I’m having some real fun right now. My oldest son, age 7, has been aware for quite a few weeks now that I’m planning something for him. Something big. Something new. Something adventurous! Oh, and he gets to invite a bunch of friends to participate, too. School is starting this week, and I’m going to give him a chance to pick a handful of his new classmates to come over and play a game together — Adventure Maximus.
What began as a Kickstarter project is now an actual RPG system that’s in my hands and ready to go. Designed for ages 8 and up (but kids MUCH younger are playing it), it’s billed as “a role playing game adults & kids can both enjoy.” After reading through the rules and examining all the included materials (including a lot of free content), there is no doubt in my mind that my son and his friends are going to love this!
I’ll be doing a future writeup on the actual gameplay, but today I just want to go over some of the basics of gameplay and share with you some details in case any GeekDad readers might be looking for an RPG to play with their kids.
First and foremost, Adventure Maximus is a role playing game. Players will create characters with various stats and abilities, weapons and tools, and a few other surprises. There’s even a Hero sheet (see image below) where a player can provide a name and a sketch while tracking other details such as armor, health, and willpower.
Look closely at the character sheet and you’ll see some rectangular areas running down the left side of the sheet. Adventure Maximus is also a card game… sort of. When creating a character, for example, players will draw three random Race cards and then pick one to put in the Race box on the Hero Sheet. Other cards that are drawn include the Class card. Depending on the Race and Class you select, you will also pick a certain number of Spell, Equipment, and Action cards. The items found on these cards will help to calculate some of the character’s stats such as Armor or Willpower and more.
Rules? Yes, there are rules… but they’re not near as complicated as many typical RPGs. Gameplay revolves around various basic Skills and a roll of the Maximus dice. There’s Initiative to determine which player (or monster) goes first in a battle or encounter, and to some extent there are a few “consumables” called Action Tokens that each character uses up as they perform certain actions, but in most cases the adventure is story driven and involves players informing the Maximus Master of their intentions and a decision about whether that action requires a dice roll or not.
Regarding the dice, there are five d6 — each die has three blank sides and the other three show one sword, two swords, or the Maximus symbol. The dice mechanic will definitely appeal to kids as it’s easy to calculate the results quickly AND the Maximus symbol counts not only as two swords but you can roll that die again. Like rolling a natural 20, rolling a Maximus symbol or two pretty much guarantees success for most basic actions. Want to try something really heroic? The Maximus Master might decide it takes a total Maximus dice roll of 10 swords… a completely possible event but still with a bit of hold-your-breath, will-he-pull-this-off (??) kind of tension.
With most RPGs, the referee/gamemaster either creates an adventure from scratch or purchases a ready-made one. While creating a custom adventure is possible with Adventure Maximus (and actually encouraged as players become comfortable with the rules and take turns playing the Maximus Master), what’s really cool about AM is the built-in adventure generator. It all starts with the Adventure Sheet shown in the image below.
There are three phases to an adventure. The Maximus Master can quickly create an adventure by randomly selecting specific cards to place in the nine squares on this sheet. The adventure starts on the bottom row, where a Map card, a Treasure card, and a Creature card are placed. It’s still up to the Maximus Master to tell an engaging story, but these cards can help fill in the blanks. The first and second row are just the introduction to the adventure, with the players encountering non-Boss-level creatures in a variety of settings and with some great rewards that include magical weapons and tools and armor. With the top row, however, players will find themselves in the final battle against a formidable Boss creature guarding the ultimate award or awards.
King Stinkafink has selected you lucky adventurers to journey far to the Foothills of Fungus to retrieve his prized Magic Duct Tape from the loathsome Trimera — “half dragon, half lion, half ram, and all mean.” (Yes, there’s a lot of humor in this game, too!)
Let’s talk about cards. Monsters, armor, weapons, race, class, map, spells, equipment and action cards. Hundreds of cards. The Kickstarter unlocked even more cards, and most all of them are available as expansion packs that can be purchased from the official Adventure Maximus Store.
In addition to cards, fans of Adventure Maximus might also enjoy learning a bit more about the world of AM. For that, I’ll point you to Frandalf’s Guide: The Realms of Ex-Machina — this fun little read covers all the various map cards along with some rumors and myths that can help flesh out your adventures. And if you feel like adding your own creations to the world, you can also buy blank cards to create your own map locations, weapons, armor, and more.
My son has seen the box and glimpsed some of the stuff inside… but I’ve managed to keep most of it a secret. What I’m really liking about the game and the rules is how easy it’s going to be to get this group started playing and then hopefully let them run with it. One of the goals of the game is for kids to take over as Maximus Master themselves, and lead their friends through an adventure of their own design. Using the Adventure Sheet will help, but if your kids are like mine, creativity isn’t going to be a problem. I fully expect my son and his friends to grasp the game quickly and then start making up their own adventures and using the cards to support their wild tales.
As I stated earlier, I plan on documenting the first game (or two) and sharing details in a later post along with some photos. But before the adventure begins, I need to gather the players. And for that, I need to give a very big THANK YOU to George Vasilakos, President and Art Director of Eden Studios and creator of Adventure Maximus for helping out with a very special request (along with Francis James Hogan!). I reached out to George and asked him to design me a simple little postcard that I could have printed and delivered to my son’s friends. George delivered. Here’s a link to the PDF — as you can see, the file contains two cards per 8.5×11 page — both in full-color on front and back. THANK YOU, George!
My son’s invite cards are being printed early this week and a date set for the adventure. I’m going to let my son deliver the postcards to his friends at school… and hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have 4-5 (or more) of his friends over for an event that I don’t think they’ll forget for some time. (I plan on including my phone number for parents to call if they have any questions.)
If you’d like more information on Adventure Maximus, you can check out the original Kickstarter project or point a web browser to the official Adventure Maximus website where you’ll find some freebie downloads (such as the Hero Sheet PDF and some printable figure flats in lieu of metal miniatures), some videos of gameplay, artwork examples, and access to the game’s user forums.
NOTE: I also highly recommend downloading the free rulebook (PDF) and seeing for yourself just how amazing this game is and how easy it is to setup and play.