How to trim 5E down to "Rules Lite" (for kids) - Page 3
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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfcrusher View Post
    Funny anecdote (at least, I think it is)

    I was DMing for my 12 year old nephew, who loves D&D, and my own 5 year old, who had never played before.

    The party was:
    Barbarian (12 year old)
    Rogue (5 year old)
    Sorcerer (healer) NPC controlled by me

    We started at 1st level and played *really* simple mini-adventures, each of which was a few minutes of story and then a boss fight. After each fight they leveled up. We played for a few nights and got to 8th level.

    At 8th level they found themselves in a wide, dark passageway, and the 12 year old convinced the 5 year old to stealth ahead and scout things out. He agreed, and we told him what dice to roll. He gets to the enormous darkened chamber at the end of the tunnel, and the 12 year old says, "What do you see?"

    At this point I guess he figured out that D&D is partly about making stuff up, so before I can answer and describe what he sees, HE starts making it up: "All along the walls there are shields and spears." It was awesome.

    We explained that he doesn't get to make that stuff up, but after they killed the dragon and had a chance to walk around exploring, of course I put spears and shields on the walls.
    That is awesome.

    I love how kids aren't locked into what we see as normal through experience and just can run with the ideas.

    As a side note, 5e isn't the type of game where players have narrative control like there, there are others that are. For example in Fate (and it's even lighter weight incarnation, Fate Accelerated), you can spend a Fate point to do a bunch of things, but one is to declare a story detail - like spears and shields on the walls.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
    While 5E is far simpler than the "rules heavy" 4E and 3.5E versions of D&D, it is still very much a "rules medium" game - if not "medium plus" - and probably requires a base level of either nerdy 12 year olds, or non-nerdy 14-15 year olds to grasp the entire RAW.

    I was thinking of introducing my two non-nerdy (but imaginative) daughters, age 13 and 10 to the game, but wanted to trim it down a bit. My 13-year old is quite young for her age with limited mathematical and analytical skills, so think more in terms of my younger daughter as a baseline.

    I think over time they could grasp the full rules, but I would rather start simpler.

    Preliminary thoughts:

    *Get rid of skills, use ability checks only. This is pretty obvious, even a no-brainer. PCs would be proficient in whatever their class saving throws are, with a few exceptions (e.g. rangers would have to get a hybrid Nature/Survival skill).

    *Get rid of backgrounds, archetypes, sub-classes. Sounds like a lot, but could do without, at least the first go around.

    *Trim class features. Not sure exactly how to do this, as they are so central to what differentiates classes. But one of the main complexities of 5E--as with prior editions--is keeping track of the many contextual modifiers. For example, I'm currently playing a ranger in a ToA campaign and am always forgetting to cast Hunter's Mark or remember to use the Colossal Slayer feature for the Hunter Conclave - and even more so the Dread Ambusher feature for the Gloom Walker Archetype.

    *Fewer class options? Maybe no sorcerers, for instance, with their metamagic. I could let warlocks and monks go. Maybe the rest are fine.

    So essentially I'm talking about a stripped down version of the game, focused on race, class, and ability scores, with maybe trimmed class features. I'd have to adjust what classes can do as the stripping down of features and sub-classes would hurt non-spellcasting classes more than, say, wizards, who main thing is their spells.

    I could run the monsters and DM stuff more RAW, although with a very liberal fiat approach.

    Thoughts? I could also just run them through something like Wrath of Ashardalon, but wanted to give them the "real" D&D experience of theater of mind immersion rather than a boardgame. As much as we enjoy boardgames (logged many hours of Dungeon, although recently our go-to has been the tried and true Monopoly), they just aren't the same as D&D.
    I've been there, and my children were several years younger than your when we started playing 5e, so here's what I have done for them:

    1- pregenerated characters: have the characters completely designed and the character sheets printed out, so that you can start playing immediately; have 1-2 more characters than players ready, and let them choose which one to play; leave only the name, gender, race (see next) and narrative details (including physical description, personality, backstory...) open for the children to define, but also tell them they don't need to choose everything immediately

    2- use human stats: let them choose a race only for narrative purposes, but keep the human stats so that your pregenerated characters are ready to use without modifications

    3- iconic characters: if it is their FIRST time playing D&D, do them a favour and start from tradition: pregenerate Fighter, Cleric (Life or Light), Rogue and Wizard characters; suggest Human, Elf, Dwarf and Hobbit (yes use the forbidden name); allow something different only if your children ask (one of mine wanted to play a Druid and I knew it before so I also pregenerated it; another choose to be a Centaur, do not worry about weird choices, just sometimes go with the narrative of it)

    4- choose low-complexity options: sword&board Fighter with Defense fighting style, simplest spells as possible for the casters, minimal equipment, and generally favor passive abilities over activated ones and at-wills over resource-based ones (although these won't really come up at 1st level -> because OF COURSE you shall start at 1st level!); use a fixed ability score array that focuses on what is iconic for the class, and with no negative bonuses, the easiest is probably to have 2-3 positive bonuses and all others zero

    5- do not explain the character sheet: it is inevitable that your children will ask what are all those numbers, you can spare some words but don't go through it top to bottom; tell them you will let them know when they need to use those numbers; I used my own simplified character sheet (http://www.enworld.org/forum/rpgdown...ownloadid=1415) but note that this encourages some simple math calculations on the fly at the expense of not having everything ready on it

    6- do not explain the rules: again, tell your children that the rules will be explained only when you need to use them

    7- hide non-prepared spells: this is a small but helpful thing, at first write on the character sheets only prepared spells and not all known spells, which are particularly too many for Clerics and Druids; have the simplest or most iconic prepared; wait until later to reveal they can change their daily selection

    8- introduce combat encounters gradually: I started with a couple of very easy and short combats in ToTM mode, 1 big stupid monster so that there isn't much tactics to think about, and told them only the BASIC combat actions first i.e. Attack/Cast/Use a Potion; then at each new encounter I added some novelty: multiple monsters (introduce minis), monsters with ranged attacks, cover, darkness, spellcasting foes, monsters with immunities, etc...; there is absolutely no need to dumb down the rules, just don't use all the options at once

    9- protect them from accidental death: it won't happen easily, but if according to the rules one of their PC should die, tell them instead "this is when something bad happens", and let them choose together what is "bad": are they knocked out unconscious, injured for a while, captured, lost, equipment broken?

    10- play simple straightforward adventures: make it clear they are the good people against the bad ones, give them simple choices and always a recovery chance should they still make a mistake

  3. #23
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    I'd be inclined to just run them through the Starter Set. That effectively does most of what you've mentioned, and by the time they reach the end they should have enough of a grasp of the game to expand the set of available options.


  4. As a side note, 5e isn't the type of game where players have narrative control like there, there are others that are. For example in Fate (and it's even lighter weight incarnation, Fate Accelerated), you can spend a Fate point to do a bunch of things, but one is to declare a story detail - like spears and shields on the walls.
    I actually let players do this with inspiration. My son has a habit of telling me what’s in the scene and I like that kind of cooperative story telling but I had to put a limit on it otherwise he’d be the Dm instead of me.

    - protect them from accidental death: it won't happen easily, but if according to the rules one of their PC should die, tell them instead "this is when something bad happens", and let them choose together what is "bad": are they knocked out unconscious, injured for a while, captured, lost, equipment broken?
    This can be a good rule of thumb in any game, if the stakes are established at the start of a conflict.
    Last edited by TaranTheWanderer; Yesterday at 01:52 PM.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
    While 5E is far simpler than the "rules heavy" 4E and 3.5E versions of D&D, it is still very much a "rules medium" game - if not "medium plus" - and probably requires a base level of either nerdy 12 year olds, or non-nerdy 14-15 year olds to grasp the entire RAW.
    ...

    Thoughts? I could also just run them through something like Wrath of Ashardalon, but wanted to give them the "real" D&D experience of theater of mind immersion rather than a boardgame. As much as we enjoy boardgames (logged many hours of Dungeon, although recently our go-to has been the tried and true Monopoly), they just aren't the same as D&D.
    Echoing @dave2008, they can probably handle a lot more than you think. My son started playing 4th edition when he was about 6 and, while he was kind of advanced for his age, I wouldn't have put him up against a 10 year old in the development department. We started him with a fairly easy character class (fighter) and turned him loose - now he's 10 and he plays mostly wizard types. I find it's actually adults coming to the game for the first time that need a lot of streamlining, not so much the kids.

    I have run a lot of 5e (and 4e, and 13th age) over the past few years for kids in the 8-12 range, and here's are some thoughts about things that I've noticed among the kids I play with:

    * Use the Basic Rules. This is mostly because I don't want them or their parents to think they need to shell out money just to play the game, but also because reducing choices down makes it easier to get started. And I can easily have a few Basic Rules books available to hand to the ones who want to know more about the game.
    * Use pre-gen characters for the first game. I have a stack of 1st level pre-gens in the four basic classes and the four basic races that I will let them choose among. This not only narrows down choices and makes starting the game easier and quicker, but also allows me to make some choices about things like spell lists and skill selection that helps to avoid a bad experience on their first game.
    * Have spell lists with descriptions printed up with the pre-gens that need them. I actually have made little spell-cards to pass out, but having the spell lists printed is also fine. The big thing is to have the rules right there so the kids can read them themselves rather than trying to look them up in a book. (I also have magic treasure cards to pass out if they find magic treasure because kids dig cards).
    * Ask them what they want to play, then figure out how you can hammer a pre-gen into something close to what they want. Usually once I explain a bit about the game to them I find out what kinds of things they already know about. One of my nephews didn't have a lot of traditional fantasy in his background but wanted to play "Captain America" and we got him a fighter with a sword and shield. One of my nieces wanted to play a magical fairy princess so she got the elven wizard. One of my son's friends wanted to play someone like "Harry Potter" and so he got the human wizard, and so on.
    * Skills and backgrounds can go either way. Some of the kids I play with like having the skill list there because they come with ideas about things they never would have come up with on their own. and some really like the backgrounds and will come up with elaborate ideas about their Noble or Entertainer or whatever. others just ignore it and focus on their spell list or just hitting monsters with swords. So much like the adults I play with I guess .
    Last edited by Jer; Yesterday at 03:09 PM.
    XP dave2008 gave XP for this post

  6. #26
    For what it's worth, I've run D&D for a party including two 11- and 10-year-old girls, and they did just fine as long as I told them what to roll and what to add. Your daughters might be able to handle more rules than you think. But of course, you know them, and I don't!

    That said, here are some images I found of one DM's simplified character sheet. I can't find the blank version online, but maybe you could mock up something similar for your kids.

    Front: https://confessionsofageekmom.wordpr...p-carousel-751
    Back: https://confessionsofageekmom.wordpr...p-carousel-752

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by happyhermit View Post
    If you are only going to run for 2-3 players, and are an experienced GM, I would advise to at least consider taking care of the math and most of the rules for them. I have done this a ton over the years and it really doesn't seem to detract much for most new players, and often adds to the experience.
    Yep, ask them a concept, make their character for them, give them a basic list of things they can do, but hold a copy of their character sheet and do all of the math for them. Gradually fill them in on how the math is working a bit at a time. For example, they start out only knowing they roll a d20 to attack. Later, you explain that their Fighter has a +8 to attack, and you were adding that to the roll and comparing it against AC. Even later after that, you explain where that +8 comes from.

  8. #28
    1. Start with the Basic Rules

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