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"Icons" with Kids?

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  • Dan Dillon
    I have been playing a rudimentary super hero RPG with my daughter (who s now 6) for a few years now, and am thinking of advancing our game by introducing the
    Message 1 of 9 , Feb 2, 2014
      I have been playing a rudimentary super hero RPG with my daughter (who's now 6) for a few years now, and am thinking of 'advancing' our game by introducing the "Icons" rules set.

      To date our game includes many of the 'hallmarks' of RPGs, like character sheets, 'funny' dice (D10s), and miniatures (Heroclix).  But because of her youth, we have not been playing with a formalized rules set. Instead, I just make up target numbers in my head and we roll D10s. I think she's now coming to an age where introducing a formalized set of rules may be appropriate, however.  "Icons" is simple and straightforward, and the "only the PCs role dice" mechanic will have enormous appeal to her, I'm sure.  But I have the following few questions/concerns that I thought I'd raise here in hopes of receiving some feedback/insights/suggestions:

      1.  D10s instead of D6s. 
      One aspect of our game that my daughter really likes is the novelty of the D10s we play with.  To her they are interesting because they're different and unusual. I am sure it would disappoint her to shift our game to the use of 'boring, normal' D6s.  Has anyone every played "Icons" with D10s instead of D6s, and/or does anyone who is mathematically/statistically inclined have any suggestions about an easy way for me to make that switch?  (Since I am playing with a 6 year old, the math and probabilities do not have to be exact when translated, just roughly approximate.)

      2. No Determination.
      I personally like the "Determination" mechanic in the game.  But I don't think my daughter will fully grasp either the game mechanics aspect or the genre emulation aspect of it.  So I'm thinking of eliminating it from our game entirely, at least at first.  But it seems pretty central to the game.  Has anyone played "Icons" without using 'Determination' at all?  And if so, were there any noticeable downsides to that in terms of game play/balance?

      3.  Random Adventure Creation.  I really liked this section of the game book (pp 90-91) and was thinking of having my daughter make the rolls on those tables at the start of each of our game sessions, rather than preparing an adventure scenario in advance myself.  I suspect that she'd really like being the person with the 'power' to determine the plot of our game herself. And I'm pretty confident that I could 'ad lib' the details effectively after she makes those rolls. (Especially because our games are very 'fast and loose.')  But I've never tried anything like that before.  Has anyone here done something similar?  And if so, are there any pitfalls I should watch out for?

      Thanks very much in advance for any feedback.

      Dan
    • Icosahedrophilia
      On the d10s: d6 - d6 gives you a range of +5 down to -5. If you want to use a d10 instead, 6 minus 1d10 gives you a range of +5 down to -4, which is pretty
      Message 2 of 9 , Feb 2, 2014
        On the d10s: d6 - d6 gives you a range of +5 down to -5. If you want to use a d10 instead, 6 minus 1d10 gives you a range of +5 down to -4, which is pretty close, and the skew is in your daughter's favor.

        On Feb 2, 2014, at 10:40 AM, Dan Dillon <dan2448@...> wrote:

         

        I have been playing a rudimentary super hero RPG with my daughter (who's now 6) for a few years now, and am thinking of 'advancing' our game by introducing the "Icons" rules set.

        To date our game includes many of the 'hallmarks' of RPGs, like character sheets, 'funny' dice (D10s), and miniatures (Heroclix).  But because of her youth, we have not been playing with a formalized rules set. Instead, I just make up target numbers in my head and we roll D10s. I think she's now coming to an age where introducing a formalized set of rules may be appropriate, however.  "Icons" is simple and straightforward, and the "only the PCs role dice" mechanic will have enormous appeal to her, I'm sure.  But I have the following few questions/concerns that I thought I'd raise here in hopes of receiving some feedback/insights/suggestions:

        1.  D10s instead of D6s. 
        One aspect of our game that my daughter really likes is the novelty of the D10s we play with.  To her they are interesting because they're different and unusual. I am sure it would disappoint her to shift our game to the use of 'boring, normal' D6s.  Has anyone every played "Icons" with D10s instead of D6s, and/or does anyone who is mathematically/statistically inclined have any suggestions about an easy way for me to make that switch?  (Since I am playing with a 6 year old, the math and probabilities do not have to be exact when translated, just roughly approximate.)

        2. No Determination.
        I personally like the "Determination" mechanic in the game.  But I don't think my daughter will fully grasp either the game mechanics aspect or the genre emulation aspect of it.  So I'm thinking of eliminating it from our game entirely, at least at first.  But it seems pretty central to the game.  Has anyone played "Icons" without using 'Determination' at all?  And if so, were there any noticeable downsides to that in terms of game play/balance?

        3.  Random Adventure Creation.  I really liked this section of the game book (pp 90-91) and was thinking of having my daughter make the rolls on those tables at the start of each of our game sessions, rather than preparing an adventure scenario in advance myself.  I suspect that she'd really like being the person with the 'power' to determine the plot of our game herself. And I'm pretty confident that I could 'ad lib' the details effectively after she makes those rolls. (Especially because our games are very 'fast and loose.')  But I've never tried anything like that before.  Has anyone here done something similar?  And if so, are there any pitfalls I should watch out for?

        Thanks very much in advance for any feedback.

        Dan

      • Steve Kenson
        Dan, congrats on introducing your daughter to the wonderful world of games! As to your questions: 1. d10s can work, as Chris suggests, although a d10 will have
        Message 3 of 9 , Feb 3, 2014
          Dan, congrats on introducing your daughter to the wonderful world of games! As to your questions:

          1. d10s can work, as Chris suggests, although a d10 will have a more linear and "swingy" quality than 2d6 (which has a probability curve/pyramid). The easiest way to do it is to add +6 to all of the difficulties on your side of the screen and just let your daughter roll the d10 and add it to the character's ability level. That'll incorporate the math on your end, and make it largely invisible to her (much the same way you can have players roll 2d6 and add the total to the characters' levels, but increase all difficulties by 7).

          2. Related to #1, I suggest keeping Determination Points, but using them solely for "re-roll the die and take the better of the two results". It'll address some of the swing in probabilities and provide some cushioning for bad die rolls, largely the way hero points do for the d20 in Mutants & Masterminds. You can still hand out Determination for acts of heroism (little rewards can make the game more fun). Ignore all the stuff about aspects and whatnot.

          3. You'll want a good selection of stock villains for random adventure creation, but between the rulebook and Villainomicon you'd be off to a good start. You might also consider adding a roll or two on the Universe Features tables in Icons Team-Up to add some "spice" to your basic adventure concept, since three or four data points can help provide direction, as compared to two.

          Best of luck!

          _____
          Steve Kenson
          stevekenson@...
          www.stevekenson.com





        • Soylent Green
          1. How do you think your daughter would take to Fudge dice in place do d10? Fudge dice are pretty special and this days you can get Fudge dice in attractive
          Message 4 of 9 , Feb 3, 2014
            1. How do you think your daughter would take to Fudge dice in place do d10? Fudge dice are pretty special and this days you can get Fudge dice in attractive colours. Or how about some novelty, over-sized d6s?

            2. Steve's suggestion simplifying Determination to a simple re-roll mechanic is excellent. And you could always represent Determination Points with M&Ms :-)

            3. To generate adventures together, on the fly,  you might also want to look at my "Crime Table" doc which is on the Icons wiki (http://icons-truth-justice-and-gaming.wikispaces.com/Adventures) and should also be in the files section of the Icons yahoo group.  


            To: icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com
            From: stevekenson@...
            Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2014 07:58:17 -0500
            Subject: [icons-rpg] Re: "Icons" with Kids?

             
            Dan, congrats on introducing your daughter to the wonderful world of games! As to your questions:

            1. d10s can work, as Chris suggests, although a d10 will have a more linear and "swingy" quality than 2d6 (which has a probability curve/pyramid). The easiest way to do it is to add +6 to all of the difficulties on your side of the screen and just let your daughter roll the d10 and add it to the character's ability level. That'll incorporate the math on your end, and make it largely invisible to her (much the same way you can have players roll 2d6 and add the total to the characters' levels, but increase all difficulties by 7).

            2. Related to #1, I suggest keeping Determination Points, but using them solely for "re-roll the die and take the better of the two results". It'll address some of the swing in probabilities and provide some cushioning for bad die rolls, largely the way hero points do for the d20 in Mutants & Masterminds. You can still hand out Determination for acts of heroism (little rewards can make the game more fun). Ignore all the stuff about aspects and whatnot.

            3. You'll want a good selection of stock villains for random adventure creation, but between the rulebook and Villainomicon you'd be off to a good start. You might also consider adding a roll or two on the Universe Features tables in Icons Team-Up to add some "spice" to your basic adventure concept, since three or four data points can help provide direction, as compared to two.

            Best of luck!

            _____
            Steve Kenson
            stevekenson@...
            www.stevekenson.com






          • Dan Dillon
            Thanks very much for these excellent suggestions, Steve! I am definitely going to use the D10 mechanic you suggested. It s exactly the sort of elegantly simple
            Message 5 of 9 , Feb 3, 2014
              Thanks very much for these excellent suggestions, Steve! 

              I am definitely going to use the D10 mechanic you suggested. It's exactly the sort of elegantly simple solution I was hoping for.

              In addition to being fun, I really believe that the rudimentary RPG my daughter and I play is simultaneously strengthening her abstract reasoning and problem-solving skills.

              The random Plot Element tables on page 90 are a perfect match for other limits on our game, too.  My daughter exclusively prefers to face supervillains with whom she is already familiar (mostly from watching "Teen Titans," "Teen Titans Go" and DVDs of vintage "Superfriends" cartoons). So I'll come up with a corresponding Supervillain table to supplement the two Plot Element tables.  And the 'verb-object' structure of those two Plot Element tables, when embellished by me very minimally, coincidentally matches the straightforward, linear structure of the adventures we've already been playing.  ("Darkseid attempts to steal 'all the McDonald's Happy Meals in the world'" could easily be generated from these tables, for instance, whether one considers the world's supply of Happy Meals a "Treasure" or a "Resource" or an "Enemy.")

              Dan


              To: icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com
              From: stevekenson@...
              Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2014 07:58:17 -0500
              Subject: [icons-rpg] Re: "Icons" with Kids?

               
              Dan, congrats on introducing your daughter to the wonderful world of games! As to your questions:

              1. d10s can work, as Chris suggests, although a d10 will have a more linear and "swingy" quality than 2d6 (which has a probability curve/pyramid). The easiest way to do it is to add +6 to all of the difficulties on your side of the screen and just let your daughter roll the d10 and add it to the character's ability level. That'll incorporate the math on your end, and make it largely invisible to her (much the same way you can have players roll 2d6 and add the total to the characters' levels, but increase all difficulties by 7).

              2. Related to #1, I suggest keeping Determination Points, but using them solely for "re-roll the die and take the better of the two results". It'll address some of the swing in probabilities and provide some cushioning for bad die rolls, largely the way hero points do for the d20 in Mutants & Masterminds. You can still hand out Determination for acts of heroism (little rewards can make the game more fun). Ignore all the stuff about aspects and whatnot.

              3. You'll want a good selection of stock villains for random adventure creation, but between the rulebook and Villainomicon you'd be off to a good start. You might also consider adding a roll or two on the Universe Features tables in Icons Team-Up to add some "spice" to your basic adventure concept, since three or four data points can help provide direction, as compared to two.

              Best of luck!

              _____
              Steve Kenson
              stevekenson@...
              www.stevekenson.com







            • Dan Dillon
              Thanks very much for these great ideas, Soylent Green! On reflection, I think my daughter really would like a pair of (inflatable) D6s that were, like, the
              Message 6 of 9 , Feb 3, 2014
                Thanks very much for these great ideas, Soylent Green! 

                On reflection, I think my daughter really would like a pair of (inflatable) D6s that were, like, the size of beach balls (or bigger).  I never would've thought of anything like that myself.  (But my wife might be less enamored of the spectacle of us "rolling dice in the house," I fear....)

                When first thinking about how Determination Points might work in our little game, I did actually consider using candy (as opposed to, say, poker chips), as well as unused Chuck E Cheese tokens, actually.  In many respects I think that's a great idea, too.  But I came to worry that my daughter wouldn't "spend" them in the game, but instead would: (i) hoard/eat them, or (ii) skew her play to an exclusive focus on earning more.  I began to think that (ii) might not be a bad consequence, actually, and might make for a fun game.  But the realist in me concluded that (i) was the far more likely outcome....

                Thanks so much for the link to the Crime Table document, too: I will definitely use that!  (I suspect that the "Where" tables may be particularly useful to me, especially as I try to come up with adventures 'on the fly' after having my daughter roll on the Plot Element tables at the start of our game sessions.)

                Dan


                To: icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com
                From: gsoylent@...
                Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2014 13:12:43 +0000
                Subject: RE: [icons-rpg] Re: "Icons" with Kids?

                 

                1. How do you think your daughter would take to Fudge dice in place do d10? Fudge dice are pretty special and this days you can get Fudge dice in attractive colours. Or how about some novelty, over-sized d6s?

                2. Steve's suggestion simplifying Determination to a simple re-roll mechanic is excellent. And you could always represent Determination Points with M&Ms :-)

                3. To generate adventures together, on the fly,  you might also want to look at my "Crime Table" doc which is on the Icons wiki (http://icons-truth-justice-and-gaming.wikispaces.com/Adventures) and should also be in the files section of the Icons yahoo group. 




              • Dan Dillon
                Thanks very much for this excellent suggestion, Chris! To: icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com From: d20@drchris.me Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2014 16:05:51 -0800 Subject: Re:
                Message 7 of 9 , Feb 3, 2014
                  Thanks very much for this excellent suggestion, Chris!


                  To: icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com
                  From: d20@...
                  Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2014 16:05:51 -0800
                  Subject: Re: [icons-rpg] "Icons" with Kids?

                   

                  On the d10s: d6 - d6 gives you a range of +5 down to -5. If you want to use a d10 instead, 6 minus 1d10 gives you a range of +5 down to -4, which is pretty close, and the skew is in your daughter's favor.

                  On Feb 2, 2014, at 10:40 AM, Dan Dillon <dan2448@...> wrote:

                   

                  I have been playing a rudimentary super hero RPG with my daughter (who's now 6) for a few years now, and am thinking of 'advancing' our game by introducing the "Icons" rules set.

                  To date our game includes many of the 'hallmarks' of RPGs, like character sheets, 'funny' dice (D10s), and miniatures (Heroclix).  But because of her youth, we have not been playing with a formalized rules set. Instead, I just make up target numbers in my head and we roll D10s. I think she's now coming to an age where introducing a formalized set of rules may be appropriate, however.  "Icons" is simple and straightforward, and the "only the PCs role dice" mechanic will have enormous appeal to her, I'm sure.  But I have the following few questions/concerns that I thought I'd raise here in hopes of receiving some feedback/insights/suggestions:

                  1.  D10s instead of D6s. 
                  One aspect of our game that my daughter really likes is the novelty of the D10s we play with.  To her they are interesting because they're different and unusual. I am sure it would disappoint her to shift our game to the use of 'boring, normal' D6s.  Has anyone every played "Icons" with D10s instead of D6s, and/or does anyone who is mathematically/statistically inclined have any suggestions about an easy way for me to make that switch?  (Since I am playing with a 6 year old, the math and probabilities do not have to be exact when translated, just roughly approximate.)

                  2. No Determination.
                  I personally like the "Determination" mechanic in the game.  But I don't think my daughter will fully grasp either the game mechanics aspect or the genre emulation aspect of it.  So I'm thinking of eliminating it from our game entirely, at least at first.  But it seems pretty central to the game.  Has anyone played "Icons" without using 'Determination' at all?  And if so, were there any noticeable downsides to that in terms of game play/balance?

                  3.  Random Adventure Creation.  I really liked this section of the game book (pp 90-91) and was thinking of having my daughter make the rolls on those tables at the start of each of our game sessions, rather than preparing an adventure scenario in advance myself.  I suspect that she'd really like being the person with the 'power' to determine the plot of our game herself. And I'm pretty confident that I could 'ad lib' the details effectively after she makes those rolls. (Especially because our games are very 'fast and loose.')  But I've never tried anything like that before.  Has anyone here done something similar?  And if so, are there any pitfalls I should watch out for?

                  Thanks very much in advance for any feedback.

                  Dan


                • Icosahedrophilia
                  Dan, Here’s another thought I had. If your daughter likes d10s, stands to reason she’d like d12s even more! And if she likes rolling one die, two would be
                  Message 8 of 9 , Feb 3, 2014
                    Dan,

                    Here’s another thought I had. If your daughter likes d10s, stands to reason she’d like d12s even more! And if she likes rolling one die, two would be awesome! Which brings up two possibilities:

                    Get some Doublesix Dice, once they become available: http://www.doublesixdice.com These are d12s numbered 1–6 twice.

                    Or forget about waiting for manufactured Doublesix Dice and make your own! Use something like http://www.gamestation.net/Opaque-Polyhedral-White-Bag-of-10-Blank-d12/productinfo/9601%2D0006/ and a Sharpie, or http://www.gamestation.net/Bag-of-6-Jumbo-White-Blank-d12-Dice-with-Stickers/productinfo/9925%2D0005/ if you want larger dice. Number each d12 1 through 6 twice.

                    This method would allow your daughter to roll polyhedral dice while still preserving the bell curve that 2d6 allow.

                    P.S. I started my son role-playing with Fudge when he was about 5. What a marvelous experience. He is now 15, his little brother is 10. Both play ICONS, and they have invented their own “multiverse” genre LARP. Sweet.

                    Chris Heard
                    Icosahedrophilia Blog and Podcast
                    http://drchris.me/d20
                    ><> ב״ה



                  • Dan Dillon
                    Thanks very much for this great suggestion, too, Chris! I never would ve heard of these dice otherwise. I will buy a set of these, I think, and see if my
                    Message 9 of 9 , Feb 3, 2014
                      Thanks very much for this great suggestion, too, Chris!  I never would've heard of these dice otherwise. 

                      I will buy a set of these, I think, and see if my daughter likes them.  (As an aside, I was shocked that this kickstarter had already raised over $130K. Amazing.)

                      I would love it if my daughter still wants to play RPGs with me  when she's 10 or 15, like your sons.  That would be fantastic. Pessimistically, I've assumed that one day she'll mention our little super hero RPG to some of her girlfriends at school, and their likely confused/negative reaction will mean the end of our game.  But until that time, its "game on"...

                      Dan


                      To: icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com
                      From: d20@...
                      Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2014 09:48:32 -0800
                      Subject: Re: [icons-rpg] Re: "Icons" with Kids?

                       

                      Dan,

                      Here’s another thought I had. If your daughter likes d10s, stands to reason she’d like d12s even more! And if she likes rolling one die, two would be awesome! Which brings up two possibilities:

                      Get some Doublesix Dice, once they become available: http://www.doublesixdice.com These are d12s numbered 1–6 twice.

                      Or forget about waiting for manufactured Doublesix Dice and make your own! Use something like http://www.gamestation.net/Opaque-Polyhedral-White-Bag-of-10-Blank-d12/productinfo/9601%2D0006/ and a Sharpie, or http://www.gamestation.net/Bag-of-6-Jumbo-White-Blank-d12-Dice-with-Stickers/productinfo/9925%2D0005/ if you want larger dice. Number each d12 1 through 6 twice.

                      This method would allow your daughter to roll polyhedral dice while still preserving the bell curve that 2d6 allow.

                      P.S. I started my son role-playing with Fudge when he was about 5. What a marvelous experience. He is now 15, his little brother is 10. Both play ICONS, and they have invented their own “multiverse” genre LARP. Sweet.

                      Chris Heard
                      Icosahedrophilia Blog and Podcast
                      http://drchris.me/d20
                      ><> ב״ה




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