Monday, January 2, 2017

Gaming with the kids: Sci-Fi Dungeon

My kids, wife and I enjoy playing games. One of the biggest challenges, however has been in adapting existing games to better serve the six-year-old abilities of our son, Master J.

"But, Jay," I hear you exclaim. "Just play 'Candyland,' or 'Chutes and Ladders,' or some other junk game from Wally World!"
Image result for candyland
If only "Candyland was as cool as it's portrayed in "Wreck It Ralph."
To that I say "Nonsense!" The boy wants to play the games we buy in real game stores. I'm not going to deny him that.  The most recent game that has captured his attention is "Boss Monster II" from Brotherwise Games. I acquired it at Winternomicon, as discussed in Episode 7 of the podcast. The game looks like it'd be a ton of fun. However, its gameplay is a bit deep for a six-year-old. So, I devised some simple rules based on the numbers and icons on the cards. We played it two or three times over this past weekend, and have had a blast.

Image result for boss monster ii
Really cool. Check it out.

I must mention that a challenge we've had with Master J is him simply following the rules. This is an ongoing problem which has resulted in frustrating sessions of the aforementioned "Candyland" and "Chutes and Ladders," as well as "Mouse Trap," "Hungry, Hungry Hippos," "Break the Ice" and many other childhood favorites.

Happily, the modified "Boss Monster II" version has resulted in more rule following. I should note that our sessions playing "Dungeon!" have seen a marked increase in rule following. I suspect it might have to with the subject matter. This might bear further study.

Image result for dungeons and dragons board game
Worth every penny.
This evening, Master J wanted to play "Boss Monster II" and I thought there might be an opportunity.

"Hey, bud, do you want to work on making your own game tonight," I asked him.


We quickly went to work with assistance from his ten-year-old sister, Miss C.

What follows are the first draft of rules that Master J has named "Sci-Fi Dungeon." (Note: all character names, and opponent types were created by Master J. His dad took input from him and his sister in developing the rules.)

Sci-Fi Dungeon
A space station. Or a missile defense base. Or a dark, dank, dungeon. Wherever fetid evil squats.

Heroes and monsters both have the following stats on their profiles.

Heroes have multiple wounds, or maybe an armor save. We haven't gotten that far, to be honest.

Monsters only have a single wound, as they need to be cleft in twain.

Astronaut - What he's doing fighting evil, we don;t know. Some men are just in the right place at the right time. Where'd he get that gun, anyway?
Move - 4
Ranged - 5
Melee - 3
Defense - 4

Zombie Hunter - He does what is job title says. He's identical to Martian Killer. He has a chopper. The implication is that it's an edged weapon, possibly a cleaver. But maybe it's a motorcycle, also.
Move - 5
Ranged - 3
Melee - 5
Defense - 3

Zombies - Of course. Why wouldn't we have zombies?
Move - 2
Ranged - 0
Melee - 2
Defense - 2

Ratmen - Well, they were on hand. And painted. That helped in their selection.
Move - 3
Ranged - 2 (probably just thrown rocks, ninja stars, that sort of thing)
Melee - 2
Defense - 2

Martians - They're Cuisinarts on legs. Don't get too close. In fact, don't get in the same room as these dudes. Just shoot them through a wall if you can.
Move - 4
Ranged - 0
Melee - 3
Defense - 3

Rat Ogre - Big, bad, not overly bright. His ranged attack is of undetermined origin.
Move - 2
Ranged - 3
Melee - 3
Defense - 4

Boss Monster
Soul Collector is an old Nurgle Champion I painted before I knew the kids' mom. Thanks to me getting him out of storage, I have the desire to put together a Chaos force for my Commands & Colors Fantasy project.
The Shuttle Bay is made from Worldworks Games' Firstlight file pack and foam board.

Soul Collector - He's large and in charge. Apparently, he has some electrified attack, but we haven't fleshed that out just yet.
Move - 3
Ranged - 0
Melee - 8
Defense - 5

Turn sequence:
Heroes go first. They can move and perform an action. Actions include shoot, melee or search (more actions later, I'm sure).

Monsters go second. They can move and attack. Very few monsters have a ranged attack. Apparently, their dread overlord, Soul Collector, doesn't want to pay for guns, ammo, or training time.


Miss C moves the Zombie Hunter to a supply pile to search for Alien Coins.
Supply piles 3D prints available from King's Hobbies and Games

Use a grided play surface or not. If not, use inches. Terrain doesn't affect movement just yet. A hero can move some of its movement, perform an action and then finish its movement.

Monsters move then attack. That's all they know.

Ranged and Melee Attacks:
The Zombie Hunter faces down a horde of Zombies and Martians!

Both are handled the same way. The attacker rolls a number of dice equal to her character's Ranged or Melee stat. The defender rolls a number of dice equal to his Defense stat. Both players order their dice from highest to lowest. Compare the dice against each other. Defender wins ties. Each of the attacker's dice that are greater than the defender's counts as a wound. See the image below for an example.

Master J attacks a Zombie. He rolls the Zombie Hunter's three dice (blue) for a ranged attack, scoring a 5, 4, and 3. Jay rolls his Zombie's defense of two dice (red), scoring 6, and 2. Jay's 6 defeats Master J's 5, no hit! Master J's 4 defeats Jay's 2, and the 3 also hits. The two hits are enough to down the Zombie!

This is obviously a game in the earliest stages of development. Obviously, we need to look at giving monsters more than one wound. I had some scenario rules for fighting in the shuttle bay and searching the supply piles. I'll set those down in a later blog post.

We've had fun so far, and I'm looking forward to seeing where we can take this. If you have thoughts or suggestions, leave a comment here or on the Facebook page.


  1. My son is the same way. He always wants to make his own game. I've been trying to get him to write these things down, if for no other reason than to work on his penmanship. Looks like you guys are having fun, and that's the most important thing.

  2. Yes, the fun is what counts! Writing things down is handy, too.

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