First, let me give you some background. The other night I promised to draw my 5 y/o son a maze for him to solve. "This will be easy" he said, just as I was putting pen to paper. In his defence, my mazes have been a little wimpy lately. But fair is fair; I know a dis when I hear one and so I thought to myself "We'll see about that, buddy."
It's not exactly a maze so much as a baffle- not many choices but a very circuitous, winding, fractal path. He gave up about half way through it, and so I knew my 'authoritah' had been respected.
It got me thinking about the idea of drawing a maze game, where you have characters and roll dice and fight monsters- akin to RPG's but not quite as detailed. Some time later, this emerged:
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It's full of monsters, treasure and things to collect (many of which I drew in as we played when he wasn't looking.) It's pretty complicated, so before we started playing, I showed him the rules:
In this example the player can take two paths to the treasure, and takes 5 steps in either case. A player may move in any allowable direction, but this example shows a path towards the treasure.
Move 1: The player can either fall safely down the one-way chute, o go to the top of the ladder
Move 2: The player can move to the middle of the ladder
Move 3: The player can move to the bottom of the ladder
Move 4: The player must encounter the spider
Move 5: The player must encounter the treasure
"Encountering" means rolling dice and getting an outcome. One or two dice are rolled, and this determines battle outcome, how much gold is in chests, etc.
In this example, the player's first move is to the top of the ladder, where a ghost is encountered.
Move 1: Move to the ladder and encounter the ghost
Move 2: Encounter the ghost again.
Move 3: Encounter the ghost again.
Move 4: Go to the bottom of the ladder.
Encounters are monster-dependent. Ghosts are ethereal and so don't prevent the player moving if the player loses the encounter. Tentacle monsters are a different story.
In this example, the player is in for trouble!
Move 1: Go to the top of the ladder
Move 2: Encounter arrow
Move 3: Encounter arrow
Move 4: Move to bottom of stairs and encounter arrow.
In this example, the player needs to go hand-over-hand.
Moves 1-3: Climb hand over hand
Move 4: Go to top of stairs
Move 5: Go to bottom of stairs
Moves 6-9: Hang on to the Hangdogs.
Moves 10,11: Encounter the treasure
Move 12: Encounter the spider
All of the encounters hinted at above are situations in which the player may lose HP, gain gold, or be prevented from passing.
Ghosts haunt and do small damage, ropes can give the player rope burn, and treasure chests may be booby trapped.
The Fog of War
Now that he had seen the rules, it was time to enter the world. I felt it was far too much to reveal all at once, and so I decided to implement a fog of war (in the board/video game sense) using strips of paper and tape.
As we moved through the world (We were a party of two) I revealed it once strip at a time. I used scissors to reveal fine details, and peeled away the painters tape.
This got tedious pretty quickly. So, during down time (when he was at a party) I moved the world onto a magnetic whiteboard, and used fridge magnets for the fog.
The All New Fog of War
Much better! WIth the paper version I didn't have as much fine control, plus my son would get a chance to peek further into the world as I lifted to paper up to cut/remove it. The cheeky blighter!
While I was at it, I press fit some toroidal rare earth magnets into some LEGO dots that we were using to represent our characters and health potions, and so now the whole game can be put on pause without fear of losing vital game information. Remember, the emotions of a 5 y/o can turn on such things. Actually, the same can apply to older peeps too.
After he got back from the party, we decided to 'warp' back to the start and take his Mum through the game for a bit. The family that adventures together stays together.
To keep track of our inventories we used some flat LEGO sheets. We used mini-figures to represent our characters, and when we picked up items in the game, we would show that by giving them bits of LEGO. I think my son (on the right) is taking some liberties here with his +1 shield. I did tell him "What the Dungeon Master says, goes" but I didn't want to squash his spirit entirely.
Here's the full whiteboard. That's our character sheet on the left, with our HP (Hit points- basically our health) and Gold being tracked. There's also a key for how much health the various colours of potion represent.
I made a couple of themed areas in the world, one of which was Egyptian. Well, Egyptian clichés, at least.
As of this writing there are still some unexplored sections of the map. I'm working on world #2, that will connect to world #1.
I'll be needing some more fridge magnets methinks..
If you'd like to play the game yourself, my partner and I have an Etsy store and we've put it up there for 2 bucks. Thanks for supporting Justinia!