“…so to settle the argument, our characters have a footrace. But I cheat and get way ahead! You’re just sitting there crying, and then one of your wolf friends comes up and starts taunting you: ‘What? You’re gonna let her win? You’re just gonna quit?’ So you get up and start running harder, and you win the race!” – Mom
“What I learned from this is to… channel my anger to get more power!” – Kid
Played such an awesome game of Eden last night at Story Games Olympia. Three new players, all pretty new to story games, all strangers to me, and one of them was a nine-year-old girl! We don’t get many kids at our local story games event, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect as we sat down to begin. But I wasn’t too worried, because when I’d pitched the game earlier, the girl’s eyes lit up at the mention of talking animals that are your friends.
All three players BROUGHT IT. Seriously, such a good game. I’ll skim a few of the highlights:
Having somehow deleted the PDF from my iPad accidentally, I had to run the game from memory… which was actually fine and really nice, because it helped me express the rules as plainly as possible.
- The girl chose snow wolves as her animal. But they lived in “something between a jungle and the Olympic rainforest, kinda warm, but not hot” which was also on a mountain apparently? So not a lot of snow, but some snow? Doesn’t matter, awesome choice. Our other animals included horses (the girl’s mom), giant rabbits (our other player), and sharks (me).
- Such juicy animal gossip! Miranda (the girl’s character) prided herself on running fast—that was her skill, gleaned from the wolves. But the rabbits said Miranda didn’t really run very fast at all, actually. Dang! Sick burn, rabbits!
- In their first scene, Miranda and Quitsal (the mom’s character) encountered each other in the brushlands. What followed was the most economics-focused, wheeling-and-dealing round of play I’ve ever seen, as the pair began making offers and counter-offers for permission to cross the brushlands—“Okay, you’ll bring me barley once a month to this place on the edge of the land if I let you take six apples?” “No, I’ll bring you oats, and not monthly, and I want ten apples!”
- Our fourth player had her character, Ren, leave Eden in his first scene. Straight up gave in to the siren song (literally; The Gate played music, which got louder as you opened it more) and walked out. This action caused huge ripples throughout Eden and set the tone for the rest of our game. Super cool choice.
- When updating the map after Ren’s departure, the girl added a lush and perfectly-sculpted garden to the map. “The changes have to be related to the story,” I explained, “so how did this new garden get here?” “I dunno,” she said, “but it appeared when Ren left, so it has to do with The Gate opening.” Whoa. That’s some rad magical biz.
- Near the end of the game, my character Chael had captured a secondary character, David. Miranda and the alpha wolf from her pack were waiting as I dragged him down to her. “What do you know about the earthquake?” Miranda demanded. David pleaded ignorance, saying he was just as confused as everyone else. They talked a bit longer, and then Miranda snapped, “I’ve heard enough. Take him away!” Chael gripped him harder. “Should I kill him?” she asked. “No,” Miranda replied, “let’s bring him back to the forest. I have more questions first.” Threat of violent interrogation? CHECK.
This game, aside from being great, also proved to me definitively what I’d only known in theory: Eden is a good game to play with kids! I never felt like our young player was holding us back, and her ideas (and enthusiasm for them) kept me engaged and excited throughout the entire game. So let me end with a shout-out to you, nine-year-old Eden player! You (and your mom, and our fourth player) rocked The Garden last night!
Posted by Marc