Last night's game with the boys went pretty well. They both had a good time, and some good traits came out in my older boy that have been lacking in our online games.
I didn't have the BECMI dungeon random encounter charts handy in printed form and didn't want to get my original books out, but I did have the AD&D Monster & Treasure Assortment handy (I've got it in pdf, and had printed it out). So I used that for creatures and treasures in the game.
We dug out my Dragon Strike game, and when we got the game boards out, I also got out the trap cards to use for random traps. They didn't always make sense, and neither did the random monster rolls, but my 6-year-old didn't care, and my 13-year-old was happy to accept semi-plausible explanations to keep the game going.
My method was to roll 1d6 in an area to determine if it was empty (1-2), had a trap (3), a monster (4-5) or something unusual/special (6), then roll a second d6 for possible treasure. Just like BX and BECMI dungeon stocking. If there was a monster or treasure, I rolled for it on the M&TA charts. If there was a trap, I drew a Dragon Strike trap card. If there was a special, I improvised.
My boys chose the "Town" board and I said it was a town that had been overrun with monsters (getting the idea from the old Gold Box Pool of Radiance game, something for another post soon). The PCs were asked to help clear the monsters out, and told they could keep any loot they recovered.
My 13yo has a Half-Orc L6 Cavalier* named Calvin who rides a tamed tiger named Hobbes. Oh, and he got lucky and rolled a legit 18 Strength.
My 6yo has a "Bulldog-Man" L3 Lark* named BulldogTV who rides a dragon horse (just like a regular horse only a wingless, breath weapon-less dragon) and has a henchman named Bulldog Bro, who is an alien.
*Cavaliers used to be my name for the paladin class in TSR, now it's a subclass of Fighter with no clerical ability. Larks are basically the Elf class from BX, except open to a few more races. And yes, the name is from Ultima Exodus.
When the game started, they went in by the drawbridge (bottom of the picture above), and checked out the two gatehouse guard rooms. The first, random die rolls indicated 12 giant centipedes. When they opened the door, Calvin tried to shut it, but I rolled randomly to determine that 9 escaped before he could do so. But with the sweep ability (1 attack per level vs 1HD or lower creatures) they didn't last long enough to do any damage. They checked out the other side, and random die rolls indicated a Hero, who of course I made an Evil Hero. But a reaction roll was Helpful (12!) so when they talked to him, something they initiated, I had him offer to go along and help (with a mind to steal some treasure along the way). Oh, and he had a +1 shield.
Well, the boys said if he wanted to join he had to finish off the centipedes, which he offered to do. But due to the quirks of the dice, he got bitten and failed his save vs poison. So the boys took his magic shield and also (random roll) 1500cp.
They went on to the fountain, which was an empty area (actually a trap with treasure, a cursed -1 sword). The trap card was an entangling magic rope, which Bulldog triggered, but avoided with a saving throw. He took the sword and gave it to his henchman (he already has a sword +1, +3 vs goblins).
From the fountain plaza, they entered the house on the southwest side, which was trapped with a "jaws of death" bear trap, but again a saving throw by Bulldog avoided it. They decided to look inside for secret doors, and while looking, had a random encounter with four giant crab spiders. Bulldog's sleep spell took out three, while Calvin killed the unaffected one.
The next building was on the southeast side of the plaza, and die rolls indicated six Warriors. They knocked on the door, and the warriors readied tables as cover and cocked their crossbows, but when the boys' PCs kicked the door in, they negotiated. The PCs offered the warriors the copper coins if they'd just leave town, and the warriors agreed.
The building on the northeast of the plaza had another trap - a pit trap, this time Calvin sprang it, but again a saving throw avoided it. There was a pair of bags with 1250ep in them in this house. So they had some treasure again, and more valuable.
On the building on the northwest side of the plaza, I rolled a special. I decided it was a magical hologram from a wizard asking whoever saw it to help free the town of monsters. A bit more interesting than a magic mouth, but basically the same effect.
They headed west and had a random encounter with 6 dwarves. Neutral reaction roll. The players tried to recruit them, but a reaction roll suggested they'd rather not. So after swapping a bit of intel, the dwarves left.
Finally they went to the central west house, cracked open the door, and peeked inside. Random rolls told me there were fire beetles in there, so I described the eerie red glow. A bit freaked out (and realizing it was getting close to bed time), my 13yo suggested they leave town with what little treasure they'd collected. My 6yo, also realizing it was close to bed time, demanded that they keep going. As Dad, I had to agree with my older boy, and we wrapped up the game. They each earned around 300xp. Bulldog TV also paid 900gp to have the curse removed from his henchman's sword after rejecting Calvin's suggestion to try and con someone into buying a "magic" sword.
This morning, taking my 6yo to school, he asked if we could continue the game every night. My older boy also told me last night that he had a lot of fun with it and wants to do it again. So I'd consider that a success.
I've got some more maps and things we can use for visuals (they're important to my 6yo). He was a lot more engaged than when he tries to join my West Marches games.
When I used to run West Marches face to face, my 13yo (10-11yo then) always had lots of creative ideas for encounters. Lately, online only, he's just not that into things and not very creative at all. Last night, he was all about non-combat solutions to problems when possible. I'm glad to see that back in his gaming again.
The procedurally generated content wasn't the most coherent (as you would expect), but it definitely got the job done, and will allow me to run for the boys with very little prep. I may also try digging out a few of my old dungeons from the 80s/90s, making some battle mat size versions for them, and having a go with them as well.