Does everyone remember my nephew the ninja? If not, please go back and read the post I just linked to. Don't worry, it's short.
So my sister Jenn, Cameron's mother, contacted me a few weeks back about a serious problem with her little ninja. He was talking to strangers. A lot. And doing things like asking if he could have a drink of their soda or wandering away from mom to chat with interesting-looking but unknown persons. This was freaking Jenn out. Everytime she called him on it, he would say something badass like "Strangers can't hurt me because I'm a ninja."
Jenn asked me to intervene in the situation because she needed someone who could approach the broach the subject of ninjas with sincerity and speak on the topic authoritatively. Cameron just could not take mom seriously when it came to ninjas. But he knows his uncle Jeff as the guy who buys him comics and plays Star Wars and Transformers and Power Rangers with him. I can talk to him about stuff like ninjas.
My first line of attack on this problem was to appeal to his ninja virtues. "A wise ninja must avoid unnecessary danger," I tell him. But he doesn't really seem to buy it. So I go for the carrot approach. Ever since he discovered my plastic minis collection he's been dying to try Dungeons & Dragons. I've held off. One of my concerns is that I needed to be sure he and his cousin (my daughter) were sufficiently literate and numerate to play. Elizabeth can count to 20 now so the last big educational barrier has recently been removed.
"Alright, here's the deal then. If you can go four weeks in a row without talking to strangers, your mom and I will schedule a game of Dungeons & Dragons. But it won't just be ordinary Dungeons & Dragons. It will be Dungeons & Ninjas. But listen up, dude. You know I check in with you and your mom every week, right? You have to get good reports four weeks in a row."
Cameron and I shook on that deal. So far it has been two weeks and he hasn't talked to strangers once. In fact, his mom reports that Cameron is very cognizant of avoiding "stranger danger". So it looks like I'm going to be running Dungeons & Ninjas soon.
So that's the background to this project. I'll tell you all about the game itself in part 2.