It’s not my job to keep Martin, our gnome-in-chief, happy. We gnomes be too mischievous for that!

But I seemed to have rekindled his interest in older editions of D&D, and gotten him in touch with the Old School Renaissance gaming community by sharing my gaming adventures using the old Basic game rules with my kids. And for that, I was more than glad to play a role.

That in mind, I thought I’d offer up another experience in that vein – if only to keep Martin reading my posts.

Well the Taylor clan got together for a little D&D Basic session during the Spring Break holiday. Except, it wasn’t around the dining room table. Nope, this session was in the car during our five-hour road trip to Grandma’s house.

Gaming in the car?

“Not possible,” says Eldest Daughter in bewilderment. “You can’t lay tiles out. No minis.  How do you roll dice?”

(I confess, before the trip, I was pondering some of these challenges, myself.)

Before I could reply, Youngest Son pipes up. “You don’t need those things. It’s a game of Imagine Nation!”

(Yes, he meant, “imagination.” But it came out as “Imagine Nation!”)

But the enthusiasm! Yes, this was going to work, I told myself.

So, for those of you interested in gaming on road trips, here’s a few things the Taylor crew did to do D&D in the car:

  • Index card character “sheets.” Everything important about your PC goes on an index card you keep in your hands.
  • Golf course pencils. Small character sheets require a small pencil. Everyone got a small pencil for making changes.
  • Master map. The dungeon map was printed out on a sheet of paper (In retrospect, I should have done it on an index card as well, but hey, this was a first time). Everyone could reference the map.  It meant there were no surprises — such as secret doors. But at the same time it kept the action moving from room to room, which is the point of this kind of game anyway — keeping the kids occupied during a long road trip.
  • Only the dice you need. Each player got a d20 and the polyhedron appropriate to their main weapon. The rogue also got a d10 for percentages (Yes, I’m aware that a d20 works for percentages, but I wasn’t going to make a 5-year-old jump that hurdle). *
  • Shoebox cover served as a dice-rolling surface. I was skeptical about this approach. But it worked surprisingly well. A couple of bumps in the road even “helped” a couple of rolls turn in the players’ favor.

I’d have to call the experiment a success. I ran the game from a standard module, so all the monster stats I needed were at hand in the module text — no need to flip through rulebooks. In fact, every time I needed to make a judgment call as GM, I did so by fiat, rather than look things up.

That was our experience. If any of you have on-the-road rpg experiences, I’d love to have you share them here. And if you have any on-the-road GM organization suggestions, please offer them up.

* Obviously, gamers with toys can use dice-rollers on their phones. But we kept this game as low-tech as possible, for obvious reasons. It’s good to be unplugged, you know.