Playing with Youngers: Menu

“What we have here?”

I mean, it’s basically a list, but of the meta-game variety.

“Customers can have whatever color car they want, as long as it’s black.”

Henry Harrison Ford.

In running fantasy games as a service (yes, that’s right, click the link and sign up), that’s the kind of “entrepreneureal” focus I want in my life.

I used to have seven or so classes list, each of them themed based on the adventure that the class was centered around. There was a lot of juggling… Too much. I had a parent message me, unsure about which class to sign up for, not knowing which adventures her child had done or which was the “correct” class. Not to mention that maintaining all of these class to my constantly shifting methods tipped the ratio of time to meaningful output in a bad way.

Focus. Concentrate.

Imagine your child sits down to read a bedtime story with you. The first decision is whether or not to read a bedtime story, not which story to read.

The classes should be easy enough to follow: “should I sign my child to up to play DND?” not “which adventure sounds most like my kid?”

That said, I’ve restructured my Outschool classes to just be the following:

Boom and boom. Natural onboarding and offboarding. It’s obvious where to start and if you don’t like it after the first go, there’s an easy way to get off the train.

Okay, now to actual game stuff by going back to that bedtime story analogy.

“Which story do you want to read” you say, gesturing to the entire stack of fifteen books you spent so much time and effort getting from the library or your personal collection. The child panics and cries. Great job.

Instead, you grab three. “Which of these do you want to read?”

“Erm, that one.”

Now unlike bedtime stories you can’t really repeat adventures. So maybe the child pipes up and says “we already did that one.”

Easy enough.

Now throw more kids into the mix. Now you have to vote. Then someone gets mad they didn’t get their way. What do you do? Promise that you’ll story (see also “adventure”) next time? Tell them to get over it because democracy? Something else?

You get the picture.

There are choices, but only a select few.

Kinda like picking a path in a dungeon.

But from a menu.

Here is the current menu as of today:

  • Travelers from Deep Country insist they’ve seen the biggest dead fish ever on the edge of the sea (Belly of the Fishy Beast).
  • The estate of one Elias Fenwick has been abandoned for some time and said to contain many of the warlock’s magical devices (The Waking of Willowby Hall).
  • One curious scholar of Al-Haman would like an escort for his expedition to a hidden tomb in the desert (The Perilous Pyramid).
  • An island of pirates, mermaids, and lost boys is missing its most famous boy (Neverland).
  • A dream is had: an elf woman in white and a burial ground filled with mystery and tragedy (Winter’s Daughter).
  • You find a map of an island with a written warning: “HERE BE DRAGONS.” (Dragon Island)
  • Are there gnomes under that mossy tree? There are rumors of lizards and ancient treasures too, but gnomes are bad news, for sure. (The Hole in the Oak).
  • A guard wishes to betray his old boss by stealing the prison’s funds (Jailhouse Heist).
  • The Depths are said to contain many bats and a set of enchanted wings made of bone (The Depths).

One quick sentence plus the title of the adventure. Easy peasy. Plus, you can put the hook and flavor in the menu options without fearing rejection.

Imagine putting one of these hooks in front of kids during gameplay and they DON’T pick it. Twiddle your thumbs? Railroad? Get angwy?

Better to have them pick the adventure from the get-go.

Is it weird to have adventures like a catered service?

Last fun thing: I read “Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers. It’s basically a “how to run a business/service and not lose your humanity” guidebook. In the book, he writes a funny email to convey some of the fun and flavor of the company. So I wrote one. Here’s what you get when you sign up for a class of mine on Outschool:

You have enrolled in this class! Here at The Dragonslayer Academy, we pride ourselves on using quality adventures. As we speak, our goblin librarians are looking through the archives deep in the forgotten catacombs, dusting off scrolls in search for the perfect quest for you. Our top graduate wizards will connect your magical device when the time is right by casting a spell called “Zoom” so that we can see one another, like an enchanted seeing-mirror. They’re doing the same for your new friends, who will also be joining us. The “World Wide Web” is a fascinating arcane ritual, yes? The monsters are also keeping busy, dressing up in their costumes, putting on their sharp teeth, and making mean faces. They’re so excited to eat, erm, I mean, MEET you.

Finally, our Academy’s archmage has uncovered a tome that contains the rules of the game found here:

You are also reminded that reading the rules is in no way necessary and that if you have any questions about anything I will happily answer them. You can send an owl if you choose, but asking in class is always best as other players may have the same questions!

Good luck and may you never roll a 1!

Happy adventuring!

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