Sometimes on longer road trips, my daughter will ask to play “The Game”, which is obviously our OD&D/Swords & Wizardry game that I have been running for her over the last two years. These games are spontaneous; I don’t know they’re going to happen or that I should prepare for them as she doesn’t always ask. Add to this the fact that I’m easily car sick and you can see there is almost no reason to bring a rule book, dice or character sheets on a road trip.
With nothing to guide us, no rules, no dice to reign us in or keep us honest, complete chaos should rule, right? Actually, no, and I’ll explain that at the end. First, however, I will explain what we ended up doing instead.
All you need is your imagination, a basic understand of the rules of OD&D/Swords & Wizardry and a deck of Uno cards. It is hard to explain so I will run you through a quick example and then try to explain.
Swords & Wizardry Uno
Referee: You crawl through the tunnel, deeper and deeper, your elvish vision making the way easy to see. Up ahead you see a flickering light, as if from a candle.
Cinderella the Barbarian: I want to be really quiet and sneak forward!
Cinderella looks at her Uni hand and sees she has a blue card, the card on the car’s centr console is also blue, and she drops it with a smile. The Referee looks at his hand and sees he has neither a blue card nor a matching number. He picks up a card from the draw pile.
Referee: You continue to crawl forward, not even you hear the sounds a person would make when crawling. Soon you reach the tunnel’s end and see two small goblins sitting around a fire. They don’t know you’re there.
Cinderella the Barbarian: I want to sneak behind one and stab it in the back.
Cinderella drops a yellow 2 which matches the number of her previous dropped blue card. The Referee smiles and drops a yellow 9.
Referee: Sorry, little Barbarian, but as you crawl out of the tunnel you slip on some loose stone and stumble. The Goblins hear you and scramble to their feet, drawing their rusty short swords.
Success in both saving throws and combat depend on two factors. One being able to match the card already in play and two being the higher number card. So, if Cinderella had dropped a blue 3 and the Referee had dropped a Blue 2 Cinderella still would have won the saving throw as she had the higher number. The only exceptions to this are the “Draw 4” card and the “Skip Turn” cards.
If the “Draw 4” card is dropped then the person that dropped the card automatically wins the save or hits her opponent. The other player cannot drop her own “Draw 4” card to counter. The “Skip Turn” card works in a similar way as it disallows the other player from even attempting to do anything. If the “Skip Turn” card is dropped the next move by the player who dropped it is considered to be a special* action in the same turn.
*Special: A coup d’gras, a super flashy killer spell, something unique and cinematic to make the player seem as if she just did something wonderful.
One thing you need to do before play is to remove all special cards from the Uno deck save for the “Draw 4” and “Skip Turn” cards. If using the “Disney Princess” Uno deck keep the dragons and treat the dropping of one of them as a special event (Referee has VETO) determined by the person who dropped the dragon.
Damage and health are handled in maximum x 2 … or at least as far as you can remember it. So if a weapon has 1d10 damage, then it does 10 damage. If you can’t remember exactly the amount of HD that Goblin has, be fair, but make it interesting. Some improv. is needed.
So earlier, I promised to explain how a no rules, no dice, no character sheet game would work on the road. Well the answer is simple, be a fair and kind father and let the kid win. Also, a little bit of a guessing game in place of dice or Uno cards gives the kid the illusion that there are still hard rules and that you aren’t just winging it.
Cinderella the Barbarian: I want to stab the goblin!
Referee: Okay think of a number between 1 and 20 (the number is 13)
Cinderella the Barbarian: a number between … 15!
Referee: The goblin lets out a gurgling sound as your dagger bites into its flesh, in a moment all life goes out of its eyes.
So yes, gaming without dice, or a rulebook or even Uno cards is possible, but once that kid figures out what number your thinking about … *breaks down into old man grumblings*