Monday, August 15, 2011

Adventure Building Seminar, the Final Post

The third and final report from the adventure building seminar 2011.

Day 3: An Event-Based Adventure
Basically, the assignment was to do an adventure where time was a significant factor. These included a commando raid by Greek gods who had to stop the Roman time bomb, a sortie into an elemental labyrinth where the features of each room changed every ten minutes and the PC grew stranger every twenty minutes. And then, there was this...

“Hair monsters have stolen Rapunzel’s hair; stop them before they deliver it to the evil (and bald) witch.”

The adventure involved a wild chase after the hair monsters through a nightmarish land of twisted fairy tales. As the PC chased the hairy bunch, various traps and ambushes sprang into action. Of special note was the Big Bad Wolf who spilled zombies from his stomach every time he was damaged.
Eventually the group caught up with the evil witch and her gang and killed her with an arrow to the back... only to find out this was Rapunzel, whose hair wasn’t stolen yet.

Day 4: A Sandbox Adventure
The most useless day. Freedom of choice isn’t very hot with my players so they understood freedom of choice as, “you’re in a vast emptiness full of monsters who want to kill you. But you can fight them in any order you want.”
So basically you had big battles between random objects – light and darkness, stones and energy, orcs and elves. Blah! Boring! Next!

Freedom. This is how it looks like.
Day 5: A Mundane Adventure
The challenge was to design an adventure that takes place in our world and includes no magical or sci-fi elements whatsoever. Surprisingly, the kids were quite excited about this one. One group played cops chasing criminals who stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre (it’s funny how the smiles drained from their faces when I reminded them cops can’t just shoot suspects but have to arrest them and collect damning evidence afterward), the second group played citizens who had to struggle through the unbelievably bulky bureaucracy of City Hall to get a building permit.
The last group went VERY REAL.

Real life meet fantasy. Fantasy - die.

“You play a drug-addicted gambler who lost all his money, a terminal cancer patient who went bankrupt after a nasty divorce and a man with Parkinson's disease whose family had left him poor and lonely. Your mission is to enlist."

This was the last adventure of the seminar, ending the whole affair in a positive note. The DM, the same boy who designed the hair adventure, went out of his way to describe our absolute misery, the apathy of society to human suffering and the cycle of humiliation we went through during enlistment. Eventually (and somewhat surprisingly) we were made a tank crew and won a great battle in a nameless war... and even got medals!

Letting kids DM is an excellent diversion and source of inspiration for your own games. While a seminar is a little too official for a home group, an occasional guest run by willing children is very recommended, especially if you take the time to tickle their imagination by acquainting them with various inspiring works and ideas, including stuff from outside the genre. For older groups, I would even recommend a shared campaign, where the position of DM is rotated between players each month. Your role will be that of a guide and the voice of experience and also of the player from hell (oh wait, that's my role...)
I never tried this, but intend to next year.

Next post will be about moral dilemmas. Prepare the napkins, 'cause you're gonna cry.

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