Get Slick Dungeon’s 10 Golden Rules of Dungeon Mastering for Kids

Hi Everyone, Slick Dungeon here.

I’ve been posting about gaming with kids on here for a while now. I came up with 10 Golden Rules of Dungeon Mastering for Kids and I want you to have it. If this is something you are interested in, all you need to do is add your email address below and sign up for my biweekly email newsletter. In my newsletter I will send you a tip about Dungeons & Dragons or other RPGs, especially as it relates to kids. I hope you enjoy the free PDF and it’s yours to keep whether you continue to subscribe to my newsletter or not. I’m a little new to the whole email newsletter thing so it may take a full day before you receive your PDF.

I will have more stuff like this for you in the near future so if you like this or want to see something specific, drop me a line and let me know.

Gratefully yours,

Slick Dungeon

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 12

D&D Campaign Adventures for Storm King's Thunder - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling, role playing a human, role playing a dragon born, role playing a gnome, role playing a half-elf and role playing a half-orc. Today we are going to talk about role playing a Tiefling.

Tieflings are one of the most interesting playable races in the game. For those who don’t know, it’s pronounced like tea-fling. They are also increasingly popular to play because they come with backgrounds that just beg for role playing opportunities. Unlike a half-orc or half-elf, it’s virtually impossible for them to hide their appearance. And a tiefling has in their bloodline somewhere, an ancestor who committed a great sin and aligned themselves with evil. For that reason, it might be assumed that tieflings are by default evil. What makes them interesting is that they do not have to be evil. Being evil is as much a choice for a tiefling as for any other creature in the game.

Tieflings essentially look like demons or devils walking around in human form. In fact, that’s just what they look like, and their personalities can vary across the entire spectrum of personalities. Their eyes are solid color, with no pupils, they have horns on their heads, and they all have tails. The differences in these physical aspects can be whatever you want them to be, so for example, the tail can be four to five feet in length, the horns can be curved or straight and the eyes can be black, red, white, silver or gold.

All the possibilities there make for one of the most interesting looking creatures in the game. That also means that these creatures live in a world that is automatically suspicious of them. Everywhere they go, it’s hard for tieflings to make friends. But when they do make a friend, and that friend earns their trust, the tiefling is loyal for good. This can make a great entry for kids who want to play tieflings.

A lot of kids can relate to someone assuming they are up to no good. For the vast number of times they have been yelled at for trying to take a cookie from the cookie jar, there has been at least one time when they were innocent of trying to commit that crime. A kid can relate to an adult just thinking by a look on their face, that they have done something wrong. While it’s probably the case that most of the time the kid has done something wrong, there are probably instances where adults jumped to conclusions. That’s what people do when they meet tieflings, they jump to conclusions. This creature looks evil, therefore it is evil. While a spider might look scary to some people, it serves the vital function of population control of insects. The spider itself is not necessarily bad and neither is the tiefling.

Knowing that everyone is going to assume the worst of you, makes it hard to trust anyone else. If a tiefling who is just trying to fit in happens upon a group of adventurers who don’t assume the worst, take the tiefling into their good graces, and ally with that tiefling, that adventuring party has gained a powerful and loyal ally.

While you could certainly play a tiefling as evil, I don’t recommend that for kids. But there is a difference between playing someone who is evil and someone who looks evil. I see no problem with a kid playing a tiefling if they want to. And if you as a Dungeon Master are uncomfortable with the whole fiendish heritage involved in tieflings, you can take that out if it won’t work for your kid. If you do leave it in, I would say the tiefling should be misunderstood by society rather than actually evil in society, but of course, that is just my advice. You can play this game any way you want to and it’s not wrong.

One of my favorite things with tieflings actually has to do with their names. Tieflings can have three types of names. 1. If they happen to grow up in human, elf, dwarf, or whatever other culture, they could reasonably be expected to have a name from that culture. 2. They can have a name that reflects their infernal heritage, where their name is a word in the infernal language. 3. They can have what is called a “virtue” name. This is a name that signifies a virtue or other concept and the tiefling attempts to embody that concept.

To me, that third choice is simply amazing. A tiefling tending towards good might choose something like Hope, Perseverance or Glory. I love the idea of picking your name and then trying to be the living representation of that name. I feel like with kids this could go a million ways. I can see a kid choosing a name like Rich or Money. I could also see kids picking things like Beauty or Magician. The name alone might give you as the Dungeon Master a direction for the campaign. And believe me, any hints like that are hugely helpful to running a campaign.

I’ll give you a few more thoughts I have about kids and tieflings below but first let’s get into the tiefling traits.

Tiefling Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a Tiefling.

Ability Score Increase

Tieflings are smart creatures who like to learn about the world. For that reason your Intelligence score increases by 1. Tieflings are absolutely memorable to anyone that meets one. For that reason your Charisma score is increased by 2.

Age

Tieflings mature at the same rate humans do but live a little longer. “A little longer” is not defined in the rules so how much longer is sort of up to you.

Alignment

A lot of tieflings do end up as evil, but that does not mean your kid has to align that way with her character. You can absolutely have a lawful good tiefling character if you want to. The rules do say that they tend more towards chaotic and that makes sense to me because a tiefling is probably going to know that just because there is a law, does not mean that it is a just law. My advice here is to still trend toward the good side of alignment with your kids though, even though their character has a fiendish look.

Size

Tieflings are pretty much the same size as humans. For the game rule purposes you are considered medium.

Speed

Your speed in the game is 30 feet.

Darkvision

I’ve been over darkvision a few times since almost every playable race other than humans has it, but in case you need it, I am just going to put here exactly what the basic rules say. “Thanks to your infernal heritage, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.”

Hellish Resistance

As an adult I think this description is awesome. But, you may not want your kids running around talking about their “Hellish Resistance” to their friends, teachers and neighbors. If that’s the case, just call this what it is, Fire Resistance. It just means that it’s really hard to burn a tiefling. You’d be surprised by how many monsters can burn characters so this is actually a pretty awesome trait to have.

Infernal Legacy

This trait has to do with some innate spells that tieflings can cast because of their ancestry. It’s okay if at this point you don’t know what these things mean but I will still lay them out here.

Right from the beginning you can cast the cantrip Thaumaturgy. I won’t go over this spell here because in future posts we’ll go through all the magic but at essence this spell lets you speak loudly, make the earth shake a little, make lights brighten or dim and a few other things that are pretty much harmless magic tricks. If you have watched The Fellowship of The Ring and remember the moment where Gandalf is talking with Bilbo about the ring and he makes himself look big, his voice boom, his staff light up, that is pretty much thaumaturgy right there.

When you get to third level you are able to cast Hellish Rebuke. If you don’t want your kids running around saying that they Hellishly rebuke you, just call the spell Rebuke. This spell essentially does fire damage to your enemies.

Finally, when you get to fifth level, you get the spell Darkness. This probably seems obvious, but it basically means you get to make things dark when you want to. There are definitely limits to this so go by the spell but that’s what it boils down to.

Thaumaturgy is one the character can cast whenever they want but Rebuke and Darkness are basically once a day spells. They are all really handy to have and a great little spell list, even if you don’t want to be a class that has spellcasting abilities.

Languages

You are fluent in Common and Infernal. Infernal is a language that may or may not come up, depending on what you as the Dungeon Master put in your campaign. It’s always nice for a kid to have something their character can do in an unexpected moment though, so if you have a tiefling player, consider putting at least one treasure chest that has something written in infernal on it that only that player can read.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Tieflings

Playing a tiefling can be a ton of fun. Kids can relate to this playable race if they have ever had the situation where it was assumed they were up to no good. Kids are all about fairness so playing a tiefling can actually come naturally to them. Tieflings have a good idea of not only what is fair but also if they are being treated fairly. The one thing that can be a little bit of a trip up, depending on your household, is that the bloodline of tieflings is essentially from demons. For some families that is going to be a non-starter and in that case, just don’t let there be tieflings in your campaigns. If that is not an issue and your kids can wrap their heads around it, tieflings are a lot of fun to play. They get magical abilities that most other playable races don’t. They can walk through fire with barely an injury. And they can be loyal to a fault.

A great way to introduce a tiefling character to a party is to have that tiefling be in trouble through no fault of their own. A group of citizens might be surrounding them and calling them names when the party arrives to swoop in and defend the innocent. Of course, that is just one suggestion and there are any number of ways to play this game so do what works for you and your family.

I hope you got something out of this post and have some ideas for your table if your kid wants to play a tiefling.

My next Kids Kill Monsters post is going to be about classes. We’re going to go through each one in the basic rules, one at a time. This is usually the spot where some math gets involved and things can get tricky but I’ll do my best to walk you through it.

But before that, I have an announcement. I have written Slick Dungeon’s 10 Golden Rules of Dungeon Mastering for Kids. It’s a free PDF with some of my best advice on playing Dungeons & Dragons with kids and I want you to have it. All you will have to do to get a copy is to sign up for my mailing list newsletter. If you sign up for the newsletter you will get the free PDF and I will send tips to your email about Role Playing Games every other Friday. Watch for your chance to sign up in my next post, set to go live on 7/21/2020. I hope you’ll consider signing up for it and please feel free to share it with anyone that you think might enjoy some gaming tips from your old pal, Slick.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

skull-splitter metal dice

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 11

D&D Campaign Adventures for Storm King's Thunder - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling, role playing a human, role playing a dragon born, role playing a gnome and role playing a half-elf. Today we are going to talk about role playing a Half-Orc.

One thing to know before I get too far into this is that there is a bit of a debate raging among the role play community over whether or not Half-Orcs and Orcs should be in the game in the way they are written. There is an argument to be made that these particular playable races, among others, can be read as racist stereotypes. I happen to think that there is an argument to be made there but that what is needed is some adjustment to the wording and nuance of the creatures in the game. Wizards of the Coast, the manufacturers of Dungeons & Dragons, say they are working to correct these problematic stereotypes. I think this is a step in the right direction but we’ll have to wait to see what the real result is. I believe that the more people that feel welcome playing this game the better, which is why I write these posts about how to play this game with kids. All that being said, take my suggestions and information below with a grain of salt for two reasons. 1. I will be using the descriptions and mechanics as currently written in the basic rules. 2. It’s very likely that with the corrections WoTC are making, some of this below is subject to change. Once there is an updated version, I will likely do another post to update my recommendations.

I will say that as an adult, I have found playing a Half-Orc to be extremely enjoyable and I usually go with that or a halfling when I play with adults. I do tend to play a little against type though, and usually my character is more misunderstood than aggressive. I’ll get more into this later, but that’s also my general recommendation for how a kid can play a Half-Orc.

Since its early beginnings, orcs have been one of the more villainous creatures in the game, often used as a horde of creatures opposing the forces of good. But sometimes, in the midst of all the fighting, there is a pause or a truce. There is opportunity for humans and orcs to cooperate. This gives rise to half-orcs where a creature has both human and orc blood running through their veins. These creatures usually look more orc than human but are equally of both playable races. Half-orcs can live either with orc tribes or in human cities. They are potentially the most common of the uncommon races (with half-elves possibly edging them out depending on the campaign setting). They’re pretty hefty and weigh between 180 and 250 pounds and can be anywhere from 5 to 7 feet tall.

In the basic rules they state that half-orcs tend to have scars. I feel like this is totally optional depending on how you want to play the character. They also mention that these scars can come from them being “a former slave or a disgraced exile”. Out of those two, if you are playing with kids, I absolutely recommend going with disgraced exile. As adults we can be a lot more nuanced in our definition of being a former slave but for kids, just omit that, it’s way too difficult to wrap everyone’s head around. I think a kid can easily understand being someone who made a mistake or didn’t get along with others and was told to leave. But lets not go around having our kids thinking of themselves as slaves, even in fantasy role play. I can’t imagine that is great for child development. It’s descriptions like that, which cause this whole playable race to be problematic in the first place so I am hesitant to recommend the whole slave background to anyone. That, of course, is just my opinion but there you have it.

Orcs are aggressive, warlike creatures who worship the disgraced one-eyed god Gruumsh. Gruumsh is angry and full of rage. This god is powerful enough that the orcs and even some half-orcs feel his calling to war. In essence, this makes half-orcs feel things more strongly than other playable races. They certainly feel rage, especially when fighting, but they also feel sadness quite deeply and likewise can soar to heights on the more positive emotions of joy and laughter. A half-orc truly can feel life to its fullest. This can make it difficult for some half-orcs to control their emotions in public. As a kid, this is quite relatable. Kids feel emotions incredibly deeply. And while a tantrum might come and go in an instant for a very young kid, the emotion is utterly overwhelming. Even for a ten year old kid, when they feel an emotion, it is felt deeply and strongly. Almost any kid can relate to feeling like they could lose control, or feel something that feels bigger than they are. Kids don’t get to control the world around them because adults make the rules. Half-orcs similarly did not create the rules of society or the prejudices in it, but they must react to it. This can lead to a loss of control. The awesome part of playing a half-orc is that when they do feel that emotion, they can channel it into something useful like battle prowess and resilience.

If you are trying to explain a half-orc to a kid, a great example is The Incredible Hulk. There is a guy who doesn’t quite belong anywhere, who feels major emotions and tries to control it but even when he does lose control, he doesn’t hurt the innocent. He cares about people and usually risks his neck to save people. And he also happens to be majorly strong. He’s not the only example of a good half-orc but I think he’s the one I most model my characters after. If you read the comics, it happens over and over that the Hulk is actually trying to help someone but when people who don’t like the Hulk, or are prejudiced against him, encounter him his actions are quickly misinterpreted and then Hulk has no choice but to defend himself and his friends. This act of defense is then taken as aggression towards those already prejudiced against the Hulk. The cycle never really ends. I think it can be pretty interesting for kids to play half-orcs who are really, truly very good at heart but who are assumed by others to be up to no good. The one thing I would say to make an exception to that is with the other party members. They should all know that the half-orc who may look big, strong and intimidating, is really kind, caring and loyal to her friends.

If you do go with the whole, “disgraced exile” backstory for a half-orc character, a weirdly appropriate model is Jar-jar Binks from Star Wars. Jar-jar was just kind of clumsy and not trying to hurt anyone but it was enough to get him banished. I think this works great for kids, no matter what you think of the character of Jar-jar. A half-orc could easily end up in a situation where she is misunderstood and due to her larger and more powerful frame ends up breaking something, on accident, that was precious to the community. Now she has a reason to go on an adventure. She needs to prove she is worthy of her own community. How does one do that? By becoming a heroic adventurer who, through the power of friendship, is able to save the world. That’s exactly what happened to Jar-jar. Well, before he went and messed everything up in Episode II and III but we’ll forget that for the moment.

There are a variety of half-orc names offered in the basic rules and I think those tend to be pretty fitting so I’m not really going to go into any extra recommendations of names for this particular playable race.

Let’s take a look at what the half-orc traits are as currently written

Half-Orc Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a Half-Orc.

Ability Score Increase

Half-orcs are very strong and they also have a strong stomach. For this reason they get to add 2 to their strength score and 1 to their constitution.

Age

Half-orcs mature by age 14 and live to be around 75 but usually not more than that.

Alignment

Here’s another spot where the half-orc description needs some improvement. It says, “Half-orcs inherit a tendency toward chaos from their orc parents and are not strongly inclined toward good. Half-orcs raised among orcs and willing to live out their lives among them are usually evil.” Why though? Why do orcs or half-orcs have to trend toward evil? Half-orcs are as individual as anyone else so there can still be plenty of good half-orcs, or even orcs. I understand that their god is out of favor and is full of rage, but for that reason, I actually think it’s more interesting if they buck the system and trend toward good. Humans are not inherently evil because they are humans but they have definitely waged as much war as orcs ever have, so I really don’t like this description. But, if you want to use your alignment that way, feel free. I still do not recommend having a kid play an evil character though. If nothing else, it is guaranteed that this will cause problems at the table because at some point, the kid who is playing the evil character is going to want to do something bad to someone in their own party. This just causes a mess. Kids can have a much harder time not taking in game actions personally. If Johnny is robbed by Jenny’s evil character, Johnny is going to think that Jenny in real life doesn’t like him. And then it will be up to you as Dungeon Master to sort the whole thing out. Just avoid the headache and make sure the half-orc in the party is good. Again this is just my opinion though.

Size

I’ve stated the height and weight average above but for game purposes you are considered medium size if you play a half-orc.

Speed

Half-orcs move at a speed of 30 feet.

Darkvision

The description in the rules sums this up nicely. “Thanks to your orc blood, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.”

Menacing

Even if your kid is playing a nice half-orc, they can still, when they want to, look frightening. For this reason, you gain proficiency in the intimidation skill. Even if this doesn’t make a ton of sense now, just know that half-orcs can intimidate people easier than some of the other playable races. You’d be surprised how often kids make use of this skill and it certainly can be handy for getting information or trying to get into someplace the characters are not allowed to be otherwise.

Relentless Endurance

This is my favorite feature of half-orcs. When you are reduced to 0 hit points, meaning you would normally be dead at that point, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. Just so you know, a player character can still do everything they normally would with full health, if they have even a single hit point left. That basically means that when half-orcs are potentially killed, they are able to get up and give it one more try before it’s all over for them. They do have to take a long rest to use this again though, so you can basically think of this as a once a day feature.

Savage Attacks

This one takes a little bit of explaining so hang in there with me for a minute. Here’s how this feature is described in the basic rules, “When you score a critical hit with 
a melee weapon attack, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.”

To score a critical hit means that when you make an attack roll, you rolled a 20. (There are some limited exceptions where rolling between 18-20 counts as a critical hit) Once you roll that 20, you then get to roll your damage dice. This is not a D20 but will depend on what class you play and what weapon you are using. For rolling that 20 you get to roll your damage dice twice. So if your damage dice is a D12, you get to roll it twice and add that up to your critical hit damage. But with this feature you actually get to roll that damage dice three times. An example would be a half-orc barbarian scores a critical hit by rolling a 20. Then they get to roll a D12 for their regular damage. Then they get to roll it again for their critical hit damage. Then they get to roll it a third time for the savage attack feature. You add those three numbers together, then add any modifiers that add to the damage and you end up with a major amount of damage.

If that’s still unclear, don’t worry. Just know that half-orcs get to do more damage when they roll a 20 in combat than other playable races get to.

Languages

As a half-orc you get to speak Common and Orc. Orc uses dwarvish characters but doesn’t really sound at all like any of the other languages in the game. It’s a pretty harsh and gruff language with a lot of hard consonants.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Half-Orcs

As I said above, I like the half-orc characters to be misunderstood rather than actually aggressive. Of course, there are tons of ways to play these characters and it’s absolutely up to you how you and your kids should play this. But I think that trending toward evil alignment is going to make it more difficult to manage the table. And that’s true no matter the playable race that is evil. In my mind a good connection point for kids with half-orcs is that strong emotion they feel. It can be really good for a kid to role play getting emotions under control in a positive way. And, that does not always have to mean just in combat. A half-orc might feel frustration at the fact that a wall is difficult to climb. That frustration turns to anger, but the half-orc focuses his anger on the task at hand. Before you know it, he is able to pound footholds into the wall with his axe and he and his friends can climb up. He felt the frustration, he channeled it and he solved the problem. This helps to show kids that their emotions are not invalid but that they should be used in a constructive manner when possible.

The background of half-orcs as written can be a little troubling and tricky, so before letting your kid play one, make sure you have thoroughly read the description and have talked to them about how they want to play the character. I have not read the book yet, but supposedly The Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount has more nuanced descriptions of orcs and other less common playable races. That may be worth a look if you want your kid to play a more nuanced character that is less of a stereotype, but again I have not read it so I can’t say for sure.

Half-orcs can really be a ton of fun to play because they are big, strong and if you play them right, perfectly suited to go adventuring. A lot of kids can relate to imagining themselves big and strong. They’re told that’s how they are supposed to grow up all the time. It’s the whole reason they are forced to eat vegetables, so they might as well get used to being big and strong now. Even if that’s just in their own imagination.

I think that an excellent example here really is The Incredible Hulk. And if your kid wants to be more professor Hulk than rage Hulk, there’s no problem there either. I think a highly intelligent half-orc who wants to learn to solve problems in ways that don’t involve weapons at all, is totally appropriate for kids. It’s whatever you want to make out of it, so tweak it with your kid as needed and have at it.

Next time I will get into the last of the uncommon races in the basic rules, the Tiefling.

After that, before I get into classes, I am going to have something a little special for everyone who reads this blog and likes these posts, so be on the look out for a bit of an announcement.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

skull-splitter metal dice

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 10

D&D Campaign Adventures for Storm King's Thunder - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling, role playing a human, role playing a dragon born and role playing a gnome. Today we are going to talk about playing characters caught between two worlds, Half-Elves.

Half-Elfs are what they sound like. They are half human and half elf. While they carry some of the traits of elves, they also carry some of the traits of humans. In Dungeons & Dragons they don’t quite fit in with human society and they don’t quite fit in with elves either. Oddly, half-elves who grow up in human communities tend to have elvish names while half-elves growing up in elvish society tend to take human names. This isn’t set in stone or anything, and a kid could play a half-elf with either a human or elvish name, depending on what they want.

One of the interesting things about this playable race is that they tend to take on only the better parts of both humans and elves. They are graceful and in tune with nature, like elves, while still being curious and inventive like humans.

A lot of fantasy stories have been written about creatures like half-elves, where there tends to be an internal struggle in the character, trying to understand just how they fit into the world. As far as kids go, there are a couple of ways to look at this. For some kids this will be too much to take in and be able to role play well. Kids don’t have to be great role players to have fun though, so if they want to be a half-elf, my advice is to let them be a half-elf. On the other hand, this type of situation is very relatable to a lot of children. There are kids who have split families and need to understand what their role is on one side and what it is on the other. Divorced parents see this all the time. Rules are different in different households and a different side of a kid’s personality may come out depending on where they are at. The same goes for kids who might be biracial or mixed race who just want to understand both sides of their own heritage. This can hold true for all kinds of situations for kids. They know that they act one way at school and another at home. For some kids role playing something like a half-elf where you get to be on the good side of both halves of yourself can be extremely rewarding. The kid who shows up to obey mom’s rules in one house and knows his other mom is a little more relaxed on the rules at her house still sees himself as a good person in both places. He knows he might have to be diplomatic in certain situations and usually has a pretty good idea what the consequences of acting one way or another will be, no matter which house he finds himself in at the time.

Half-elves are all about being diplomatic. They can walk between multiple viewpoints because that is how they are made. In the game rules it says that half-elves are great diplomats, with the exception of between humans and elves. The reason, so the rules state, is that elves and humans always assume the half-elf favors the other side. I’ll be honest here, this has always kind of bothered me. I don’t see why either humans or elves couldn’t trust a half-elf to be diplomatic. If anything, they should be able to understand both points of view better than either race alone. Whether or not they are good at being diplomatic should really be based on what the character does, rather than who they are. That’s just my opinion though.

The rules say that this playable race is fairly uncommon but they’re not so uncommon that they would be a complete novelty to anyone really. To humans they look elvish while elves think they look human. They usually have the pointy ears of elves but are also able to grow facial hair, unlike elves.

They tend to be around five to six feet tall and weigh between 100 and 180 pounds. In other words, they tend to be average weight and height for a thin human or a somewhat stocky elf.

The rules also mention that half-elves can tend to be wanderers rather than diplomats. They try to find other half-elves to associate with but if that is too difficult they might live off the land as hunter gatherers. Or even blend into a city as a human and maybe even become a thief or swindler. That last one is not my favorite for kids to play unless they are playing the rogue class, which we’ll get into when we go over classes.

Playing a diplomat or a wanderer can be challenging for some kids but if it sparks their imagination, let them have at it. For some kids it’s a great entry point into the game and you’d be surprised at just how creative kids can be at trying to stop a fight before it happens in the game. I will say that if a kid is going to play the wanderer type, you might want them to have in mind that through the course of the game, that wanderer will come to have and depend on friends. The game is collaborative so if you have a half-elf who just wants to be alone in the woods all the time, that can make it difficult for anything to happen to that character. Having that character going from fiercely independent to accepting of a group of friends is really satisfying though and can be seen in tons of popular media.

Some people, and this is mostly adults, just want to play half-elves for some of the game mechanic benefits you get for that. I have no problem with people doing that if that’s what they want. But I will say that I don’t think that’s the best reason for a kid to play this playable race though. If they are intrigued by the idea of being a half-elf and really think it’s interesting, by all means they should play one. But if they love the idea of being a gnome or halfling or whatever but say they want to be a half-elf simply because they get some interesting bonuses down the line, I would discourage that. They can always make a new character later if they end up unhappy but I have just found that it’s better to go with what sparks the imagination than what might add up to a better dice roll.

And with that bit of advice, let’s get into the traits.

Half-Elf Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a Half-Elf.

Ability Score Increase

As I said above, half-elves can be very diplomatic. For that reason you get to add 2 to your charisma score. Half-elves are also partly human, which means they get some fierce independence. For that reason you get to choose two other ability scores and increase those by 1. Which scores a kid might want to boost here will depend on a lot of factors, one of the major ones being what class they play. I don’t have a general recommendation of what to increase here because it really does matter if you are going to be a wizard, or a fighter or a cleric or.. well you get the point. If your kid already knows what class she is going to play, I would recommend she boost the most important ability for that class. For example if you are playing a half-elf wizard, your spell casting is going to rely on intelligence and that’s what you should increase. If you don’t know the class yet, don’t worry about what to boost at this point.

Age

Half-elves grow at the pace that humans do, so they are more or less adults by age 20. The real difference is that they live much longer than most humans and can easily become older than 180 in their lifetime.

Alignment

Honestly, the entry here in the basic rules is contradictory. They talk about how half-elves can make great diplomats yet they say this – “Half-elves share the chaotic bent of their elven heritage. They value both personal freedom and creative expression, demonstrating neither love of leaders nor desire for followers. They chafe at rules, resent others’ demands, and sometimes prove unreliable, or at least unpredictable.” I don’t see how chafing at rules and resenting demands (unless they are unjust) and being unreliable or unpredictable gets you anywhere in diplomatic circles. It’s contradictions like this one that make a lot of Dungeon Masters not want to use alignment at all. Everyone is nuanced in the real world and you might make the right choice in one situation but not in another. So while the rules say that Half-elves trend toward chaotic, make sure that makes sense with the character your kid is playing if you use alignment at all.

Size

As I said above half-elves basically are between the size of humans and elves. For game play purposes your size is medium.

Speed

Half-elves are somewhat fleet of foot but by no means the fastest creature in the game. They get a walking speed of 30 feet.

Darkvision

This is the same as what elves and a lot of other playable races get but it’s still really handy. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Fey Ancestry

This is also something elves get. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep. There are quite a few times that monsters or other enemies might try to charm the characters so having defense against that is pretty good. Defending against magic that puts you to sleep is also helpful, especially if the rest of the party succumbs to one of those spells.

Skill Versatility

You gain proficiency in two skills of your choice. It’s okay if you don’t quite know what this means yet but there are several skills that a player character can have. Most of them are pretty self explanatory, such as stealth or acrobatics. Your kid just gets to choose two of those skills they get to be especially good at. This comes from the human side of the half-elf characters.

Languages

Half-elves are pretty smart so they get to speak common, elvish and one extra language. If you have a half-elf in your party and you know for example that the campaign is all about giants, you might have the half-elf know how to speak giant. It makes for much smoother communication.

There are not any subraces for half-elves in the basic rules. I think this is because you get a hefty amount of bonuses and flexibility in the game mechanics with being a half-elf. For this reason I am not going over any subraces for this entry.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Half-Elves

As a player, I find this one to be tricky to pull off. Lucky for me, I mostly choose to be the Dungeon Master anyway. But kids can really get into this type of character. It will, as always, depend on the kid. If they love the idea of being caught between two worlds, learning to make friends after being an independent loner, or are really into the idea of smoothing over a situation before it gets out of hand, half-elves are for them. They get to be graceful and in tune with nature when they want to be but can also have the impulsiveness and energetic spirit of being human whenever they want. It’s a nuanced type of character and can mean you and your kid really need to nail down what the character is all about before getting all the way into it.

My biggest recommendation on this one is to ask why the kid wants to play a half-elf. If they just think half-elves are cool, that is an awesome reason to be a half-elf. If they say that they are looking forward to the mechanical bonus you get down the line, that may not be the best of reasons to take on this playable race. I like to let kids play whatever playable race they want but I usually want to know their motivation on it because that helps me to be a better Dungeon Master for them. I will say, I do find the mechanical bonus issue to appear more in older kids, usually because they are more familiar with the rules and are quicker with the bit of math that goes along with it. And if they are really insistent that they want to play a half-elf because of those bonuses and no other playable race will do, that’s okay too. You just have to realize the role playing moments might be a bit tougher to come by in that case.

Half-elves can be super interesting and they’re actually one of my favorite type of character to watch adults play. If you watch Critical Role, you know about Vax and Vex and how nuanced they can get. For kids, it can be a challenge, but depending on their situation it may be the absolute best fit.

I hope you enjoyed this post and got something useful out of it. Next time I am going to be back to talk about my favorite playable race to be when I am a player, the Half-Orc. They’re almost the complete opposite of Half-elves which can make for some fun stuff. They do have their issues too so I hope you’ll be back to read what I have to say on it.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 9

Gnome
D&D Campaign Adventures for Storm King's Thunder - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling, role playing a human and role playing a dragon born. Today we are going to talk about playing the smallest and most full of life character race, gnomes.

If you think about gnomes outside of Dungeons & Dragons, a few things probably come to mind. You might be thinking of the annoying little gnomes that Ron, Harry and Hermione enjoyed tossing out of the Weasley’s garden. You might be thinking of the vicious gnomes that show up in Grimm’s Fairy Tales or you might be thinking of the little cutesy lawn gnomes that keep watch over your grandmother’s house. When it comes to D&D, that’s all sort of accurate with the game, except that the gnomes don’t tend to be mean spirited or especially annoying and they can be cunning warriors, excellent wizards or even mighty paladins. On second thought, D&D gnomes are really unlike any of the ones you are probably familiar with. The good news is, I’m here to tell you about playing a gnome and why this can be a great character race for a kid to play into, especially if they love to make jokes or puns.

Gnomes live for centuries. Anywhere between three and five hundred years is average for them. Unlike elves, who tend to take the time to slowly savor the world, gnomes feel like they need to make maximum use out of their time and live life to the absolute fullest extent they can. For this reason, they tend to make great adventurers. They really want to get out int the world and see everything there is to see. If there is a quest to kill a dragon, a gnome will want to go, not for treasure, not for violence, but because they have never actually seen one and who wouldn’t want to do that?

Gnomes also tend to be pretty upbeat and cheerful which can be a whole lot of fun to play both as a character and as a nonplayer character if you have one in your game. I always like to have a gnome I can play at some point in my game and I’ll tell you why in a little bit.

Gnomes have a refreshing take on life because they love to joke around but they are also able to get down to business when the stakes are high. They take well to tasks they set out to do. While some set out to become wealthy, and they have a love of gems, their true passion really is just the experience of life. They do live underground but they are likely to be found outside more often than dwarves tend to be. Gnomes can be found as any of the character classes in the rules but they do make especially good bards, wizards and paladins. They even do pretty well as rogues considering their small stature and the ability they have to sneak around when needed.

Gnomes love to joke, play pranks, and make puns. I am a dad and being a dad means that you are legally required to make a certain number of dad jokes, silly pranks and bad puns per year. I get the majority of mine in when I put a gnome NPC in the game. Why? Well, then it’s not dad telling the joke right? It’s the gnome! Okay, so my kid still rolls his eyes at the jokes but I enjoy it anyway. A gnome is a great comedic vehicle when you need oneand that’s how I use it but of course you don’t need to do that if you don’t want to.

Before we get into all the ability bonuses and stuff you get for being a gnome, I want to take a minute and talk about gnome names. In the basic rules they tell you that gnomes love to have a ton of names. They have so many names it’s hard for humans to keep track of what they should be called. But the gnomes always pick the names that they think are the most fun to say. Now usually I would say just name characters whatever you want, and that’s still true in this case but I am also going to give you another great source of gnome name inspiration. The master of all time at fun sounding names is one, Dr. Seuss. When looking for gnome names, his books are a gold mine. Barholomew Cubbins? Cindy Lou Who? Benjamin B. Bicklebaum? Oh those are such gnome names. And those are ones you have probably heard of. Look for some of the more obscure ones if you need to and I promise you are going to find a name that is fun to say.

Gnome Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a gnome

Ability Score Increase

Gnomes take quickly to the things they learn and they have a long lifespan of experience to draw from. For that reason they get to add 2 to their Intelligence score

Age

As I said above gnomes live 300-500 years or so but they age at the same pace as humans and are considered adults around age 40.

Alignment

If you use alignment in your game, gnomes tend toward the good side. This is pretty good news for the rest of the world because they can be a bit mischievous and like to play tricks on others.

Size

Gnomes are the smallest of the playable races in the basic rules. They stand only 3-4 feet tall and are very light usually coming in around 40 pounds. For game purposes your size is small.

Speed

Gnomes aren’t exceedingly fast but they are not exceptionally slow either. Their speed is 25 feet.

Darkvision

Since gnomes live underground they are pretty used to seeing in the dark. For this reason they get darkvision which means you can see out to 60 feet as if it were bright light while in dim light and in darkness you see out to 60 feet as if it were dim light.

Gnome Cunning

Gnomes can be smart, wise and charming so they get to have advantage on saving throws with these traits when a magic spell using one of them calls for it. Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what that means yet, just know that gnomes are resistant to a lot of types of magic but certainly not all types.

Languages

Gnomes are fluent in common and gnomish. Gnomish is fairly complex due to the fact that gnomes live so long and learn so much but it still uses dwarvish script when written. Other creatures are able to learn gnomish but gnomes don’t necessarily share the language easily with anyone unless they are very close to them.

Subraces

I just discovered something odd when doing my research for this post. I look at the rules that are posted on D&D Beyond for the basic rules. In there they mention two subraces, the rock gnomes and the forest gnomes. However, they only explain the rock gnomes in there. So, in case you want to play one, I have done the research and I can share with you what the forest gnomes are like as well.

Forest Gnomes

Forest gnomes are quick and stealthy. They have a knack for illusion as well. They are also in tune with the forestand the animals that live in it.

Ability Score Increase

You get to increase your dexterity score by 1.

Natural Illusionist

You know the minor illusion cantrip. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for it. Basically what this means is that your gnome can cast a spell where you can cast asmall but pretty convincing illusion. This is a surprisingly useful spell and I have had a lot of interesting role play moments because of the spell so it can be quite fun to have.

Speak With Small Beasts

Forest gnomes love animals and animals love them right back. For that reason, forest gnomes can speak with any animal that is size small or smaller. They have to do it through sounds and gestures but communication is quite possible among gnomes and animals.

Rock Gnomes

Rock gnomes are the most common type of gnome in D&D. They are hardy and inventive.

Ability Score Increase

Because they are hardy, rock gnomes get to increase their constitution score by 1. This just means it’s harder for them to get sick or poisoned.

Artificer’s Lore

This one is a little wonky but it’s cool. here’s what the rules say exactly: Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to magic items, alchemical objects, or technological devices, you can add twice your proficiency bonus, instead of any proficiency bonus you normally apply. Now, I know that sounds confusing but here is the takeaway, when a gnome is looking at magical, alchemical, or technological stuff, they know more about it than others would. The reason is pretty obvious, gnomes live a long time and love to learn, so they know stuff.

Tinker

This one is pretty cool too. Basically a gnome can spend 10 gold and one hour and make a clockwork device. That’s as long as they have artisan’s tinker tools. Most gnomes do so that shouldn’t really be an issue. The device will stop working after 24 hours unless it is repaired. The gnome can also choose to take it apart and recover the parts of it. they are allowed to have up to 3 of these at a time.

If you are thinking that a gnome could make anything with this, that is not quite true. There are only three types of devices that can be made in this way.

Clockwork toy: This is basically a wind up toy that can be in the shape of a bunch of different stuff. The rules set limits but I don’t think you need to restrict it too much unless your kid wants it to be a tank with full fire power or something like that. If you are wondering what use these could possibly be you have clearly not played D&D before. These toys make great gifts to little kids the characters meet, they can be an excellent way to distract an unobservant guard, and maybe most importantly, they can be used to check if the floor has any traps set into it.

Fire Starter: This device produces a miniature flame. It’s good for lighting candles, torches or campfires. Personally, I think this one is less fun than the clockwork toy but it can come in handy when there are no other light orfire sources available.

Music Box: This is just your basic music box. It plays one song when open. It can also be used in some creative ways and as a distraction if done well, but the clockwork toy is still my favorite of the three.

Deep Gnomes

There is technically another type of gnome called the deep gnome or svirfneblin. They live in the underdark, in the same place dark elves live. They tend to still be good, but they have a lot less humor to them. I don’t strongly recommend this subrace for kids but if they really really want to play it, just remind the kid that these gnomes are still kind and good and want to help.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Gnomes

Gnomes can be a huge amount of fun for a kid to play. They get to be kind, caring, inquisitive and have a sense of humor. If you have a kid who likes to tell jokes, play pranks, or say puns, the gnome option is perfect. Even if your kid doesn’t want to tell jokes and all that, but wishes to play a character that loves life, this is an excellent choice. Most kids love life and they are natural learners so they identify well with gnomes.

Of course they can be played any way you and your kid wants them to be played. Maybe they do want to play the only bored gnome in existence. Or one that has zero sense of humor. That’s totally fine, each character is always an individual, just make sure you understand what direction your kid wants to take it when they start out.

As a Dungeon Master, I think gnomes are really fun to play. They can take the most mundane item and give a three hour lecture on it, all while keeping the crowd entertained. This can be a little challenging to role play, so one thing you may want to do is look up some jokes ahead of time. Got one you have been waiting to tell your kid? Drop it on them in the guise of a gnome character and see what kind of a reaction you get. You might be surprised to see that a joke that normally gets a groan will get a laugh in the game. Try to have fun with it. I also think gnomes make pretty good merchant characters. They can go on and on about an item they are going to sell to the party and gnomes tend to be nice so you don’t have the problem of a store keeper who really doesn’t want to be there.

As always, it’s up to you how you do it, this is just the way I like to run gnomes.

I hope you found this post useful and picked up one or two tips for playing in your own game.

Next time we will get into how to play a Half-Elf.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

skull-splitter metal dice

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Ten Speed Press Announces a Cookbook, a Journal & a New Book for Young Adventurers

Hi there adventurers, it’s Slick Dungeon! Over the weekend Wizards of the Coast had their D&D Live 2020 event where they introduced the newest Dungeons & Dragons books, merchandise and overall nerdy glory. While the big reveal was the new campaign book coming out called Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frost Maiden a couple of other things were announced that I am actually more excited for.

In an earlier post I wrote about the cookbook coming out called Heroes’ Feast. I think this will be really fun and the recipes look like they will make a great activity to do with kids.

You can already pre-order this one but sadly it does not come out until October.

The next any age appropriate item was The Book of Holding. This is a journal with some pretty cool art on it that can be used for taking notes about your campaign or just writing your thoughts down.

This one is also available for pre-order but you only have to wait until August 4th for it to arrive. I’m not a huge fan of special journals or anything but if you love D&D this might be nice to put on the shelf.

The thing I am most excited about is the next book in the series for young adventurers called Beasts & Behomoths. This is the fifth book in a series meant to get younger readers interested in Dungeons & Dragons. This one is essentially a monster manual for kids. It should expand on the more unusual creatures found in the game and is a great addition if you already have any of the other books in the series, even if you have the other book about monsters Monsters & Creatures.

What I love about this whole series of books is that the focus is not so much on the stat blocks or mechanics of the game but rather the storytelling aspects of it. This is great for both younger players and people just learning to play. All the numbers in the regular rules can kind of get in the way, so having something like this is a lovely introduction to understand just how fun this game can be. Plus most of these run for between $9-$11 depending on the format you get them in. That’s a huge bargain compared to purchasing the core rule books that can run up to $50 a piece. If you play D&D with kids, I say, don’t worry about buying all those heavy books but you should totally get some of the ones in this series. That’s just my opinion of course but hey, even if you grab these and then get more into the other books, these are a neat little collection to have. To get the new book, you can pre-order it but you can’t get your hot little hands on it until October 20th. I’ll be waiting for my copy on the day, I promise you that.

I hope you are looking forward to this stuff as much as I am. Also, if you follow my blog for movies and books but not D&D stuff, not to worry, my next post will be Dungeons & Dragons free.

Excitedly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 8

D&D Campaign Adventures for Storm King's Thunder - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling and role playing a human. Today we are going to talk about the “uncommon races” and playing a Dragonborn character.

The next few playable races we will talk about in these upcoming posts will be considered, “uncommon”. What do the game designers mean by that? Well, a few things. First, there are some Dungeon Masters who don’t include certain playable races in their campaign at all. If you are desperate to play a dragonborn character and the DM won’t let you, you’re going to want to find someone else to play with. Since this series of posts is assuming you are playing this game with your kids, I leave it to your discretion if you want any or all of these playable races to be in the game. My opinion is that, if it’s in the rule book, it should be allowed, but that’s just me. Another thing set out in the rules as currently written is that some of these uncommon races are less prevalent in the game world than others. While sometimes this can set up for interesting challenges and game play, it can also be an excuse for some DM’s to create extremely xenophobic non-player characters. As adults, depending on how it’s done, I think we can handle this okay. But for kids, my advice is that even if they play an uncommon race, only the villains should really act negatively toward the characters. It’s disheartening for kids who have their really awesome dragonborn character ready to go into a store and gear up for an epic adventure, only to have the store clerk run away from them. My advice for this sort of situation when dealing with kids would be to have the store clerk instead comment on how brave they think the kids’ character is and maybe ask if all dragonborn are like them. Stay positive with kids as much as possible, unless we are talking about the villain and their minions. Of course, this is just my advice and you can choose to play how you want, but that’s how I run it at my table.

The uncommon races in the simple rules are Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc and Tiefling. We’ll go through playing each one in this post and upcoming posts. We’ll start with dragonborn.

If you are not familiar with the game you might be wondering what a dragonborn is. Is that like something born from a dragon? Yep. They as a group were born or created by dragons long ago. But what it basically amounts to is a walking, talking, humanoid dragon who combines the best of humans and dragons. In other words, they are a whole lot of awesome put together.

These dragons don’t have wings or tails but they are scaly like dragons and come in any shade a dragon does. Like dwarves, these creatures are all about their clan. Everything they do is for their clan. Most of these creatures have a nearly obsessive drive to better themselves in everything they do. And they respect it when they see that in others. This makes dragonborn nearly ideal for adventuring because as impressive as they might be with casting a spell, they will themselves be impressed by a warrior who is able to wield a longsword with incredible skill. While dragonborn want to be good at everything they do, they usually pick one thing (typically their class) that they want to excel at above all others. This also provides players with a great narrative for why they go on adventures. It’s not to kill or seek out treasure, but to learn something. Most kids understand this pretty well. They are learning constantly so it’s pretty close territory for them to role play. The other reason they might adventure is to prove their worth to their clan. Kids can relate to this too. You want to do your best for your family and have them be proud of you. Dragonborn are great for role playing this type of situation for kids.

Dragonborn are capable of a lot but also know that they have limits. They actually are not afraid to ask for help. This is great for an adventuring party because the absolute best adventuring parties do one thing well above all else – they help each other. This makes role playing a dragonborn a natural for kids because the only excuse they need to join with others is that they need help or want to help.

There are a bunch of dragonborn names listed in the rules. My only suggestion for these names is that you and your kids agree on the correct pronunciation, especially when it comes to clan names.

Dragonborn Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a dragonborn

Ability Score Increase

Dragonborn are naturally strong and charismatic. They do come from dragons after all, so it’s no surprise. They get to increase their strength ability score by 2 and their charisma ability score by 1.

Age

While dragonborn grow fast, reaching adulthood by age 15, they only tend to live to be about 80. They are not like dragons who can linger for centuries.

Alignment

If you are using alignment in your game, Dragonborn can basically be good or evil. While some can tend to less extremes, it’s just usually not the case due to their dragon heritage. Dragons also tend to be either all in on the good or all in on the evil. My advice here for playing with kids, is if they play a dragonborn, go with lawful good. Their natural tendency to want to help and prove themselves to their clan leans that way anyway and dragonborn can make awesome heroes.

Size

Dragonborn are usually over six feet tall and weigh around 250 pounds. Somehow they are still considered medium creatures but I guess if a Shaq sized human is considered medium in the game rules, the dragonborn can be too.

Speed

The dragonborn walking speed is 30 feet.

Draconic Ancestry

Here’s the most awesome part about being part dragon, there are some draconic elements you get for playing dragonborn. In the rules there is a table that tells you what color dragonborn gets which damage type and breath weapon. For example a gold dragonborn gets to deal fire damage with its breath weapon.

Breath Weapon

Dragons breath fire, acid, ice, lighting etc. And your dragonborn can do that as well. There are a few mechanics to this that I am not going to get into in this post but the breath weapon acts more or less like a spell doing that type of damage would. The only drawback is that you only get to use your breath weapon once before you take a rest. Well, that and the fact that if your allies are in the way when you release your breath weapon they will also take damage.

Damage Resistance

It makes sense to me that if you are a dragon that deals cold damage, you are pretty resistant to cold damage. The same goes for dragonborn. Whatever type of breath weapon they have, they resist that damage.

Languages

Dragonborn get to speak Draconic and common. Draconic can come in pretty handy because it’s one of the oldest languages and is common in spell casting. This makes dragonborn wizards a pretty natural fit for the game.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Dragonborn

Here is what the simple rules say about dragonborn in their sidebar on uncommon races:

It’s easy to assume that a dragonborn is a monster, especially if his or her scales betray a chromatic heritage. Unless the dragonborn starts breathing fire and causing destruction, though, people are likely to respond with caution rather than outright fear.

While I can see why the game designers would say that these creatures can be mistaken for monsters, when it comes to playing with kids, I wouldn’t lean into that too much with one exception. Don’t have the non-player characters think they are monsters unless the NPC is a villain. But one great way to introduce a dragonborn character breaks my rule here. You can have the adventuring party go to investigate some disturbance where the villagers in the area think a monster is causing destruction. But then when the characters get there, they see a dragonborn who is stopping a monster from doing something terrible. The players might assume for a moment that the dragonborn is bad but they quickly prove themselves by not only defeating the monster but then asking the rest of the adventuring party if they need any help. Kids can relate to trying to do something good when an adult assumes they are up to no good. A dragonborn may have learned this lesson far too often as well, and knows that the quickest way to make friends is to do a favor for someone. That makes for a great start to an adventuring party.

Of course, you don’t have to stick to my suggestions, you can play the game any way you want, I have just found that method of introducing dragonborn to be really fun in the past.

Next time we will get into playing a Gnome (one of my favorites for kids to play).

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Slick’s Guide to the Upcoming Dungeons & Dragons Releases

D&D Campaign Adventures for Storm King's Thunder - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I just sat through the product reveal panels for Dungeons & Dragons Live 2020 and I wanted to share my thoughts with you all. Several products were announced, some you are probably aware of if you are into Dungeons & Dragons. I will go through each one that was talked about today, and because I like role playing games with my kids, I’ll also let you know which ones I think will better for kids than others. I listed them below in the order they were announced, so that’s the order I will talk about them.

  1. Baldur’s Gate III – Video Game

What is it?

This is the third game in the Baldur’s Gate series (not counting spin offs) and it looks like it is going to be ground breaking for role playing video games. They were able to incorporate the inspiration system from the fifth edition rules, as well as provide reaction opportunities. There was about an hour of demo game play shown today. The game looks like it will be gorgeous and I am definitely excited to play it.

Is it for kids?

Now, to start with, let me say that for the purposes of this post I am defining kids as anyone under 12 years old. While some kids can handle a lot of more mature content, parents will want to know that this game looks like it will be quite bloody and violent. Considering that the previous games in the series were rated T for teen, this will probably be good for teens. I would recommend doing your research on the game as a parent before purchasing, in case it hits any elements you are not comfortable with your children playing. I would be surprised if it got even close to anything like God of War or some of the more mature games out there, but I could see there being some innuendo in addition to the violence. So, again, do your research on this one prior to purchase.

2. Icewind Dale: Rime of the FrostmaidenAdventure Book

What is it?

This is a campaign adventure set in the Icewind Dale area of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. It was described as a horror adventure that takes place out in the frozen cold of the Sword Coast where adventurers can expect to fight, yeti’s, the eponymous Frostmaiden of Icewind Dale, and the weather itself. It will be an adventure for levels 1-12.

Is it for kids?

If you go by the standard age range of Dungeons & Dragons ages 12 and up. It’s also a horror campaign so definitely expect some dark elements to come into play. However, Icewind Dale does tend to be a setting that is pretty cool for younger kids to play in. It was also mentioned that there are several adventures in here that might be useful as a sort of mini-campaign. My guess is that some of those will be better for younger kids than others. I would read before purchasing if you are getting this for kids.

3. At the Spine of the World

What is it?

This is a comic book adventure that spins off of the adventure book above. It will introduce new characters in the setting that will have a series of adventures for readers to follow.

Is it for kids?

Considering that the publisher, IDW, publishes everything from My Little Pony to 30 Days of Night, it’s hard to say what the age range is going to be here. My hope is that it is for readers around 9-12 but I wouldn’t count on that.

4. Stranger Things & Dungeons & Dragons

What is it?

Like the title says, this is a crossover between the show Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons. As a huge fan of Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons, I could not be more excited for this. The cover alone is enough to get me on board in about a tenth of a second.

Is it for kids?

Have you let your kids watch Stranger Things? If you have not, then definitely watch the show before you buy the comic book. If you are okay with letting your kids watch the show, I don’t think that there will be any problem with the comics. Do be aware that Stranger Things is full of dark horror moments and those can sometimes scare children. If you kids can handle that and you have seen the show, this seems like a great way to get them to continue to read.

5. Heroes’ Feast

What is it?

This is a cookbook inspired by the magical words of Dungeons & Dragons. It has more than 80 recipes and is categorized by the cultures found in D&D, Human, Elves etc. In case you don’t know, Heroes’ Feast is actually a spell in the game, where an adventuring party can partake in a feast prior to battle and it gives them some bonuses to make the battle a little easier. I think it’s actually a perfect name for a D&D cookbook.

Is it for kids?

This might actually be the thing that was announced today that I am most excited for. While obviously, a cookbook may or may not interest kids, and there are definitely recipes that are not going to be kid friendly (like the cocktail recipes) I think this is a long overdue book. When I want to play D&D with kids we usually have snacks during our session. I’ve often wished that I could have something that is a little more reflective of the environment they imagine themselves in. I can’t think of anything more fun than cooking something together with your kids, then going and enjoying your elven bread as your elf character takes a moment to meditate and refresh herself. And with all this time most of us have had to up our skills in the kitchen, I can’t wait for this one. I can’t see any reason this would not be suitable for kids to read, but obviously supervision will be required when it comes to making the recipes.

There were also several minifigures revealed today, but I’m not really going to get into those in this post. They look really cool but buying minis is up to parents and how they feel about that. Some people love them, but the game is absolutely playable without them.

Overall, I was a little disappointed that there was not more announced for younger kids, as it’s always nice to introduce a new generation to the game. While I love stuff like Critical Role, it can be pretty hard to find D&D stuff that is good for kids to play. It’s not that it can’t be done, it just takes more effort, and I was hoping to get a few things that would help with that this year.

If anything else gets announced over the weekend, I will post about that here as well.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 7

D&D Campaign Adventures for Storm King's Thunder - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf, role playing an elf and role playing a halfling. Today we are going to talk about the easiest and hardest lesson all of us have to learn, how to be a human.

You would think that role playing a human would come naturally and easily to everyone. After all, we are all human (I assume) so it should come naturally. On the other hand, if you play a human that means you have the entirety of human experience to draw from. That’s a pretty large pool of experience. This can be hard to manage if you are an adult. I have good news for you though, it comes pretty naturally to kids. Kids understand what humans are because, well, they are also human (most of the time anyway). Some kids are just not into being an elf, dwarf, dragonborn, etc. There’s no problem with that because those children can play humans. The challenge for them might come into how humans relate to the other creatures in the game. It’s pretty easy for a human to forget how old and elf is, or for them not to understand that the reason a dwarf is angry at them has to do with something their great grandfather might have done.

Even in the game rules as set out, humans are everywhere. While there might be a few places you find few or none, most places in the game settings tend to have humans. If you want to experiment with that and have it be that humans are their own little civilization far apart from the rest of the creatures in the game, you are welcome to do that. The opposite is true, you can have humans just be everywhere all the time. That’s the way it usually is in my game. While orcs or elves or whatever might have a general attitude towards humans, each individuals’ opinion of them will vary. Not all orcs and humans have to hate each other, even though that’s the typical way it plays out. In fact it usually is the case that some humans and orcs get along because otherwise there would be no half-orcs. How you want to play that is up to you.

In the rules humans are not as specialized as the other playable races we will talk about. There’s not one skill that you can say, all humans are really good at that thing. So instead, they get to have all of their stats increase by one instead. There is a way you can change that with a variant rule where humans would instead be better at two abilities, one skill, and take what is called a feat. Feats are some kind of awesome thing that you can get to do in certain situations. Some dungeon masters absolutely hate these and will ban them from their game. Personally, I think they are pretty nifty, depending on what they are, and I love letting my players use them, but that’s just me. Just know that if you decide you want to let your kids take a feat, you should read what it is and see if it will completely interfere with what you think should happen in the game. Make sure you let your kid know why you are or are not letting them take that feat. For the purposes of the rest of this post, I am going to assume that you are not doing the variant rule but if you need to know more about that variant rule, check the text box in the basic rules, look at the feats, and then treat the human in the same way we did all the other playable races we have talked about.

Before I get into all the score increases etc., let me just give a word on names and locations that are listed in the rules. There is a whole section of names, and made up locations in the entry on humans in the basic rules. If you want to use those, absolutely knock yourself out. Personally, as a dungeon master, I have a really hard time keeping track of what human might be a Tethyrian vs a Reshemi vs an Illuskan etc. They give a bit of description and location as well as name suggestions for each human area in the game. Here’s what I do with that when I am playing with kids. I ignore that section. I mean, I do sometimes take the names out of those sections if I need to name a character or something but I don’t memorize all the rest of it. I figure that humans are everywhere and I can name my human any name from any human I want to. While playing with adults it might feel silly to name a character Jeff, just Jeff, kids will not mind this sort of thing at all. It’s all to your taste as a dungeon master. One thing I will recommend when it comes to names, and this goes for any non-playable character you have, don’t make the name one that is too difficult for your kids to pronounce. What those names are will vary kid by kid but it can be frustrating when they are trying to talk to someone and can’t say the name. If you do go with a name that is tough to say, maybe consider a nickname they can be addressed by as well.

One more note, some people will say that wanting to play a human fighter is boring and the most basic thing you can do in the game. Here’s why that is wrong. First, wanting to play a human fighter doesn’t mean you are boring, it means that… you want to play a human fighter. You know what’s wrong with playing a human fighter? Nothing if that’s what you want to play. Some of the mechanics are easier than other race/class combinations in the game but there’s still plenty of cool stuff to do with a fighter. Don’t discourage a kid from playing that if that’s what she wants to be in the game.

Now onto the traits

Human Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a human.

Ability Score Increase

Your ability scores increase by 1. That’s all six scores. Most other races only get one or two things to increase here.

Age

Do I really have to explain how humans age? I mean, think of humans. They are somewhere in that age range. Playing a 100 year old human is going to look a lot different than playing a 15 year old human.

Alignment

Humans come in all variations of good to terrible people. As usual, my recommendation here is to let kids play the hero. If they are really wanting to play an evil character, I would recommend telling them no in this instance. Most kids want to be the hero and having an evil character makes that very difficult for the rest of the people playing.

Size

Again, do I need to explain human size here? People come in shapes from Danny Devito to Shaquille O’neal. There is no right or wrong shape to play so let the kids have their characters look the way they want them to. For fame rule purposes, whether you are very small or very tall, your size is always considered medium.

Speed

While you might make the argument that humans can be faster or slower than this, the movement speed for humans is 30 feet.

Languages

Humans are able to speak Common and any one other language. Humans do tend to know a little bit of everything so if you want to have a human character speak more, that’s fine if that’s what you want to do. Also, as I have said before in earlier posts, if you have a campaign that is going to be dominated by one language, Giant, for example, make sure that your kids characters speak that. If you have a human character, that’s usually a good character to have speak any language needed.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Being Human

Kids are generally pretty good at being humans. They understand human emotions and attitudes because they have felt them. What can be tougher, really, is how kids who play humans relate to kids who play other playable races. Try to have kids remember that humans don’t live that long compared to other playable races. The other thing that humans have going for them is that their institutions outlive them. They might not know all of the history of something that has happened in the game world, but humans make written records, long lasting structures and organizations that exist for centuries. For that reason, humans can find answers to things they were not around for. Have kids who play humans lean into this if possible. When an elf comments how a human is gone in the blink of an eye, they might reply that the organization they are working for will be there long after the elf is gone.

As always, it should be played more or less how the kids want to and how it works best for you. You can feel free to use all the tips I gave here or ignore them all, just do what works best for your kids.

Next time we will start getting into what are called, “uncommon races” starting with Dragonborn.

Until then, please, practice being a good human.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 6

DriveThruRPG.com

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf and role playing an elf. That makes today, Halfling day!

I’ll be honest here, unlike elves and dwarves and humans, there are just not a lot of examples of halflings to base your characters on. If you have read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, those are essentially your guides beyond what is available in Dungeons & Dragons. And there is a lot in common with both the Halflings in D&D and those that Tolkien created. I’ll go through what that typically means in a role playing sense but in my mind, I tend to just think of them as shorter, longer lived humans, who mostly prefer staying at home. So essentially, me when you get right down to it. These characters are pretty good for kids to role play because most kids can relate to a reluctant hero and being dismissed or ignored because they are too small to take much notice of.

One difference you do see between D&D halflings and Tolkien hobbits is that halflings in D&D can be nomadic. They still want to be at home for the most part, it’s just that home can move with them. Also, the D&D halflings are actually, shorter on average than hobbits are. They tend to be about 3 feet tall and weigh 40-50 pounds.

You might also be wondering why in D&D they are called halflings but in Lord of the Rings they are called hobbits. Let’s just say that it was a long drawn out legal issue and therefore in D&D we play as halflings but it’s totally okay if in your mind you pretty much think of them as hobbits.

Halflings tend to be cheerful and friendly. They are loyal to their friends, kind and sharing. They also tend to blend into just about any society or culture. In addition, they are good at stealth and hiding because, well, they are small and everyone underestimates them.

One of the tougher to solve riddles to me if you play a halfling is why they want to leave their homes. Sometimes it is because they are different from other halflings and don’t really belong. Others it is because they have an adventurous heart. To me the most interesting reason, though, would be that they want to protect their homes from something that threatens it. This is why Bilbo and Frodo leave their shire and it’s still a gripping narrative to latch onto even if you are a kid. It’s easy to understand how you would want to do that and how difficult it might be to set out in the first place.

If you are playing with a kid, I usually would recommend playing to the most obvious of halfling characteristics. They are curious, and love their homes, they love their family and friends, and sometimes, they want a little adventure, even if they may not be aware of it in the first place. That being said, there is no restriction against playing against type. You could play a halfling who just can’t wait to leave home, is hardly ever hungry and simply doesn’t like most people. It’s all in how you want to play it and I think halfing is one of the playable races that tends to be pretty flexible. The only problem is that like I said above, there are not tons of examples to point to. So if your kid wishes to be a halfling that is a little different, I would say have them think of a human character they like and then just give them the halfling traits.

Speaking of which, here they are.

Halfling Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a halfling

Ability Score Increase

Halflings get a Dexterity increase of 2. If you don’t want to have to do complex math with your kids, just let them know that halflings are fast and flexible. Dexterity is one of the six abilities their character will be good at.

Age

A halfling is an adult at 20 but can live to be around 200 years old. So there is a lot of life in these characters and depending on what age you play, they may have a very different outlook than a human.

Alignment

Halflings tend to be lawful good. That means they are going to follow rules and laws the majority of the time. But don’t feel like you or your kids have to stick to that. Sometimes, breaking a law, is a good act and that doesn’t make the halfling bad if it happens.

Size

Like I said above halflings are about 3 feet tall and don’t weigh a lot. They are pretty much human child size and can easily be mistaken for just that, especially on first glance. Mechanically speaking, in the game, your size is small.

Speed

Shorter legs means it’s a little harder to keep up with humans and elves. These creatures walk at a speed of 25 feet. Basically they can keep up with a party of humans and elves, but they are going to be at the back of the line.

Lucky

This is one reason any kid might choose to play a halfling. They are lucky. Who needs to be able to wield a heavy sword when you can just be lucky enough to be bending over at the right time when someone attacks you? And then lucky enough that your frying pan accidentally knocks them out. In most situations in the game, when a halfling rolls a 1, they get to reroll the die. They have to take the new number but it at least gives them a chance at something better than total failure.

Brave

They might be small but never let it be said that a halfling lacked in courage. They tend to be brave in circumstances that would leave most other people cowering. Because of this, when they have to roll to see if they are frightened, they get advantage. Don’t worry if you don’t know quite what that means yet. Basically, when something happens that could impose the “frightened” condition on a halfling, they get to roll the dice two times and take the higher number.

Halfling Nimbleness

If you are a halfling and you are up against any creature that is bigger than small, you get to move right through their space if you want to. Considering the fact that almost all monsters are at least medium size, this can be used to huge effect (pun intended) on the battlefield.

Languages

Halflings speak common and well… halfling. Halflings tend not to teach anyone other than a halfling the halfling language so that second language is only useful in pretty specific circumstances. Also, it’s generally not a language most other players take as one of their optional languages. Just be aware that there is a halfling language and halflings speak it.

Subraces

There are only two subraces for halflings in the basic rules which is kind of nice because that makes it easy to choose.

Lightfoot Halfling

This subrace of halflings is a little more spread out and just a bit more adventurous so you tend to encounter them more often. Because they are affable and friendly, and not an uncommon sight to most other creatures, they get to increase their charisma by 1. This comes in really handy when you are trying to sweet talk a dragon out of it’s treasure or trying to get the best deal from a merchant on a hunk of cheese.

In addition, these halflings are really stealthy. If there is a creature that is bigger than the halfing, they can hide behind it. And depending how intelligent it is, the halfling might even be able to hide behind the creature they are fighting. There has been more than one halfling who was able to fell an ogre because the ogre didn’t realize there was a halfling riding on its back.

Stout Halfling

Some say that these halflings have some dwarven blood in them. That might be why the special things they get are very similar to what dwarves have when it comes to resisting poison. They get to increase their constitution by 1. They also get to have advantage on saving throws against being poisoned and have resistance to poison damage. In other words, it’s pretty hard to poison these creatures.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Halfling Characters

Usually this spot is reserved for me telling you what I think works best for kids in playing whatever race they chose. In this case, I am instead going to give you a reading/viewing recommendation. Our model halflings pretty much come from The Hobbit in which our halfling plays the reluctant hero called to grand adventure and The Lord of the Rings in which our halfling plays the reluctant hero called to grand adventure in order to save the world. I highly recommend reading The Hobbit book to and with your kids at any age. It’s a beautifully crafted and fun story. The Lord of the Rings is extremely more complicated and for older kids is amazing. But it can be hard to wrap your head around if you don’t have the vocabulary for it. Both of these stories are essentially the hero’s quest story. Even if you have never read these stories, you’ve seen the hero’s quest. It’s what Percy Jackson does, it’s what Will in the Ranger’s Apprentice series does, and it’s what Luke Skywalker does in Star Wars. Here’s the one major difference between those series and the ones with halflings; the halflings don’t want to leave home but the others do. That’s it, it’s that simple. Now like I said, the halfling can be played a bunch of different ways so you don’t have to stick to what I recommend but if you want an iconic halfling to base a character around, choose between Bilbo and Frodo. Sam’s also great for his loyalty but there is a reason he is not the main character. He’s not called to adventure, he’s called to his friend. And for a kid, that can also be an absolutely wonderful motivation for his character to leave home. Let your kids imaginations go as far as they want for these creatures, and then just remember that they have specific halfling traits.

Thanks for reading the post. I hope you got a couple of good tips out of this and I would love to hear how your games with kids go. Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Next time I will be writing about how to be human. It’s definitely something we all need a little practice with.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!