Download the Quest for the Dragon Crown Handouts

An international player requested that the handouts for the Quest for the Dragon Crown be made available in a format that could be translated for his kids. This seems like an excellent idea, so here they are

Note that if you want to edit these you’ll need Adobe Acrobat Pro or something similar.

Thanks to Nicolas Folliot for the French translation.

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What makes an Amazing Adventure?

When I wrote Amazing Tales one of the things I felt was important was that parents and kids be able to sit down and make up an adventure right then and there. No preparation required. So a published adventure needs to offer something special to justify the investment. In the course of writing The Quest for the Dragon Crown I’ve worked hard to deliver on that. Here are some of the principles that guided the writing.

Some of those spiders look rather large…

1. Small players deserve big adventures

Just because children are young doesn’t mean they can’t imagine big stories. The Quest for the Dragon Crown asks them to save a kingdom. On the way they’ll have to face down monsters, solve puzzles and make new friends. As the cover makes clear, there are dragons to fight. Because fighting dragons is awesome – so why wouldn’t you include that in your game?

I’ve never been able to understand why games for kids often assume the players will want to play as child heroes. Role-playing lets you be anything you want – and a lot of kids want to be big.

2. Build in come moments of awesome

In writing the game I tried to include what I think of as ‘moments of awesome’, events that are so cool they’re unlikely to emerge in games that you make up as you go. They might, of course, but a written adventure lets you try and hit these highs consistently.

I might be wrong – but play-tests suggest that the moment the players find out what the Dragon Crown does for the first time is going to be something that sticks with players for a long long time.

3. Make the game tangible

While I couldn’t quite work out how to include a real magic mirror in the game (that plan is on hold while I do more research) I did manage to include a few cool things. There’s a map of the kingdom to colour in, there’s your very own dragon crown to cut out and colour in, and there’s a multi-stage puzzle for parents to print out and kids to solve.

Make your own Dragon Crown (Magic powers not included)

4. Pack it full

Quest for the Dragon Crown features a ghost, dragons, mermaids, fairies, and an enchanted forest. It’s not a series of adventures about dragons and mini-dragons, because that might get repetitive. Each session brings in new fantastic material and escalates the stakes. If your kids only ever play one Amazing Tales campaign they should come away from this with a ton of brilliant stories about the things they’ve seen and done.

When you’re playing with your kids it’s easy to add extra excitement by asking your players questions. As the heroes approach a village ask questions like ‘What makes this village special’ or ‘The people who live here aren’t human, what are they?’ and watch as your story takes off.

5. Leave plenty of room

As a game Amazing Tales has a focus on improvised story-telling. So while The Quest for the Dragon Crown provides a structure there’s plenty of space for players and story-teller to go off-piste. Does your kid love mermaids? Take a few extra sessions to make up stories in the mermaid kingdom, the quest will still be there when you get back.

I hope you like the Quest for the Dragon Crown, and I hope it helps you take your games of Amazing Tales to the next level.

Buy now from DriveThru RPG

Introducing The Quest for the Dragon Crown

Here’s the news on The Quest for the Dragon Crown. The first adventure supplement for Amazing Tales.

Travellers arrive in the happy kingdom of Merrydown bringing alarming news. A band of evil dragons are approaching, and only the Dragon Crown can hold them back. Unfortunately, the crown is missing…

Trust me, that’s one mean dragon

In The Quest for the Dragon Crown you will find…

  • One glorious campaign made up of
  • Five adventures, each suitable for 1-2 sessions of play
  • Five full page, full colour illustrations by Iris Maertens
  • A map of the Kingdom of Merrydown to print out and colour in
  • One fiendish puzzle for you to cut out and your players to solve
  • Your very own Dragon Crown to make and colour in

To complete the quest the heroes will have to

  • Investigate a haunted library
  • Descend beneath the oceans to the Merqueen’s kingdom
  • Make their way through an enchanted forest
  • Face down dragons in heroic combat
  • Unlock the secrets of the Dragon Crown

The Quest for the Dragon Crown is available as a PDF through DriveThruRPG and retails for USD $4.95.

What makes an Amazing Adventure?

When I wrote Amazing Tales one of the things I felt was important was that parents and kids be able to sit down and make up an adventure right then and there. No preparation required. So a published adventure needs to offer something special to justify the investment. In the course of writing The Quest for the Dragon Crown I’ve worked hard to deliver on that. Here are some of the principles that guided the writing.

Some of those spiders look rather large…

Small players deserve big adventures

Just because children are young doesn’t mean they can’t imagine big stories. The Quest for the Dragon Crown asks them to save a kingdom. On the way they’ll have to face down monsters, solve puzzles and make new friends. As the cover makes clear, there are dragons to fight. Because fighting dragons is awesome – so why wouldn’t you include that in your game?

Build in come moments of awesome

In writing the game I tried to include what I think of as ‘moments of awesome’, events that are so cool they’re unlikely to emerge in games that you make up as you go. They might, of course, but a written adventure lets you try and hit these highs consistently.

I might be wrong – but play-tests suggest that the moment the players find out what the Dragon Crown does for the first time is going to be something that sticks with players for a long long time.

Make the game tangible

While I couldn’t quite work out how to include a real magic mirror in the game (that plan is on hold while I do more research) I did manage to include a few cool things. There’s a map of the kingdom to colour in, there’s your very own dragon crown to cut out and colour in, and there’s a multi-stage puzzle for parents to print out and kids to solve.

Make your own Dragon Crown (Magic powers not included)

Pack it full

Quest for the Dragon Crown features a ghost, dragons, mermaids, fairies, and an enchanted forest. It’s not a series of adventures about dragons and mini-dragons, because that might get repetitive. Each session brings in new fantastic material and escalates the stakes. If your kids only ever play one Amazing Tales campaign they should come away from this with a ton of brilliant stories about the things they’ve seen and done.

Leave plenty of room

As a game Amazing Tales has a focus on improvised story-telling. So while The Quest for the Dragon Crown provides a structure there’s plenty of space for players and story-teller to go off-piste. Does your kid love mermaids? Take a few extra sessions to make up stories in the mermaid kingdom, the quest will still be there when you get back.

I hope you like the Quest for the Dragon Crown, and I hope it helps you take your games of Amazing Tales to the next level.


Welcome to Rescue City

Rescue City is a big, bustling place. Its got skyscrapers, stadiums, a dock, a fairground, a train-station, a concert hall, museums and an airport. Life is good in Rescue City, but it does have problems. Problems like fires, hurricanes and earthquakes. Problems like gangs of clever criminals and people getting sick. Fortunately Rescue City has plenty of heroes to protect its citizens. The kind of heroes you might meet just walking down the street.

The new Amazing Tales setting. Available at DriveThruRPG

What is Rescue City?

Rescue City is an additional setting for Amazing Tales. It includes:

  • Character descriptions for Firefighters, Police Officers and Medics
  • 21 new skill descriptions
  • Advice on making up stories for kids in real world settings
  • Tips to bring Rescue City to life
  • Ten story seeds

It also includes a suggestion for a different way of structuring games of Amazing Tales – A busy day in Rescue City. 

Rescue City is available from DriveThruRPG for $1.99

Note that Rescue City is not illustrated.

Why play games in Rescue City?

I was inspired to write Rescue City by a comment on the Amazing Tales Facebook pages. Someone mentioned that they’d asked their kid what kind of hero they wanted to be in a game of Amazing Tales and they’d replied ‘Firefighter’. Which reminded me just how much young kids love all the emergency services. 

It also tied in with another discussion that’s been going on around Amazing Tales – coming up with stories that are non-violent in nature, but still exciting. The heroes of Rescue City come up against difficult and dangerous challenges all the time, but they don’t solve their problems by fighting – giving Rescue City games a different feel.

Rescue City is a perfect setting for kids who love to use their toys when playing Amazing Tales. So it’s time to get out those Lego firetrucks and Playmobil doctors; find the dress up police set they got for Christmas and go have an adventure together! 

Creating Kalopia, world building with Amazing Tales

Jospeh Wolf took Amazing Tales to KublaCon 2019 and ran an awesome session of Amazing Tales that mixed world building with adventure. Here’s his account of what happened, and check out below for the map the kids came up with and a whole Gazeteer you can download detailing it.

The world of Kalopia. Watch out for the Araknos (Spider Monkeys) and the Matzecoatls (Feathered Serpents) and the Penguins – the Penguins have a plan…

“Oh whatta journey! I just got back from KublaCon 2019 and even though I’m weary and worn out, I’m compelled to create. Well, as they say, no rest for the wicked. Time to get to work and hammer out a manuscript so the kids and parents can revisit our peril-filled yarn.

I’ve been doing this for a while. I got my start when I was twelve, by my ogre-math that’s around 36 years of which means I’ve been gamemastering for around 35 years. I’ve attended too many conventions to count sometimes as player but usually as a gamemaster. I guess you could say I’m most comfortable behind the GM screen.

Well KublaCon took a lot out of me this year. I ran 20 hours of games in just three days, ten of those hours were on the same days as the Amazing Tales kids game. You’d think I would be sick of it, not so. I ran many games that weekend but the kids game was special for a lotta reasons. Unlike many of my games, this required a lot of preparation. Running games for kids isn’t the same as running for adults, not by a longshot. You have to be more patient, more nurturing, you have to watch your language (something I struggle with), and reign in 35 years of hardwired gamemaster instincts. You have to strike a balance between Sithlord and loving nurturing English nanny.

Well call me Darth Poppins. When gamemastering for kids, you’re making an indelible mark on those young minds, every act and word has an impact good or bad.

So yeah, preparations but not just mental ones, I had to pull together a lot of equipment. So in addition to the laptop I brought along a projector, cords, and all the cables. This setup allowed me to project our evolving world map in real-time as we built the playspace. It worked far better than I could have imagined. The kids were totally into it. True some wandered in and out but whenever they sat down they were keen to contribute and boy did they have opinions! It was structured chaos and I loved it. It was wonderful to just turn them loose.

Generally, I’m a bit of a lone Wolf (snrk!) used to doing a lot on my own. I prefer it that way but sometimes collaboration can be a joy. So while I worked the digital stylus and keyboard and asked guiding questions the kids did most of the heavy lifting. Ultimately, this wasn’t MY world, it was OUR world. We hashed out most of the continent in less than 30 minutes. Yeah, those kids were creative dynamos.

Once we had the rudiments of the world, it was time to populate our world with people and creatures the kids would enjoy playing. Now with all the media available to kids, it’s a challenge to get kids to actually create their own stuff. Inevitably kids draw from what they’ve seen so tabletop roleplaying games frequently feature orphaned wizards, magic arsenal wielding ninjas, transforming robots, and adorable animal gladiators. As a creative I urge the kids to bring new content into our games by taking their ideas and interests and tweaking till it has the flavor but not the exact shape of the inspiration. The kids did not disappoint me.

So once we had characters and some truly great art on the character sheets (I just love adding crafts to my games) we embarked upon the adventure one featuring a nefarious lizard wizard who was stealing all the clouds creating droughts and hardship in a bid to conquer the world. Our young heroes would not stand for such selfishness and cruelty.

Yup, quite a journey. So the long and short of it. What follows is a brief taste of a very rich world. As designer and cartographer, I took a few liberties, added and tweaked here and there, a few coastlines changed but everything the kids came up with is here, and more.

I hope you enjoy exploring the World of Kalopia.”

Bad Debt – An introductory scenario for the Zweihander RPG

As you may have noticed it’s not 100% Amazing Tales around here. Every now and then I like to write games for grown-ups as well. Bad Debt is my first scenario for the Zweihander Grim and Perilous RPG.

Bad Debt. This one isn’t for kids.

If you’re not familiar with Zweihander it’s a grim and gritty role-playing game that lets you tell stories more along the lines of Game of Thrones than Lord of the Rings. All mud, guts, plague and desperation. You can get the PDF version of the system for just $10.

So, Bad Debt. Bad Debt is specially written as an introductory scenario. It takes place in a cramped, crowded and corrupt debtor’s prison, which keeps the action – and the characters – confined. It makes special use of one of the things that makes Zweihander stand out – the Peril mechanic, which models physical and mental stress and strain. As you can imagine, being in prison piles on both. It’s loaded up with difficult choices for the players and is very much focused around role-playing. Combat in Zweihander is brutal, deadly and best avoided, so smart players will learn to start by talking…

Bad Debt is structured so you can introduce different rules as you go. I’ve redesigned the Zweihander character sheet to make it new player friendly, and I put together an NPC roster sheet so the GM can minimise the number of bits of paper they need to keep track of.

The ambition was to be able to run the whole scenario without needing to consult the rulebook for anything. We didn’t quite achieve that in the play-tests, but we came very close indeed.

Bad Debt is 46 pages of prison drama with a solid dose of horror mixed in, and it can be yours for just $4.99

Map of mythological europe

Do you want a map showing the locations of mythological creatures from all over Europe? You Do? Well that’s good news because the Journal of Maps have just published one in 2013, compiled by Giedrė Beconytė, Agnė Eismontaitė & Jovita Žemaitienė who must have really liked their mythology and folktales…

Thanks to this map I know that I grew up where Ettins come from (number 65) and currently live somewhere surrounded by Elves (number 62) and Goblins (86) in the Netherlands.

That image is just one corner of this epic map, which includes 213 distinct creatures. You can read the scientific paper about the map here

It also includes a link to download the whole thing (60 MB, huge)

Needless to say this is all great inspiration for making up Amazing Tales. Who could resist an encounter with a Wolpertinger. “A being composed from body parts of various animals –wings, antlers, fangs and webbed feet of a duck, all attached to the body of a rabbit. Has a weakness for female beauty” or the last on the list Zilant, “A winged dragon with one head, four chicken legs, a bird’s body and a snake tail, wise and benevolent.

And if you’d like to get your hands on a copy of Amazing Tales, the role-playing game for kids aged four and up and their parents you can…

Or order from Amazon USA, UK
Retailers can find information on ordering Amazing Tales here


Perspective Taking and Amazing Tales

I’ve recently been reading up on the excellent work of the folk at Game To Grow. They’re a group who focus on the therapeutic value of role-playing games, and through doing so they’ve identified a number of areas where role-playing games can be of benefit to any child. The areas they’ve identified are

  • Perspective taking
  • Frustration tolerance
  • Creative problem solving
  • Collaboration

Thinking about these areas can be a great way to build interesting encounters. In this article I’m going to take a look at the first of those – perspective taking, and how you can build it into your games of Amazing Tales.

Perspective taking

Perspective taking is the understanding that other people have different ideas to you, and people usually develop it between the ages of two and three. Perspective taking is a key skill for understanding and resolving social conflicts so it’s going to be part of any role-playing game. Here are five ways you can build encounters around perspective taking in a role-playing game.

T-Rex and Rabbit often see things very differently.

#1. Identifying emotions

When my kids were four they started school. And one of the first topics they had was learning about feelings and emotions. In particular, what do they look like and how do we identify them. They drew pictures of smiley faces and frowny faces. They talked about what it’s like to laugh and cry. It’s important for kids to know when someone is sad, or angry or happy or lonely. You can bring this into your games by describing emotions rather than naming them. So instead of saying

“The goblin looks sad”

say

“The goblin is sitting quietly in a corner and looking at the ground. You can see tears on his cheeks”

Now it is up to the players to work out that the Goblin is sad. With older children you can use more subtle clues or simply adjust your tone of voice or body language to convey an emotion and see if they pick up on it.

#2. Understanding the preferences of others

Not everyone reacts the same way to the same things. Indeed some people don’t like things other people really like. Being able to work this out and act appropriately is an important skill.

The witch of Tom’s Hollow has her pet crow sing to her all day. She likes the singing so much she has cast a spell to make it really loud. This is upsetting for the people of Tom’s hollow who think the crow’s singing sounds awful.

The witch will not be persuaded to stop if people tell her the crow’s singing is bad. To her it sounds great. If someone explains that other people don’t like it, then she might listen.

Situations like this could also arise because of things the heroes have done. For instance if they’ve put out a fire by flooding a valley then not everyone is going to be pleased with them. Next time they might learn to think in advance.

#3. Telling socially acceptable lies

Some research into perspective taking has focused on whether people recognise when it’s appropriate to tell a socially acceptable lie. Examples from the research included being polite about someone’s appearance and expressing gratitude when presented with an unwanted gift. It is easy to imagine either of these challenges coming up in the context of an adventure. For instance…

The starship Entrepreneur has settled into orbit around the planet Grox Four. After the captain sends greetings the Groxians respond by sending the crew a present. Six tonnes of cow poo! The Groxians seem certain that this is a fabulous gift – what do you do?

Groxians are huge fans of cow poo. That’s why they’ve just sent you six tonnes of it!

#4. Resolving disputes

Resolving differences between different factions is something heroes are often called on to do. Sometimes all that is needed to resolve the challenge is to understand where both parties are coming from, and explain it back to them.

Brogor the Troll won’t let anyone cross the bridge to the village. This is because he lives under the bridge, and the sound of feet crossing stops him getting any sleep (Trolls sleep in the day). He just wants to be left to sleep in quiet. The villagers want to cross the bridge. Can the heroes resolve this problem?

In this example there might be some easy solutions. Maybe there’s another bridge Brogor could sleep under, or maybe the villagers could cross somewhere else. Whatever the resolution, this is probably more interesting than a situation where the troll is causing a problem ‘because he’s bad’.

#5. Explaining things

Being able to explain things in terms someone else will understand is often a challenge for children. In adventures it is often the case that the help the heroes need is only one good explanation away – but children often struggle to realise that the people they’re talking to might not know all the things they do.

The heroes have travelled to a far away land to retrieve a magic crystal that will save their home from a magical hurricane. But the people in the far-away land have never heard of this problem, or the land where the heroes come from. If they get a clear explanation they will help. If they don’t they won’t.

If you want to practice this don’t allow children to skate past these moments. Have your NPCs ask questions about the things they don’t understand. Have them leap to (wrong) conclusions based on poor explanations. If you make them a little foolish then this often becomes funny rather than frustrating for the players.

In the course of a quest heroes often have to explain what they’re doing again and again. This is a good chance to both practice the skill, and to reinforce the story you are making up with your children.

Finally, older players might learn that they should vary their explanations based on who they’re talking to. Should you really tell the castle guards you’re here to steal the king’s crown?

Not just for kids

By now you’ve probably realised that perspective taking is a skill we need every day, as adults as well as as children. So if you find these techniques working well for you in games of Amazing Tales, don’t hesitate to dress them up a bit and bring them into games with adults as well.

Amazing Tales?

If reading this has left you thinking, ‘that all sounds great, but I need a roleplaying game to play with my kids’ then I’d like to introduce you to Amazing Tales. It’s a tabletop role-playing game designed for kids aged four and up to play together with their parents.

Explore this site to learn more about it, or order a copy by using the links below

Or order from Amazon USA, UK
Retailers can find information on ordering Amazing Tales here

Zweihander NPC Roster

I was play-testing a Zweihander scenario last night and was reminded just how useful it is when the GM has *all* the stats they need right in front of them for combats. I like combats to run fast, and pausing to look stuff up always feels like unnecessarily glitchy to me.

The good news was that the reformatted character sheets I’d provided for the players worked really well. Less good news was that I ended up with NPC stats spread across three pieces of paper, which is two too many.

So here’s the solution. A single page which can record the stats for five NPCs plus a dozen damage tracks so if you decide you need say five guards you can just keep track of them there.

Here’s a form fillable version

And just in case you have an urge to do everything by hand, here’s a blank form you can fill in with pen or pencil