The first thing I wanted to do with my new OneDice Universal game was run a game for my son. He loves the idea of roleplaying but, just like many adults, gets easily turned off by complexity. I showed him the OneDice Universal book, and the Not Trek skin at the back and he was totally up for playing something.
A few days later he asked me to run something for him and his friend, although she was a little wary. She was definitely not up for playing fantasy, or Star Trek, or Star Wars. She thought about a Firefly game for a bit and then decided, “Nah.” Then I was hit by inspiration, “How about dragons?” and their eyes lit up at the possibilities. We decided that the game should be something a bit like Spyro with the kids playing young dragons.
I had to go out for a few hours so I asked them to think about their dragons: what colour are they? What are they called? What are they like? What are they good at? One of them asked, “Can they have elemental powers?” “Sure,” I said, “Why not?”
When I got back home I was presented with a full A4 sheet telling me everything I needed to know.
Cole is a small male dragon with black and brown colouring. He has an affinity with the element Earth and his personality is described as, “funny – silly, tad smart, daredevil.”
Ember is a smallish black female dragon with a hint of red just under the scales. She has a affinity with fire and is “brave, sarcastic, cocky, stubborn, aggressive and antagonistic.”
How could we not have fun with these two?
Stating them up was a piece of cake and neither of the kids had trouble with it.
(Notice that the “tad smart” descriptor got dropped as soon as he had to pay for it!)
From there we jumped straight into the game. I described their home, a series of caves atop a ridge at the side of a long lush valley. I asked what they were doing and they decided that they were playing in a river. Ember was catching fish and eating them whole while Cole was doing tricks in and around the trees.
I wanted to show them how the game works so I introduced a green snake-like dragon called Gru who was slightly older than them. He scoffed at their abilities and then challenged them to a race to a stone circle across the valley. This lead to a fairly in-depth discussion of race tactics which only got more complex when both of them tried to figure out what could be done to mitigate their awful rolls. Ember decided to pretend to crash into a tree, made a really good deception roll and as Gru went back to help Cole won the race.
At this point I was fairly sure that the kids had gotten a grasp on the mechanics of the game and absolutely certain that they were having a blast.
The game continued with the dragons bugging some dwarves with a wagon, then getting back home to find that their community’s heartstone (dunno, something big, magical and hard to replace) had been stolen. The adult dragons tracked the dwarves to a small entrance to a dwarven cave complex and then head off to discuss diplomatic solutions. Cue Gru slithering up and suggesting that he, Cole and Ember, being the only dragons small enough to enter the dwarven caves, should go get the heartstone.
I then told the kids that it was time for bed and I got the greatest of praise when they both said, “Aww, can’t we just play for a little bit longer?”
Although one of them then said, “It was just about to get good.” And I’m not sure how to take that…
So yes, I am im very pleased with my first play of OneDice Universal. Simple enough that it didn’t put of wary young players and solid enough that it had no issues with whatever I threw at it. Hopefully next time we play I’ll get to try out the combat with them but I’m pretty confident that it will be fine.