Children Suck at Role Playing, and Everything Else, But Mostly Role Playing

By: Jacob Lewis

The sequel to this post can be viewed here.

Last Thanksgiving morning I was assigned the simple token job of keeping the children away from Sara while she finished preparing the various dishes she was bringing over to my parent’s house for dinner. While I ultimately failed at my job, it was no easy task to begin with given that when I asked what the girls wanted to do this morning their exact words were “bug mama.” My critical mistake was deciding to get creative.

I gathered my girls together and told them we were going to play a story adventure game (imagine a Dungeons and Dragons role playing game, with dice, but no rule books or character statistics and every chance action is based on how likely I feel it would occur). I explained the rules to them and told them they would be playing  two poor peasant girls in ancient Greece fleeing their island town as stowaways in a merchant ship and heading off to an unknown Greek city.

However, before we began playing, I  asked them to draw their role playing characters. Ten minutes later they presented me with two girls in long flowing robes, golden crowns and covered head to toe in jewelry. I reminded them that they were playing two poor refugees, and they looked at me like I was speaking some strange language from a country where all girls in stories weren’t magical princesses.

Sigh

As we began the role playing game, I listed off the items they had with them. First, they each had 9 copper coins, which I made clear to them wasn’t very much money. Second,  they each had a clay disc with the picture of one of the Olympian gods on it. This was going to be an important part of the story later on. They had to roll the dice to figure out which god was represented on their disc. Athena rolled a five, which gave her Artemis. Juliet rolled an 11, which gave her Hades.

Juliet: I DON’T WANT THAT GOD. HE’S STUPID. HE’S A BOY. I DON’T WANT STUPID BOYS. I HATE THIS GAME. THIS IS THE WORST GAME EVER. YOU ARE THE WORST DADDY EVER!!! IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!!!!

Athena: Hades is really good, he is one of the three most powerful gods.

Juliet: Will you trade with me?

Athena: NO!!! IM KEEPING ARTEMIS. DADDY JULIET IS BEING MEAN!!!

Daddy: …dammit girls.

After much negotiating, Juliet agreed to keep Hades if she also got a cat named Snowflake who also had a Tiara. This sudden imbalance in items made Athena demand a puppy named Otto. What I took from this was that negotiations can actually be a lot more complicated when they only involve intangible imaginary items.

Although this first part should have been a sign that this experiment was not going to work, the game did start off well. Once the ship docked, the girls decided to sneak out by hiding in one of several boxes of clay pottery that were being carried off the boat by the sailors. When they got to their destination they waited until an old shop keeper opened the box and found them inside.

Athena: [Immediately] I give him all my money.

Daddy: He hasn’t asked for anything.

Athena: I want to give him all my money, so he won’t tell on us.

Daddy: He hasn’t said he is going to…do you maybe want to negotiate with him…or offer him less… you and your sister are poor orphans in a strange city.

Athena: I’ll get more money.

Daddy: This conversation makes me feel like you don’t understand that people have to work for their money and that….

Athena: IT’S MY CHARACTER AND I DECIDE!

Daddy: Okay you give him all your money.

Athena: I run out of the store.

Daddy: Don’t you want to ask him any questions. Like where you are. Maybe he’ll know something that will send you on an adventure.

Athena: I RUN OUT OF THE STORE!

Juliet: NOOOO! DON’T LEAVE ME BEHIND! ATHENA DON’T LEAVE ME BEHIND! ATHENA…

Daddy: Do you want to run out of the store too?

Juliet: Yeah!

Daddy: You run out of the store.

Juliet: ATHENA, I RAN OUT OF THE STORE TOO!!!

Athena: I want to buy some food.

Daddy: You have no money.

Athena: WHAT!?!

Daddy: You gave it all to that old man…for no reason I might add.

Athena: Juliet, give me your money!

Juliet: Ok!

Daddy: Dammit Juliet!

Athena: I buy some grapes at a store!

Juliet: Can I have some grapes!

Athena: NO!

Juliet: AHHHHHHHHHHHH! ATHENA’S BEING MEAN!!!!!

Daddy: Dammit both of you.

After fifteen minutes of fighting over the ownership of imaginary grapes. I told my children they were now all alone in a Greek city, with no money, and that it was getting late and the stores would be closing soon. At the same time, I mentally recalibrated the story, since it very much required them to have money and be willing to talk to the old man in the store.

Daddy: It’s going to be evening soon, maybe you should talk to someone, anyone, and find out where you are.

Athena: I look for a pillow store.

Daddy: A pillow store?

Athena: I want to find a pillow.

Daddy: They didn’t have pillow stores in ancient Greece.

Athena: Then a bed store.

Daddy: They didn’t have bed stores in…well maybe they did….you remember you spent all your money on grapes.

Athena: I WANT TO FIND A BED STORE!

Daddy: Juliet, what do you want to….

Juliet: I’m going to hide under a bench.

Daddy: Sigh…Juliet hides under a bench. Athena you find a furniture store and walk inside.

Athena: I ask them what their cheapest bed is.

Juliet: The shopkeeper tells you five gold coins.

Athena: Do I have enough to…

Juliet: You have no money.

Athena: I ask them what the cheapest piece of furniture is.

Juliet: It’s a chair for, I guess, three gold coin.

Athena: Do I hav…

Juliet: You have no money.

Athena: Oh.

Daddy: Juliet, do you want to…?

Juliet: I’m under the bench still.

Daddy: Of course you are.

Athena: This is so unfair.

Daddy: Athena, do you want to ask someone where you are.

Athena: We’re in Greece.

Daddy: Yes, but there are a lot of cities in Greece?

Athena: Okay…I ask the shopkeeper if she has any pillows.

Daddy: She says, no, and then says, you must be new in Athens. Suddenly, you see a young boy grab an expensive blanket and run out the door.

Juliet: I throw Snowflake at his face.

Daddy: …um…okay….you have to role over a 17 to….

Juliet: I rolled this.

Athena: It’s a 20.

Daddy: Snowflake lands on the boy’s face and bites his ears off.

Both Girls: YAAAAAAAA!!

Daddy: He drops the blanket and a small bag on the ground, before running down the alley.

Athena: I pick them both up and go back to the furniture store.

Daddy: Do you want to look in the bag?

Athena: I tell the shopkeeper she can have her blanket back if she gives me a bed.

Juliet: Two beds.

Daddy: ugh!….suddenly a group of soldiers walks into the store and says we need you girls in the Palace.

Athena: …I give them…

Daddy: You have no money.

Juliet: RUN SNOWFLAKE!!!

Athena: Okay I go with them.

Daddy: Great. They march you through the city to a white marble palace at the center of…

Athena: OH NO!!!! I LEFT OTTO ON THE BOAT!!!!

Daddy: …I’m going to take a shower now. Just…try not to bug your mother.

Juliet: We’re going to.

Daddy: I know.

 

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