What happens when a bunch of owl and tabaxi orphans are dared to sleep in the haunted magical cave outside of town? A big giant mess, that’s what.
Last night saw the dad’s I DM wrangling their young kids and mine for a one-shot adventure to see what all the fuss was about! Using a very pared-down set of rules I created a one-shot based on Monster Slayers: The Champions of the Elements. The players got to choose from about 12 different pre-generated characters, hoots and floof’s (owlfolk and tabaxifrom) by picking a card with art on it they liked. Paper mini’s to match were ready to go. And in this case, it took place in the town of Werdna, on Olli’s Island, in the eastern most island in the Sea of Vows. Olli’s Island, home of these two races in Zendross (every game I run will take place somewhere in Zendross, adding to the world, one night at a time).
The setting, our teenage heroes are orphans in a training academy who have been dared by their fellow students to spend a night in the haunted cave at a nearby cliff face. But first, they have to get past the mean guardian who stands watch outside the door. Cleverly, they stack beds till they can reach and escape through the second story window of their domitory.
At the entrance to the cave they find a on stout door, when knocked upon a blue light shines from beyond. They open the door and enter a long hall into the mountain.
Within, the ancient mage Inferna, is there to greet them. “You can have this table full of treasures, but first you must defeat my four champions of the elements.” Spoilers to follow.
So defeating the giant frog that swallowed a player, they throw it across the room and splash out a fire elemental, only it splits into two parts. Reminded that all fires need heat, air, and fuel to burn, they try and smother the two smaller fires as their weapons go right through them. Again, the fires separate and burn their cloaks, so an imaginative player comes up with a solution, put them out with water. Having no liquids, they… well, use the liquids they brought, and pee on the fires.
With frog guts and burnt pee all over the place, the third element, a mushroom man representing earth, gives the players a choice, fight me or solve my riddle. The players make short work of the riddle and the mushroom man goes back to the cell he came from, glad to be done with the fight.
But Inferna is not so easily defeated and has saved her toughest challenge for last, a large wind dragon descends onto the players, buffeting them with hurricane winds. The players charge at the dragon and take many hits from the winds and wings of this beast. One character, the mysterious “Red Hood” pleads to the mushroom man for help and he obliges by snotting out an acid hoogie that severely damages the dragon. Finally, Charles rolls a naturally 20 to finish off the beast.
Inferna, disgusted at the mess they made of her arena, tells them to take their treasure and leave, and then sets the place to collapse on our heroes! They run for the door, which is magically locked and can’t get through. One hero rushes back to get the slow-moving Mushroom Man before he gets crushed by falling rock and gets him to snot on the door, which weakens it enough that they can break through before being crushed!
Overall, it was a fun night, with candies used for the monster’s hit points, and not too many rules so it ran more like a very interesting puzzle-board game. Us dads only had to parent a little at the start to keep the excited kids on target till they got into the game. At the end of the two hours they wanted to keep going but the adventure was done.
Anyone else ever run a young kids version of D&D? This was my first sling at it and learned some valuable lessons.
- They’re in it for the snacks as much as the game.
- Gross stuff is funner than non-gross stuff.
- You’ll have to remind them that it isn’t a video game and they can’t simply slay everything.
- The simple game mechanics and the shorter game worked great. Also, just say “yes” to their ideas. I honestly thought they’d keep trying to smother the smaller flames, the peeing idea, silly as it sounds to pee on fire that is attacking you, turned out to be the funniest thing that happened, so sure, attack with your pee, but you only get one shot! No one even brought up the logistics of how you could do it, but who cares? It was silly and fun and would definitely work at putting out a fire.
- Two hours is a very long time for nine-year-olds and even though they wanted to keep going, the dad’s could see they were done.
Thanks to my players for letting me test play this scenario on them, it was a ton of fun to DM it!