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? Little Wizards is the English version of Contes Ensorcelés, which is based on P'tites sorcières. Antoine Bauza created the French originals while Amanda Valentine is responsible for co-translations and some modifications to Antoine’s work. Without a command of French to verify, Little Wizards is akin to the third edition of this game. Targeting ages 6 to 10, the game puts each player into two roles: a lil' mage and a familiar. For $14.95 PDF or $24.95 print, the 128-page rulebook covers character creation, game mechanics, magic, GMing for a young audience, and three adventures.
Character creation. Every character is a trained Mage or born Sorceress. There is a mechanical difference. Sorcerers know Alchemy as well as Divination while Mages know Conjuring and Shapechanging. Both groups know Spellcasting and Broom Riding presenting a range of magical options. Characters have three traits – Body, Heart, and Brains – ranked from Good (+0) to Better (+1) to Best (+2). The trait names are perfect for the GM to ask kids what power level to associate with each stat.
After their main character, each player develops a familiar. Here's where it gets interesting, the familiar will not be run by the creator. Instead, it will be played by the child to their right. This encourages each player to broaden their role-playing horizons by moving between characters.
The system. As you would expect for the audience, the game's mechanics are both simple and fast. 2d6 + Trait + Modifiers vs. a target number. The difficulty levels are Very Easy (5), Easy (6), Average (7), Hard (8), Very Hard (9), and Near Impossible (10). Speaking broadly of general RPG mechanics, the best-selling games are combat systems with talking between rolls. Little Wizards does not have a crunchy combat system or hit points. With their young target audience in mind, deemphasizing combat is the right decision. It allows the players to focus on stories instead of dungeon crawls. As GMs develop adventures for this system, it's important to move away from action-adventures and embrace adventure-comedies.
Does Little Wizards win the kids' table? Yes. It's a power fantasy wrapped up in a fantastic world where the characters are encouraged to help others instead of helping themselves. It has the added bonus of letting each player be a human and an animal so there's more to do and more to keep the children engaged.
Would Little Wizards work at the adults' table? No. The mechanics are dull and the absence of the original tool of RPGs, violence, is likely to be lamented. Ideally, that shouldn't be an issue, but it will turn off a swath of gamers. This RPG is a perfect introduction for young children to test out their role-playing skills in a safe, enjoyable setting before advancing to crunchier games.