So while I spent most of the last month sweating on the Amazing Tales kickstarter (Funded, thank you all!) , I needed some distraction activities. And that ended up being completing my project to create user friendly character sheets for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, with variants for users of arcane and divine magic.
Almost since the invention of the hobby in 1971 claims have been made for the benefits of role-playing games. Early advocates tended to focus on the benefits for literacy and mental arithmetic that came from playing games that relied on heavyweight rulebooks and complex rules. More recently interest has focused on the social and emotional benefits of games.
This article points to some key resources in the area.
There were a few things I didn’t like about the regular sheet so I made some changes. Basic details – name, species and career – appear in big letters at the top of the page, CV style. You can upload a portrait (I suggest a line drawing with a transparent background for best results), and there’s plenty of space for recording your ambitions and motivation.
Psychology and corruption have been moved to the front page, which I think of as the ‘role-playing’ side. Everything you want to know about your character in normal play is right there – with the personality stuff right up at the top. For skills I’ve taken advantage of things auto calculating to take a field out of the skill display, this helps reduce the density of numbers on the page.
For core stats I’ve reversed the order they’re listed in. Current stats display in bold, straight under the relevant characteristic. Initial and advances are listed beneath because they’re less important.
You can indicate career skills and stats by selecting the adjacent button.
The back side starts with the combat section. Everything you need in the event of a fight is here. And it doubles as an equipment list, since your weapons, armour and trappings are all listed here.
I put an explanation of the currency alongside the money section – it comes up often enough at my table – and then experience and related career information is listed last since you only ever need it once a session.
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.
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…
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.
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…
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
Creative problem solving
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 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.
#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”
“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?
#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.
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
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.