Around three or four months ago my boy Ethan asked if he could role play with us. He is nine years old and by all accounts that is a pretty good age to get the kids started. He rolled up a Pathfinder character and we were going to be players together in my Daughters first shot at running a game, the Shattered Star AP (even though it is one of my least favourite AP’s)
Over time though I soured on the idea of Ethan playing Pathfinder as his first game. It is a little too mature a game for his temperament. He thinks it is “fun” to play out violent episodes which is something my wife and I are working toward changing. With this in mind I decided I needed to shop around for a game that was better suited to him.
I asked around on G+ and got a variety of answers. Mouse Guard, Hero Kids and others seemed to be the more popular choices. I actually bought the Hero Kids bundles from DriveThruRPG but the artwork really did not grab me too much. I like a nice strong themed artwork and while it was good it did not appeal to me so I did not put it immediately to the top of my reading list. There was a game that I asked after as I had seen a few people talk about it and the author promote it once or twice called Michtim. It was a game about an intelligent race of creatures that lived in a forest bordering a modern day human city that was under threat of being torn down and turned into a car park.
What immediately appealed to me was the environmental factor of the game. It was a game that promoted a message unashamedly, and it is one that I am happy to support too. There has to be a balance in nature between our development and the needs of the environment. I have lived for most of my life in a rural setting and this is important to me. I am no “tie myself to a tree” protestor but when I hear of something like this I will listen.
Also, the game promotes a message of equality between beings. The game does not discriminate on sex and this is a good message for my son as it is something I strongly believe in. All people are born equal and nothing inclusive of money, sexuality, intellectual capability, physical deformity, makes one person better than another. So these were the things that I knew of when I decided to purchase the electronic version of Michtim from DriveThruRPG.
|One of the “callings” you can take on
(image taken from facebook page)
The first thing that hit me about this game was the beauty of the layout. It is a game that knows how to use graphic design, white space and colour all in a fantastic mix. That and the fact that I read the author +Georg Mir did all the artwork himself! The artwork resonates with me. It is stylised, simple and meaningful. This game quickly won me over on appearance stakes. It won me over so much that I bought a physical copy and it is one of the most beautiful RPG books I have ever purchased (I gave it to my son as his first RPG). The game is also very European as the author is Austrian. It is written in English but strongly has many “Germanic” styled names throughout which I love. My son also loved hearing the words from a different language when we played.
The content is the real winner here. There is a beautiful little story here. It is not Earth shattering adventures but more small tales about small creatures that matter. There is some really well thought out material of how these hamster-like Michtim live their lives and how they value all aspects of life. They love their food, their art and their forest! There are politics with three houses and a different focus but most of the time the Michtim just love life, and that is a great message.
The mechanics of the game are easy and involve some d6, some tokens for “mood markers”, “karma markers” and “damage tokens”. The game I played with my son did not take on the “callings” which are essentially classes for the Michtim. But you can play a basic version to start with, which we did, where he played a “nestling” or a Michtim that is yet to choose a calling.
|Beautiful stylised graphics ooze out of this book (image
taken from facebook page)
One of the beautiful parts of this system is the mechanics for the players are tied to moods. There is Joy, Love, Grief, Fear and Anger. Each has a certain focus of skills available and the added bonus is these are things that my son gets to manage. He chooses how to distribute his dice as a starting character (they are kind of like statistics) and I was proud to see that he did not put a single die in anger (well until I prompted him and even then it was just the one).
Ethan and I played together alone. He made his Michtim up and called him Tom. I ran him through the provided adventure at the back of the book. He giggled and laughed and played his character in first person all the way through the game. His only complaint after a couple of hours of game was it did not go long enough! Next time we will choose a “Haus” and a calling and expand the game out for him. When he saw his mother the story was all he could talk about and about how Tom had snuck around the mean cats without getting spotted and that the humans are threatening to tear down their forest!
|Ethan setting up Tom the Michtim!|
This game is the game I was looking for. Admittedly I did not look at Mouse Guard but from what I saw it probably has a little more of a serious tone than my son is ready for. Hero Kids looks good for when he is around eleven and will act as a bridging product into the more full on RPG’s. Michtim is a beautiful family game with some great messages. He loves the story even though he is not saving the world and he is keen to move on to the next stage.
All in all this is a great way to get young children into games. It also offers a good framework for this to continue. I have one of my regular group keen to give it a go also and has enough complexity to make this a fun game for the whole family. If you have not yet got a copy, I strongly recommend this game to you. In all honesty, if you have the money, get the print on demand version as it is a truly beautiful book. If not, the beauty is not diminished on a tablet or computer but I always prefer a hardback copy where I can get one. Hopefully some of you will go out and buy this. When you do, tell +Georg Mir about it as he loves to hear about who is getting his game and he is a lovely guy! Until next time, keep rolling!