Monday, 11 July 2011

Dungeon Crawlers Approved by girls: Part 1

Well my totally unscientific test has shown that girls actually quite like Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System Games, on the whole. However I have had to split this article into 3 parts given my propensity for waffle. For this article, as always, everyone has been given alias' to protect the names of the innocent, so we have Mr Chaos Space Marine, The Cursed. Both of whom are geeks of the highest order and of course my good self Frontline Gamer. However you don't want to hear about us grizzled gaming geek veterans. This isn't going to be a review but more of a discussion of how we found playing the Castle Ravenloft game as a group and what the two females of the group thought of the game itself. Right a brief description of the two unwitting test subjects:

Geology Girl
Level 13 Geek

Geology girl is a highly intelligent young lady who recently managed to get herself a first class Combined Honors degree in Geology and Archeology, you go girlfriend!!! So she's not short of a brain cell or two, which automatically puts her geek level up a few notches. She also has a thing for fantasy and science fiction novels, and is a fan of H.P. Lovecraft (good girl) so again there is some significant geek points too. Comic books I hear you say? Well yes she does indeed know about them and read a few in her spare time, geek factor level 15 by now. So how does she lose two points I hear you ask, well she doesn't like toy soldiers and doesn't play enough computer games. If she did play enough computer games then quite frankly she'd know just how important leveling up is. However a geek level of 13 isn't too bad at all and not to be sniffed at.

Dr Brainiac
Level 10 Geek

Things start off really well for Dr Brainiac, not only does she have a first class Honors degree in Political Science but she followed this up with an MA. and is currently coming towards the end of the second year of her PhD. so those boffin skills she's being working at give her geek credibility a damn fine start. However it gets even better, although she doesn't really want to think about it too much, she has clocked up an impressive amount of hours played on various computer RPGs, mainly Final Fantasy, Dragon Age, Oblivion that sort of thing. In fact while adding up the hours played on Oblivion it became quite apparent she'd probably have well over 1000 hours easily clocked. Yes things are going quite well!!! She also has a love for science fiction TV programs and quite frankly a worrying obsession with Starbuck from the recent Battlestar re-boot, which clearly has her soaring ahead to a level 20 geek quite happily. She even quite likes some of the toy soldiers I paint, but 'wouldn't want to play games with them'. So how does she lose so many levels? Well, a few days ago she asked me who Deadpool was... you know what? I don't think I've been more bitterly disappointed in a person in my entire life. Words fail me, I might even have sulked.

Castle Ravenloft as I unboxed it.

First Game

Well for this we had Mr Chaos Space Marine as the warrior, his other half Geology Girl as the Wizard, because the card was purple... face... palm. Then there was me, playing as the fat dwarf cleric, I'm not too sure what they were trying to say, I'm the tallest person by far out of the group and I have no beard. Then there was my other half Dr Brainiac who decided on the rouge and quite frankly that proved to be a really wise move as you'll find out. So with a brief explanation of the idea of the game and the rules we all headed off into the catacombs of Castle Ravenloft on our first dungeon crawl.

We chose the second mission in the book because obviously Mr Chaos Space Marine and my good self were veteran gamers and the first mission would be no match for our cunning, bravery and undeniable skill. I went first to show the little ladies how a true hero explores the crap out of a Dungeon, I explored a new tile edge and placed the new tile down. Drawing the monster card a saw I'd got a rat swarm, something nice and easy to kill, you know to ease the girls into all this technical stuff and dice rolling. The rat swarm ran up to me in my villain phase to gnaw at my dwarfs ankles but he'd be fi... oh... I rolled a 20, not to worry though it was only 1 point of  damage and it made people laugh.

The scene of our most epic failure... it was about to get worse

Next up was Mr Chaos Space Marine, swearing revenge and vowing to save my blushes, he bravely strode forward to slay what I'd already explained was a horde, nay plague of rats. The mighty warrior pulled his axe back ready to smite the the verminous tide threatening to swarm over us and... he rolled a 1. WTF. The two hardened dungeon crawlers looked at each other across the scene of none carnage, things had not gone well, but they were about to get worse. He drew his encounter card as we'd forgoten to do it before his action... and instantly wished we hadn't, it was some form of trap that would hit the two of us. It was OK though because we were well armoured and the card onl... WTF dude an 18 and a 19? Why the f@*% didn't you roll that when attacking the f@*%ing rat swarm? I'd taken 3 hit points and the bumbling warrior 2. Oh yeah the big bad hard men were doing really well!!!

It got better for the group, if a little worse for our male ego's as the Rogue strode forward controlled by Dr Brainiac and she easily disarmed the trap with with a nonchalant 16. Us men felt she might have been a little too smug about it but we were at least happy we weren't going to die some more this round. Next up was Geology Girl and her poncy Elf wizard who was bound to be as useful as a chocolate tea pot in a figh... oh 20, fireball thingy you say, hmm, yeah not bad, yeah that's right that is the rat swarm dead. Yes that is what the Warrior should have done, yeah that's right the n00bs just rescued the pro's from a rat swarm. Jesus Christ no need to rub it in!!!

So it continued for a little while with me epic failing every roll I could pretty much and Mr Chaos Space Marine trying his hardest to spread the bad luck out between the two of us. Or perhaps he was just rolling bad out of sympathy for me. However I started to come more and more into my own and soon my Cleric was twating bad guys and healing Hit Points like it was going out of fashion, the girls were still kicking ass and taking names... and the lizard warrior was still managing to fail pretty much everything he tried... and it was brilliant fun. Eventually we were getting closer to our mission end. Me and Geology Girl had decided leaving Mr Chaos Space Marine to his own devices was the wisest course of action, as he was causing us huge amounts of damage with every encounter card he pulled, which seemed to be traps or Strahd doing nasty things to us. sO we'd buggered off in the opposite direction.

Bravely the Dwarf Cleric and Elf Mage venture forth as... oh FFS

Then he managed to find the the treasure room, great we'd gone off one way hoping to explore and find the room and leave the wounded lizard to catch us up and not cause us anymore damage. Brilliant!!! So we drew our beasties, the Rogue drew a rat swarm, as did the Wizard, my Dwarf Cleric drew a skeleton warrior and our Lizard Warrior drew a Wraith... dude WTF is up with you? So Geology Girl and myself started the long hard schlep back to the treasure room and the Warrior was on his own for now except for the Rogue, who was still grumpy Geology Girl and me had left her with the hapless warrior. However she performed admirably slaying her rat swarm and using her healing potion to help the clueless lizard out. Eventually we manged to catch up and help out, but the final killing blow came from that Lizard Warrior, he finally came good slaying the wraith. Adventure done. Fun time had for all!!!

Lizard boys moment of glory as he finally comes good!!!

So how was it for you?

I think its fair to say most of the fun came from our outlandish description of what was going on when rolling dice, Mr Chaos Space Marine was particularly good at it given his training by the Games Workshop in how to be bombastic and over exuberant. Like most of these things, their success hinges on the people you're playing with and we were in pretty damn good company to be fair and it was funny. Also as the girls started to understand the mechanics the game started moving along quicker and they started to make their own choices and do things for themselves. So we decided to delve deeper into the dungeon... Peace out, for now!

Adventures with girls: Part 2
Girls really do just want to have fun: Part 3


  1. Superb article, which feels really familiar from my gaming days :D Certainly gave me a chuckle before work - good job! ;)

  2. I'm glad you found it an enjoyable read. I think we had fun with the first game. I'm hopefully putting up part two of our adventure today and also plonking part 3 up tomorrow along with a full on review of Castle Ravenloft itself. Not too sure how to review it though to be honest because my feelings are quite mixed on it. Its not quite what I wanted from the box but its not a bad game.

  3. "...most of the fun came from our outlandish description of what was going on when rolling dice, Mr Chaos Space Marine was particularly good at it given his training by the Games Workshop in how to be bombastic and over exuberant."

    That's the way to do it! I find these combat-focused pseudo-RPG things are a little dry and crunchy if they're not splashed with a little outrageousness along the way.

  4. @Kaptainvon I agree, an awful lot of the fun to be had with these games is actually from the company you keep and play with. Its the amateur dramatics and theater of it all. The D&D Adventure System Games are fun enough in their own right and are very quick and slick to play. I'd certainly recommend them as a doorway into the hobby for anyone who is thinking of dipping their toe into the water so to speak.

  5. Who is deadpool? I don't think she should lose too many points for that! Although I'm young, what do I really know?

  6. Knowing who Deadpool is has nothing to with your age young man!!!

    Go look him up on Wikipedia as you young whipper snappers like to do, and then you'll know why geek points HAD to be lost. :P