So last week I wrote a review of Maze Rats by Ben Milton. This week I’d like to post a recap of the first game of Maze Rats that I ran for my 8, 6 and 4 year old children. Now, to preface this, the oldest two have played other RPGs before, with their favorite being Faery’s Tale by Patrick Sweeney, Sandy Antunes, Christina Stiles, Colin Chapman and Robin D. Laws. My 4 year old son though has never played an RPG in his life, so I thought that this may lead to some issues during play. Boy was I completely wrong!
So, since this was their first exposure to an OSR-style game, I figured I’d start them with a simple “rats in the basement” type adventure. The set up was that they had just arrived in town and were looking for a place to stay, though they had no money to rent a place at the local inn. Well, it just so happened that they heard of the rat issue that the local “fine dinning” establishment was having in their cellar and took the job of ridding the cellar of rats for 50 gold apiece. With the promise of money and adventure ahead of them, they agree to the terms and went back that night after closing.
After arriving that night, they had a brief conversation with the owner, who told them how to get to the cellar door. They found the door and turned the knob only to find that the door was locked. This was the first simple test for them, as none of them had lock picks and no one thought to ask if the door was locked. After about a minute of talking I see my son’s eyes light up with a thought. “I have a crowbar,” he exclaimed. “I’ll open the door with that!” With a loud snapping sound and a little force, the door broke free from it’s locking mechanism and the door swung open. This was met with celebratory cheering from the kids, that was until the angry owner came around the corner to see what all the noise was. When he saw the broken door, he scolded the group for breaking the door, especially when he had a key and was just around the corner. He deducting 10 gold from my son’s payment in order to replace the door. I used this to teach them that there are always multiple ways to deal with a challenge.
At this point, they started down the wooden stair case to the dark cellar. My oldest child had a torch in her pack so she set it ablaze and took the lead. Once at the bottom, they started to slowly look for these rats. My 6 year old daughter decided to turn around and reach into a shelf behind her, which was dark since she was at the back of the group. To her dismay, the only thing she found was a giant, hairy rat. It jumped down from its perch to the floor and stood looking at her menacingly. My daughter took one look at her inventory, saw that she had a fishing net on her hip and threw it over the rat. My son saw his chance and put his spear through the animal, ending its life. At this, the party cheered, only to quiet down quickly as they heard a loud chorus of squeaking from behind them. They turned quickly and were greeted by 6 more giant rats, which were about 15 feet from them. My oldest daughter knew that they couldn’t take 6 rats while cornered and took a pause, asking the others what they had at the ready in their inventory. My son said poison and her mind flew into action. She gave him some food from her pack and they decided to pour the vial of poison on the food, toss the food at the rats and retreat. The rats gorged and died a painful death.
With the rats dead, they disposed of the bodies, collected their payment and bought more gear, ready for their next adventure. I kept this session short because bed time was fast approaching and honestly, this was spur of the moment, plus I didn’t know how they would do coming from a more story-driven game background to an OSR game. Apparently they adapted very well. Problem solving seems to be natural for them and they just love pretending anyway so it seems to work so far. We will see how this progresses as I give them more challenges but for now I’m happy with their first foray into the OSR realm.
Till next time, have fun!