On Wednesday nights, I head over to Titan Games & Comics for my weekly D&D fix; I’m one of four DMs running a table of up to six players. My two boys (ages 8 and 5) know about my gaming night and the oldest really wants to start going, but I’m holding off until he’s a few years older. Until then, I’ve been giving them twice-a-week adventures using the Adventure Maximus RPG. It’s a perfect fit for my two boys–you don’t get killed (or kill) in the game… characters and villains and lackeys get knocked out when their hearts drop too low and they have to go rest and sleep it off. The weapons and armor and equipment that can be carried are often quite silly (in name and function), as are the bad guys.
Note: You can read my previous coverage of Adventure Maximus here.
One thing I really appreciate about the game is how fast it is to setup an adventure. Included in the box is a small poster sheet with nine blank spaces forming a 3 x 3 grid. For the first column of squares, you pull out three location cards from the various decks of cards that come with the game. The second column is where you pull out the reward/treasure cards… and the third column is where you place two regular monsters and one boss. The cards are kept hidden by the Maximus Master, or MM. The players also build characters (with an amazingly colorful character sheet) by dropping cards into slots such as class, race, spells, and equipment–there’s even a place for a player to draw a sketch of their character. Play then moves forward by telling a silly story that can be created by the players using a MadLib-style of narrative. Basically, “you find yourself in ______ where the _____ has been stolen/discovered/etc. and is guarded by ______.” There’s quite a bit more detail here, including hundreds of cards to choose from for villains and treasure and locales. In a nutshell, though… the MM (me) can quickly create a fun little adventure for young players.
The game mechanics are fairly straightforward, with color-coded stats (green for ranged weapons, red for up-close-and-personal) that help players keep track of their modifiers. Everything is done by rolling the Maximus Dice, counting up swords, rerolling any die that shows the Maximum symbol (which counts as two swords plus the reroll). Equipment/weapon cards have modifiers on them (again, color coded) to make it easy to see what is beneficial in combat. Armor is a value that can be increased using armor and equipment cards and must be exceeded by the dice roll value in order to deal damage.
For quite a few weeks now, I’ve been enjoying spinning some fun tales and leading my boys through some fun adventures. As kids will do, they constantly surprise me with their creativity for dealing with obstacles. (Rather than fight a dragon hiding in The Dump, they sweet-talked him into joining their group because they are always looking for treasure like dragons and figured he’d rather be looking for treasure than fighting.) But yesterday, my youngest son asked me something that made my heart swell… he said, “I want to be Maximus Master.”
YES! YES! YES!
My oldest son wasn’t home (and I think this may have contributed to my youngest’s willingness to try his hand at running the game), so it was just two of us–MM and player. I picked out my character (a dwarf warrior with a battle axe). My son only wanted to run one encounter, but he smiled big and told me it was going to be a boss. Okay!
I watched as my five-year-old sifted through all the cards–he picked a location, making certain to keep it hidden from me. He then picked a treasure card and placed it face down on the table. And then he moved to the creature cards. He was very careful and methodical, examining the cards to find the perfect match for Dad. When he started giggling, I knew we were ready.
Listening to that little voice describe the situation was one of those moments that I’ll never forget.
“You find a cave, and it’s really dark inside.”
“I listen carefully. Do I hear anything.”
<smile> “You hear some rocks falling.”
“Do I smell anything?”
“Okay, I head in, but only a few feet. Do I see anything?”
“There are torches, but you don’t see anything.”
“I keep going… I’m looking for…”
“Something jumps on you!”
And then combat began between my dwarf warrior and… The Master Assassin!
It turns out my son picked him because he had a very high armor rating. With my weapon, I would be rolling five dice but I needed to roll above 7 to deliver any damage. The dice have three blank faces and the other three have one sword, two swords, and the Maximus symbol. Suffice to say, I rolled a lot of blanks! But so did my son.
We went back and forth, back and forth. I tried to trip him… failed. He tried to grab my weapon… failed. My son was laughing every time I tried something new and it didn’t work. In the end, however, I finally knocked out the Assassin. I had one heart left, and my youngest was quite pleased with how the combat went. He was so excited to flip over my treasure card–Boots of Reeling. I can walk on walls now!
As with most adults at the end of a great gaming session, I sat with my son and we retold our favorite parts. “I almost stole your weapon!” he yelled. He was quite pleased with himself.
As my boys get older, they’ll develop their own interests. I don’t push my hobbies on them, but I cannot describe how happy this DM Daddy was to participate in my youngest’s first spin in The Chair. His creativity was on display, and I loved every minute of it. Of course, when my oldest got home, he got the complete story (embellished, of course) and now he wants to try and run a game. While the iron is hot, I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. We’ve got a session scheduled for tomorrow, and my youngest and I are going to team up for an adventure that will be EPIC in more ways than one.