Gaming At The Kids' Table With Little Heroes

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? Little Heroes is an ENnie Award-nominated storytelling tabletop role-playing game for ages 5 and up. The core book contains system rules, ten player personalities/species/ adversaries, and more for $5 (PDF).

Little Heroes is a storytelling role-playing game. You play "faeries (brownies, gremlins, hobs, pixies, pookas, and sprites) and talking woodland creatures (chipmunks, mice, shrews, and voles)." If you’re not familiar with storytelling games, they allow the players to collaborate with the GM (Lead Storyteller, in this case) to create a narrative. For the target audience, the concept is perfect. Each of the children can offer character and story to expand the narrative.

The broad strokes of this system are [these examples contain SPOILERS from Little Heroes: Trapped in Human Town]:

  • The Lead Storyteller presents a hook (Storm, a sprite, has been captured by a human in a human town) and a broad goal (rescue Storm)
  • The Lead Storyteller then sets the scene (there's a forest between the sprite town and the human town) and the scene’s Objective ('Travel through the woods and avoid the foxes")
  • The players build the narrative from that point by describing how their characters overcome complications and Adversaries
  • To form the party’s dice pool, the number of Objectives per Act are counted and two is added to the total. Challenges require a d6 from the dice pool to resolve. Depending on the player’s Trait, difficulty ranges from 5 or greater to 3 or greater. The die is removed from the pool unless the roll is a 6
  • Scenes end when all Objectives are completed or when the dice pool is exhausted. Success leads to the next Act. Failure requires a narrative solution ("At least one of the player Personalities has been caught! Allow the remaining players to narrate how they rescue the captured hero or heroine […] After that, continue on to Act 2.")

  • Combat is an opposed roll (but does not deduct from the dice pool)
  • The Lead Storyteller rotates among the players at the start of each Act

Does Little Heroes win the kids' table? Yes. The system is simple and highly engaging. This is the next generation of the bedtime story. It offers character and story investment with a way for the dice to decide the outcome. The largest challenge this product has is the writing; it’s not on level. For ages 5 and up, the book is too dense to decipher. That’s not a deal breaker as an adult will likely run the session.

Would Little Heroes work at the adults' table? For a cute one-off, yes. As a campaign, there are options that offer more crunch. But, for the target audience, this game presents an easy to use system to develop their role-playing and storytelling.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links.

contributed by Egg Embry

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Egg Embry

Egg Embry


Egg - read down through your article and didn't see any anecdotes. Would like to know if you've played this game with kids? Either your own or otherwise.

One thing that seems common to all parents is that they discard opinions on what's good for kids unless it comes from someone who can vouch for it. The criteria necessary to make you an expert? Wait for it... Have you been there yourself?

Kids change like lightning. A five year old becomes a seven year old...they're like two different people. And (in direct argument against my main point of needing recommendations from other parents) they're almost so unique as to be uncatecorizeable. Notice I said almost.

So - as a parent - you fret over whether when if to show your kid Jurassic Park. You want to know if it's appropriate interesting. If other parents do. And if you chose to, you won't know till AFTER THEY SEE IT to know if they run screaming, have nightmares, roar at the breakfast table because it was so captivating, or sit on the couch ranking their favorite franchises - Pacific Rim, Star Trek, JP, Harry Potter, Star Wars.

Thats my five year old's actual list up there...

And you do this for every movie, book, sport. Every experience that strikes your parental brain as new.

So, I AM A PARENT of the target age for this material in your article. And as it stands I'm sceptical.

I have two kids, ages 5 & 8. What I believe is the case here is this is a cute thing, and cute things = kid things.

Thats not true in my experience. I would challenge that assertion any day. I can tell you neither of my kids has any interest in fairies.

We spent years and $ searching for kid games. We realized they like our games just fine. IF they could read. Dragon Parade, Jaipur, Dixit, Tsuro, Take It Easy - just to name a very few (across various themes and complexities).

My 5 yr old will soon be six. Reading is in sight. Role play is on our horizon. LFG baby!

But WHAT to play? Truly? See, it's not like this is a vacuum needing a special product! I've been role playing with my kids their whole lives. Stories, adventures we make up. I guess we are probably LARPing in the backyard with those sticks LoL.

My 8 yr old makes a decent deck in MTG drafts all by herself. She enjoys Card Hunter. She could play D&D from character creation on. If we play often I bet she could DM--just not read the whole stupid huge book!

Without some glowing reviews from actual kid play experience--I wouldn't touch a product aimed at kids with a 10' pole. And whoever came up with that aphorism must've played D&D! Nope. I'll run the character for my young', and streamline feats for both--and focus on the stories that fascinate them. Not an aspirational product for 'oh, I WISH we could role play together'. Learning the new system is just a barrier of entry for both the parent and child. There's plenty of kids products already on the market. Parents, you're playing them already--hopefully our kids are too!

jedijon -

Thanks for playing a variety of games with your kids. That's awesome! :)

I appreciate your questions. For all-ages game reviews I play most while others, due to time constraint or gaming overload, I read then discuss with the oldest of the two kids to get her thoughts. What makes Little Heroes interesting is it's a narrative RPG, making it collaborative and giving every player the chance to be the GM/Lead Storyteller. You mention that your eight year old is on the threshold of GM'ing, Little Heroes provides an opportunity to be the Lead Storyteller for a single Act which would let her spread her GM'ing wings without having to carry a full adventure for her first time at bat. Not saying she couldn't do a full adventure from the jump, just offering one of the options that's baked into the rules for Little Heroes - every scene has a different Lead Storyteller so this could be a stepping stone from full-time player to full-time GM. There's a Pay What You Want option to get the Little Heroes quickstart rules at DriveThruRPG here [affiliated link]. With all games, mileage will vary so PWYW gives you the chance to test out the game and see if it works for your children.

All of that said, you have your kids in games already and that's great! That's a level 20 Parent special ability! Thanks for growing the gaming world! :)

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer

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