Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tinkerbell Is Doomed

I was kind of surprised to see such a lackluster turn out of responses to my last post on Faery's Tale Deluxe. Perhaps I didn't sell it well but I really think its an amazing game and I hope you give it a look either at your FLGS or on PDF. If you have kids I recommended it even more.

I remember seeing James at GROGNARDIA post about what game readers thought would be good to get his son interested in starting to play RPGs and most people responded with some version of old school D&D or other. To me, games need to speak to the interests and experiences of their target audience. One reason D&D never really grabbed me was that at the age of 8, living in Brooklyn, NY in 1977, I had no idea what medieval really was. I didn't see castles on TV or see magazines at the local luncheonette/candystore with pictures of Knights and Wizards.

We had comic books with superheroes. We had TV shows with starships and aliens. We understood these things and so we wanted to emulate them in games. We had D&D until we could figure out how to do that.

The modern child is exposed to far more media than my generation ever was. There's the internet, youtube, streaming video, manga, anime, video and computer games and much more. You get the picture. I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said a thousand times before by intellectuals much smarter than I.

You're unlikely to get modern children excited by handing them something that looks like a school text book and saying, "This is what I used to get started many years ago/when I was young/when I just about your age." All this says is, "Old stuff Dad likes or Call of Duty. Hmmm. I think I'll fire up the X-Box."

What I'd like to see is someone pitch their kid a game like Toon, Happy Birthday, Robot or Faery's Tale Deluxe. Start simple and small with room for expansion. Also don't forget to keep it realtively simple and straightforward for the youngsters but don't talk down to them. This is one feature of Faery's Tale Deluxe that really impressed me. It can be read by anyone. It doesn't treat the reader like a novice but not does it go on and on like you've already been gaming for years like some games do. I think it reaches a very workable balance.

Anyway, I was originally going to talk more about this nifty little stroke of genius but I'll wait until the time is right. Currently a lot of blogs seem ablaze with talk of superhero gaming. Its a subject near and dear to my heart so I totally understand and approve.

Oh! That reminds me...

Stay tuned,

Barking Alien


  1. Sorry BA, I did enjoy your post about Faery as I read a stack of Charles de Lint and Greg Bear's Infinity Concerto back in the 80's/90's. Also, a friend of mine ran a free-form fantasy game for several years using elements of the seelie courts, so a game about such things does interest me.

    I'm just flat out at the moment (only managed two posts last month and one was an empty drum) so the prospect of even thinking about a new system fills me with meh.

    And down here in the benighted colonies we don't really have LGS, friendly or otherwise, unless you like card games or Games Workshop, so there are two chances of being able to flick through a new game, and one of them is "small". Which also contributes to my general disinterest in retro DnD clones - I still have my AD&D books and they still work! ;)

    But having said that, I would like to hear more about Faery Tale, or your Science Fiction game, when you feel motivated to write.

  2. I actually wanted to thank you for bringing Fairy's Tale Delux to my attention. I'm going to order a copy for my family. I have created a character for my son in D&D and I think we'll play a few games but I'm really itching to get a game of Marvel FASERIP going with him. A we are reading the Hobbit together, he really wants to create his own hobbit and have adventures. Of course I'm cool with that, but I think we'll have a ton of fun playing FASERIP.

    My son actually LOVES looking at all my comics and RPGs. I will admit to not being in the norm in that we don't watch television and only have a Wii. He is six and we encourage him to draw, play board games, play legos, etc. So I know I'm a bit abberant, but there you go. It's cool that my kids actually like my old stuff. Being Americans living in Italy is cool because the Italian kids don't treat him like some sort of freak for not having TV or the like. THEY actually want to play these old games too. It's a real treat to play my old Dungeon! boardgame with my son and some of his Italian buddies.

  3. Faery's Tale Deluxe does indeed sound awesome. One more game for the wishlist...

  4. Thanks to both of you for the feedback.

    @Kobold - If you do decide to order it over the internet it is $20 American, digest sized and only about 95 pages. This means you shouldn't get killed on the shipping. Trust me, I've worked for places that ship internationally and I know how you guys get reemed on shipping taxes.

    @Johnathan - Your a very lucky man JB. I don't have kids (except my dog but she isn't into RPGs lol) and my nephew is too young right now at 4 years old. I feel like I'm in a unique mind set sometimes to teach younger kids RPGs because I started so young.

    I have a feeling my nephew will want to play Superheroes when he gets a bit older. He already has a favorite superhero (Wolverine) and loves his Batman toys.

    BTW, my Mom loves Italy. She travels there often on business and tries to vacation there once a year to explore the regions she doesn't get to see for work. She loves Milan but spent several weeks on the Southwest coast going from tiny village to tiny village. Fascinating pictures.

  5. Very well put! The bit about the old schoolers recommending OD&D as a gateway game for youngsters irritates me, as well. Unlike you, I loved medieval imagery as a kid--and I still disliked D&D, but played it anyway because it was the best thing going. There's so much more choice now, I don't see a reason for going back to a system that's hardly one size fits all.

    I have a PDF of Faery's Tale and I enjoyed your post yesterday--I'll have to give it a closer look. In point of fact, as I was reading your post yesterday I was thinking about my cousin, who is 13 and really into fairies. Unfortunately she lives on the other side of the country, but if we were local I wouldn't hesitate for a second in seeing if she had an interest in playing Faery's Tale.

  6. I never clapped for the light bulb.

    There were lots of sources for medieval inspiration back in the 1970's. Prince Valiant was in the newspaper since 1937. Conan was published at Marvel Comics since 1970, Red Sonja form 1975, with DC pumping out The Warlord in 1976. The Vikings, The Warlord and lots of really bad Arthurian films were on the 4:30 movie at least once a month and The Hobbit TV movie was released in 1977. There were woefully inaccurate documentaries and the occasional BBC gem on PBS. Our local public library had a respectable history section with illustrated books as well as Ivanhoe, Beowulf, Robin Hood and some other goodies for various age levels. Tolkien, Moorcock, Leiber, Howard, and other fantasy authors bedecked the shelves of the area bookstores. We even had a local chapter of the SCA.

    Yes, I watched Trek, Space: 1999, UFO and anything else that was aired at the time, and read the comics of the era, but my literary heroes were mere mortals who had a sword in one hand, an axe in the other, and a wolfish grin upon their lips, battling all who opposed them while their strength held, not some spoiled godlings in day-glow tights. ;)

  7. As a gateway, D&D was timed perfectly for me as I had read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings only a year or two prior and I discovered the Prydain the same year. Hyboria and Lankhmar came a bit later.

    I was a huge Trek and Star Wars kid too and one of the first games I wrote myself was pretty much D&D with lightsabers, phasers, colonial vipers, cylons, blasters, etc. As you might imagine, Traveller was the second RPG I ever bought, and Star Frontiers was the third.

    The Faerie thing might do well with a certain segment of kids, but for tween-ish boys the name alone is an instant No. They've been playing videogames like Force Unleashed or Warcraft or Morrowind and reading/watching Harry Potter so they're quite alright with traditional fantasy and some flavor of D&D works just fine.

    You're right about the rulebook though and I saw it with a friend's son first. He was very interested in playing the games but he would not crack a book for anything. He would constantly ask how to do things when we did let him play (as a teen) and my standard response was "look it up". He eventually took the Star Wars d20 rules and ran it for his own friends so he _had_ to read them and all of a sudden he got it - not a problem anymore.

    Having seen this when it was time to try it out with my own set I went with the old 81 Moldvay Basic D&D because it's only 64 pages (basically a magazine), has some interesting illustrations, and covers the basics for a decent game. The two apprentices have even tried running a few games for each other, just with that book.

    All that said, I think the teacher/gamemaster and the other players have at least as much impact as the rules. I probably could have started them with Marvel, or Savage Worlds, or even Hero System and achieved something similar so yes there was some nostalgia in the choice. Having decades worth of supporting material makes it a little more than that but it's in there. Having someone that can run it without struggling with mechanics is key IMO as new gamers will want to do all kinds of crazy stuff and being able to say yes to them and still make it work within some kind of rules structure is just magic.

    We did later try Star Wars d6 but it wasn't as rules-light as I had hoped. I tried FASERIP Marvel too and we may break that out again as it went alright and shaking my own rust off would probably help there too.

    Wow this is a long comment.

    I guess I would say I agree with you in a lot of ways - handing a kid a textbook is not the way to get them started. Tell them about the game, ask about what kind of character they would like to play in the game, then hand them a character sheet and make a character with them. Then play! Later, after they've played a few times, then consider handing them the book. When they're ready they may even ask for it.

  8. I read it, but was waiting to comment until you put more up. It seems that strategy backfired on me.

  9. I may still put more info up, though tonight's post will go back to one of my favorite subjects that isn't Star Trek or Faeries. What pray tell could it be?

    @RavenFeast and Blacksteel - Timely is surely a key factor. While RavenFeast is correct that those things existed, you are a wee bit older than I. I certainly saw Conan comics at my local magazine shop but wasn't about to buy a comic about a naked guy with a sword when I could get Green Lantern who flew through the stars with his alien buddies and fought space pirates!

    As Blacksteel noted the Faerie element made be a hard sell to tweenish boys but it should be an easy sell to girls (you know girls - the other type of human that we all wish played RPGs more) and the game's initial age recommendation is 6 and up. Yes 6! Get'em while they're young, before they turn into cynical, opinionated veterans of our overexposed, impatient, media and money hungry society. Y'know, at 11.

    @C'nor - You and me both pal. The way my brain works is I shout out a word, if no one shouts back I shout out something else.

  10. @BA - Fear those 3 years and my gray hairs, man! ;)

  11. Oh I do. I'm catching up to you though. Yeah. Real soon. lol