a certian amount of time
Character is swapped with another character at the table for a certain amount of time
Character can go back and change a decision they made
You can download the PDF here. I’ll be adding it to the downloads section soon, and if you appreciate the work involved in making these, that’s where you can donate to the blog. They’re one inch wide, so the round punch mentioned in the last RPGKids! article I wrote should work great to cut them out. I would also use the foam mentioned in that article as backing for the tokens.
What other uses can you think of for the potions? What kinds of potions would you like to see me make next?
Back when NewbieDM first came out with his updated version (1.5) of RPGKids! the praise for it was so fierce that I went and bought it, downloaded it… and let it sit on my hard drive. “This would be a great game to play with my kids,” I thought to myself, though finding the time to pursue such an idea was a bit hard to come by. Ok, maybe that’s a lame excuse; “we find the time for the things we want to do,” yes, I know. At any rate, the PDF sat quietly in my “D&D” folder waiting to be rediscovered. Then, just last week, NewbieDM got a nod from the superblog Boing Boing, and my interest was reignited. I printed out the PDF (in color!), and flipped through the awesomely simple rules and the included adventure. “This is great,” I thought, “my three year old may be a little young, and my eleven year old may be a little old, but I’ll make it work. We’re going to play this weekend.” As an aside, I will say that this is a very complete product. Printed out on a color printer, you have the rules, the adventure, tokens, character cards, and all the maps you need to run the adventure. Perfect.
I had a problem though. I wanted to use the fun monster and player tokens that came with the game, but even printed out on cardstock, they were difficult to pick up and move around the map. Definitely not kid friendly. So I went to work to make them better for little hands.
To make the tokens easier to use, all I really needed was a third dimension. Paper thin tokens (quite literally) are difficult to get your fingers under, and you end up either sliding them to the edge of the table, or bending them to your will. Well, ok, just bending them. My solution to this problem was stupidly simple: foam sheets. I don’t know if there’s an “official” name for this stuff, but it’s a sheet of flexible foam about 1/8″ thick, about the size of a sheet of paper, and comes in all different colors. You can find it in the kid’s craft section of your local craft store; you’ll spend about $2 for the amount you’ll need for this project… and will have lots left over for the tokens in the next adventure Newbie is inevitably going to write.
Now, technically speaking, that’s all you need, aside from a ruler and an exacto knife or a pair of scissors. There is one tool that would make the job easier and quicker, but it is a little expensive if all you’re doing is making the tokens for RPGKids!.
Most craft stores sell different types of hole punches in the scrapbooking aisle (oh, the places I go for you readers…). You can get shapes, borders, and yes, 1″ circles. The punch runs $10 to $15, but be sure to look for the weekly “40% off 1 item” coupon that most craft stores put out. I was too cheap to buy one, but if you’re the type to make your own tokens on a regular basis, I would highly recommend such a tool to make token manufacture simpler. (Note: I actually found the “make your own tokens” article on Newbie’s site while I was writing this article, and after I had completed the project, though I realize that it makes me look like a big cheater. I do think the foam is a better medium than metal washers or wooden discs. It’s way cheaper and lighter.)
I chose red for the monsters and green for the PCs, just so the kids would have another visual cue when playing the game. I also wrote the monster’s name on the back so that there’s a “hurt” side. If I had been feeling especially ambitious, I would have printed out a second set of the tokens for the reverse side, and put a red dot, or X or something on them to indicate hurt. The actual cutting of the tokens and foam went really quickly; the foam is very soft material, and I just had to zip off 26-ish 1″ squares. A little elmer’s glue, and voila! Lightweight, kid-friendly tokens.
It’s funny how, for me, these little “prep” projects really get me excited to play a game. As I said before, I’ll be playing this weekend (hopefully), and I will definitely be writing about how it goes. I’m interested to see if the three year old “gets” it, and if the eleven year old gets bored. I’m thinking yes to the first, and no to the second, but then, I’m an optimist. Until then, I’ll be studying the adventure!