The Night I Introduced Chronicles of Darkness to My 9 Year Old

My wife is an adjunct professor at a local college, and when fall and spring come around, she works Wednesday nights. In the past, I've primarily allowed kiddo to watch YouTubes while I play on the Internet during that time, but as this next school year began I decided... nope.

We get so little time together away from screens. I decided to use this as a mandated "game night." Now, this is a bit tricky, because in reality I only have about an hour and a half. I need to provide dinner for him and make sure it's warm and edible by the time my wife comes home. This means that most games we play would be problematic.

He has a two-year history playing Dungeons & Dragons and has also played a great deal of Savage Worlds, Fate, and even Dread. All of those games to a certain extent require props, set-up, etc. (Maybe not PbtA, but still). We also play a lot of PbtA, but those are usually one-off one-shot concepts that require my own personal preparation and lots of negotiation between the two of us about the particulars. There simply isn't time for any of that.

I've been reading 2nd edition Mage: The Awakening. It's a beautiful, but highly complex and incredibly ambitious game. But I saw something there. I saw a way to make Wednesday nights work. Even though I am nowhere near ready to run a CoD game.

I sat him down while we waited for the pizza. I told him that I just want to spend Wednesdays doing storytelling. That there were stories that go beyond fighting and action and just follow characters, like Harry Potter (he's a big fan). There are happy times, sad times, dangerous times, but you spend all of this timewith the characters watching them grow. So I wanted to run a game that was just a story we were telling with each other, and it may have action, but it may not. We'll just eat our pizza and see what happens.

He was totally down for it. Last week we made a Mage character, but I told him I wanted to start before he became a Mage, so we can learn the whole story. I did a little PbtA-style question asking, and we arrived at the fact that Jackson Hobbs was a stuntman in Hollywood, parents in Toronto (dad's a plumber, mom's a teacher), a big brother in Miami who's made a killing on YouTube and a twin in Vegas who's a degenerate gambler (this was all him by the way.. um... so...)

We opened at the set of Fast and Furious, Furious X. Which I'm sure will be made. Directed by Ridley Scott. His scene was to drive a car off a bridge, that had a secret ramp, but to make a hard turn when seeing a flare. I'd already established he had basically two dice for everything until he could grow into the character sheet.

Well, he rolled two misses on the turn.

So as he was supposed to turn, he saw a man in a long overcoat and long black hair floating in the sky above the street. It distracted him and turned wrong, careening the car off the bridge. As the car plummeted below, the man transformed into an eagle and flew away.

While he's unconscious, he sees a large tree the size of a building reaching high into the sky.

Jackson wakes up in the hospital. Multiple fractures and a head injury. The hospital does an MRI and while he's there he blacks out and sees the tree again. The next time he wakes up, they are very concerned about his recovery.

The man in the overcoat comes to visit him, his name is Adrian, and he explains that he only wanted to watch and didn't mean to cause the accident. He thought he was invisible and only someone with Mage Sight should have seen him. He asks if Jackson is a Mage, but is confused and disappointed when he finds out that he isn't.

Later Jackson is sent home, the studio gave him a ton of money, but he's off the movie. Adrian comes to visit him later and says that he senses Life in him and that he should be able to heal himself. He describes visualizing water that's blocked by a brick and just remove the brick so the water can flow again.

Jackson tries that night, but my kid fumbles the roll, so it doesn't work. Adrian comes back and tells him to try again, but to light candles and have a peaceful mind.

That night, kid fumbles roll again. So when Adrian comes back the next day, he's disappointed and admitted that perhaps Jackson wasn't a Mage after all and promises to leave him alone now.

Jackson tries again, and this time the kid gets two successes! So the water flows in his mind, and the fractures are healed. Adrian smiles and says, "If you'll have me, I'll be your teacher."

Kid loved the session, and I was absolutely hooked. I'll continue to blog about it as it happens. But I have a lot of reading to do. The possibilities for this campaign are endless.