Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wushu With Kids

Last Thanksgiving, I ran a WhiteBox Swords & Wizardry game for my niece and nephew. It was a huge success. I recently had the opportunity to play with them again. They were very enthused about playing but had a little difficulty getting back into the groove. I took it as an opportunity to try a little experiment. What would play be like with another system?

I sifted through my collection looking for a game that would be a good match for them. I've got some great games that I know like the back of my hand but they would be a bad fit since the kids really wanted to do character creation.

I found it.

A few years ago, I tried running Wushu, but for one reason or another it just didn't work out. A tickle in the back of my mind told me to take another look - that it might be just the thing that I was looking for. Scanning the book, looking for just enough bits to get character creation started I liked what I saw. Plucking several index cards from the office organizer, I headed to the dining room where brainstorming was already taking place. In about half an hour everyone had characters made and they were raring to go.

Over the course of the visit, we got two solid gaming sessions in and again they were very good. Wushu worked like a charm.

The kids had little problem producing details in order to build dice pools. In fact, I think Wushu itself helped them articulate their imaginations. Vetoing a detail here and there wasn't as problematic as you might think. Most of the time a veto wasn't for genre emulation but for narrating victory without scene resolution. You might think that a veto would dampen enthusiasm but that wasn't the case. In fact, the vetoes seemed to have been taken as a challenges to be overcome through more description.

We took up where our WhiteBox game left off with the characters ported over. The first session actually ended with a total party kill. You also might think that a TPK would derail the fun but it didn't. They flipped their index cards over and started creating new characters.

Between sessions they worked up some pretty in depth back stories for their new characters connecting them to their old ones. The interesting part, at least for me, was that they would free play it and then talk about what shook out of that as Wushu traits.

Through the freestyle session they decided that their new characters would go to the mountain top where the first adventuring party met their demise and recover their bodies in the hope that resurrection is possible.

In the second session, the PCs found themselves accosted by forest bandits. A battle broke out on the old forest road. The adventuring party needed to keep their equipment in order to endure the journey to the mountain and the bandits wanted it.

Taking significant wounds, the bandits were barely fended off. The bandit leader himself escaped by the skin of his teeth and melted into the forest.

The man-at-arms, the wizardess in training, and the old adventurer made camp to do some recuperation from the woodland encounter. The session ended with them looking at a distant mountain range with the collective wonder of how it could be possible to get there when the road was already so difficult.


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