The following is how I introduced the group to role play and D&D basics……
Local campground at a State Park near the river.
The group had stayed a few nights in a primitive campsite in individual tents. The mornings have been crisp this spring and have welcomed the group with the delicate crackles of the previous evenings fire and the distant rumble of fishing boats headed out for the day.
I explained the basics of d20 initiative and had each of them roll to see who came out of the tent first, second, etc…
The oldest son (19) exited the tent first, clearly noticing he was the only one awake so I explained that he could do two things, move and act, in any order or combination. He elected to gather his fishing gear and head to the riverbank to catch breakfast.
The dad (47) exited second and found one tent open and with a glance toward the river, could tell who was up and where he was heading with fishing gear in hand. The dad elected to gather some wood nearby, then stoke the fire anticipating a breakfast catch from the oldest son.
The girlfriend (18) woke up third and came out of the tent to see her boyfriend headed to try and catch some fish and the dad stoking the fire. She elected to gather some clothes and head to the river to wash them out.
The youngest (10) woke last – the group picked on him for sleeping in – and decided to take his slingshot to the woods to hunt squirrel for breakfast in case his older brother failed to catch fish.
There was excellent involvement in the theater of the mind with this group which I was hoping would be the case since the adventure started in a location that they were all familiar with and had memories of. I embellished the sights and sounds and had them describe their attire so we could all paint the picture.
The oldest son was detailing his fishing adventure so I had him roll some dice to explain how actions were determined in game-play. He made dexterity checks to tie the line and strength checks to cast the lure. He made “attack rolls” to hook a fish and made “damage rolls” to land the fish. This was hilarious because I had the chance to roll play critical hits AND misses with this fishing example. Once, he tied his fingers together then the rod slipped from his hands but finally he hooked big fish, but it turned out to be a drum – it was a riot!
The dad got into the act when he made perception (wisdom) checks to gather dry wood and get the fire going again. Not a lot of dice involved but well played theatrically.
The girlfriend did some simple basic rolls to avoid falling in the water (dexterity) and to see if she remembered to bring detergent from the campsite (intelligence).
The youngest was fun. He is all about fighting and killing so we made basic core ranged combat rolls. He rolled perception to see squirrels then attack rolls to hit with his slingshot and damage rolls as well. This all played out nicely.
When I felt they were getting the gist of the game mechanics, I had each of them to stumble upon a few magical items – the oldest found a Ring of Swimming, the girl found a Stone of Luck, the dad found a Periapt of Wound Closure and the youngest found a Boat of Folding.
I then really poured it on having them roll d20 and taking the highest roll for the victim – I mean event. The oldest boy had a dream that during the night, a dense fog rolled in and surrounded the bank, campsite and tents and when it faded out before dawn, he was standing in front of a pedestal with odd images on it. He relayed his dream to the others and (with a dice roll) knew the general direction to where this “dream pedestal” might be.
They shortly came across this:
It didn’t take them 10 minutes to figure out they each had a piece of the pedestal – Earth (stone), Air (boat), Water (ring), Fire (periapt). When they aligned their new items with the pedestal, they were engulfed in dense fog and felt themselves become weightless before losing consciousness……
I’m going to segue this into an adventure plot later………