05 December 2012


Geekdad Ben Kuchera plays the old Dungeon! boardgame with his kid. The addition of a little house rule makes this boring game fun.

You can simply pick your character and start rolling against monsters, but that’s not getting into the spirit of things. I asked my son to name his character, and tell me why he had that name. “Now, why do you need the money?” I asked. The game may task players with exploring a dungeon and escaping with a certain amount of gold, but why are they in there risking their lives? With a little bit of back and forth we both had names for our characters, and a little bit of back story.

Next was the decision that you couldn’t just roll, you had to call your attack. “I smash the goblin with my shield!” my kid said, and we rolled to see if he was successful. If he failed his roll and the monster fought back I acted that out as as well. We didn’t just collect the treasure from the fallen enemies, we had to describe where it was hidden. “I grab some of the Mummy’s wrapping, and spin him around!” I said, and rolled. I was successful.

“Okay, so he’s unraveled, and there is just bones and dust and this necklace inside!” my son said, handing me the treasure card.

The words “gateway drug” come to mind ....

At one point he caught on that the names and motivations we talked about at the beginning of the game didn’t really matter to the mechanics. “The thing is, when you play a game like this there are two things you have to decide: what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. To me, the why is usually just as important,” I explained. He asked if there were games that allowed him to make more of a difference in the world.

Yes, yes there are.

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