You know how you get a song stuck in your head, and you just can’t shake it no matter how many times you slam your skull in the door? I had that. Except it wasn’t a song, but a terrifying idea: my daughters had a day off school coming up; I should have them invite their friends over to play games all day. Yes! A houseful of 8-12 year old girls rolling dice and flopping cards! What could possibly go wrong?
We found out last Friday. Spoiler alert: It went surprisingly well.
The day’s schedule looked something like this:
- Slot 1: Watch Adventure Time (to get us in the fantasy adventure mood) and eat donuts
- Slot 2: Play the Quicksand board game.
- Slot 3: Paint Miniatures
- Slot 4: Eat Lunch
- Slot 5: Play the Once Upon a Time storytelling card game.
- Slot 6: Play Microlite20 fantasy RPG (a stripped-down version of D&D third edition)
I didn’t actually have times linked to any of these slots, aside from the whole game day starting at 7:00 AM (because I’m a masochist, and our guests’ parents were going to work). I figured we’d just do whatever the thing was until people were tired of it, then move onto the next item on the schedule.
Everything went more or less as planned. They enjoyed Quicksand, but were really really psyched about painting minis. Pink dwarves, cotton-candy cowboys, rainbow soldiers… What the girls lacked in experience they made up for in surreal color schemes.
Some girls drifted away from the miniatures table and started playing some LARP-like thing in which they were soldiers. As more girls joined them, they formed factions and built blanket forts in the living room. Then went to war! Suddenly, it was Lord of the Flies in stocking feet!
As the final painter turned soldier, the schedule completely broke down. The girls took their war outside, where it evolved into a challenge to survive in the wilderness. They collected water. They fought off bears.
I looked at my schedule, the clock, and the gorgeous spring day outside. Nope. I wasn’t about to make them come in and play games around the table. Instead I made lunch, and let them eat it in the yard.
When the war for survival wound down, I invited the girls in for some roleplaying, and had each of them grab their favorite miniature that they had painted; these would be their characters in the game.
One guest grabbed a werewolf. Another a pastel-colored cowboy. I’d been planning to run a straight fantasy game, but… whatever. In a dungeon-crawl, an archer with a 1d6 bow is the same as a cowboy with a 1d6 six-shooter, and a werewolf’s just a fighter whose sword can’t be taken away.
We rolled up characters at the table. The M20 system is quick and easy, but it still took a while to finish all six characters. (I could have gone with pre-gens, but by rolling their own based on their miniatures, the girls were a lot more invested in the game.) In the end, we had six new heroes ready to explore the kobold caves. It wasn’t until it was over that it occurred to me — SIX PLAYERS!? I hadn’t run a game for that many people since the last game convention.
Thirty minutes and 10 dead kobolds later, we started losing players as their parents came to pick them up. I sent them on their way with their character sheets and hand-painted miniatures.
I figured with these particular party favors at home, it’ll be that much easier to set up KidCon2 in the summer.