Introducing my Children to the joys of Dungeons & Dragons
I love Dungeons and Dragons, and tabletop roleplaying in general. For years I struggled to get any kind of group together to play and eventually, after having children and losing pretty much all of my free time, gave up all together. Last year through a stroke of luck, I stumbled upon a group that gets together to play monthly on Saturday nights, which reignited my love for D & D. My kids are six and eight and have enjoyed the Sunday morning recap of my adventures, hearing about the exploits of Traak the half orc barbarian and his companions. Recently they started asking if they could play too, and while I would never dream of letting the kids invade my precious “dad time” their interest got me thinking. With a little creativity, some rule simplification, and some good prep time, there was no reason they couldn’t play Dungeons and Dragons! The more I thought about it the more excited I got, the day I decided to sit down with them and flip through the Players Handbook sealed the deal and I started planning for our weekly D & D night at a fevered pitch. That also brings me to the first of the rules I have set up for playing with kids this young.
A Guided Experience
Dungeons and Dragons is in many ways a world simulator, based in the collective imaginations of the players and the dungeon master and spawned from the source material. Just like the real world my children would need a guide. Much of the work of guiding them would fall under the general rules for being a good dungeon master, tailoring the experience to my players and making sure everyone is comfortable with the situations that players encounter in the game. It would include guiding them in making characters they would enjoy playing and could play without difficulty. Spellcasters can be overwhelming for new adult players, with so many variables to consider, spell slots to track, spell variables to consider. I don’t think that it would be impossible for a kid this age to start off playing a spell caster of some kind, especially if it is the character that they really want to play, it would just require a bit more work simplifying spells to make it accessible and fun for this age group. My kids made this part easy for me. My six year old daughter stopped me immediately when she saw the Dragonborn and proclaimed “I want to be one of those and I want to be very strong!” while her brother excitedly pointed to a picture of a rogue and said “I want to be someone who sneaks around in the shadows!”
I also decided that they would need an in world guide, so I have built a character to play alongside them. I hesitate to use the term NPC because I plan to actively play this character to help guide the kids characters through their imaginary world as well as to provide an example of how to play the game. With my own character in the game I could model how to interact with the world and the NPCs as well as serve as a defect leader of the party to help guide them through the adventure and steer them in a good direction.