How the internet and my computer at home helped my daughter and I have some fun
We tend to think of play and computers being an either or situation. You're either playing on the computer (think Club Penguin or Moshi Monsters) or the computer is off in favour of 'traditional' play such as digging holes in the garden or feeding the hamster.
Last weekend I had a mix of the two, or at least had fun away from the computer thanks to using the computer earlier with a very fun role playing game called Fuzzy Heroes.
Fuzzy Heroes is a game in the style of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons but suitable for children from the age of 7. I stretched the rules a little as my eldest is a little younger but I'm getting ahead of myself.
The idea of the game is that you use your own toys to play the game, rather than going out and buying little figures or trying to imagine a scenario represented by small bits of paper. The abilities of the toy in the game are based directly on size, colour and the number of limbs. At some point the children will realise the massive advantage that their toy centipedes will have over every other toy in the house.
I wouldn't have heard about Fuzzy Heroes without my long list of blogs read through Google Reader. Hat Tip to @ddonahoo on Twitter for the original recommendation. Fuzzy Heroes is available as a printed book or you can download it as a PDF from DriveThru RPG. That was attractive to me for a couple of reasons. It was much cheaper and it avoided having to wait for it to be posted from the US. Printing it myself also means that it doesn't matter if it gets damaged or written on. I can read PDFs more easily on the train using the iPad.
As my eldest is a little younger than the recommended age, the rules of the game needed a little tweaking. The idea of the exercise was to get her excited about the idea of playing these imaginative games rather than seeing how many dice rolls I could force her to make.
I also decided to make some work sheets to help keep track of our toys health and make the battles easier to follow. I used my design software of choice, Xara Photo & Graphic Designer for this. I went through several revisions, checking with my wife as to whether they worked or not.
And so, with the computer off and printouts in hand we started with the very basic scenario suggested as the first game. My daughter's rabbit, Biscuit, had to escape from a prison guarded by Herbert (she's a Club Penguin fan) played by me. We made the prison layout using some wooden bricks and got started.
The worksheets helped to keep things flowing nicely and I'm pleased to say that I lost. Well, I won really, in every respect except Herbert was defeated (fell asleep in the child friendly game parlance).
All I have to do now is to come up with some more interesting scenarios. I might have a go at using the free Maptool for this. There are 70 pages or so of further ideas in the Fuzzy Heroes book, which will be a good place to start.
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