Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Fountain of Youth, or Zen and the Art of Dungeon Creation From a Seven Year Old

What can I learn from a seven year old dungeon master?

My PCs take a heavy toll against
the 11ft tall Six-Armed Goblin 
As I sat working on a few ideas for the serial adventure project, my seven year old son asked me to help him create an adventure. What a great request. He and I have been playing a simplified version of D&D together for about a year and his style of game is very junior high old school. He prefers to set up a dungeon using some homemade dungeon tiles and populate them with dozens of monsters based only what they look like having no regard for why skeletons and orcs would be standing around in the same room or why an Aboleth would be found no where near water. After everything is set up the game can become nothing more than a contest of heroes against monsters.

On this occasion we didn't have minis and tiles, just good old fashioned pencils and paper. Since I was working on my idea of rolling up dungeons and adventures randomly,  I introduced him to the random tables in my Advanced Dungeons & Dragons  Dungeon Masters Guide. After we rolled up a basic dungeon layout he began populating the it. This is when things got interesting. Instead of relying on he box of minis or my monster manual my son started creating his own monsters. First there was the six-armed goblin then a four-armed goblin. Not only did he put those gems out there, he proceeded to create amazing traps and puzzles. I was envious and proud at the same time!

Then it hit me—all my creativity was lost in logic! I needed the zen-like attitude of a seven year old dungeon master.

We decided to write up the adventure and he wants to sell it. As I began to take his notes and write out the adventure, I became more aware of how these seemingly abstract ideas could easily become connected and logically exist within the confines of a small story plot. I have taken much caution to keep from filling in the blanks with my ideas, but I will take this lesson from a 4 foot tall Jedi Master and the experience of creating something very cool with my son and cherish it forever.

Next step random adventure creation for real; no hooks, no backstory, no railroads—3d6 in order for DM's!