Here at EN World, I’m continuing to look 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? Hero Kids core rules and the Basement O Rats adventure is a tabletop role-playing game for 4 to 10 year olds. The core book provides rules for GM’ing younger audiences, combat, skill tests, character creation, monster compendium, and character tokens for $5.99 (PDF).
Hero Kids is a kid-level intro to combat-centric sword and sorcery RPG. The book is deftly written allowing the rules to flow. Hero Kids understands that, within its target audience, there is a range of ability. To accommodate that, it suggests three role-playing options to level with the skills of the players:
- The skirmish is a quick battle that focuses on the basic combat rules
- The delve is an adventure with a more complex objective and is a good place to explore advanced combat rules
- An exploration offers the fullness of role-playing in a campaign. With increased opportunity for role-playing, it introduces Ability Tests as well as Inventory and Skills
Hero Kids utilizes pools of d6s, miniatures, and maps since all distances are measured in squares. Characters have four abilities – Melee (Strength), Ranged (Dexterity), Magic (Intelligence), and Armor. Each stat has zero to three d6s in its dice pool. At its easiest level, Hero Kids focuses on combat, rolling the appropriate pool against the opponent’s roll. The highest single die rolled stands for each side. Characters have three health levels – KO, Hurt, and Bruised – a Normal Attack, a Special Action, and a Bonus Ability. For maturing players, the addition of Ability Tests and Inventory/Skills gives them more options.
Basement O Rats is an introductory Hero Kids adventure with a dream-logic setup. The kids and their parents are at the town’s tavern when the owner's son, Roger, is carried off by rats. The rest deserves quotation:
"There’s a moment of silence as everyone looks to you. Your parents encourage you.
'I hope you’re ready for your first adventure.'"
That is the perfect wording for the audience. It grants the kids permission to make their own decisions. Basement O Rats continues to display well-considered decisions including the end reward [SPOILERS]: "'I reckon you deserve an extra serve of ice-cream for at least a whole week!'"
Does Hero Kids win the kids' table? Yes. It’s worth noting that the characters live in a world of violence and violence is ingrained in the mechanics of this game. Some parents will support its D&D-ness while others may want a less aggressive option.
Would Hero Kids work at the adults' table? More yes than no. It has some crunch and it offers an interesting world where kids do the heavy lifting. Overall, Hero Kids has the right level of mechanics for all-ages at the gaming table.
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