Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Magick and Monsters

Parents who have children of a certain age are almost certainly familiar with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series of books, which are very popular at the moment, probably even moreso now that there's a movie version of the first book in theaters. The books chronicle the thoughts of a sixth-grader named Greg as he deals with all the usual trials and tribulations of growing up, accompanied by often-amusing cartoon drawings. My daughter, who players Iriadessa in my Dwimmermount campaign, was recently reading the second book in the series, Rodrick Rules, which contains a brief sub-plot pertaining to an imaginary RPG called Magick and Monsters.

Rodrick's friend Rowley, despite his age, still gets a babysitter whenever his parents go out. Normally, his babysitter is Heather, "the prettiest girl at Crossland High School" on whom Greg has a crush. Consequently, he loves to go over to Rowley's house when his parents are out, as it means Heather will be there. One time, however, Heather was unavailable and Rowley gets a different babysitter, a high school boy named Leland, who asks if Greg would like to play Magick and Monsters with him. Greg agrees, but only
because I thought it was some kind of video game. But then I found out that you play it with pencils and paper and these special dice, and that you're supposed to use your "imagination" or whatever.

Greg soon becomes enamored of the game, "because in Magick and Monsters you can do all sorts of stuff you could never do in real life." As his obsession with the game grows, so do his mother's suspicions. "I guess she must think Leland is teaching me and Rowley witchcraft or something." he explains. To allay her fears, Greg's Mom decides to come along and go and watch him play Magick and Monsters with his friends.

From there, things take an unexpected turn and the story becomes even more amusing.

I have to admit I was very surprised to see this section of the book, firstly because I don't think pen and paper RPGs are much on the cultural radar anymore. Secondly, it was heartening to see RPGs portrayed so positively and (more or less) accurately. That's rare in almost any outside media, never mind one geared toward children of the same age as I was when I first started gaming. Here's hoping at least a few kids out there find themselves sufficiently intrigued by this imaginary game that they seek out the real stuff.

15 comments:

  1. My wife read this section of the story to me (she loves YA fiction) and I was also surprised at how positive it comes off.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I introduced my 9 year-old nephew on to D&D and he was on board from the start because of "Wimpy Kid". He is constantly asking me about Dragonlance stuff for some reason, which I'm not really up on, but I do my best to humor his requests.
    He really likes playing Dragonborn characters and is into the high-powered fantasy but I've told him about the different styles of play and he's not too interested in Old School but at least he knows that not everyone has to do things the same way.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is great! And it oddly parallels a recent experience where a friend's Mormon Mom wanted to come watch us play, to assure herself that we weren't conjuring up Pazuzu or something.....my friend is 23.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I wonder how long it will be before someone capitalizes on " Magic & Monsters" and puts out a RPG with the very same name ( hopefully it will be OGL).

    ReplyDelete
  5. As I've mentioned before, I run a game for the children of several of my colleagues in the English Department here at Illinois. The players are boys aged 7-9, and they know the Wimpy Kid books. I will have to ask them about "Magic & Monsters."

    ReplyDelete
  6. Interesting that they use the spelling "magick"... which is the old Crowley-esque thelemic spelling of the word.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This ia great. I'll have to ask my oldest daughter (10) if she's read that part. I'm her occasional GM, so it won't seem so odd to her as it might to some readers, but maybe this will help some kids see the possibilities out there.

    -Eli

    ReplyDelete
  8. My oldest (9) has read all these, and he showed me this section. We play S&W together- and you what? Mom doesn't approve of all the violence, but she lives with it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh man...that arrow trap chest is awesome...I count nine arrows!

    Looks like I know how the next chest I place in the world will be trapped...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh, great. now I have to go read a children's book so I can find out what happens... Just kiddin'. :)

    Actually, I'll probably look it up at the library, as I was going to go there to look at a copy of the book Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep, also for children. Thanks for cuing me in.

    Word Verification: scubled - when one is certain that they forgot to put on clean socks.

    ReplyDelete
  11. At least they're playing by the "because in Magick and Monsters you can do all sorts of stuff you could never do in real life" and not the "you can do anything that we tell you to do" school of modern wotc. Honestly, if a kid (or group of kids) sits down face to face and rolls some odd-shaped dice with the help of energy drinks and pretzels, that in itself is rather old school (considering the MMORPG).

    ReplyDelete
  12. We're trying to come up with a name for our heavily-house-ruled version of Labryinth Lord. We may have to go with "Magick & Monsters."

    I think my daughter has read these books but she never mentioned this part to me.

    ReplyDelete
  13. How to play magick and monsters?

    ReplyDelete
  14. how do u play it is the question..

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.