D&D 5E D&D 5e suggestions for two beginner children and a first time DM dad?

I also vote for the Essentials Kit. While the Starter Set adventure is good, it's easy to quickly have numerous plot threads and mysteries that players need to keep track of. That's probably too sophisticated for kids. In contrast, the Essentials Kit offers a simple premise ("A dragon is threatening your region. Protect it.") supported by short, linear quests with limited connections. Each quest in the adventure is 1 or 2 pages long. I think the longest is 4 pages. Most are good for about two hours of play. Depending on the speed at your table, obviously.
 
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One thing I would advise to prepare and "go with the flow" for is kid's creative problem solving. They will think of solutions a gaming veteran wouldn't, in part because they don't have preconceived notion, and in part because that's kids for you.

So be ready for befriending monsters etc... don't be too stuck on "this is how things are done" :)
This isn't just little kids. My 17 year-old insisted on befriending the wolf that was trying to kill her for the goblins -- and then we had a wolf pet.
 

Raven_King

Villager
don't be too stuck on "this is how things are done" :)
Ha ha, definitely this. Although - silver lining - as a new (or at least very out of date and out of practice) DM, I have few preconceived views on how things are done. It’s about telling a great story together. If something is fun, clever, or makes the story better, i think it’s a DM’s job to try to find a way to go with it, and still bring the party back to the plot too.
 

Ha ha, definitely this. Although - silver lining - as a new (or at least very out of date and out of practice) DM, I have few preconceived views on how things are done. It’s about telling a great story together. If something is fun, clever, or makes the story better, i think it’s a DM’s job to try to find a way to go with it, and still bring the party back to the plot too.
Since you've got the Starter Kit, I found its rulebook to be a good primer to the system. (I just wish everything in that boxed set was printed on sturdier paper.) Even now, I often keep the booklet nearby, since I know I can find the answers to stuff I've forgotten quickly -- and the more fiddly questions can typically just be handwaved.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
+1 more for LMNOP (Lost Mines).

Some of the tough monsters can be modified to be more "if at first you don't succeed, try try again" -friendly. For instance, the dragon starts out with a flyby and Frightful Presence, not its breath weapon, if the party is not up to that fight. (Show the kids Monty Python and the Holy Grail's "Run away! Run away!" scene to make it funny not embarrassing to fail a Fear Save.)
 

This isn't just little kids. My 17 year-old insisted on befriending the wolf that was trying to kill her for the goblins -- and then we had a wolf pet.
It is always a great pleasure to dm inexperienced players. They are often very creative and easily satisfied. Often you can go into a session more or less unprepared. Old tropes are still new for them.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
(2) Before you play, create some ready PCs of various classes. Not all of them, it's enough to make a Fighter, Wizard, Rogue, a couple more if you wish. Make them as simple as you can, by picking the simplest (and shortest to read) spells and abilities. Then tell your kids what does each character do in general: the Fighter fights and defends his friends, the Rogue explores and finds dangers, the Wizard does magic. Let them choose which one to play, and decide only the name, gender and race*, and whatever appearance and personality they want.

*Use human stats when creating the PCs, and let race be only a cosmetic choice. Although, you could pick ONE special ability for each race such as Dwarf's darkvision, Halfling's luck or similar.

I quote myself because I want to explain better this point, which was my own choice but it can certainly be done differently :)

The reason behind it, is that I think it was important to give my kids a character choice without having to do a character build.

Character building is a major part of D&D but it will unavoidably stretch the time from when you manage to have everybody sitting down at the table to actually starting the adventure. If you don't have especially quiet and attentive kids, chances are it will become a mess while you try to guide all of them through it at once. If you want to absolutely do it, I'd rather take aside one kid at a time maybe some day BEFORE playing, and just build the character, so that everyone is ready on gaming day.

I went instead with pregens, so that I could give then simplest and most iconic character abilities, and just start playing in a few minutes. It still took 10-15 minutes for them to hear about 5 classes and fill the details.

About races, my decision was made to avoid having to do ANY modification to the ready character sheets, except for adding the name. Using human stats means no special ability, therefore simpler. I still wanted them to freely say they were an elf or dwarf or whatever (one of them chose a centaur!) for role-playing but that's it.

However, as I mentioned, it is also cool to have some difference because of race, but to avoid having to recalculate stuff on the character sheet, I would avoid stat bonuses, and just give ONE special ability chosen by you. This is something I have done for adult beginners, for which I have also typically used pregens.

A third option if you really want to use full race stats, is to simply pick fixed class-race combination. You then ask them to choose if they want to play the Dwarf Fighter, the Elf Wizard and so on. The character sheets are ready to use, but some kids might to play Legolas or Gandalf and be disappointed that the combination isn't there.
 

akr71

Hero
My family started playing 5E together when my kids were 11 & 6. I also introduced their friend groups to the game. Here are a few things I've learned about playing with kids.
  1. Like adult players, some will like exploration more, some will like social encounters more & some will like combat more. Try a bit of everything to see what they like, & then give them more of that, but not at the expense of eliminating the other two pillars of play.
  2. They will get attached to their characters, so go easy on them. Make combat encounters a little easier, especially with only 2 players, you don't want to accidentally TPK them and chase them away from the game. You can always have an NPC Guide there to help them in combat or heal them afterwards.
  3. Let them feel like heroes! If that means giving them an unbalanced amount of gold, treasure or magic, then do so.
 



Character building is a major part of D&D but it will unavoidably stretch the time from when you manage to have everybody sitting down at the table to actually starting the adventure. If you don't have especially quiet and attentive kids, chances are it will become a mess while you try to guide all of them through it at once. If you want to absolutely do it, I'd rather take aside one kid at a time maybe some day BEFORE playing, and just build the character, so that everyone is ready on gaming day.
That's what I do. The second time around, I ask them at each part, but have them do everything they can on their own. The third time, they are on their own and ask help when needed.
 

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