Gaming At The Kids' Table With Dagger

Here at EN World, I’m looking at all-ages tabletop role-playing games, board games, and card games. Do they engage the players at the kids' gaming table? Would they cut it at the adults' table? Are they genuinely fun for every age? Dagger: A Toolkit for Fantasy Gaming with Kids, Revised Edition is a free, action-oriented fantasy RPG for kids. The core book contains rules, monsters, treasure ideas, and charts in a six-page document, all for free.

Dagger is a child focused derivative of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. Wizards of the Coast did not produce this; instead, Brave Halfling Publishing created it under the open game license. Unlike other fantasy RPGs that relate back to D&D but work to be their own game, Dagger is best described as 5e for kids. The rules have several instances where they mention ideas “from 5th Edition”, and the OGL is reprinted on the last page. While you can play without D&D’s Player’s Handbook or Monster Manual, it helps to be familiar with the current rule set.

Despite basing Dagger on 5e, the game has streamlined mechanics. Races are treated as classes in the style of Moldvay’s Basic D&D leading to five classes – Knight, Wizard, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. Magic is available but specific spells, other than four examples, are not listed. Instead, the children are encouraged to describe their spells and the GM determines the in-game effect. Spells and Action Checks require rolling at least a Target Number on 2d6 to succeed. The system uses versions of the 5e Advantage and Disadvantage mechanics, AC, HD, HP, Short and Long Rests, Saving Throws, and more. In lieu of leveling, characters can increase their HP above their base of 15 after adventures. All weapons deal 1d6 damage. Example monsters are taken from fantasy staples with guidelines for converting 5e monsters to Dagger.

This game is not without challenges. Every roll uses one, two, or four d6s but those rules are not spelled out, you have to infer them. Brave Halfling Publishing is transitioning from the original edition of Dagger to the Revised Edition. As such, they’ve taken down the character sheets for Dagger characters. Their website says that they are working on adventures for this product but none are out as of this writing. Some consumers will be turned off by the name, Dagger: A Toolkit for Fantasy Gaming with Kids since it’s not as kid-centric as other game titles.

Does Dagger win the kids' table? Did you want enough crunch to simulate the basics of D&D? Is your desire to baby step the children up to 5e? If so, this is for you.

Would Dagger work at the adults' table? This is a question you can answer yourself; do you want to play 5e-lite? If so, Brave Halfling Publishing has you covered. This game acts as a gateway for kids to become familiar with D&D concepts and get them ready to upgrade to 5e. While Dagger is more rules heavy than some games, it fills a niche for those looking to introduce gamers to the world’s most popular role-playing game.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links.

contributed by Egg Embry

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Egg Embry

Egg Embry


First Post
I'd call it "an OSR version of 5th edition", not the "5th edition for kids" =P
I don't know much about OSR, but that's my vision.
And I like the "system" they've done.


Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I am interested in Dagger, but lacking an adventure is a big issue. I will wait until they finish that aspect before checking it out.

I am interested in Dagger, but lacking an adventure is a big issue. I will wait until they finish that aspect before checking it out.

Mistwell -

I hear you on that and feel that's a fair point. According to Brave Halfling Publishing's website, they're working on adventures for Dagger (as of their August 30th posting). So, that challenge should be remedied soon. :)

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer

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