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

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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

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Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 4

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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 rules, went through the Introduction of the simple rules with you and walked you through the first section of the simple rules. Today I am going to talk about the first step in creating a character for the game which is choosing a race. I will also talk about role playing a Dwarf.

There are a ton of choices when it comes to choosing a race for a Dungeons & Dragons character. It can be overwhelming for a kid, especially if you aren’t familiar with what each one is. The most common race in D&D is by far the human race. This is easily relatable to any human because, well, we are all human. But, for kids this may be dull. In each of my posts for a while, I will be delving into the separate races listed in the basic rules and talking about any unique challenges or benefits when it comes to role playing with kids. There’s really no limit on what kind of creature a player can be in the game, but the ones most commonly played do have a set of rules around them. Like anything in the game, you can change and adapt them to suit your campaign.

One thing I would recommend as a Dungeon Master when playing with kids, is to make sure to let there be all kinds of races show up in your world. The kid doesn’t have to play a fantasy race, like a gnome, to enjoy the fact that they are there. Just like in the real world, in fantasy settings, the larger the city, the more kinds of people you are bound to find there. So, even if none of your players are non-humans, be sure to include some characters that are. There can of course be sections or areas that are dedicated to say, only dwarves, but make sure that lots of creatures get encountered by the kids. It can be fun to play into what is expected with these characters but it can also be really fun to play against type. A half-orc that cries whenever it gets a paper cut? That is great and can make for a ton of fun role playing opportunities. Just keep in mind that whatever, “race” the character belongs to is not the only definition of that character.

No group in this game should be a complete monolith, even though certain races tend to have certain traits as described by the rules. The same thing goes when considering gender. A boy does not have to role play a male character and a girl does not have to role play a female character. And although, this comes up less when it goes to role playing with kids, this goes for sexual orientation as well. Just be mindful of how you want to play but just as in real life, there is no one right way to be someone.

Before we get into role playing a Dwarf, we need to talk a little bit about the mechanics of Racial Traits. The rules as set out, give each race some things that are common to members of that race. This doesn’t mean you have to use it, it’s just shorthand for role playing.

Briefly I will talk about Ability Score increases, Age, Alignment, Size, Speed, Languages and Subraces.

Ability Score Increase

When making a character, everyone has ability scores. These were listed in the simple rules and in the last post I wrote for this series. It’s one of six things that a character can be good at. These include Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Just know that depending on what Race your kid decides to play, they may be better or worse at some of these things. As I go through each Race, I will tell you what is usually the increase that the character gets just for being that race. If you don’t want to have to do a lot of math in your character sheet, you can just let the kid know that their character is good at x because y race is usually good at that. Then make sure to mark off on the character sheet what thing the kid’s character is good at. (P.S. let me know if I should do a post with a walk through of a character sheet as I know those can be confusing)

Age

In the simple rules, they tell you at what age each race is considered to be an adult. It’s very likely your kid will want to play an adult, but it’s also fine for their character to be a kid if that’s what they want. Just use common sense though. If an Elf is supposed to mature at 100 years old but your kid plays one who is fifty, they are not going to be as strong or as experienced as an older Elf. Same goes for any race, relative to their maturity. If your kids want to play an older person, depending on how old they are, they may be less strong than they would have when they were younger. Generally age is not too much of an issue when playing with kids, as long as no one is trying to play an infant or someone who is extremely elderly. I would give broad leeway to letting kids choose the age of their characters.

Alignment

If you spend about five seconds researching Dungeons & Dragons you will see that there is a huge argument about alignment in the role playing community. Some people love it, some people hate it. It’s one of the aspects of the game that can be totally irrelevant at times and at times can make for great role playing opportunities.

Each race is supposed to have a tendency towards a certain alignment. If you want to keep that, feel free. If you want to just ignore alignment, sure but I will give one word of caution when it comes to kids. I would not recommend letting kids play into any evil alignments. It gets too morally gray and messy. For adults, this can be hugely entertaining. And while kids are not necessarily thinking about the world in strict terms of good and evil, it can be difficult for them to navigate in a role playing setting.

I am sure that there are plenty of kids who would be fine with playing a chaotic evil character and have a blast doing it and have no problems outside of the game with it. But I recommend against it for two reasons. One, the point of the game is to get to be the hero of the story and that’s what most kids want in the first place. That’s pretty difficult when you are committing acts of evil in the game. Two, it can cause huge problems with the other players. If you have two kids who are being, “the good guys” and one who is, “the bad guy,” you are just inviting arguments. To me it makes more sense to simply, not consider alignment at all, and kind of operate on the assumption that your kids want to be heroes. As they get to be older, say 12 and above, then it makes more sense to bring alignment into the picture.

If you have read this and still have no idea what alignment is or why it is there, don’t worry. It’s not the most essential part of the game and it’s just there to kind of inform how a particular character might act in a given situation. That will change with every individual player anyway, so don’t stress too much about this part.

Size

People come in all shapes and sizes. This is also true for fantasy creatures. Most of the races in Dungeons & Dragons are between 4-8 feet tall. There are a couple of smaller races that tend to be 2-4 feet tall. The main thing to know is if your character would be small, medium or large. This is strictly a height measurement for the game. You could have a large halfling, but that would be extremely rare and, honestly, I’m not sure how I would role play that. I guess like Buddy the Elf from Elf? Anyway, there are some rules that matter when it comes to size. It’s much harder for a halfling to wield heavy weapons and it’s a lot harder for a Half-Orc to hide. This doesn’t mean those things can’t be done, just that they are more difficult. For this part of character building, I would tend to stick to the book descriptions on size more for the rules that go along with it than anything. If you explain to a kid that halflings are small, but that they can easily hide from an ogre, they are going to understand that pretty quick.

Speed

This I would more or less strictly follow if you are planning on using miniatures in your game. If you are doing only theater of the mind, it’s a little less vital but you still need to know if the character can move a lot or a little each turn. Even if your kid can’t count past ten, you can have them know if their character is faster or slower than other characters.

Languages

This one can be a little tricky with kids. Each race has a particular set of languages that they can speak and write. These can be added to and changed around with the personalities and background section of the rules. Most of these are pretty obvious, a Dwarf speaks Dwarvish and an Elf speaks Elvish and a Halfling speaks Halfling. The player characters will also be able to speak common which is just the default language everyone talks. If you know Star Wars and that people speak different languages but almost everyone speaks basic, you can think of it like that. Common is essentially the basic way everyone communicates. However, if you plan on having a campaign that is just chalk full of Giants and you know that Giants don’t necessarily speak common, you need to do one of two things. You can either, just assume everyone in your campaign speaks basic so that you can role play with your kids or you can make absolutely certain that one or more player characters speaks Giant. With very young kids I would go with the first option, and with kids from say 7-12 I would go with the second option. Older kids can get into the fact that they may not necessarily understand everything that is said by a non-player character but younger kids might just get frustrated by that fact. It’s up to you how you handle this but think about whether even having different languages matters in your campaign.

Subraces

Some races have subraces. In other words you could have a dwarf that is a hill dwarf or a mountain dwarf or something like that. Mostly this is just a bit of flavoring for role playing but it can be something to consider when building a character.

Role playing a Dwarf

Dwarves are bold and hardy. They tend to be tough warriors and skilled with their hands. They can live up to 400 years, so they take the long view when it comes to human friends that may only last a quarter or that time at best.

Dwarves can be stubborn and set in their ways, not just because that is who they are, but because they have been around a while and have a pretty good idea of what works and what does not. They also tend to remember it if you wrong them. Likewise they remember if you aid them. It usually is a good idea to be good to a dwarf.

Most dwarves are part of a clan and while they welcome outsiders who are friendly to them, there are things that dwarves never share. For example, dwarves who are good at crafting weapons may never share those secrets for fear that in the next century, humans might go to war with dwarves. Male dwarves tend to have beards and be as prideful of them as the hippest of hipsters. To cut the hair of a dwarf beard is not highly recommended.

Dwarves tend to be loyal to their friends but you really have to earn that loyalty. They are slow to trust, especially from a human point of view but they can make excellent allies.

Dwarves tend to become adventurers for a myriad of reasons, from just wanting to see more of the world, to finding a specific item for their clan.

I think the most typical trope you see about dwarves in fantasy role play is that they have a Scottish brogue. I for one, can not come even passably close to this accent. So when I role play a dwarf, I just tell people that they speak in a Scottish accent.

There are pretty handy suggestions for names in the simple rules for dwarves, just make sure you and your kids agree on how to pronounce it.

Dwarf Traits

There are a few things you get for being a dwarf.

Ability Score Improvement

First your constitution score increases by 2. Or, if you don’t want to do the math, this is one of the things that dwarves are good at. That means it’s hard for them to get sick or poisoned, which can be greatly helpful in the game.

Age

Dwarves are mature at around 50 years old and live to be between 350-400 years old.

Alignment

Dwarves tend to be lawful but again see above for my thoughts on alignment. They also tend to have a sense of fair play so they are mostly good.

Size

Dwarves are between 4 and 5 feet tall. This means they are medium sized for rules purposes.

Speed

Dwarves walk at 25 feet. That means for each turn that is how far they go. This is on the lower side of average so dwarves tend to be a little slower than some of the other races in the game.

Darkvision

One of the cool things about being a dwarf is that you can see in dark and dim lighting. If it’s dim light to everyone else, it’s bright light to you. If it’s dark to everyone else, it’s dim to you. That effect extends out 60 feet. But when you are in darkness, you can only see shades of gray and not colors.

Dwarven Resilience

Another great thing about being a dwarf is that you have advantage on saving throws against poison. And, you have resistance against poison damage. We’ll get more into what those things mean in later posts but just know that dwarves are pretty hard to poison.

Dwarven Combat Training

Dwarves are good at using battleaxes, handaxes, light hammers and warhammers. In other words, they are pretty deadly in a fight!

Tool Proficiency

Dwarves can use smith tools, brewer’s supplies or mason’s tools. These are all tool sets that can come into play during a game but don’t necessarily. It’s up to you if you really want to get into these too much with kids.

Stonecunning

Dwarves know about the history of stonework. There are some mechanical rules behind this but my rule is just that if a dwarf is looking at anything carved of stone, there’s a really good chance they know all about it.

Languages

Dwarves speak common and Dwarvish. If you do go with using languages one thing to note is that a lot of the other languages in the game tend to use Dwarvish characters so it is usually good to have someone who can read those symbols.

Subrace

There are technically three subraces in the simple rules if you include Duergar. These are basically evil dwarves who live underground so might not be the best choice to role play with kids. It can work though if you make one of them a misfit who wants to go to the surface and do some good in the world.

Hill Dwarf

As you might expect, these dwarves come from the hills. These dwarves get to increase their wisdom by 1 and their hit point maximum increases by 1, as well as increases by 1 with every new level. To boil that down, these dwarves are wise and hardy.

Mountain Dwarf

These guys are a little stronger than the other types of dwarves so they get to increase their strength score by 2. In addition, they have proficiency with light and medium armor, meaning they can use a lot of different defensive options to increase their armor class (how hard it is for an enemy to hit you).

Slick Dungeon’s tips on Dwarf characters

Now that you have read all that, feel free to throw as much of it as you want out the window. You can play a dwarf who has never done a days hard labor in his life if you want. You can be a dwarf who really loves climbing trees. If you are the Dungeon Master, I would recommend that you tend to have the dwarves be in several settings and have them all behave differently as people but maybe keep one thing in common with all of them. For my games, I tend to keep it that dwarves take huge offense to anyone insulting their clan or to anyone with the audacity to trim their beards. Other than that, I try to play them as individuals, but it’s up to you how you want it to be. If your kid is role playing a dwarf, I would have them look up dwarves in the rules, decide what they like about them, and keep that. Toss out the rest and fill it in with personality for the character.

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 role playing an Elf.

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 3

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 rules and went through the Introduction of the simple rules with you. Today I am going to talk about the step by step process of creating a character. This is the first chapter of the simple rules and is a good outline of what we need to do in order to have a character. We won’t be able to go into everything in this post alone so keep an eye out for each section as we go along.

CHAPTER 1: STEP-BY-STEP CHARACTERS

Here’s the list of things you need to do to create a character according to the simple rules.

  1. Choose a Race
  2. Choose a Class
  3. Determine Ability Scores
  4. Describe Your Character
  5. Choose Equipment
  6. Come Together

Additionally this chapter talks about what happens beyond 1st level.

If you ask me, some of that list seems obvious and some of it seems pretty difficult. The first time I read Dungeons & Dragons rules, I was scratching my head for a while and had to read through everything, go back and figure it out again. I mean, equipment sounds easy right? I get that characters need stuff. But what’s an ability score and how do I figure it out? Why am I describing my character after choosing a class and race? Aren’t those things descriptions of my character? And then of course, what are the levels, what do I do with that? This can all be overwhelming and confusing. I am hoping to make this a little less painful and also, let you know the parts that are a little more flexible with kids.

As usual, the secret to all this, is right in the text at the beginning of the chapter. Here’s the beginning of the first chapter of the Simple Rules. “Your first step in the Dungeons & Dragons game is to imagine and create a character of your own. Your character is a combination of game statistics, roleplaying hooks, and your imagination.”

Don’t let the word statistics scare you off there. The point is, you (or your kids) need to just imagine what type of character you want to play. You could simply have them describe their character to you and go on and play, without even figuring out the game statistics. You’d just have to make judgement calls on whether or not it is reasonable that their character accomplished something.

Still, most of us want rules and structure around this game. So let me go into brief detail about each of these sections. I’ll also give you my advice on whether or not to focus on each section the first time you play with kids.

The main thing to remember here is that this game is about storytelling so make sure it’s a story your kid wants to help tell. The best way to do that? Make sure they get to make a character they really want to play.

Let’s dive into the steps.

CHOOSE A RACE

This one seems obvious to me, but then again I have played D&D for a long time. Your kid needs to decide what kind of a character they are going to play. As it says in the chapter, “Every character belongs to a race, one of the many intelligent humanoid species in the D&D world.”

You might be thinking, great but what does that mean exactly and what are the choices? Okay so for this game you get several options as far as race goes. Now, I am operating under the assumption that you are playing in a fantasy type setting. However, if your kids are more into superheroes or whatever, you can adapt these races to fit your narrative. For example, Elves are graceful, wise creatures and Dwarves are bold and hardy. So just think of characters from the world that you are imagining and fit those to that description.

The races that you have as options in the simple rules are as follows: Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Human, Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc and Tiefling.

Some of those probably seem obvious and you’ve likely seen some portrayal of them in popular media. Others might just seem like someone typed a jumble of letters in a keyboard and hoped for the best. I’ll give a super brief description of each one here but in later posts we’ll take a deep dive into each one.

Dwarf– This is pretty much what you would guess. Strong, hardy folk who love to mine, drink ale and fight. They are tough and they are difficult to poison. They can be a really fun race to play in the game and most kids can wrap their heads around this one.

Elf- Again, this one seems pretty straightforward. If you have seen Lord of the Rings, you have a pretty good idea of what an Elf is like. They are kind of mystical, very graceful, often wise but they can also be lethal when called to action.

Halfling- There are not a ton of Halfling examples to point to outside of The Hobbit, so if you are thinking of Bilbo or Frodo Baggins, that’s exactly what Halflings are all about. They are small, live for a long time, and most of them are not big on traveling everywhere all the time. That said, there are always a few that want to go on an adventure and Halflings can be really fun to play.

Human- I don’t think there is much to explain here. Humans do have the advantage in this game of sort of being a jack of all trades and can learn stuff easier than some of the other races listed, so that’s something to keep in mind when choosing a human. They do have the disadvantage of not getting racial bonuses in the game mechanics at the start, but like all real humans, they can improve over time.

Dragonborn- A what now? Yeah, Dragonborn you may not be familiar with. These are basically dragons walking on two feet. They don’t have all the characteristics of dragons but they are scaley, they look like they are tough (because they are) and they can in fact use a breath weapon that does a type of damage that an actual dragon from the game would do (just on a smaller scale).

Gnome- These folks are small and energetic. They’re even smaller than Halflings and are endlessly curious. They love to live life and are enthusiastic about just about everything and that can make them excellent adventurers.

Half-Elf- This is a combination of an Elf and a human. They walk between two worlds but are never entirely accepted in either. This can be a little hard to role play as a kid, but if they want to be a little bit elf, and a little bit human, this is a great race to choose. The fact that these characters don’t quite belong anywhere makes them very good at being diplomatic and understanding the needs of others.

Half-Orc- Unlike Half-Elves, the Half-Orc stands out in a crowd no matter where they go. They look like Orcs and many people mistrust them. This could be due in part to the fact that a lot Half-Orcs are very strong and quick to anger. This is a great race to play if your kid wants to be a fighter.

Tiefling- Again, this might be one you have never heard of. These creatures look like demons but in humanoid form. They have a very tough time fitting in to society because everyone assumes the worst at first glance. The fact is though, that there are plenty of good Tieflings who just want to have an adventure.

Like with everything in D&D, you don’t have to play to the classic type on these. If you want to play an Elf who is clumsy, go for it. A dwarf who can’t stand being in a mine? Sure thing, no one is stopping you. Let your kids have fun with the race they choose.

CHOOSE A CLASS

To make this part easy, just think of this as the job that the character does. Like with races, I will do a post with a deep dive into each of these.

Here are the options you have for class: Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlocks, and Wizard.

I’ll again give you a super brief description of these.

Barbarian- Barbarians are excellent fighters, they tend to like being outdoors, they love to be in the thick of battle and are quick to anger.

Bard- Bards are entertainers to the core, be it through music, poetry or some other means. Bards are excellent at supporting other characters with their magic and can make the whole party better at anything they are trying to do.

Cleric- Clerics get their strength through the gods. They can wield powerful healing magic or deal devastating damage and they are imbued with divine magic.

Druid- Always in tune with nature, Druids never try to claim control over it. These characters use natural forces and natural magic to accomplish their goals. One of the neatest things about this class for kids is that some of them can change into animal forms which makes for an endless amount of role play opportunity.

Fighter- Yes, this is what it sounds like. Fighters are good at fighting. There are a ton of different options for how you fight, but all fighter are, well… good in a fight.

Monk- The strength of a Monk flows from within. Unlike fighters, most Monks don’t use weapons but they can pull magic out of themselves. If you have seen any of the best of the Bruce Lee movies, you have a great idea of what a Monk is and can do.

Paladin- Paladins are bound by oaths to stand against the forces of evil. They are the closest to knights of the round table that this game gets. They try to do the honorable thing, whatever way they interpret that. They are capable of great fighting and strong magic and are a highly playable class.

Ranger- Rangers roam the wilderness on the hunt for monsters that threaten the lands. They tend to be loners and isolated but never forget the people they fight for. They are very good at surviving in the wild and are great at hunting and tracking.

Rogue- Rogues are stealthy and skillful. They are good problem solvers and pick things up quickly. While not every rogue is a thief, a great many thieves are in fact rogues. They are excellent for sneaking into a lair and dealing massive damage through their sneak attacks.

Sorcerer- Sorcerers are gifted with magic through a number of methods but unlike wizards, it’s not from book learning. You can’t learn to be a sorcerer, you either are one or you are not. They are fantastic at magic spells and can do a great many things, however, the magic can sometimes go a little astray and cause damage to themselves and others. This is a very fun class to play because of the unpredictability of their magic.

Warlock- Warlocks make pacts with supernatural beings to gain knowledge of magic. They are beholden to these beings and the role play potential with this class is enormous from that fact alone.

Wizard- The most traditional of magic users, this class learns from books and a natural talent for magic how to cast spells. Think Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter and you have a great idea of a wizard.

DETERMINE ABILITY SCORES

To me this is the hardest part of making a character and when it comes to playing with kids, the least important. For now, my advice is this. Understand what the ability scores are, and have your kids just choose one of them that their character is good at.

So what are the abilities that there are? Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. I’ll give you the two second take on each one and like I said, just have your kid choose one that their character is good at.

Strength- Just what it sounds like, how strong you are.

Dexterity- How nimble you are. Can you dodge a sword blow? Can you you dodge under a falling rock before it hits you? Then you have good dexterity.

Constitution- This is how hardy you are. Can you eat anything and never get sick? Is it tough to poison you? Then you have good constitution.

Intelligence- This is basically your book smarts. You want high intelligence if you are a wizard but anyone can be intelligent if they put enough effort into it.

Wisdom- This is your life experience. You might not be educated in the traditional sense, but you can tell when someone is trying to fool you.

Charisma- This is essentially how charming you are. An important note on this one, is that charming doesn’t always mean kind. In Harry Potter, Voldemort is charismatic because he has many followers that do what he says. If you want to be able to influence people, for good or bad, Charisma is important.

DESCRIBE YOUR CHARACTER

This is taking the character you have so far and giving her personality and a back story. I’ll go into the options on this more in a later post but the possibilities here are as endless as storytelling itself. This is the spot where imagination really helps. That being said, there are some short cuts you can use in the simple rules to drive your imagination.

CHOOSE EQUIPMENT

Each character is going to need stuff. A swordsman needs a sword, a wizard needs a spell book and materials to make spells with. Some of the equipment is automatically given based on a characters class and background but there are options to buy the equipment using the gold in the game. I’m obviously not going to go into every item that can be purchased but the simple rules have a handy section for that. I would just say, try to make the equipment purchases be something that makes sense for the character and the type of adventure you are trying to have.

COME TOGETHER

This is just having the players form up as a team. This is usually done through role play with the Dungeon Master at the beginning of a campaign. There are an infinite number of ways this can happen so be creative here.

GET YOUR KIDS EXCITED ABOUT PLAYING

This is not an official step in the rules but I highly recommend it before playing.

In my next posts I am going to start going through each race in more detail. But before I end this post, I wanted to point you to some resources to help your kids start to think about what kind of character they want to play. Lucky for us, Wizards of the Coast, the company that publishes Dungeons & Dragons has a bunch of resources for this.

I’m not pushing you to buy these but if you do decide to and order through my site, it will help out the site a ton. If you are considering buying these books, consider purchasing through this post, it will not cost you anything extra at all.

I will eventually do a review of each one of these books but suffice it to say that both of these are great at getting kids excited about playing D&D.

Warriors and Weapons is a primer on characters you can play and the kind of equipment they can use. It has great pictures, easy to digest information and is a really fun read, even if you are an adult.

Wizards & Spells is dedicated to the magic users and beings in the game. It’s a great little primer on magical characters and creatures and will give kids a good idea of what can be done in the game with magic.

I actually think the whole series of these books are great but the two above are the best for learning about characters and what they can do. Even if your kids can’t read, the illustrations convey a ton of information so I highly recommend them.

Next time I am going to take a deep dive and delve into the world of Dwarves. Until next time, I hope you all stay safe and have fun. Roll high!

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 2

It’s your friendly DM Slick Dungeon, back again with a few tips for preparing to play Dungeons & Dragons with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kids, why 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 rules.

Haven’t read the rules yet? No problem, we are going to start at the beginning of the rules and talk about the Introduction which includes Worlds of Adventure, a little bit about How to Play and Adventures. I’m going to pull out the key ingredients from those sections that will make gaming with kids fun and easy.

Introduction

The first sentence of the rules says, “The Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game is about storytelling in worlds of swords and sorcery.” Notice how they say it’s about storytelling? That’s the emphasis here. A lot of kids will absolutely love sword and sorcery worlds. But not all kids. We’ll get more into this later but if your kids love robots and can’t stand knights of the round table stuff, this game can still be for them. My recommendation here is that whatever your kid is most into, that’s what you want to set your world in. It’s fine if rather than barbarians running around, you have a bunch of ponies making friends with each other. (They do have a different game for that if you want but we’re not talking about that one here) The point is to have fun and tell a story. What stories do your kids love? Those are the stories they will be into. It can be a show they watch, a book they read, or something completely original that you make up based on thoughts in your own head.

The next part of the intro goes into a long description of the surroundings followed by comments made by players about what they want their characters to do. For teens and adults it’s a great description and works well to demonstrate how DM’s and players can go about playing. For kids, it’s way too much description.

Unless you have kids who are really into fine details, describing the location should be relatively brief. You want to point out any important points, especially things where their characters might do something. The clue in this is the player comments. One player wants to look at the gargoyles. The other one is trying to check out the drawbridge. As a dungeon master you probably already know the gargoyles could be more than statues waiting to attack, or whether or not the drawbridge is a trap. If you run D&D with kids and you want to describe a castle that has gargoyles and a bridge that their characters should check out, I would do it like this. “You come up on a big castle. It has a rickety old drawbridge and some creepy looking statues that look like gargoyles. What do you want to do?” That’s going to keep from overloading them with unnecessary detail while also highlighting the things they might have their characters do. And for kids, sometimes they will need more of an A or B option than the open ended what do you do? In this case you might even suggest that some things they could do are, get a closer look at the statues or the bridge. When you start out, I would go with minimalist descriptions. but if your kids get into it, you can definitely make it more as time goes by. Just test it out a bit and see what works for them.

The next part of the intro has the player characters making checks with the dice. Do give your kids the chance to role the dice often. They will likely enjoy the feel and action of rolling, but don’t make it the main focus of the game. The point is the story, so if it’s something that their character can even reasonably do, just let it work. We’ll get more into when and when not to roll dice later in this series of blog posts but my rule of thumb is, if the kid is getting kind of fidgety and could use the distraction of a dice roll, call for one. If not, keep the story going as much as possible, as long as they are contributing.

The next part of the intro talks about the difference between a player and a Dungeon Master. Other than the cool title, the main thing to know is that the DM is the describer of the situation and the decider of the rules. And that’s pretty much it. The players get to be the heroes, you get to provide the world in which they are heroes.

They go on to describe a campaign. I think the easiest comparison is in a television series. An episode of a television series would be a session of game play. That is, it’s a short bit of the story. The campaign is the entire season. And just like some shows can have more than one season, some campaigns can go on longer than others. For now. you don’t need to have a full campaign figured out. What you’ll need most in the coming weeks is a good amount of material for a session. But not yet. For right now, you just need to know the difference between the campaign and the session. So again, one session is an episode and a campaign is a season.

The next thing I want to highlight in this section is vitally important to having a good understanding of the game. “There’s no winning and losing in the Dungeons & Dragons game– at least not the way those terms are usually understood.” Okay so a few things here. Kids can get really black and white and will want to know if they, “won” almost every session. If they had fun, they won. If you had fun, and they had fun, everyone won. Yes, they can win a combat or defeat the big boss of the campaign and they might think of that as winning. If they do, that’s fine. But it’s not like Monopoly. This is cooperative storytelling, not a winner takes all game. If they lose a combat, they can also take that poorly. In that instance you will want to remind the kids that there is no real, “winning” or “losing”. You can even point them to the rule book and show them that is exactly what is printed on the page. This is one of my absolute favorite things about this game. It’s not about beating someone else, it’s about imagining yourself doing incredible things, along with a bunch of other people also imagining themselves do incredible things.

One note I have here about the section on winning and losing. It says that some characters might come to a grisly end and that maybe the rest of the adventurers can revive that character or the player can change to a new one. With kids? Don’t do that. Don’t kill their characters. If they want to change characters, that is totally fine, just figure out a way to incorporate the new character but if you take nothing else from this post, just never, ever, kill a kid’s character. It’s devastating to them. Just don’t tell them that you will never kill their character.

Worlds of Adventure

This section is cool to read but there is really only one key ingredient you need to pull out of it when playing with kids. “The worlds of the Dungeons & Dragons game exist within a vast cosmos called the multiverse… Within this multiverse are an endless variety of worlds.” Did you catch that? You can literally set your D&D world anywhere. Want it to be a fictional place where there is a weakling prince who rides a big cat and transforms himself into a powerful warrior by saying some magic words? You got it. Want your world to take place where there are glittery vampires who are obsessed with one average high school student because of the way she smells? No problem. (I might not recommend that one for kids but whatever floats your boat) Want to set your world where it’s the future and there is a robotic boy hero that flies around a modern city, helping citizens? There is plenty of room for you to do that. Now, you might need to change some of the “monsters” that are available in the simple rules, but you are completely allowed to do that. This really is why I think D&D is an awesome game for kids. There’s not a lot of limitation imposed on it.

Now if you are overwhelmed and you feel like, there is no way you can make all these adjustments and come up with your own world, don’t worry. Also, if you are thinking, but I love the classic D&D stuff, I want my kid to fight a dragon and go in a dungeon, also don’t worry. There are modules put out by Wizards of the Coast that you can use that make it pretty easy to have a story to tell with your kids. You might still need to make some adjustments but you don’t have to start from scratch.

The next part of this section just tells you how to use the rule book so I am not going to go over that. We’ll go through section by section until we have made it through all of them.

How to Play

This section has a lot of good information in it and sums things up nicely. However, it can be a little daunting for someone who has never played before, kids included. I’m going to pull out what I think is important here.

The first part that is really useful is the description of the pattern that is used in game play.

They list it like this.

  1. The DM describes the environment
  2. The players describe what they want to do
  3. The DM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions

They don’t add lather, rinse, repeat but they might as well have. That’s actually a really good summary of how games should go. Tell the kids where they are. Let them tell you what they want to do. Decide if they can do it. If it’s a maybe, have them roll dice. Decide if the dice rolled high enough for it to happen or not. Narrate what happens. Do it over again.

I don’t have a lot to add here because they pretty much nailed it on the first try, whether you play with kids, adults or someone in between.

They next go over the dice. I did that before so I am just going to say, if you need some dice, check out Dice Envy. They make really good dice.

Next they talk about rolling dice and adding modifiers. This may or may not work for your kid. I’ll get into how I do it later on, but if your kid can’t do addition and subtraction, can’t count past 10 or are very math averse, adding up bonuses, modifiers and penalties can be a real chore and feel like homework. This is a section you may want to minimize as much as possible, and you can still make the game work without a lot of that stuff. As you kid learns more math and understands more of the game, you can add this stuff in.

Here is their description in brief.

  1. Roll the die and add a modifier
  2. Apply circumstantial bonuses and penalties
  3. Compare the results to a target number

In terms of younger kids, you are going to roll the dice, not worry about modifiers, apply bonuses and penalties but as a DM you should be doing that, and compare the results to a target number. That target number is generally going to be what tells you if the player fails or succeeds.

The whole point is to figure out if the player does the thing they are trying to do. So, I feel like the third step here is what is really important, and why we can get away with fewer modifiers.

They then get into Difficulty Class and Armor Class but we’ll talk about those further along the rules. It’s just a way to figure out how tough something to do is.

Advantage and Disadvantage are the next topics. I think this system is great, and really good for kids. Basically, there are some situations where you will have the players roll twice instead of once. If they have advantage, they get to pick the higher number. If they have disadvantage, they have to choose the lower number. It’s also a great way to reinforce counting. This calls for doing it with a D20 but if your kid can only count to 10, I have a really easy solution. Use a D10 instead. They still have the 50/50 shot of succeeding most of the time, although I know, the D20 changes the probability mathematically (depending on the situation), but we’re talking about younger kids here. They just need to know if what they tried to do worked or failed.

The rest of this section leaves you with two rules that you really should know, even if they don’t make total sense right now. Firstly, specific rules beat general rules. I can give you an example here. Generally, players cannot fly. Specifically, if a player has a magic spell that says they can fly, that character can fly, even though others can’t.

The last rule in this section is Round Down. This is pretty straight forward but it comes up more often than you might think. If at any time, you are dividing a number and you come up with a fraction, round down, even if the fraction is greater than one half. It takes some getting used to but if you see a fraction, just round down.

Adventures

This section starts off by talking more about the whole idea of heroes adventuring in a shared story, like those in a television series as mentioned above. They talk about longer and shorter adventures. One rule I have for kids is this, the adventures are short, the heroes are long. That is you can use the same characters as many times as the kids want but keep your session short. Less is more.

Then they talk about the three pillars of adventure.

  1. Exploration
  2. Social Interaction
  3. Combat

Exploration can be really fun for kids but it can get tedious because it sometimes takes a lot of time and description. Like I said above, keep the descriptions brief and expand as needed.

Social Interaction can be really fun. It’s where you get to act as the characters that the kids are talking to. If you are able to ham it up, and be goofy, your kids will loooove this. If you don’t feel like you can do this and it’s embarrassing , that’s okay, every Dungeon Master has felt that way at one time, Matt Mercer included. It’s not strictly necessary for you to ham it up and be silly, but try it and you might find yourself getting really into it.

Combat can be tricky. You need to know what your kid is comfortable with. Some kids are just going to want smash, slash and destroy stuff. If you and your kid are okay with that, no problem go for it. If you need to tone it down, that’s something you will have to work on. There are tricks for this and I’ll get into it when we get to the combat section of the rules. But for now, just know that if you are pretty sure that your kid (or anyone who might be listening in on your session while you are playing) would be horrified to hear that he just chopped off a creature’s head and threw it’s agonized body down a well, don’t describe that. You can always make it more later as they get older.

Combat also has the most rules around it (maybe with the exception of magic) so it’s something you probably are going to need to simplify both for kids and to make yourself a little more sane.

The next section talks about Magic. This is a subject that’s a little too broad to get into here but suffice to say, there are special rules for magic and as the Dungeon Master, what you are going to need to know is what the spell should do. Most of the time the name of the spell gives a clue but not always, so we’ll go over in more depth later. And yes, your magic might actually be, the arc reactor blast that comes out of a super suited chest plate instead of what is written in the rules, but you can still use the same idea of the spells.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post and found something or other of value out of it. I’m really excited about the next post I am going to be doing because we are going to make some characters and this is finally, finally, a step where the kids can participate!

Introductorily yours,

Slick Dungeon

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6 Role Playing Games for Kids You Can Get Right Now for Under 10 Bucks

Hi everyone. Right now there a lot of families stuck at home looking for something to do. You can play Monopoly for the millionth time, you can watch television, you can read but it’s all getting rather routine. So what’s something you can do instead? It’s an excellent time to try some kid appropriate Role Playing Games. I have listed below several that I think are great fun and great for kids.

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

Hero Kids Fantasy RPG

This is a fantasy based RPG that only uses two 6 sided dice. It has simple mechanics and has heroes for both boys and girls to play. It only takes about 30-60 minutes to play so kids are not too likely to get bored. The ages are for 4-10 year olds so if you have young kids, this is a great way to get them introduced to fantasy role playing. And this includes a pre-written adventure called Basement O Rats (I love that title) to get you started right away.

All you need is the PDF version and a set of six sided dice to play. For the PDF it’s $5.99 but if you want to get the whole thing, PDF, Soft cover and Black and White book it’s discounted right now at $11.99. It’s a great investment if you have young kids.

Amazing Tales, Complete Kid’s RPG

The neat thing about this game is that if you purchase it, it comes with four sample settings to place your games in. This doesn’t come with a complete pre-written adventure though, so although it has a lot of great stuff in it, you will have to make up a story for it to work. It’s easy to learn, but requires a little bit of pre-planning before you jump right into it with your kids, so read through first. They give you story seeds to get the idea going and you can just take it from there. It’s pretty imaginative so young kids tend to like this one a lot.

Again for this all you need is one 6 sided die and the PDF. However, they do recommend using a set with one 6 sided die, one 8 sided die, one 10 sided die and one 12 sided die for the best play. You can get the PDF for $5.95. The full set is a bit more expensive at $26.45 so I would recommend getting the PDF first and see how your kids like it before you go all out on the full set.

Maze Rats

I almost want to say this one is more for parents than kids, but kids will like this too. It’s a little more complicated than the above options though, so I would say in the 9 or older range. It’s basically a condensed version of an older set of D&D rules but very easy to read through and follow along, with a bunch of great tables to roll on for characters, magic etc. This is just the rule set though, so it does not contain an adventure to play. You will need to use the rules here to make one up or buy one of the adventures for it.

This only comes in PDF from and is priced at $2.99, so buying and adventure to go with it is not too much of a blow to the wallet.

The Alchemist’s Repose

I couldn’t leave you hanging on Maze Rats when there is a really good, easy to use one page dungeon you can get to go along with it. Plus it has fungal elves, programmable robotic guardians and alchemy gone awry. Kids love that kind of stuff. (And so do I). It’s really accessible and quick to figure out, although there are lots of problems to solve and you don’t necessarily have to just do endless combat. Although that’s fun too!

This one only runs you $1.50 so definitely worth the price of admission.

Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures

The great part of this one is that you basically roll on tables to create the characters and to make up the scenario of the adventure, so there is virtually no prep work. Although, like with any game system, I definitely recommend reading it before playing with your kids. There’s a ton of supplemental stuff you can get for this game if it turns out you love it but you just need the basics and a set of gaming dice to get going on this one. Again, this is probably for kids who are at least 9 or so since there is a bit of reading required here. It’s good for older kids and adults too though, so it will last you a good long time.

This one is on the pricier side of this list but totally worth it at $7.99 This one is a zip file rather than just one PDF though, so make sure you have a way to open it before spending the money.

Deadball: Baseball with Dice

My Grandfather used to call any time with no sports on, “the void”. He was a huge baseball fan. Deadball is going to be great for any kids who love baseball and are totally bummed out by the fact that there is no spring training going on right now. Obviously, you need to know a few things about baseball for this to be any fun. If you understand basic stats like batting average and ERA. If you are a baseball fan, that’s no problem but even if you are not, you can still play this game by reading through the rules. And the rules allow you to be any team in history, made up of any players you want. Or you can roll for your own team to make this work. It does require a set of RPG dice and it has basic and more advanced rules, depending on how you want to play.

The suggested price for this is $10.00 but it is a pay what you want so you can get it for less or more. Personally, I think it’s worth the $10 but only if you are a baseball fan.

If you want to get any of these, just click on the images above. or if you want to search for your own, click on the banner below.

If you try any of these games out, I’d love to know how they went. Have any other favorites I should know about? Let me know in the comments!

Gamely yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 1

Hello again, it’s me your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon. Today I want to talk to you about how to prepare yourself to DM with kids. Don’t know what a Dungeon Master is? No idea how to play this with kids? Not to worry, I have some tips and advice for you.

A couple things before we get started. These posts will be for the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. If you are new to the game that might not mean much to you but it’s important to know that there are different editions and that they have different rule sets. Fifth edition is especially flexible for kids because you can be a total beginner and pick it up pretty quickly. Most of the emphasis is on the narrative rather than number crunching so it’s better for kids in my opinion. Also, it’s the current edition that is out everywhere and is super popular with the masses right now.

First. let me start by saying that if you already know how to play Dungeons & Dragons and have been DMing for years, bear with me, this is going to look pretty familiar. However, I may have some tips for doing this with kids that you haven’t considered so it might be worth a read anyway. I am going to give you a few steps on how to prepare yourself. This will take some effort on your part but you can do it.

Know what Dungeons & Dragons is and is not

Dungeons & Dragons, aka DnD is a tabletop role playing game. It’s a shared narrative story where one person, the Dungeon Master, narrates the circumstances and referees how the game plays out based on a set of rules. It’s not a video game. It’s not story time (it’s a shared story where everyone participates). It’s not something every kid is going to want to do either. My first and most important bit of advice is this, never make a kid play Dungeons & Dragons if they don’t want to.

There are some adults out there who love role playing, or just want their kids to get in on this fad that all their other friends are playing. While I think most kids will love this game, given the opportunity to play it, if they are forced to when they don’t want to, they are going to walk away in frustration and no one is happy. And this is important, this includes in the middle of a session.

Nothing will frustrate a kid more than when they get bored with something and an adult forces them to carry on anyway. By that point you have lost them. And then you, as the adult are also frustrated and want to give the whole thing up, thinking that this kid is never going to be into this. That might be true. But you might just need to wait a few years after you blow it to try again. My advice? Less is more with kids. Leave them wanting a little more if you can, but don’t get upset if they decide they are done for now. Don’t take it personally and just give it some time.

Most of us who play Role Playing games understand what is called, “The Social Contract.” This is basically an agreement that everyone who is at the table to play is there because they want to be there. And that they will participate and, you know, not be jerks while playing. This is pretty easy for teens and adults to understand and if someone violates the social contract, everyone at the table knows it. With kids, especially young kids, this is different. I’ll go over how to set a social contract with kids in a later post but for now, remember this, if it doesn’t go great the first time, or the kid gets bored and leaves, you still have a good shot at bringing them back for more. If you force a kid to stay when they are over it, you are done and good luck getting that kid to come back again.

Know who does what at the table

Experienced Dungeon Masters, you know how this goes. For all you noobs out there, the people at the table are pretty straight forward. The Dungeon Master leads the game, knows the basic outline of the story and makes judgement calls based on what the characters are doing. The DM also controls the Non-player Characters (NPCs). Basically anyone the players meet that are not each other.

The rest of the people at the table are Player Characters. They get to invent and pretend to be the heroes of the story. Most kids are going to enjoy this role waaaay more than being a Dungeon Master. That’s not to say that there are not great kid DM’s out there, it’s just that most kids want to be in the action, doing the thing, rather than be the one looking up rules.

If a kid really wants to be the Dungeon Master, you might consider doing a short session with them where you basically DM together. Let them roll the dice, let them make some decisions but you are the one driving the story. If they love doing that and want to take over more from there, just help them along the way, depending on the age of the kid. The older the kid, the more likely they can handle actually being the Dungeon Master. Personally, I would say for the most part until kids are around 12, let them be the players.

Know the dice

Okay, really experienced game players are going to think this one is silly but we all had to learn this at some point. I am going to go over the dice, pictures and all just so you know what they are. You may or may not use all these dice depending on two things. 1. The age of the kid and how high they can count. and 2. What their characters are. You as the DM will probably use most of the dice at some point but there’s a couple that really are more important than others. I am going to show you the dice, lowest to highest. Basically, in the rules you will read that a situation calls for something like 2D6 + 2. What that means is that they want you to take two six sided dice, (you know like in Monopoly) and roll them. Then take the total and add 2 to it. But, kids don’t necessarily know which die is which. So here it is in pictures. Also, just a tip so pro-gamers don’t jump down your throat, the singular of dice is die. So if you are rolling 1D4, you are rolling a die, not a dice. People will call you out if you say it wrong, so teach your kids early.

D4

Top Read D4
Bottom Read D4

The above are D4’s. They are four sided dice shaped like pyramids. The tricky part about these is you can have either top read or bottom read D4’s. I gave you an example of each. Do you need to know which is which? Not really. Here’s what you need to know, can you read the number as it would be printed on a page? If so, that’s your result. This die is usually used to determine damage for the smallest weapons in the game.

D6

The D6 hardly needs an introduction. You’ve used this kind of die before in almost any normal board game that uses dice. This one is used for determining damage done by spells and weapons.

D8

The D8 can be read by seeing what number lies flat on the top. Kids will mistake this sometimes for the D4 or the D10. This die is used for determining damage, depending on the kind of weapon or spell involved.

D10

Again you read this die by seeing what number lands flat on the top. Depending on how good your kid is at counting, this might be your big die to use most often. Experienced gamers will use the D20 as the most commonly rolled die BUT if you kid can’t count that high, stop here. I’ll show you how to adjust your game to use nothing higher than a D10 in a future post. In most games this will determine damage done from specific weapons. But if your kid still needs to learn to do some counting, this is also going to operate along the lines of what the D20 die does.

D12

The D12 is mostly used for battle damage. Any barbarian in the game will LOVE this die because they use it all the time. Like the others you read it by seeing which number lands flat face up.

D20

The D20 is any table top role players favorite and most hated die. Why? Everything good or bad in the game comes down to how well this sucker rolls. Again you know what the result is by seeing the number that is flat on the top. This determines everything from who goes first in combat, if you can succeed dodging a falling rock, to dealing damage to a sworn foe. It can sometimes be used in mundane situations too, like finding out how many potions a merchant has on stock to buy. It’s the essential die in the game and it does help if your kid can count to 20. If not, we can still use the D10 for that but it’s going to take some adjustment.

Percentile Dice

Percentile dice are sometimes called for in the rules. You don’t have to have ones like the ones pictured above. In the ones above there is one, the one that has two digit figures on it that you use for the tens spot and one that only has single digits that you use for the ones spot. You can use two D10s instead as long as you know which one is going to be for the tens spot and which one for the ones spot, and don’t change them. Most often, I see these rolled on a table in preparation for the game rather than during a game but some instances can come up where you need them. To roll a 100 on these, all the numbers need to show up as 0. So if you have the kind like pictured above, it would read 00, 0 and if you use two D10s it will show 0, 0.

Know the rules

I’ve told you my first rule, don’t force a kid to play when they don’t want to. I’ve told you who is who at the table. I’ve shown you what the dice are. Now it’s time for you to do some work. You are going to have to learn some rules. But wait, those books are big! And expensive! I don’t know if I want to invest in all that before I play with my kids. To that I say, you are right, and no problem, you don’t have to buy the books. There are free online resources you can use. I am going to link them for you right here in this post. We’ll be starting with the simple rules, rather than the three core books. If you want the three core books, Dungeon Master’s Guide, The Player Handbook and The Monster Manual, more power to you. I love those books but if you are starting play with kids, simpler is better.

I expect that after you see the simplified rules you are still going to say, but Slick, that is a lot of reading! Well, yes it is. You are not wrong about that. My plan for this blog is to go through the simple rules with you to help pull out the key elements to allow you to play Dungeons & Dragons with kids. Not everything in these rules is necessary for kids (or even adults) and they can be adjusted. The rules are more of a framework or guideline for how to play rather than everything being set in stone.

When you go to the link to look at the simple rules, if you look around you will see some information about how the game is structured, how you create a character and how to run an adventure. Read as much of that as you can, even if it doesn’t make sense right now or if you think you can’t get a younger kid to understand it. For right now, we are in the prepping stages so the best thing you can do is to inform yourself but don’t tell a kid you are going to start playing tomorrow unless you are really ready to do that. Give yourself some time to absorb the information. Also, not to self promote too hard here but come back to my blog and like I said we will go through the basic rules. I’ll give tips on character creation for kids, how to adapt things so they are more simplified and even point you to some cool stuff that might make your kids more interested in playing.

Come on, Slick enough talk, give us the rules already!

Here you go! Simple Rules for Dungeons & Dragons 5e

Read those and come back to my next post where we will talk about some good guidelines about setting up a D&D world for kids.

Critically 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!

P.S. Just gotta have the core books? You can get them here.

Dungeon Master’s Guide

Player’s Handbook

Monster Manual

Kids Kill Monsters – Why Kids Should Role Play

In my last post about Role Playing, I argued that parents should play Dungeons & Dragons with their kids. Today I am going to lay out why kids should role play. The posts after that will begin to show you how I role play with kids and some good strategies for preparing yourself to play with them.

What exactly is a Tabletop Role Playing Game?

In case you don’t know, a tabletop role playing game is usually played over a table. There is a Game Master or Dungeon Master who leads the narrative of a story. The rest of the players at the table create and play characters that act within that story. There are different rule sets for different games. Some are definitely easier than others to learn and play. For the purposes of these posts, the game I am going to focus the most on is Dungeons & Dragons. It’s the most popular and commonly known of all of the RPG’s and is extremely flexible, making it perfect for kids of almost any age to play.

Should kids play Dungeons & Dragons (or other tabletop RPGs)?

You can probably guess that my answer to this question is a resounding yes. But don’t worry. I am going to give you some reasons why kids should play this game.

Imagination

Let me start with the obvious. Kids have huge imaginations. If you don’t believe me, ask any kid who is eight or under to tell you a story, any story. They can go on for hours about their favorite TV show characters, things they did on the playground, reasons their little sisters stink, or tell you all about some new species of butterfly they dreamed up. Role playing games let that imagination out.

When you play Dungeons & Dragons the whole point is to tell a story and it’s structured in such a way that kids can just roam free in a massive world in their own heads. They get to be the heroes of the story and feel good about the things they make up. It encourages dreamers and in point of fact, there are not enough dreamers in the world. We need kids to keep their imagination healthy. Dungeons & Dragons is a good, safe way to do this.

Socialization

The next reason kids should play this game has less to do with imagination and more to do with a vital life skill. Socialization. Kids playing this game learn how to socialize with others. That’s true whether they are playing with other kids, adults, or a combination of the two. Unlike a simple game of pretend, there are some rules about when you can do something. This helps kids to learn how to talk to others about what they are doing and be aware of what others are doing. It helps them learn to play cooperatively with other members of their group. And that can still be true, even if you are playing one on one. The Dungeon Master will almost always have at least some characters that the kid playing will need to get along with in order to accomplish a goal. While a game of pretend is extremely healthy for a kids imagination, a game of Dungeons & Dragons is healthy for their imagination and their empathy. That’s another thing we can always use more of in this world.

Problem Solving

Dungeons & Dragons also helps with problem solving skills. The game is set up so that there is almost always more than one way to solve a problem. There might be ten different ways to approach a nasty looking Ogre, from trying to attack it to offering it the hand of friendship in order to get the magic item the kids are looking for. That’s not to mention all the ways in between those extremes. Dungeons & Dragons constantly puts problems in front of kids and says to them, “What do you want to do?” The kids can experiment to see what works. They’ll quickly learn that one way of solving a problem doesn’t work for all problems.

Reading

If your child is of the age where they are starting to read or learning to read, Dungeons & Dragons can be an awesome tool to encourage that. You can have kids who are not able to read or don’t like to read still play Dungeons & Dragons (I’ll talk about how in a future post). But for kids who are able to read at least something, if you can get them invested in your Dungeons & Dragons world, they will want to know more about it. What’s a great way to learn more? Yep. Reading. And there is a vast wealth of reading materials for Dungeons & Dragons. I know you are all probably picturing the huge hardback books with pictures of monsters on the covers. Sure, there are those to read but those books do take a bit of good comprehension to really understand. Thankfully, there are books about Dungeons & Dragons geared toward younger kids. And even if you don’t want to have them read those, you can always give them a simple story about something in the Dungeons & Dragons world you created that they can read. I will go over how to approach some of the reading challenges that come up in later posts but just know that playing D&D absolutely makes kids want to read more. And any time you can do that, it’s a win for everyone.

Math

Okay, here is where a lot of parents get tripped up. They think that Dungeons & Dragons might take pre-calculus level math in order to play well. Why else would there be so many rules, so many oddly shaped dice and so many mentions of numbers any time you see someone playing Dungeons & Dragons? While it’s true that there are numbers involved and there is no way of completely getting around this, if your kid can count to 10, or even better 20, she has enough math skills to play this. And guess what? They will learn a little bit of basic addition and subtraction if they don’t already know it. But what about all those rules and things? How can they play if they don’t know all those? They don’t have to. You need to know some of them for sure, but the kids just need to know how to tell when something good or bad happens in the story. As long as they can count to 10, we can make sure they know.

Fun

To me, this is the most obvious reason to do anything with kids. It’s fun. It’s really fun. Did I mention that this game is fun? Don’t believe me? Give it a try and get back to me. I will admit that not everyone is as nerdy as I can be. Some people are just never, ever going to think it’s cool to pretend to be a wizard who is trying to stop an evil dragon from taking over the world. That’s fine. I’m sure there are other things you find fun. But check with your kids if they want to play this. Give it a shot. You might be highly surprised by the fact that once you start, not only is your kid having fun but so are you. What do you have to lose?

You convinced me, what’s next?

There’s probably a lot of you out there thinking, “But I have no idea what to do to play this game.” Not to worry, your pal Slick has you covered. My next post will be about how to prepare yourself for playing Dungeons & Dragons with kids. I’ll be honest, there is going to be some work involved on your part. You’ll need to put in some effort, but probably not as much as you think. I will point you to some great resources and I have a whole lot of tricks up my sleeve to make your life easier when you play this game with your kids. The point really is to have fun, not make it a headache. For a lot of the stuff I am going to write about, I’ve already had the headaches but I think I can keep you from experiencing the same. See you next time!

Enthusiastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Kids Kill Monsters – Role Playing Games with Children

Hi out there internet people, Slick Dungeon here. This post is going to be a little off topic from the usual for my blog but I promise I will get back to my review of terrible movies and books nearly no one is reading in the upcoming posts. I just had a thought and wanted to share it with all of you lovely people out there.

When I was a kid, there was a game that a few of us quirkier kids played called Dungeons and Dragons. My bet is that you have most definitely heard of this game. This was back when I was in elementary school and people basically knew only two things about it. One, it was for nerds. And two, there was a lot of math involved and maybe some Satan worship, depending on who you were talking to. Now, with constant streaming of content like Critical Role or Acquisitions Inc, the newfound inclusivity of the game, and celebrities talking about it at the drop of a hat, this thing couldn’t be more popular. In addition, you definitely don’t have to be a nerd or a math whiz to play it.

As much as I love Critical Role, Acquisitions Inc, the D&D references on Stranger Things and the celebrity endorsements, one thing has been bugging the heck out of me about all this for a while. Almost every one of those things is made for adults. Sure, kids of a certain age can watch Stranger Things and depending on how you want to raise your kids you might be perfectly fine with letting your eight year old watch Critical Role, f-bombs included. No judgement from me if that’s your parenting style.

When I was a kid, my dad had no problem with me watching R-rated films and reading plenty of Stephen King novels, but for Dungeons and Dragons I had to do that at someone else’s house. Why? Basically at that time adults didn’t really understand the game. They seemed to think it was either the work of the devil or just some incomprehensible fad that kids were into.

As an adult, I wanted to get to share my love of Role Playing games with my son. I have played countless sessions with him and his friends for years. It’s easy to get lost in the game and have a true bonding experience with your children through Dungeons and Dragons or other RPGs like it. But, when he asked me if there were podcasts or YouTube streams where he could watch, there was a lot of content that made me straight up uncomfortable with allowing him to view it.

It’s almost as if the whole idea of this game being one for kids that adults don’t understand has completely turned around into an adults only arena.

Well, I am here to tell you that it’s not just for adults and that if you are a parent, you should absolutely learn to play an RPG for an awesome day of family fun.

Sure, you can have a great time with your buddies, maybe with some adult beverages and snacks on hand, and come up with awesome adventures but do me a favor and at least try to get your kids in on this with you.

I’ve had a lot of parents tell me that they have a kid who really, really wants to play D&D but they just can’t get their friends into it. To which I reply, “Why don’t you play it with them?” The answers usually come in one of two varieties. It’s either, “I don’t have the patience to learn that.” Or, “My kid wouldn’t want to play that with me but I remember enjoying it in college.” My replies to that are, yes you do and, your kid does too want you to play this with you, and it will be even more fun than when you did this in college.

As far as patience goes, if you have ever in your life finished one complete game of Monopoly, you have the patience for Dungeons and Dragons. Sure, there’s some reading involved for you to understand how the mechanics of the game work, but you can also change and simplify those rules if you want to. It says so right in the rule book itself!

To the second point, if your kid is actively telling you that they want to play Dungeons and Dragons but they don’t have someone to play it with, here is what they are really saying, “Please play this with me and teach me how to play it.”

I guarantee you that whatever wild adventures you thought you came up with in your adults only group are not even half as creative as what your kid can come up with. I honestly thought I had seen it all until my son, playing a Halfling Rogue, proposed marriage to a Hobgoblin as a distraction and then attempted to sell cheese to a Hill Giant in order to avoid an attack. This stuff blows my mind every single time we play. Your kids are going to come up with insanely creative things too.

A more rare comment I get is, well is Dungeons and Dragons really worth all that time? I mean my kids are busy with sports, school and then they just want to play MarioKart all night. I can relate to all of that. MarioKart is awesome and who would want to put that down? But you know what? Role playing games are really, really healthy for a kid’s social interaction skills. Letting kids play a role of being someone that they are not helps them to accept themselves for exactly who they are. I don’t think there is a better gift a parent can give than that.

The next argument against playing this with kids is the fact that right on the starter set it says this is for kids 12 and up. Well, kids 12 and up enjoy it, sure, but you know what? Much younger kids can play this too. In fact, I can tell you how to make this work for a kid who doesn’t like to read, hates doing math, and would rather shove a pound of broccoli down their throat than put down a video game controller. I know, because I have done it.

That’s not to mention the fact that there are now books, games and other cool things being made for kids under 12 to let them in on the whole RPG fad. D&D can (depending on the kid) be good for kids even as young as 4. It’s more about how you play with them than what their age is.

I hope that in the near future we get more of this kind of content because I would seriously love to see more (for lack of a better term) family friendly or kid appropriate content. I know that a lot of people don’t want kids involved in this game and do want to just see the Matt Mercers of the world DM epic campaigns that have tons of innuendo and profanity. I have no gripe with anyone wanting that. What I do have a problem with is cutting kids (or anyone else really) out of this game.

So, for my part what I want to do is a series of posts about why and how you should play tabletop RPGs with kids. Or at least enable your kids to play them on their own. And heck, while you are at it, maybe you’ll make a YouTube stream that my kid can watch once you give it a try.

I have a whole system I developed that I can share with you for ways to play Dungeons & Dragons with kids, what the benefits of that are, and how to overcome some of the mistakes I made at first. But before I do that, I want to know if this something people out there would be interested in.

There might be a big portion of people out there who just want me to stay in my lane and write about cult cinema and do book reviews. You know what? I am perfectly fine doing that and I will keep doing that either way. There also might be a good chunk of people thinking, hey don’t you review a lot of horror films and stuff that my kid probably shouldn’t see? Yes, yes I do. But I also play a LOT of Dungeons & Dragons with kids and never once did I have to resort to horror film reviewing tactics to make it fun for them.

So, what do you think? Let me know in the comments if you would like me to post more about Dungeons & Dragons, Role Playing games and how to make it work for you and your kids. Just keep it family friendly, whether you are a Half-Orc Barbarian or a Gnome Paladin. I can honestly talk about this stuff for days on end but that doesn’t mean anyone wants to hear what I have to say. Just let me know either way.

Imaginatively yours,

Slick Dungeon