Thursday, March 15, 2012

Troll GM is Troll

In a previous post I mentioned Sophie's poker face.  It's really more like a Mona Lisa smile, especially in the eyes.  She has heavy lids, and nice lips with only the faintest hint of a smile.  When she gives me this look, I feel like she's appraising me.  It's the same look she had on her face when she entered the world, and it's as disconcerting now as it was then.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.  This post contains information about the Black Fang adventure that comes with the Pathfinder Beginner Box.

When she was running the "Black Fang" adventure, one of the treasures the party found before I arrived to play was a little wooden toy dragon with ruby eyes.  The rubies were worth something like 50 gold pieces a pop.  A nice little find.  Then the characters went on to die several times.  When they did, Sophie let them come back to life in the dungeon, with a caveat:  she placed them randomly in the dungeon.  She also instituted a teleportation trap.  Her reasoning, we learned later, was that the characters had already cleared the rooms, so she was trying to make the old rooms interesting.  She also wasn't letting the players see the whole map that comes printed on the battle mat that comes in the box.  This made sense, given the teleportation trap, and resulted in that wonderful feeling of being lost.  All of this was her invention, by the way.  Nothing new, of course, but cool that she came up with it on her own.

What the players didn't know was that Sophie had run out of treasures to hand out.

When I joined, we defeated some goblins and found their treasure chest.  Unfortunately for Sophie, the players had already cleared this room once before and taken the treasure, so she had to come up with something new on the fly.  One of the items she put in there was another toy dragon, this time with Saphire eyes.  The girls quickly pointed out that they already had one kind of like it.  "Cool," I said, thinking that since there were two such toys that it must be a clue or puzzle of some sort.  "Maybe there are more."

"Maybe together they form a weapon," suggested Livie, playing a wizard.

I looked over at Sophie, and she was wearing that old, familiar expression on her face.  No help there, but I felt we were on the right track.

A little later on we stumbled on the lair of Black Fang himself, a black dragon.  We weren't ready to take on a dragon.  He didn't see us, so we carefully withdrew.  Our plan was to clear out everything else in the dungeon and, hopefully, level up before the big showdown.

We did find another treasure later on, and what do you know?  It had a toy dragon in it.  Sophie's expression remained unchanged.  At this point our own personal maps connected all the rooms together, and the only room left was the dragon's lair.  We did level up and, most importantly in our minds, we had the entire set of toy dragons.  Off we went to face the menace.

It did not go well.  We were already faring poorly in the combat when Livie said, "What about the toys?"

"Of course!  The toys!"

Her wizard then proceeded to waste several rounds using Mage Hand to summon the toys from my possession to hers, then try to assemble the toys in some way, and even point them at the dragon and yell commands to try to activate the figures.

No luck.  They were just toys.  The dragon killed us.

...but Sophie was getting tired of us dying all the time and bailed us out (just an opinion:  this initial adventure should really have at least four characters in play, not just the three that we tried it with).   And so we "defeated" the dragon.

Afterwards I asked Sophie about the toys, and that's when I learned that she had simply made up the second toy and then intentionally added the third toy with the sole purpose of messing with us.  She had heard our musings about their purpose and decided it would be fun to feed into them to give them credence.   She even entertained the possibility of stealing our idea and making the toys special in some way, but figured it would be more fun to have them do nothing at all.

In other words, she trolled us.  Hard.  And her expression hadn't changed one tiny bit the whole time.

I am so proud.

Note:  I tried to photograph her expression this morning to share on this post.  Although I captured the expression, her hair was all mangled and the lighting wasn't doing her any favors.  I figure if I'm going to post pictures of my kids on the web, I at least owe it to them to let them look their best.  Thus, no pic.


  1. Hello,
    I happened to come across your blog through a google search - until today I never heard of anyone else using RPG for homeschooling. I'm so glad I've found your blog! I've been playing with my kids for 5 years now - started when my oldest was 6. We've been meeting with "his gang" every Thursday for AD&D (1st edition - too old to learn a newer one - plus I have about 38743982789472 dungeons from when I played as a teen/twenty-something). We have recently included a "dungeon writing club" that meets twice a month as well, both to encourage some writing and to encourage "break away" groups (we have a huge waiting list for Thursdays).

    We started playing before I started homeschooling, but after handing a bunch of non-reading 6 year olds a monster manual and having them come back 2 weeks later READING, it was an eye opening experience. We've used it for math (calculating your own experience points), reading, writing, and lately I've been working on campaigns that are "real" - sort of - for history. For example, we had an ancient Egyptian campaign and I copied a map of a town from National Geographic called "Deir el Medina" as their base in capturing the bandits who were looting the Valley of the Kings tombs. It's sort of "cheating" D&D in that,they can research history between sessions and find out stuff, like, where King Tut's tomb was buried and how to read hieroglyphics.

    I love how detailed your daughters character descriptions are. I need to put more detail into my kids' too. I also read the part where your daughter decided to premake characters for a group of kids who never played - getting them in the action right away. We did that too!

    I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog. It's very inspring!

    All the best,

    1. Hi Linda!

      There aren't that many of us homeschool RPGers out there, or at least we're not connected and talking about it, so it's always nice to hear from someone else who's in the same boat.

      This is the closest I could find:

      I have wanted to do something like what you're doing with real world history, but it just hasn't happened. We get so little time to play, and when we do play the girls want to get back into their existing adventures. So it goes. The best I can do is try to make the cultures they interact with close to something from real world cultures and history, and sneak in some educational material when they aren't looking.

      Your user name is awesome, by the way.