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5E Looking at getting my kids started on DnD. Need advice

broghammerj

First Post
I have three boys: 5, 8, 10. All are very advanced readers. My five yo can read at the 3rd grade level but lacks comprehension. They all have an interest in fantasy stuff like LOtR movies, two oldest have read Harry Potter, etc. We play Zombicide Black Plague so I think miniatures will help them visualize things. I was contemplating running low level adventures from B1-9 or something such as that. Just curious what others may have done or what advice they have to offer.
 

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darjr

I crit!
I think you've started off right. Miniatures is what really got my two oldest playing. The next thing that happened is they found my monster manual and that book really interested them.
 

Grazzt

Demon Lord
I have three boys: 5, 8, 10. All are very advanced readers. My five yo can read at the 3rd grade level but lacks comprehension. They all have an interest in fantasy stuff like LOtR movies, two oldest have read Harry Potter, etc. We play Zombicide Black Plague so I think miniatures will help them visualize things. I was contemplating running low level adventures from B1-9 or something such as that. Just curious what others may have done or what advice they have to offer.
My son is 6. I introduced him to DnD via 5e and he loves it. Keeping the adventures (at first) and character stuff simple seems to work. He doesn't care about politics or intrigue or any of that. He simply wants to gear his hero and go out and fight the bad guys.

I started him with the intro adventure in the old red box set. The one where you go to the ruined house/mansion....carrion crawler under the fallen gates, harpies in the fireplace, etc. His first character is/was a fighter but he's now decided he wants to play a wizard or sorcerer so that's next on the agenda. His wizard plus a few hirelings/NPCs and off he goes.

Basically keep it simple. As long as they're having fun it's all good. Ignore rules when needed, make it fun. Introduce more rules (like feats or whatever) as they learn and grasp the game.
 

The 10yo is likely at a good age, but I'd hold off on the other two. Kids at that age don't need rules to tell stories. Especially not a game as rules heavy as D&D. I agree with John Hodgman on the issue:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/10/m...-on-the-quest-of-dungeon-master-dad.html?_r=0

No Thank You, Evil might be better: http://www.nothankyouevil.com/
And that would allow the older kid to also make stories for the younger and try running.

But if your heart is set on D&D, there are some kid friendly variants:
http://www.susanjmorris.com/dd-for-kids/
 

I wouldn't hold off. I didn't and nearly a decade later my 15 year old son love D&D.

My advice:
Don't worry about rules or about the plot too much.
Don't spend time on rolling up characters completely. Maybe just use distribution and let them pick, ask the younger ones things like: "Do you want to be really strong? or Smart or.."
When it comes to fights, they should only last 3-4 rounds typically.
Don't try to play too long, the youngest will only be able to concentrate on playing one game for about 30 minutes.
The older one(s) can help you level up the other characters and detail the character sheets.
Keep combat simple, don't worry about all the modifiers etc.

And most important, your enthusiasm and happiness in their character successes will be what they remember and take away from the game. The youngest won't different well between what happens to his character and what happens to him.

Have fun :)
 

Satyrn

First Post
I think it's [MENTION=6776133]Bawylie[/MENTION] who regularly talks about DMing for kids. He may have some advice for you (which is why I'm tagging him)
 

darjr

I crit!
This has a list of OSR like games that could fit the bill. I always wanted to try the single page rules searchers of the unknown. It was designed to play the old mods first edition and basic mods but using a simple stat block like the ones for monsters in those mods. And it was one page of rules.

However swords and wizardry is there, the one meant to be like the original boxes set of rules.

http://www.howlingtower.com/p/old-school-renaissance-resources.html?m=1
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I'd just grab the starter set, but don't worry too much about the rules if something else seems more fun.
 

aco175

Hero
I agree with the starter set, it is 12-15 dollars and uses the basic rules. the module has enough fighting and advancement for the younger ones and the older ones can try to roleplay with some of the townsfolk and such. You can also download the basic rules from the Wizards/Hasbro site for free and make a few simple adventures with the basic monsters yourself. I ran a module for younger ones using the school they attended having the principal be an undercover necromancer and hiding skeletons in the gym and goblins in the locker room. The kids knew the layout and had fun when with the descriptions of the teachers. Maybe do this one during summer vacation though.
 

... I ran a module for younger ones using the school they attended having the principal be an undercover necromancer and hiding skeletons in the gym and goblins in the locker room. The kids knew the layout and had fun when with the descriptions of the teachers. Maybe do this one during summer vacation though.
I love this idea. Wish I had thought of it. Maybe I could get a map of the high school...
 

pdzoch

Explorer
Lots of good suggestions so far. I'll add a different angle on the game. Think about how your boys interact with each other. Because of the age difference between the youngest and oldest, you may want to sit down with the oldest and remind him that the game is for everyone. The youngest may want to do things that the oldest disapproves of. And the oldest may become impatient of the youngest who is still mastering reading comprehension. While conflict among players in the game is not a new thing to the hobby, my experience with family members (I DM for a couple of large families, including my own) is that siblings are quicker to squabble when gameplay expectations are different. The oldest may naturally assume he is in charge (or whoever is you more "take charge kid"). Just like any new set of players, establish game conduct up front so the brothers do not carry their sibling issues to the table. The last thing you want to do is invoke your Dad powers as the DM (which will happen from time to time anyway, but you want to set the tone early so it doesn't become the norm).

Anyone who has DM for spouses has seen the same thing. The familiarity between players sometimes allows for quick tempers when their play styles clash.

I have waited until age 8 to start any children playing D&D. It just seemed and felt like the right developmental age. For younger children, the game will have to be simpler and the previous comments have provided tons of good advice to make it enjoyable and manageable for the youngest. For the oldest, he will want to get into the meat of it sooner.

Good luck with the game. DMing for your children is awesome! I'm already counting the days to DM for my grandchildren.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
My kids are 5 and 8 and we play No Thank You, Evil from time to time. Here is what I've noticed.

1) My kids are very visual. They want pictures of everything. I wind up doing a lot of Google Image searches during the game.

2) My kids are not very interested in combat. Even when conflict is unavoidable, they prefer to set traps or act through allies, authorities, etc., or research their foes' special weaknesses. (NTYE explicitly makes this a viable course of action.)

(Unsolicited Parenting Advice: Please, please, don't push your kids towards the ethic of "virtuous violence" if they're not into it. Let them feel secure in their ability to solve problems cooperatively before teaching them about standing their ground, choosing the lesser of two evils, etc. Of course, your kids may already be past this phase, if they enjoy watching Aragorn decapitate orcs.)

3) My littler one has a very vivid imagination and the game sometimes gets very scary for her; the plot twists that work well for grown-ups can quickly get too intense for kids. NTYE has a special move for this, called "No Thank You, Evil" that forces the GM to fast-forward past the scary parts.

4) My kids don't always accept my authority as the Game Master. ;) They frequently want to declare their PCs as having magical powers that solve the problem before them and are grossly overpowered. I've found that relying on a die roll works well to resolve this. Let them have the cool power temporarily if they can make a die roll, or permanently if they roll well enough! My kids enjoy rolling the dice; and leaving it up to the dice makes the outcome seem much more impartial. (Don't tell my regular grown-up players, but I use this technique on them, too -- letting narrative authority ride on a die roll and disguising it as an "ability check.")
 

since1968

Villager
I have three boys: 5, 8, 10.
Your kids are the perfect age. Mine started last year at 6 and 8. Lots of great advice in this thread. To add:


  • Consider a hex mat. We got a huge one from Chessex that we spread across the dining room table. This enhances the communal feel and now our kids draw their own dungeons & encounters.
  • Watch out for what's scary. My wife tried DM'ing a werewolf encounter and she was a little too good at setting the tone. The kids were frightened and hated it.
  • Consider a DM-PC to help the kids learn the rules. I have a Battlemaster who takes maneuvers like rally and commanding strike to set the kids up for success, never outshine them.
  • Let your kids pick their own alignments, even if it's not what you would pick for them. It's been a great pleasure watching my boys become their own thoughtful, moral beings and helping them shape themselves in a safe environment.
  • Kids love recurring characters.

Happy playing.
 

alienux

Explorer
I started my kids when they were 7 and 9 and they had no trouble understanding how to play at that age. I didn't have them read any rules, and I didn't read them to them, I just gave them a basic description of the game, helped them choose their characters and options, and started playing. Then I let them know what their options were when it was time for them to make a decision, told them what dice to roll when necessary, and reminded them to keep looking at their character sheets to know what their abilities and skills were. It was too long before they were doing fine on their own.

When we first started, I used minis fairly often. Now I mostly just use grid paper to draw maps on so they can see the layout of where they are.
 

akr71

Adventurer
I started DMing for my kids when they were 6 & 11 (two years ago). Keep sessions short. Let them express their creativity - they will completely blow you away! Keep it structured (ie. railroad them a bit - too much choice can lead to frustration).

Be wary of intense combat. By that I mean, don't be afraid to fudge rolls and let them win. Character death is likely to be devastating. Let them feel like heros and get tougher on them as they get older.

Just my 2cp
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
First and foremost, is "do they want to" or "do YOU want them to" needs to be answered. I see this a lot in my coaching of youth sports. Way too many parents want their kids to have the same interests as them, and that's not fair to the kids at all.

If they do have an interest and have fun playing, then my advice would be to not shut them down. IME, kids are some of the most creative players because they don't have an preconceived notions as to what their PCs can and can't do that people more familiar with the rules have. Unless it was a spell, most everything I did was made everything come down to an ability check for the wild and crazy ideas they had. It's a simple rule that applied to most everything, rather than complicate it with more "official" rules that might be there. Give them the benefit of the doubt if it helps their ideas work. It fosters creativity where shutting them down hurts.

E.g., the player might say "I want to charge and yell really loud, and smash it's shield with my ax!" I'd do that as a normal attack, and if successful, they succeeded.
 


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