Role Playing with Kids

After playing my first D&D Pathfinder session with the new group a couple of weeks ago, I finally got sick of my old dice set constantly killing me (they didn't kill me this time, but they managed to fail every skill check of the day) so I bought a pretty new purple Chessex set.

Merry, our 5 year old, saw the box sitting there and decided she wanted some. She tidied her room, twice in one week, so she could get some pocket money, and today we caught a train into the city specifically so we could go to Mind Games and buy her her own box of dice. She got a translucent purple set with white numerals[*].

Then, when we got home, both girls forced me (forced me, I say) to invent, on the spot, a simplified version of D&D and an adventure. A couple of pages of 1" grid paper, half a dozen Lego minifigs, and some quick guestimation later, we're rolling "the big die" to try and beat people's "shield number", so we can roll the "other die" to take away some of their "health scores." And we're describing our actions, and taking turns deciding on strategies, and listening at doors, and exploring behind waterfalls, and rescuing imprisoned NPCs. It was a blast.

The first time Merry came across two monsters in a room, she stepped right between them and just said, "come and hit me." End of turn. She had no idea, but I gushed with pride. I was instantly invoking taunt- and challenge-style mechanics in my mind. It was impressive to see someone with no gaming experience immediately playing the part of a tank. Incidentally, she was the one with a sword, helmet and shield, while her sister had the longbow gun. They faced the monsters down, tank in the doorway, ranged attacker shooting from behind. At the end of the encounter Merry intentionally disarmed the last monster, then they captured him and were leading him back, possibly to kill him in more comfortable surroundings ("I want to stab him in the heart", "No, let's make him sit in the pot of boiling water!") so he escaped. They were shocked that I'd let him get away, but dude, seriously...

At one point Bree decided she wanted to shoot two baddies who were standing in a straight line, so I gave her the shot (I treated it like a 4e daily, although I hadn't planned for such a thing to exist in this system), and she made it! She was so happy to have come up with a cool strategy, and then have it pay off.

In a later encounter, when a monster started attacking her sister, Merry stepped square into the middle of the fray and took a big swing at all the monsters around her. She missed the one who'd attacked her sister, but I figured that was in itself a pretty impressive manoeuvre so I had him break off his attack.

They fought their way down the cave system, discovered the throne room, eventually defeated the evil wizard and his minions (even in spite of his awesome "take 5 from your shield number" debuff power), looted corpses for gems and a key, unlocked a cell and freed an NPC prisoner, and set themselves up with a new secret lair behind an underground waterfall.

I think they had a good time. I certainly did.

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Matthew Kerwin

CC BY-SA 4.0
d&d, houserules, rpg
My five year old decided to buy herself a D7 set, and of course we had to try them out.

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