make like a geek ~ game sliders and creative dice rolling

a long time ago (2015), in a galaxy far, far away, there was a yoda snowflake.

yoda IMG_3928

yes, it all started with a yoda snowflake. that was what possessed me to buy another exact-o knife, even though somewhere in storage, there is already a perfectly serviceable exact-o knife in my possession. even for what could be considered essentials, it is hard to convince me to buy something that i already own a set of in storage. rich had to give me an assignment about long johns one day over christmas break, because thus far into the cold weather months, i had just been carrying on with a single pants layer; the pair of long johns i own are buried deep in a box with all the winter clothes, in a galaxy far, far away, called storage.

unconvinced by my reasoning, he told me i could find time in my busy day to buy myself a pair of long johns. “and get the good ones, not the cheap thin ones.” thank you, honey, for saving me from my frugal self.

i digress. because of storage, and because we had no ornaments, i collected fun free ornament-making ideas earlier in december, and i was excited about star wars snowflakes, and so i overcame my reluctance to buy a tool i already own and got the exact-o knife. i only managed to make the one snowflake, yoda. it was an arduous process, so i laminated that bad boy, and maybe next year i will attempt leia.

meanwhile, my son, game engineer (he named his game engineering firm qaz8quintillion just yesterday; no idea what qaz means, but it sounds like the first syllable in quasi) has taken his game engineering to such a new level that i have started having trouble holding all of the various numbers and quantities and damage points and health points and karma points in my admittedly deficient brain.

game master IMG_3920

game master pajama

another aside: rich laughed and laughed, when my sister-in-law posted a retort about “rew memory” on my bro’s facebook post concerning a time capsule from 22 years ago that he had discovered in the junk drawer. none of us rews could remember anything about it, but apparently he had unearthed it, she said, maybe even within the past year. “good old rew memory” she teased us, for how the same discoveries are novel, over and over again. i think rich felt validated by this aspersion cast upon our collective brains as a family. there are many times he just shakes his head and laughs at my forgetfulness. but, i mean, we’re smart people, everyone forgets things now and then, right?

what was i saying?

ninja IMG_3895

oh yeah, so i was trying not to poke my eye out with the pencil while quinn was going back over which ninja weapons each ninja of various expertise could use depending on their belt rank status, and how many times they could attempt to roll the d20 any time they were on the attack, based on which weapon they chose, while i tried not to let static take over my brain as all the rules blurred together on me. (you feel me after reading that run-on sentence, i know you do.) while my son would have been perfectly content to play this game verbally, and hold all the growing and shrinking relevant variables in his considerable noggin, the only things growing and shrinking for me were my dread and my attention span, respectively. i needed a visually appealing, tactile way to keep track of it all.

and then it came to me: sliders.

for every geek attack, there is an equal and opposite geek attack reaction. at least, when i bring my a game to being a mama.

d20 IMG_3904

d20, the 20-sided die from d&d, comes in handy for lots of games!

it’s possible, as a mama, to not really actually desire to play ninja wars on graph paper for the entire 72 hours of long weekend, and yet also possible to surrender to the need for connection with my son (who i rarely get to hang out with for 72 consecutive hours anymore), and fully immerse in ninja wars on graph paper for the entire 72 hours. as for me personally, i just needed to put my own spin on it, and get a little crafty so that i could remain awake and static-free.

qaz8 hq IMG_3912

qaz8quintillion h.q.

i grabbed my exact-o knife, some card stock and a thin sharpie, and started by making a slider for keeping track of my ninja’s health points. (she has princess leia buns: see? my own spin.) something about keeping my hands busy while the game went on… and on… really enhanced my endurance. as usual, this is not a tutorial, i don’t really do tutorials, but i am hoping that the pictures give you a sense of how to make something similar, should the need arise in your household. it’s essentially a piece of paper sliding along another piece of paper, with some way of indicating the value it is keeping track of (in this case, a hole punched in the sliding piece of cardstock).

leia hp IMG_3903

by the time i finished the first one, i had a sense that we were in this for a very long haul, so then i really let my geek out to run around. we ended up making sliders for keeping track of 4 different ninja’s hp’s, 8 opponents’ hp’s, each ninja and each opponents’ belt rank status, which boss we were fighting, the boss’s hp, karma points, level, and gold coin earnings.

belt color IMG_3902

belt color slider; she’s an orange belt!

opponent sliders IMG_3913

opponent belt color and hp slider consoles

other IMG_3921

karma points, level, and gold coin sliders; for some sliding pieces i hole punched and cut 2 slices with the exact-o, and for others like the yin-yang symbol, i taped an additional strip of card stock to the back.

like a boss IMG_3922

like a boss; a side note: this game is heavily inspired by ninja warz 2, a game i’ve never played and that quinn saw his friend playing online. quinn is not allowed to play this game online, as the site requires an account owner to be age 13 or older. we’re talking a lot these days about ethics and honesty and integrity in online choices.

it wasn’t until after i got fully involved that we worked out some actual rules and ways of making the game really a game that someone could walk up and play, even if they didn’t happen to be quinn. since he had already applied hp as a quantity to determine who would win each battle, we used the multi-sided dice from d & d and came up with a points system, also based on belt status, weapon choice, and so on. ultimately, we spent the whole weekend doing arithmetic and rounding out loud with each other: “14 plus 8, that’s 22, plus 7, that’s 29, plus 6 is 35, now roll the d10 mama, ok plus 4 is 39… that rounds up to 40 damage!”

we get a lot of mileage out of those dice, such as when quinn decided to bust out his oregon trail journal from last year at ols, and begin writing in it again. we made a list of 20 events that could happen on any given day that he has to incorporate into his story writing, just to add that element of chance that one would experience out on the trail. broken axles, backtracking, weather, health, and hunting bison. river crossings aren’t on the list, because he’s actually attempting to write over a realistic number of days, and traveling a realistic number of miles per day while following a map, so rivers will come along in the story according to geography. this is all just part of my plot to help quinn bloom as a writer, of course.

or trail 20 IMG_3929                                       

but maybe that’s the subject of another make like a geek moment. until next time… embrace your inner geek!

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12 comments to make like a geek ~ game sliders and creative dice rolling

  • camp boss

    sadly my inner geek is on sabbatical, and hasn’t been seen in a while. Maybe someday she will come strolling in and surprise us all!!

    • 🙂 i don’t know, i think you’re selling yourself short. you’re pretty good with wordplay and puns, one of the reasons we get along so well, and i consider that a definite form of geekiness. xoxo

  • Holly

    If that’s what an inner geek looks like, then I must be an amoeba. I avoid playing those kinds of things with the kids, although my kids are not quite up to the level of quaz8quintillion. However, I do recall my days as a child and all the amazing things I’d come up with to fill my entire weekend. Paper crafting was very much involved in a lot of what I did. I don’t see that happening so much with my kids. It must be the electronic devices. darn it.

  • believe me, i avoid it, too. this was the odd moment of me turning around into the cloud of dread and embracing it rather than let it win out. i believe i mentioned having to consciously not poke myself in the eye… you guys are bumming me out with the self put-downs, though! i hope by my writing i am not inspiring mom comparing and self judgment of mom choices. it’s not at all my motivation.

    i was a paper crafting kid, too. i remember my mom really wanting me to use less scotch tape. all i wanted was unlimited scotch tape. now the kids just want unlimited screen time and i’m like, hey but i’ll give you unlimited scotch tape, you don’t know how good you have it! lol

  • Tim

    I was thinking the other day, someone should make a board game based on Oregon Trail. Perhaps they could use sliders for party health, rations, pace, distance to next landmark, etc. And a 20 sided die for all of the random events. 🙂 Little pegs in the back of wagons, like the cars in LIFE. Except instead of getting more pegs, you typically lose them. 🙁

    • ahahaha! i love the wagons/pegs idea!!! sure, you might lose some, but babies will be born, too. i think we are onto something with this oregon trail role play game. do you and the kids have a set of rpg dice? i might have to send an early birthday present…

      • Tim

        I don’t know… they have a couple bags of math dice, but I don’t think we have any RPG dice. I can definitely see them getting into creating a game though. I, being me, played through the game twice just to see the mileage between landmarks and the effect of # of oxen on your mileage. I’ll send you my geeky findings.

        • when you say you played it… where are you hiding an old apple IIe, might i ask? actually, i hear there is a way to do it on modern computers, but i wasn’t able to figure it out last year when i tried. you are just that much more geeky than me! congrats. i like where this game is going. i will check out your “findings” and look forward to playing the game when we visit next! your math dice might have what you need… seems like often “math dice” are really just rpg dice with a label appealing to people who don’t know what rpg means.

  • Holly

    You are right, MB, the self put downs are a bummer. However, your ability to embrace the cloud of dread was nothing less than heroic in my opinion :). As for comparison and self judgment, Camp Boss and I agree that’s it’s good to compare ourselves with real mothers/friends who will inspire us to to be our better, even best, selves. Thanks for the inspiration and admitting the truth (that you wanted to poke yourself in the eye…glad you didn’t follow through on that one…).

  • aw, thank you, holly. love you and camp boss both! i feel you both inspire me in the same way, helping me be my better/best self as well. we all have our strengths to offer!

  • hi! my name is jenny, i am a friend of holly. she is always telling me that the three of us should get together sometime and i noticed your comments when reading her blog and thought i would pop over and say hi! i love your star wars snowflake and LOVE your idea to laminate it! brilliant! this really inspires me to want to make snowflakes again… the thought that they will actually last more than one season! i also adore your ideas for your sons games and his own creativity coming up with them in the first place. bravo! it was nice to meet you and maybe someday holly will get us all together 🙂

    • hi jenny! so glad you stopped by! holly has said the same thing to me, and i am so glad to finally meet you, too! my goodness, just a quick perusal of your blog and i’m already so looking forward to meeting you in person. starting with calving season; i grew up on a dairy farm, and became somewhat of a cow midwife in my teens. it’s not every day you find friends to talk about this kind of thing. kids in barn boots! a boy close to my son’s age! crafty things! blessingways! oh my. if we can get holly out of her shell, we can do that get together soon, and if not, we might have to do it anyway! :o)

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