Dungeons and Dinosaurs: Gaming with Quinn

Only half of that title is correct. When playing, we definitely encountered dinosaurs (more on that later), we found no dungeons. I just found the term Dungeons and Dinosaurs funny. Probably funnier than it actually merits, but it’s my party and I’ll laugh hysterically if I want to.

Even if that laughter makes me look absolutely batty. Get it? Batty? Because Joker is a Batman villain. I’m an underappreciated comic genius.

Those who follow the page know that I treid to build the family into a Dungeons and Dragons playgroup. That failed in spite of my efforts. Only Quinn showed interest after the initial play session. It then took almost 3 years to realize the potential of our Dungeons and Dragons duet.

Dungeons and Dinosaurs Duet?

Assuming that you wait to click the link, let me explain. Late last year, I finally started to look for ways to play Dungeons and Dragons in smaller play groups. The above link came up as a way play with only two people. A husband and wife duo write the page and there are lots of great resources if you find yourself in need of playing D&D with only one other player.

Armed with these resources, I needed to find a setting for our adventure. I’m not sure what took me so long, but I finally came to the conclusion in a flash of inspiration. Jurassic Park. The movie blew me away when I first saw it in high school. Quinn loves dinosaurs and anything to do with the movies. What took me so long?

It was right there, staring me in the face.

And, Now for Something Completely Different

Not truly. I lifted heavily from Jurassic Park for the story of our adventure. Several times, during gameplay, Quinn said (completely thrilled), “This is just like Jurassic Park!” However, I also knew not to simply follow the story without any changes.

Okay, so maybe a tropical archipelago isn’t the best way to convince you this wasn’t a total Jurassic Park rip off.

I researched some Hawai’ian lore to add a bit of a different flavor to the campaign. I called the island with the dinosaurs, Nalala. A web site told me that Nalala meant dinosaur. I also called the prince in the story, Maneo (I borrowed from a former student for this) and a ghost pirate ship Mau Loa (“forever”) that lead to the second adventure that I’m in the process of writing.

We played through the adventure. As often happens, Quinn went off script during one of the encounters and I needed to quickly put together a battle and some loot. Honestly, though, that’s what I enjoy about D&D. The fact that you can spend a couple of weeks writing up an adventure (“All that time”, my wife said, “just for a couple hours of playtime.”) and the players still find a way to make you think and work on the spot.

Lights, Camera, Tape Rolling, 3…2…1…

As for the scripted adventure, I wrote in the notes to let Quinn take the lead when attempting to capture the dinosaurs. I wanted to let him use his expertise to find creative ways to capture them. Being low level characters, I knew we stood no chance actually fighting most of the dinosaurs. He came up with some interesting solutions to most of them. A couple, I had to bend the rules quite a bit. Then again, what else can you do when you only have one real player?

I took the advice of the Duets page and focused on the story, too. I made the trip to the ship take 3 days and then another 2 days on the water to get to the other island. I built in small encounters each day and even put together a random encounter table to keep things interesting. The fun part of that is that some of the encounters gave me ideas for future adventures. I already mentioned the ghost ship and Quinn going off the board when faced with some forest sprites in trouble. I also threw in the old D&D standards of a mysterious glow off in the distance, annoying begging monkeys, and magical leeches.

Dungeons and Dinosaurs: The Last Word?

All in all, we played a successful adventure with just the two of us. Once or twice, Quinn asked if you can’t play with two people because I put together two DMPCs to help him on his journey. No, I replied, it’s fine. These guys are just here in case you need some help. Then, I spent the rest of the time more or less staying out of his way.

We planned to play again this week because I’m on vacation. However, as I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t able to finish the next adventure. I’m pretty close, so we might play again over the weekend. For now, we tried a game that I got a few months ago after supporting it on Kickstarter. It’s called Roll Player Adventures and I will talk more about it Friday.

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