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Archive for October, 2011

I have started a little experiment in my work by way of including Dungeons and Dragons as an option for some latency age and early adolescent kids during therapy sessions. This can be a difficult age range to work with as they are not quite old enough to just sit and chat but are also too young to engage in imaginary play.  Typically with these kids I use  play with mundane games such as UNO, Connect 4, checkers, puzzles etc… as a way of distraction while I talk with them about more clinical concerns.  I have to tell you a guy can only play so many games of UNO before he wants to start jabbing sharp objects under his fingernails. One day as I was getting my gear together for a session my eyes fell on the PHB that was sitting on my desk and I had a bit of an epiphany. I put down the sharpened bamboo and started including D&D books, dice and miniatures (these are great for the younger kids that are still into play anyways) with my standard stuff.

Based on the projective hypothesis, the collaborative role-playing and story building of D&D is what had me intrigued about using it as a therapeutic intervention. The projective hypothesis is essentially the idea that in neutral or ambiguous situations the individual’s dynamics, conflicts, and desires get projected or externalized onto these objects or situations. The extension into play therapy is similar as these dynamics are revealed through the play itself and interaction with the therapist (now don’t go analyzing your buddy who always seems to play a hugely muscular and virile barbarian as sometimes a big sword is just a big sword).  So I had the thought that the processes of creating a character and bringing them to life and making up a story within the game might provide opportunities to talk about some of these problematic conflicts and feelings while also allowing displaced interpretations and role-playing problem solving skills and resolution. Even if these aspects didn’t’ materialize it would still be an opportunity to build rapport and provide something to do while allowing talk about other issues and the implementation of more structured interventions.

I don’t think it is too big of a leap, as most kids these days are veterans of video game rpgs and mmos so a lot of the concepts are similar. Obviously this isn’t RAW as there are only 2 people and you don’t want to get bogged down in rules and structure, and it isn’t really the point of the whole thing anyway. It also has the added benefit of being able to spread D&D books out on your desk at work and if anyone asks you can reply that you’re “prepping for a session” 😉

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I was able to make it out to my FLGS this past week to throw some bones in the D&D Encounters Program. I really like this program a lot and was a regular fixture on the scene until my wife went back to work post baby #1 and future forays seemed to carry the risk of divorce. Then with the addition of baby #2 the possibility of a Wednesday night subway ride to the game store seemed about as likely as me winning the Nobel Prize in literature for my work on this blog. In early September I thought I had a window of opportunity as my wife decided to take the 2 rug rats to a cottage resort during the week, a decision that will likely never occur again and one that left me unattended on a Wednesday night. I had no sooner warmed up the character builder when I was informed that the baptism preparation class for my niece just happened to be Wednesday night and despite my wife and her sister vacationing up north my attendance was mandatory. Easy come easy go, or at least I thought so until my wife informed me that she had to go to a makeup class this week  🙂

I wasted no time and whipped up a couple of essentials characters so I could fill any gaps in roles at the table which is my standard MO. I cranked out a charged focused Half-Orc slayer, Dwarven Warpriest of Pelor, and a Human Knight. Instead of printing them out I decided to test out this awesome Ipad app that I stumbled across called I4E.  As an aside, I know what you’re thinking and yes I am one of those fucking douches that own an Ipad but in my defense what else is a grown man going to do when despite turning 39 years-old his mother and grandmother still give him money for his birthday. Anyways, I4E is a character sheet app that allows you to fully manage your pc at the table in glorious full color without the need of the 1000 page hardcopy that prints from the character builder. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those tree hugging hippies. I love paper and books, so much so that I would gladly roll around on the floor smothering myself with books and magazines in a creepy Scrouge McDuck like scene. The character sheet looks beautiful on the Ipad, and best of all it is a single page. They use a scrolling mechanic for powers and skills so you can sift through them until you find the one you want. When you tap on a power the power card then pops out center stage completely filled out with attack and damage numbers. If the power is an encounter or daily you have the option of setting it as used after it is spent which then fades it out until you recharge the power. You can also manage damage and healing easily, including temporary hit points. I was pretty blown away by this app and liked using it a lot more than I thought I would. I think it is ideal for LFR and convention play when you are either tight for space or have multiple characters that you are constantly leveling and don’t want to continually print out new sheets when something changes.

I also wanted to touch on my experience of the Slayer. I chose the Slayer because the table had plenty of leaders and defenders and I had never played one before. In additon, technically Encounters is supposed to be strictly an essentials/post essentials affair, although aside from the guy playing the pre-gen Stew the Slayer was the only essentials class at the table. I found the Slayer kind of boring to play, despite its ruthless efficiency at damage dealing. I don’t know if I have been conditioned to expect more options but I kind of missed them and kept scrolling through my character sheet even though I knew there was only hit them hard or hit them hard while charging. I also think the length of the combat added to this sense of meh, as after the 6th or 7th round I was really tired of doing the same thing. I am sorry Stew the Slayer but I am sending you down to the minors. I have had my eye on a promising young Half-Orc Scout with a good charge, perhaps I will call him up to the show the next time I get out to encounters, that is if the program is still running after hell has frozen over.

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