Art Black (lederhosen) wrote in kids_rpg,
Art Black

Blaming The Dice

My wife reynardo runs a D&D game for me, her son Adam (12 years old now, was 10 when we started), his father, and several other adults. Adam is academically very bright, but emotionally he's pretty much a regular kid with all that entails.

Several things I learned the hard way:

- Children have a lot of trouble accepting the idea of randomness. When Adam had a run of bad luck, he convinced himself that "the dice hate me", and it was VERY difficult to shake him out of this. It's hard for a child to understand that not every pattern they see is actually meaningful, and once they convince themselves a pattern exists they'll only remember the things that reinforce that.

Since then, we've made a point of commenting when he has a run of good luck, or when one of the other players has bad luck, to stop him from falling back into this mindset.

- Children overemphasize the power of the dice. Adam's run of bad luck killed two characters in a row, and he focused on this; what he didn't understand was that this bad luck was exacerbated by poor tactics on his part, without which those characters probably wouldn't have died. Nothing spectacular, just a whole lot of little things that added up to a dead character.

In particular, he'd focus on his characters' strengths instead of thinking about their weaknesses. When running a fighter, he'd spend ages figuring out the item/feat combination that would give him the best to-hit and damage scores. He *wouldn't* think about contingencies like "What if I need to get away from something?" and "What if I need healing in a hurry, and the cleric's not available?"

These days, I try to encourage contingency planning by quizzing him on worst-case scenarios, and when we're equipping I remind him that there are other things besides weapons and armour. Learning to have Plans B and C ready is a Good Thing.

- Sometimes it's not just about the game. We'd recently moved house, against his wishes (I couldn't go on commuting 5 hours a day) and this, along with other disruptions, had left him feeling powerless over his own life. In hindsight, this probably had a lot to do with his fixation on the dice as something that affected his life without giving him any say.
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