Back when NewbieDM first came out with his updated version (1.5) of RPGKids! the praise for it was so fierce that I went and bought it, downloaded it… and let it sit on my hard drive. “This would be a great game to play with my kids,” I thought to myself, though finding the time to pursue such an idea was a bit hard to come by. Ok, maybe that’s a lame excuse; “we find the time for the things we want to do,” yes, I know. At any rate, the PDF sat quietly in my “D&D” folder waiting to be rediscovered. Then, just last week, NewbieDM got a nod from the superblog Boing Boing, and my interest was reignited. I printed out the PDF (in color!), and flipped through the awesomely simple rules and the included adventure. “This is great,” I thought, “my three year old may be a little young, and my eleven year old may be a little old, but I’ll make it work. We’re going to play this weekend.” As an aside, I will say that this is a very complete product. Printed out on a color printer, you have the rules, the adventure, tokens, character cards, and all the maps you need to run the adventure. Perfect.
I had a problem though. I wanted to use the fun monster and player tokens that came with the game, but even printed out on cardstock, they were difficult to pick up and move around the map. Definitely not kid friendly. So I went to work to make them better for little hands.
To make the tokens easier to use, all I really needed was a third dimension. Paper thin tokens (quite literally) are difficult to get your fingers under, and you end up either sliding them to the edge of the table, or bending them to your will. Well, ok, just bending them. My solution to this problem was stupidly simple: foam sheets. I don’t know if there’s an “official” name for this stuff, but it’s a sheet of flexible foam about 1/8″ thick, about the size of a sheet of paper, and comes in all different colors. You can find it in the kid’s craft section of your local craft store; you’ll spend about $2 for the amount you’ll need for this project… and will have lots left over for the tokens in the next adventure Newbie is inevitably going to write.
Now, technically speaking, that’s all you need, aside from a ruler and an exacto knife or a pair of scissors. There is one tool that would make the job easier and quicker, but it is a little expensive if all you’re doing is making the tokens for RPGKids!.
Most craft stores sell different types of hole punches in the scrapbooking aisle (oh, the places I go for you readers…). You can get shapes, borders, and yes, 1″ circles. The punch runs $10 to $15, but be sure to look for the weekly “40% off 1 item” coupon that most craft stores put out. I was too cheap to buy one, but if you’re the type to make your own tokens on a regular basis, I would highly recommend such a tool to make token manufacture simpler. (Note: I actually found the “make your own tokens” article on Newbie’s site while I was writing this article, and after I had completed the project, though I realize that it makes me look like a big cheater. I do think the foam is a better medium than metal washers or wooden discs. It’s way cheaper and lighter.)
I chose red for the monsters and green for the PCs, just so the kids would have another visual cue when playing the game. I also wrote the monster’s name on the back so that there’s a “hurt” side. If I had been feeling especially ambitious, I would have printed out a second set of the tokens for the reverse side, and put a red dot, or X or something on them to indicate hurt. The actual cutting of the tokens and foam went really quickly; the foam is very soft material, and I just had to zip off 26-ish 1″ squares. A little elmer’s glue, and voila! Lightweight, kid-friendly tokens.
It’s funny how, for me, these little “prep” projects really get me excited to play a game. As I said before, I’ll be playing this weekend (hopefully), and I will definitely be writing about how it goes. I’m interested to see if the three year old “gets” it, and if the eleven year old gets bored. I’m thinking yes to the first, and no to the second, but then, I’m an optimist. Until then, I’ll be studying the adventure!