Welcome to the Flaming Faggot

Callovia is called "the boundless empire" yet you have managed to find its northern border - a notorious roadhouse deep within the Madrasan Marches on the edge of the wilds of Llanvirnesse. The sign above the door reads "Flaming Faggot," which would suggest a cozy, homey inn with fresh biscuits served at teatime if not for the severed troll heads mounted on pikes at the gate.

As you cross the threshold the raucous din quiets momentarily as all eyes dart to the door and calloused hands drop instinctively to well-worn sword hilts. The threat, instantly assessed, is dismissed and roadhouse patrons go about their business hardly missing a beat.

Grim, hard-eyed men huddle around tables in close conversation thick with conspiracy; caravan guards gamble away their earnings; Caemric rangers sit close to the fireplace cooking the damp of the Black Annis from their clothes as they warm their innards with Red Dragon Ale; minstrels play and buxom wenches dance for the pleasure of men who pay them little attention - until they need a companion to warm their bed.

As you approach the bar, a huge, bald barman with a greatsword slung across his back slides a mug of freshly-pulled ale towards you, its frothy head dripping over the rim.

"Pull up a seat, lad," he says, "and let me tell you a tale of high adventure."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Heroes of Hesiod

It isn't often that I have anything good to say about Wizards of the Coast.  In fact, I have so little interest in anything the company does, that almost all of what they do flies beneath my radar.  Consequently, I'd never heard of their Monster Slayers product line for young children.  This morning Shane Mangus sent me a link to a new adventure for Monster Slayers, The Heroes of Hesiod, which can be downloaded for free.

Monster Slayers is a version of D&D that is aimed at children 6 and up, and is promoted as an educational tool to encourage creative thinking and problem solving.  It's also a darned fun little game.  All two pages of the rules are included with The Heroes of Hesiod, and while they are based on the 4E game, they are simplified to such a degree that the game feels more like OD&D than 4E.

The adventure includes character cards which can be printed and cut out.  Each card lists the character's armour class, hit point bubble, and attack powers.  Each attack, whether it be a dagger, great axe, or fireball, deals 1 point of damage and critical hits deal 1d6 points of damage.  For simplicity, all attack modifiers are already calculated so each attack power looks like this: Massive Axe 1d20 + 5. Deals 1 point of axe damage.

Ironically, Monster Slayers seems a lot more like D&D to me than their 4E products, and if 4E had been designed more like this I might even have bought into it.  It's dead simple and easy for young children to learn, and I can see using it, or at least borrowing some ideas from it when the time comes to introduce my daughter to D&D.  It's certainly worth checking out, and the price is right!

6 comments:

Matthew W. Schmeer said...

Heroes of Hesiod is okay if you like a watered down 4E to get kids started, but Jimm Johnson's "Knight's & Wizards" is a better intro based on Basic D&D. Check it out in Encounter #4:

http://www.encountermagazine.au2.com/

Sean Robson said...

Hi Matthew,

I think it depends on the age of the child. Knights and Wizards is a good intro for older kids, but I think it's a bit too involved for kindergarten aged children,whereas HoH seems just right for that age group.

What struck me as funny was that 'watered down 4E' starts to resemble D&D. Of course it has been watered down to homeopathic levels.

Scott said...

Do you know if there's any sort of Greek mythological stuff in this product that has to do with the "actual" Hesiod, or is the name just a happenstance?

Sean Robson said...

Hi Scott,

I'm not familiar with all the details of Hesiod's life, so there may be some allusion to him in the adventure that I haven't picked up on.

In the adventure, Hesiod is the name of the town where the kids grew up, and they are taken to a cabin to finish their training to defend the town from monsters. There they must face creatures that are released from cages for them to fight.

Trey said...

Interesting. I'll have to check that out.

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