Running for Girl Scouts
This year I had a real treat at GenCon. For the past few years, Susan Morris has created and run a game for Girl Scouts based on the Heroes of Hesiod adventure she wrote for Wizards of the Coast. HoH is a simplified version of D&D for kids. This year I suggested a Halloween sleepover adventure, in part inspired by a few episodes of My Little Pony and because dressing up and telling spooky tales are activities that many kids would have experience with.
For me, when trying a new game, I find it easier if the scenario draws from elements in my real life: traditions, holidays, occupations, and the like. Many kids celebrate Halloween in the US, they participate in dress up, and they tell stories. The costumes element of Halloween was an added benefit because the players could dress their characters however they wished, and one of the girls at my table wanted to be a princess and the other a unicorn (I ran a smaller table so we didn’t have as many players at first). Giving them this control over their characters seemed to get the girls more interested in the game.
We also tried to pick monsters that were instantly recognizable, had fun noises or movements we could act out, and that the players could interact with. The first monster was a ghost that I based a bit on Slimer from Ghost Busters. The ghost dripped slime over everything, including the heroes. If they tried to move after being slimed, they might slide in unexpected directions. (Playtest Note: In hindsight, the heroes didn’t move enough to make this important, so I might adjust it in the future.)
After that we had the zombie. I skipped it in my game since we started late and the smaller group size made things a bit more swingy, but many of the tables loved this monster. Susan designed it so that it could throw its brain at the heroes. If the brain hit and got stuck, the hero would then attack whomever had the tastiest looking brains around, turning on her fellow heroes. Some of the tables played with throwing the brain around at each other.
The next monster was one of my weird ideas, a possessed sleeping bag. It lept up from the ground to attack the nearest hero. If it succeeded, it covered her and anyone other than the engulfed hero who attacked it risked injuring the hero inside. We had quite a few turns where someone tried to pull the sleeping bag off of one of the poor heroes.
Finally, we had the imp who was controlling it all. On its first turn, the imp produced two copies of itself. These functioned like minions. The girl who picked the main imp to hit felt great about her choice and the others liked making the duplicates disappear with one hit.
The game went great. I could have been better about giving the girls more opportunities to control the story, but they still had a great time. One of them noticed that we had skipped the zombie and asked to fight it after the main game. She and another girl set up the scene for the zombie attack, they were watching a zombie movie on tv when the zombie on screen came through and started attacking them. One of them loved running away from the shambling zombie and they both wanted to stay clear of the brain. The girl who asked to fight it also asked for the adventure at the end. It was pretty clear that she wants to play again. Fortunately for her, her father is a D&D player, starting with 1st edition if I recall correctly. Since he played in the game, he should have a good idea of what she might like.
So, that was the Girl Scout game. I’m glad the girls enjoyed it and I would love to write more adventures for that age group in the future.