The Dungeon Kids go Fey -or- The Return of Thistle

edited April 2013 in Actual Play
So as we've been playing through the Dungeoning game with the Kids group, Junior Moppet and S have been showing less overall interest. The boys are having a fine old time as things are, but the girls are yearning for something with a more overt magical vibe. JM still likes Mist and Amber, fortunately. In any case, I was faced with the challenge of negotiating a new direction for this group.

The moppets (Valavanora for Elder Moppet, Mist and Amber for JM) had their friends A (Andromeda the Necromancer) and S (Rhavaniel and Lostariel) over for a sleepover. They asked to do a little gaming on Saturday, but it turned out they all wanted to do Faery's Tale using the WoDu rules. I have an urge to try Fate Accelerated at some point, but didn't want to have to explain a wholly new system--nor did I have the time in the first place. So we whipped up some characters using the Kingdom of Ooo WoDu port, changing the attribute Smart to Clever and Weird to Fey. I may have to do something with Eager, because that's proving hard for the kids to wrap their brains around, but it's a pretty neat match to Faery's Tale.

See here for the Moppets' first excursion into Faery's Tale.

Anyway, we had a little Saturday session that I won't write about yet, because I may run it at NemoCon next month. The next day was Dungeon Kids, and the girls asked if we could do Faery's Tale again with all-new characters, instead of dungeoning. I whipped together a character sheet, printed off four copies, and assembled the kids at the table, where I made my pitch.

The boys were skeptical at first. I could totally see their brains recoiling from the notion of playing "fairies." I'm sure they were thinking something treacly like Disney fairies and whatnot, but I quickly disabused them of that notion, holding up the Faery's Tale book and showing off the Brian Froud-like art, which fortunately showed a muscled pixie lad taking off dramatically with a sword and shield. I told them, essentially, that this was about faeries kicking ass in defense of the ancient forest and the good faeries, all pitted against the evil faeries of the Unseelie Court, goblins and trolls and other fell things.

"Can I play an elf?" asked J.

"Can I play a dwarf?" asked C.

Yep, I said, though they'll be faeries and thus only about an inch or two tall, and they'll be more inherently magical. The forest will be GIANT to you, I added. Like Hoth in Return of the Jedi, right?

"The Wookie planet?" C asked, his eyes lighting up.

"Basically," I said, not really caring if he knew Ewoks from Wookies. It should have been a Wookie planet, anyhow.

They were in. J immediately asked if his elf could be an archer, and if he could use a cool, carven willow twig bow sporting tiny leaves, strung with spider silk and firing arrows tipped with blackberry thorns or "porkypine quills."

Oh hellz yes, I said (essentially). J went on to create Singleer, an elfin sprite archer who rides a hummingbird named Chek and has his cool bow, a dagger, and air magics.

C created Redtooth, a tough gnome who can turn invisible and wield fire magics. He has a battle-ax bladed with green glass and rides a (small) frost worm named Rattlebeetle (pretty much a straight port from the Dungeon Kids game).

S made Dandelion, a flower pixie with a bumblebee sidekick named Mr. Bumble. She can shapeshift and wield flower magic.

JM, to my great--and I cannot overstate this--my GREAT delight, decided she wanted to port Thistle over from the original Faery's Tale game. Thistle, you might recall, is a sprite ass-kicker modeled sort of like a cross between D'Artagnan and the goddamn Batman. So she brought over the red-cloaked Thistle with her silver needle sword and bottle cap shield, her staunch mouse sidekick Mouse at her side, while I squeed silently. Thistle is acrobatic with perfect balance and the ability to make mighty leaps. I fucking love Thistle. JM plays her like...an aggressive Mist, if those of you who have read the Dungeon Girls thread can believe that.

There were a few problems with the open-ended nature of Skills (Talents) and Special Abilities (Tricks) in this system, and I gave them a couple of freebies based on the faerie taxonomy in Faery's Tale, but it all worked out in the end.

Part of the Kingdom of Ooo port is choosing a customized alignment, as in Really Really Good, Mostly Neutral, Kind of Good, Black-hearted Evil, etc. This was a bit tricky, but everyone turned out to be good except Dandelion, who is sort of "Well-meaning Neutral."

When JM asked if Thistle could be "Tough and Brave Good," I knew what she was after, so I suggested she write down that Thistle is "Batman Good."

"That's perfect, Daddy!" she said, hurrying to write it down.

With our heroes and their army of animal sidekicks good to go, I told them I thought we should start with action. They're at a faerie market by a bubbling book when mist creeps up the brook to hide a sneak attack by a bunch of goblins.

They were down with that. We begin.

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  • edited April 2013
    I paint the scene with all the colorful booths, smells of faerie food, music, and so on, then ask each of them where they are.

    Redtooth is at a booth having a slug of root beer out of an acorn cup, while Singleer comes up to have a cup of cordial. I have to impress on the kids that faeries in this group don't drink actual beer, which had been Redtooth's first order. Color me sensitive to the nine-year old demographic here.

    Dandelion is running her own booth selling little cakes, with Mr. Bumble contributing some honey.

    Thistle stands atop a nearby mushroom, looking for danger. She's the first to see the ominous mist and the shadows of leaf boats stealing toward the shore. So she leaps down from the mushroom to land lightly atop one of the booths in the center of the market. JM reminds me Thistle has a horn she'd gotten as a boon from a previous adventure, and she describes how Thistle pulls it out and blows on it to sound the alarm.

    Chaos erupts as panicked fae fly, hop, and scamper this way and that, trying to save their wares or their little faerie children. Redtooth quaffs his root beer, throws away the cup, and pulls out his ax before striding out to see what the matter is. Singleer races outside and whistles for his hummingbird, to leap astride it as it zips by.

    Dandelion flutters up to hitch a ride on Mr. Bumble, whom I assume is a faster, more agile flyer than she is.

    While Singleer and Dandelion go to the sky, Thistle leaps onto a tall blade of grass so she can get a better look.

    The goblins are coming ashore now, disembarking from their leaf boats like WW2 landing craft. I briefly describe them as carrying blackthorn swords, cudgels, and wooden shields made from various kinds of scrap. In keeping with the source material, I render the goblins as snotty, warty, leering bullies. They scuttle into the market with nasal battle cries and spread out, hacking at anything and everything around them with ferocious glee.

    Dandelion drops off of Mr. Bumble, coming to the ground as a hedgehog rolled into a ball. She (partial success) barrels down the bank, toppling goblins this way and that, before ending up in a leaf boat that her prickly spines promptly hole. It starts to sink rapidly with her in it!

    Redtooth (success) charges into a group of goblins, hacking with his ax and casting hot bursts of flame around him to sow confusion.

    Singleer (partial success) picks off a goblin with an arrow, but gets the attention of two goblins riding huge beetles. They deploy wings and rise to pursue him. One has a bow, the other a wicked looking spear and shield.

    Thistle (partial success) tries to direct the faerie crowds away from the battle zone, shouting as best she can. She succeeds in getting most of the fae to flee the goblins in the right direction, but earns the attention of a half-dozen fierce looking goblins in black scaly armor. They start toward her position, waving their barbed weapons angrily.

    We had time for another round before the end of the session. I figured they'd either rout the gobs or we'd have a nice cliffhanger for the next game.

    Dandelion (success) flipped out of the boat, turned to a minnow, and swam away before leaping out of the water and transforming to her natural form again just in time to grab Mr. Bumble's leg and zip to safety. With goblins leaping from the sinking leaf, other goblin boats start turning around, their crews panicking.

    Redtooth continues his ax and flame assault with a crit, wiping out all but one goblin, who turns tail and flees in terror, dropping his weapons behind.

    Singleer fails an evasion attempt and falls off his hummingbird as he's trying to evade the two beetle riders, tumbling through the cloth roof of a market stall. Since we're about to end, I ask him what he's doing. He (success) makes a Tough roll to be able to act, and he asks if he can fire two arrows like Legolas.

    Sure, I say. Sprites have the Champion Special Ability, which in the Faery's Tale rules means a sprite can make superhuman efforts in battle from time to time, sort of like Stunting in Exalted. I retcon it a bit to describe how Singleer fires two arrows at once while in mid-fall, and (success) pegs both goblins, who veer off in fear, one dropping off his beetle into the tall grass by the bank. THEN Singleer rips through the flower petal awning and crashes into a pile of wooden crockery.

    Thistle leaps from her high place to bounce off a few different stalls and the side of a mushroom, drawing her silver needle and landing on the goblin company's leader with the needle held point down, dagger-style.

    "I want to come down hard, so I stab him right through his skull, Daddy," JM informs me. She (success) does so, dropping him instantly, then whipping out her needle (JM models her pose) and grating in her best JLU Batman voice, "Who else wants some?"

    Thistle has the Talent of Famous, incidentally, so I figure based on her previous exploits in our earlier Faery's Tale sessions (goblin slaughtering, troll fighting), she has a rep as a serious badass.

    With this perfect example of a demonstration kill by the famous faerie champion Thistle, I describe how the goblins back up in fear, and then turn and run.

    We have a little post-script as the Duke of Apples, a faerie noble, shows up to make a pretty speech thanking the heroic characters for saving the market. He gives them each a boon (currency and magical empowerment in faerie terms). The kids are excited, and as I run off to my Bikram's session, they jump up and head into the living room to roleplay their encounter with the Duke.

    A successful experiment, and I'm tickled by the return of Thistle, JM's first character. Looks like we have a new campaign!
  • Cool! I'm actually surprised (both shocked and pleased) that someone's playing around with the Kingdoms of Ooo game-in-progress. I'll have to pay very close attention to your posts about this, to see how it goes.

    It's actually good timing too, because now that I finished my first published game, KoO is my next priority, once I have some of my regular game-days settled in. I'm going to be working with @Gray Pawn on it, and I typically post drafts and ideas to G+. Do you happen to have an account there, @Hexabolic ?
  • edited April 2013
    I do, under @hexabolic.

    Thanks, I think it's a looser but very elegant mod to the underlying WoDu system. The kids are talking about running Adventure Time as well, as we're all fans of the show. But so far, the mixed age game supported a shapeshifting cat faerie, a furry elfin swashbuckler, a shadow spirit, and a heroic mouse (that last one is Junior Moppet's).
  • I'm trying to figure out how to mesh Faery's Tale Essence economy (HP, magical fuel, and metagame resource) alongside the Hurt Levels, which make intuitive sense. I think I'm just going to use Essence as HP, drop Hurt Levels, and throw Awesome Point functionality into the mix. I should say I really like the way you handle Levels as a source of boosting dice results. Definitely keeping that.

    I'll also have to be a bit tighter about merging FT's Tricks for different faerie types. But the kids are getting into the freeform Talents. JM's Mouse has "Scamper," for example. Very cool.
  • Nice. I've added you to the Adventure Time circle, as well as my general gaming circle. This way, when I make updates and everything, you'll be alerted to it (though there are sometimes more general posts about the cartoon...particularly when the episodes get really intense).
  • I'll also be more than willing to hear any suggestions you have. Especially with all the playing you've done with World of Dungeons, you're probably going to have a really good eye for what will work and what doesn't.
  • With kids, anyway. :-)

    Cool. I'll look forward to seeing more.
  • Reading over this and thinking about it, I'm wondering if I need to bust out some Pet rules, because just about every kid seems to want a Pet. Here we have a Frost Wurmlet, a Hummingbird, a Bumblebee, and a Mouse. The Dungeon Kids only have one in their dungeoning group, but for the Dungeon Girls, we have a Warhorse, a (mightyferocious) Lion, a Falcon, a Monkey, and any number of ideas Andromeda's player has offered. The only one in that group who hasn't asked about a pet is Girl L, maybe because as a Wizard, she has an Ice Fox spirit that's petlike in its manifestation.

    So far in this World of Faeries game, Pets are just another Trick/Special Ability.
  • "'That's perfect, Daddy!' she said, hurrying to write it down."

    Who gets that? Who? Fuckin' kickass gamer daddies, that's who.
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