games, Uncategorized

Tabletop games and autism for newcomers

Survive – escape from Atlantis

Welcome newcomer to the world of tabletop games. Yes, just by even checking this page or googling it, you are now one of us, a nerd, a geek. Embrace it and let us take you on a journey through our world.

You have played board games yes? Well scrub that from your newbie brain and from now on refer to them as tabletop games. It sounds a lot more interesting to someone that isn’t into games or thinks of them as just for kids and the elderly. Let’s be honest now, your usual typical games in your average supermarket or toy shop are hard to get excited about, and I bet if you run your fingers over them now, they will be covered in dust an inch thick, until the next Christmas.

So why is that?

Most are boring and we can’t expect everyone, especially children to get excited about being pushed into poverty by a landlord that charges such high rent, they have to mortgage their properties to survive. It may be a life lesson but who wants reality when playing a game as a distraction or a break from the rusty, creaky grind we all go through in our own lives. Looking at you Game of Life. While we are here let’s be honest, how many times do we want to hear that it was Colonel Mustard with the candlestick in the library. There is more than this out there, so much more just waiting for you to pick up and fondle.

What if I told you you could be a detective and not follow a linear board (Letters from Whitechapel), feel like Indiana Jones running out of the temple as it collapses (Escape – curse of the temple), be a ghost handing out visions to your players for them to solve a mystery (Mysterium), or create your own game, rules and world through Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).

Mysterium

Throughout most of human history, we would share stories around a fire, or feast and enjoy each others company telling tales and playing games. Sadly it’s more tempting now to do individual things on our devices like phones and tablets, it can make it all too easy to miss out on time together. There is something really special about getting a game your excited about, off the shelf and setting it up the table. Admiring the box before opening it and having lots of little pieces to touch, feel and play with.

Dungeons & Dragons

Have you got your glasses on? Wearing your favourite superhero T-shirt? Do you debate with others over which is better, Star Trek vs Star Wars?, No?, You don’t need to (thank you Big Bang Theory and SNL). Dungeons & Dragons is not like you think, it’s a game loved and played by people of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities. It has never just been for ‘geeks’, see for yourself and watch Terry Crews or Vin Disel play a game.
It is a shared story with your favourite people, or new besties. Roll one of these bad boys, a 20 sided die and let the dice gods decide your fate. We can understand D&D easily, it’s basically this simple:

D20

DC (Difficulty class)

Very easy – need to roll a 5 or more

Easy – need to roll a 10 or more

Moderate – Need to roll a 15 or more

Hard – Need to roll a 20

It can go higher and is a bit more complicated, but for now let’s keep it simple.

Think of the numbers on a D20 as a scale of 1 to 20. Before you ask your players to roll, set a DC. For example:

Roll a 1 – Epic fail. You just tripped over your own feet and smashed your teeth in.

Roll 2 to 9 – If a really easy task or very weak enemy, congratulations you hit it/did the easy thing you wanted to do.

Roll 10 to 19 – You most likely hit that stronger enemy/completed the harder thing.

Roll a 20 – CRITICAL hit/you so got this.

It is that simple. Everything else is optional, play it however you want.
We have only two main rules when we play, everyone must enjoy themselves, and the second is we have to have lots of snacks and drinks on the table. Do not be put off by the three core rule books, Monster Manual, Dungeon Masters Guide and Players Handbook. You can create your own games based on the roll rules I mentioned alone, however you can also download the free basic rules here, or you can buy the starter pack, which has an adventure with pre-made character sheets and dice. I will write about this more soon, but if you want to see how much fun it can be I recommend watching Critical Role playing a D&D game, or watch this animated short clip by Puffin Forest from a game here. For tips and a better understanding of the game I recommend the YouTube video series, Running the game by Matthew Colville

I don’t want to carry on writing about D&D here. I wanted to give you enough information to hopefully have a little better idea of what it is and how it works, so..

What has all this got to do with autism?

Everything! Let me start by explaining about my own family and experiences. I have four children, two are autistic. Sometimes we can’t get out and do the thing we had planned and sometimes it can be hard to do something together as a family giving each of the kids equal time and energy. It can also be difficult for any modern family now to have time to sit around a table together. A game night once or twice a week changed that. Roleplay and social interaction has obvious benefits for everyone and not just adults and children with autism.

Everybody is different and in a different situation, autism is also very complex and things that work or help my family, won’t work for others. Does it always work for me? No of course not, this is why we named the site ‘Table Flip’ and the purpose of this is to share our stories and ideas. Sometimes we can have a game ready to go, or all the hours of D&D prep ready, for it to end in a colossal meltdown before we have even begun. Sometimes, just sometimes, it works, and sometimes really well. This isn’t for me to tell you what you should, or shouldn’t do, likewise that I know everything about autism. Instead we will be writing about our experiences game by game regularly. We hope to get more people playing together and I hope if your reading this and new to the hobby, that we have got you curious enough to pick up a new game. We highly recommend Survive – escape from Atlantis, Mysterium and D&D for new people looking to get playing.

Please share with us your own experiences or if you’re now off to try some games, here or through social media.

©Table Flip 2019

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