Introducing kids to anything hobby is difficult as it is what with peer pressure at school and a general feeling that rules can be a little bit complex for younger kids. I tried introducing my young daughter to Dungeons and Dragons a while back and I’ve had some degree of success. By success I mean how my daughter can role play a character and also interact with surroundings presented on a map and NPCs (Non-player Characters). Well, you may well think that this pretty much folly. However, I think something like Dungeons and Dragons can be a powerful teaching aid (maths, writing and decision making) and be incredibly fun for parent and child at the same time.
A game meant for a child 12 and upwards is quite daunting for a six year old so it’s obviously best to condense the rules somewhat. Through the attempts I made I whittled it down to D20, D6, D8 and D10 rolls. Simplicity is the key and I structured the dice rolling to two which are Success rolls and then Damage/effect rolls. For example, a player rolls D8 to score 4 or higher to achieve a hit. The player then rolls a D6 to score damage on the enemy. The good thing about a Lite game is that rules can be made up to fit situations and I usually do, however, I remain consistent throughout. I recently introduced a simple character sheet to help me with dice rolling consistency and it is attached here.
When DM-ing, we obviously don’t introduce dark threat into the story, especially for younger kids. Always keep proceedings light and fun. You don’t really need zombies lurking in every corner with flesh sliding from their rotten corpses! My daughter chose to play a Fairy character and I modified the rules to include things like Fairy Dust magic which turns enemies to stone or a frog! One of the made up scenarios I improvised was that a grumpy castle keeper had the keys to an important door and a potion of invisibility was left lying around. The objective was to sneak in a steal the key by using the potion. It was a fun situation that had the right amount of excitement to make the game enjoyable. You can throw in classic dare-devil rescue missions as well! Or perhaps just switch the action to a market place and have your players buy items with their gold.
Involving my daughter in the story telling process is also necessary. Role playing is essentially about the imagination as it’s always been said and I think RPGs stimulates that in kids. Allow your child to create maps with you. Ask them why things need to be where and obviously get them involved in the development of the story. You don’t have to use ready-made dungeon tiles either; sometimes cracking out the pens and colour crayons to draw playing maps can be really fun. Creating their own character and how they appear is also a key part to get your child in to the adventure. Get them to paint miniatures to move around your maps and it doesn’t matter if the paint job is no good as this just introduces your child into another aspect of the hobby which is equally fun. It always helps to grab yourself a few decent miniatures for the game as well – some standard dungeon bad guys will do.
The best advice is to keep proceedings fun as possible. Don’t be long winded or repetitive. Keep adventures relatively short (about 30mins). Overall, RPGs gets my vote for fitting in that all important family time.
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