Our next gaming session was set up by Son, who contacted all of his friends and made it happen. I was very proud of him. He has made mention of having his own gamer group. Fantastic! I was looking forward to running the game since the last session went so well and I was eager to see how the Doctor and Snake Head would fare against the Golden Dawn-esque cultists in the Vortex.
I had made notes about all of the cultists on a single sheet of lined paper, reviewed the adventure, marked rules in the main Numenera book that I thought might come up or had come up and confused me last time, printed character sheets, and honed and oiled my "How to play Numenera"spiel. I was more than ready to show these kids how it's done.
When the first friend showed up, he greeted me and Son and said, "Well, I guess we'll be playing what's in this backpack."
Then he pulled out a Big Red Box with the label "Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set."
Now, I will confess that I had a kind of brain cramp at this point. I felt kind of like saying "NO, we are not playing THAT, we are playing NUMENERA which is AWESOME and not THAT because it is CRAP, CRAP, CRAAAAAAAP!!"
But I did not, because I am a grown up. Besides, I expected Son to say "Actually, my dad is running a game for us which we started last week, and you guys can join in and play. It's called Numenera and it's awesome."
My son did not say that. He said "Sure! Sounds fun!"
My heart kind of sank, mostly because I knew that what was transpiring was exactly right. Kids are supposed to play with kids. Kids learn a lot from GM'ing games and from figuring out complex systems together. Jack Chick 80's hysteria aside, playing D&D is not the worst thing they could be doing.
But it wasn't Numenera.
Man-oh-Man, was it Not Numenera.
The D&D Beginner's Kit (4th ed based) does Character Generation kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, with each decision point giving you something to fill in on your character sheet. It's easy, but it's not quick and with three boys trying to do it all at once, it took a loooong time. Hours. We had Snake Head up and running in about 20 minutes and that included some rules and setting exposition. It was painful to listen to. One of the boys arrived late and did his Choose Your Own Adventurer while the other boys played video games.
It seemed horribly tedious to me and I half expected them to bag the whole thing and ask me to run Numenera. Truth be told, I kind of hoped they would.
They did not.
Rather, they made it through the funnish slog of D&D character generation, finally got to play, and had a ball. They sounded exactly like a bunch of kids sounds playing D&D: loud, happy, funny, creative-y and completely crazy. The were fighting a Nightmare which they finally defeated with 50' of rope, AT-AT style, which was old-school awesome. Not a word was said about Numenera; D&D 4E was on tap and was enjoyed to the fullest.
I related a very short version of this story on Facebook, and an old friend asked if there was an adult version and when he could join in.
"Um, Hell yes. Have you heard of Numenera?"
Sometimes it's good to be a grown up.