Look closely at that cheap bunch of Hong Kong toys from the 1970s. Off in the back is the one that became the Rust Monster, one of the weirder monsters in D&D. It illustrates my belief that rpgs should have a strong element of play in them. I can imagine someone pulling that weird thing out and tossing it on the table for the first time. What a great moment? Yeah, it makes no sense, and it certainly doesn’t fit the milieu, but it is fun, and that is the key. When our kids were very young (5 & 7), I ran a very simple game for them using 1d6 to resolve everything. It featured Mike Woznowski and Woznowski town, which was filled with Pokemon villagers. As part of the quest, they ran into Swiper from Dora (my daughter was into Dora the Explorer then) and to stop his attacks, everyone had to shout, “Swiper, no Swiping” three times. Fun.
I still do this stuff, even though my wife sometimes disapproves of my juvenile sense of humor. I ran an adventure in Faerie a couple years back where there was a little old lady giving away ice cream. Naturally, everyone withdrew in dread. Sort of like when Will Smith shot the cute little girl in the shooting gallery in Men in Black. That little girl and this little old lady obviously didn’t belong. Thankfully, one of the most serious players I know then stepped up and took some (probably with a deep sigh of resignation), and was promptly eaten by the Ice Cream Angler from Spongebob. One of the best moments we ever had. Well, except maybe for the guy who was eaten. The same adventure featured a snail priest and the party singing the snail hymn, “Lord of the Glide.” Good stuff. So I guess what I’m saying is, don’t be afraid to be silly. Try not to be too obnoxious (difficult for me sometimes!) but have fun with it.