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Dungeons and Dragons has never been more popular! And I know that so many of you dream of running a wonderful campaign for your family, but are intimidated by the perceived cost. I’m here to tell you that you and yours could be roaming the countryside and venturing into dangerous dungeons without spending a dime.

The internet and a little ingenuity go pretty far nowadays, and, frankly, if the internet can teach me how to fix my furnace, then it can help you play D&D with your kids.


We wrote an article with tips for playing D&D with your kids. You can check it out here.


Imagination

At its core, Dungeons and Dragons is a shared storytelling game. There are tactical combat rules, but you can eschew or improvise away so many of them that they aren’t all that important. What *IS* important though is a sense of imagination. You’ve been telling your kids stories since they were born. This is an opportunity for them to tell the story with you.

I know some folks might think that’s cheesy, but it’s not. More than half of the fun of running a D&D game is watching what the players do and seeing how they react to your characters and actions. That is even more interesting when you are watching your kids. You’ll be amazed at the wild things they do and the stories they come up with!

Dice Rolling Apps

The internet and meme culture will tell you that you absolutely MUST have 15-20 sets of multicolored dice made from different materials. I’ll admit that they are fun, but they aren’t necessary to play. You have a bunch of different options such as:

  • SIRI (Go ahead. Right now. Ask SIRI to roll a D20.)
  • Free iOS Apps like Dice Ex Machina, Dungeon Dice, or Tabletop RPG Dice.
  • Free Android Apps like RPG Simple Dice, Dice Roller, and Dice – A free dice roller.
  • When in doubt Google it.

Rules

You do have the option to purchase the Players Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual from Amazon or your local book store.

However, both the basic rules for Dungeons and Dragons and the SRD or “System Reference Document” are both available on the Dungeons and Dragons Website.

The Basic Rules

https://media.wizards.com/2018/dnd/downloads/DnD_BasicRules_2018.pdf

The System Reference Document

https://media.wizards.com/2016/downloads/DND/SRD-OGL_V5.1.pdf

Note: A System Reference Document(SRD) is a reference for a role-playing game’s mechanics licensed under the Open Game License (OGL). This document is published to allow third party publishers to create content using those rules.

Character Sheets

Another barrier that some people see to being able to play D&D are character sheets. They are important to the game, but they aren’t costly. Firstly, you could just make your own character sheets, but there are plenty of character sheets that you can print (or fill out digitally). Two examples from DMSguild.com are listed below. They are both great free resources that you can use.

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/266389/Sleepys-Simpler-5e-Character-Sheet

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/252711/DD-5E-Character-Sheet-editable-fillable-printer-friendly-auto-calculates-bonuses

Adventures

All of the tools don’t help much if you need an adventure to run! The first option would be to make up your own. Draw up some maps, write up some NPCs and make the adventure yourself. But, not everyone likes that (or has the time). Fortunately, there are plenty of free adventures you can download from websites like DMSguild.com. I’ve listed four well-rated adventures below, but there are TONS more available.

Follow The Lights

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/283932/Follow-the-Lights?filters=0_0_45381_0_0_0_0_0

On Her Majesty’s Pest Control Service

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/288956/On-Her-Majestys-Pest-Control-Service?filters=0_0_45381_0_0_0_0_0

A Trilogy of Shorter Adventures

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/208100/A-Chance-Encounter

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/208634/The-Mystic-Circle?src=by_author_of_product

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/209172/An-Urgent-Rescue?sorttest=true&filters=45469_0_0_0_0_0_0_

Miniatures

When you see pictures of people playing D&D on Instagram or Facebook they also ways involved gorgeously painted miniatures on beautifully detailed maps. This is NOT a requirement. I played for YEARS using miniatures that I pulled from old board games and chess sets. Bottle caps, Shopkins, and coins are all reasonable.

Maps can be a little tricky, but I guarantee that anyone reason this has a checkerboard or two lying around. You can form your dungeon rooms by placing index cards or construction paper over different parts of the board.

Another alternative is to eschew the tactical part of combat entirely and stick to descriptions.

No More Excuses

So. There we go. I just eliminated all of the objections. You don’t need to spend a dime to play Dungeons and Dragons with your kids. Now get out there and tell some stories (and make wonderful memories while you’re at it)!


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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A lot of gamer parents ask us about how to get started with playing tabletop RPGs with their kids. In fact, we’ve given (and heard) so much advice that we thought we would just put it all down on a page and publish it here on EFG!

This list isn’t the be all and end all for playing RPGs with your children, but this is going to be a great place to start. Take a look below, and make sure to let us know in the comments if we missed anything.

Note: Most of the text here will refer to Dungeons and Dragons, but the majority of these tips will be applicable to any tabletop RPG out there.

Start with a Kid-focused RPG

Lots of gamers have dreamed of playing Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop RPGs with their kids for years. It stands to reason that some of those gamers would design their own games to help fill in that void. Darcy Zalewski from the Stay at Home Gamers suggested playing some of those games first!

Some examples include:

Hero Kids

No Thank You, Evil by Monte Cook Games

The Tales of Equestria Tabletop RPG

Establish The Ground Rules

Lots of tabletop RPGs are full of rules, charts, and tables to search through to help understand how to play the game. But, those aren’t as important as the general rules for playing at your table.

You will likely have your own rules, but some suggestions are below:

  1. Respect is key. Make sure to respect your fellow players and the DM.
  2. Be courteous.
  3. Don’t draw in, or rip up game books that are loaned to you. Treat them like your own toys.
  4. No cussing or inappropriate jokes.
  5. If everyone isn’t having fun, then no one is!

Focus on Shared Storytelling

A lot of folks assume that the story comes from the DM, but that’s actually untrue. At the end of the day tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons are collaborative storytelling games. This means that everyone is working together to make an interesting story. I think it is important make sure kids understand that.

The story isn’t just happening TO them. It is happening AROUND them. Let them describe their actions whenever possible. Encourage them to talk about how their character does the things they are doing. That adds layers to the experience for everybody!

Let Them Drive (Unless They Aren’t)

It is important to let the kids drive the bus. They might take wrong turns, get hyper-focused on something weird, or kick your sandbox over in any number of cruel, unusual, and exciting ways. Let them do it. As long as they are engaged and enjoying the experience you have won!

With that said, Dungeons and Dragons depends on the players to direct the action. The stories expect the players to move forward, find clues, and discover the solutions. Kids (and even inexperienced players) can have trouble with that. Which means their indecisions can stagnate the experience for everyone. You, as the DM, are the only person who can fix that.

There are lots of great Dungeons and Dragons Products out there, and lots of them have previews online. Make sure to check out what they can add to your campaign!

Keep It Short!

Adults that play Dungeons and Dragons can play for hours without real breaks. We often brag about marathon gaming sessions. That isn’t going to be possible with younger kids. They just don’t have the attention span to focus on these games for long periods of time.

Instead, make sure to plan for your gaming sessions to be more compact and to take more breaks. You won’t make as much “progress” through stories (especially if you are using adventure modules), but they will be more engaged in the experience.

If You’re Going to Go Big – Bring a Co-GM

Rob Kalajian of A Pawn’s Perspective regularly runs a game for ten kids. (WHOA!) He loves it, but he has found that it would be impossible without the help of his wife who co-DMs with him. This lets him focus on the story and the creatures while his wife helps make sure the kids are ready to take their turns. It minimizes downtime and ensures that kids get more direct attention from a GM.

Have (Quiet) Fidget Toys!

Kids will often have a VERY difficult time sitting still for a long time without fidgeting. Dice are terrible fidget toys because they are loud, and they can get lost easily. (Nothing is more distracting than a handful of kids rolling dice and dropping them on the ground.)

Make sure you have a small collection of quiet fidget toys on hand to give them something to fuss with. Some great suggestions are fidget spinners (that you can probably get for super cheap since the fad is over) and Play-Doh.

Simplify The Game!

Dungeons and Dragons is pretty complicated. You can take steps to simplify it though. Some examples of things you can do are:

  • Only give them the dice they need. A player will very likely only needs 2-3 different dice in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (the most recent one).
  • Create a cheat sheet to go along with their character sheet that explains in simple terms what they should do when the
You don’t need to invent your own adventures either! There are plenty of pre-made adventures available!

Don’t Make Them Manage Their Stuff

Kids are notorious for losing things or failing to take care of them correctly. And, nothing can set a game back like a player having to find a new mini or to craft a new character sheet. The best way to solve that problem according to John Christopher over at Wooden Shoe Games is to collect their character sheets at the end of the session. That keeps organization nice and simple.

You could even store all of those character sheets in a binder with some sheet protectors. They’ll be virtually indestructible.

Make Sure the Villain Is AWESOME!

Treavor Bettis and Allie Deutschmann from the Difficulty Class Podcast both emphatically told me that villains for kids need to be cool. They don’t necessarily need to be interesting and nuanced like villains for adult players though. They can, and should, be completely over the top!

What do you all think? What tips do you have for playing tabletop RPGs with kids? Let us know in the comments!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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We love to hear about parents trying new types of game experiences with their kids. We recently found a father on Facebook named Casey (shout out to the RPGs with Kids Facebook group) who not only introduced his six year old son to Dungeons and Dragons, but created an awesome placemat style character sheet to help guide him. Take a look at the picture below. It’s AMAZING.

We thought it was cool enough that we wanted to chat with him briefly about his experience with his son and maybe get some perspective on Dungeons and Dragons with a youngster.

How long as you been gaming?

To be honest, I’ve only been into the tabletop life for 2 or 3 years. But I’m the type to dive in head first and completely submerge myself into a passion. In that time I have become my group’s main DM and have been the one to teach them all the rules. I’ve studied under the YouTube masters to perfect my craft, though I still have a lot to learn.

Be honest, how long have you been waiting to introduce DnD to your son? Were you putting giant fuzzy dice in his crib or what?

Pretty much from the moment he learned to read and do basic math. (Haha)

Dungeons and Dragons Character Sheet 6 yr old

Dungeons and Dragons Character Sheet 6 yr old

We love the character sheet that you made for him. Did you find a template for that online or was it entirely your design?

It was my own design. I remember, starting out, the questions my buddies all asked, and the difficulties they seemed to have. “What do I roll for this?” “Can I use my bow at close range?” “Which one is the d20?” So I just tried to make it as detailed as possible. I made a little bar up top to organize his dice. I labeled his weaponry and drew a picture of them next to it. I added little stickers to his stats to help him know the differences. It really seemed to help. So much so, that I made a v2.0 sheet the next morning.

It looked like he was playing a halfling character based on his name. Was it a stock character? Or did the two of you do any custom character creation?

Ah. Dudley Bumbleroot. This was actually the FIRST PC character that I ever played. Kind’ve a family heirloom. I updated him for 5e D&D but, barebones it’s the same character.

A lot of people that want to tabletop with their kids hesitate because some of their early struggles can disrupt a game groups flow. How quickly did your son take to the game?

By, probably, his 5th turn he was going strong. He was giving the group his ideas and telling them things like, “hey I can fit through this Crack in the wall, right?” I was so proud.

I have a six year old myself and have been thinking of taking the plunge. What advice do you have for me? Anything I should make sure that I do?

Just have fun. Be his buddy. Or if you’re the DM, have another PC be there for him. Kids can pick up on things more quickly than you realize.

He was the only person in the picture when you posted on Facebook. Did you play with anyone else? Or was it a one on one game for simplicity?

I had a couple other buddies with him. He fit right in.
You indicated that you ran the Lost Mines of Phandelver as your quest with your son. Did you have to modify it at all? Or did he pick it right up? He picked it right up. As far as difficulty, that’s a level one adventure, as it is from the starter set. He did have a BIT of an advantage, though. He and the others at the table were level 3 to begin.

What’s next for your gaming group? Are you going to create your own campaign? Or perhaps run some of the prepackaged adventure books Wizards is putting out?

I usually create my own, but they always turn out very linear. I wanted to try my have at something with some depth. Side quests and plot twists, you know? After one session, I’m pleased. I’ll still make you own, but I’m learning new tricks as I go.

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We’re all going to be stuck indoors for a while, so this is a great opportunity to play one of the MMOs that you have always been meaning to try, but never had the time.

Free to Play MMOs

Some of the best MMOs on the market are free to play right now. Many of them are supported with in-game purchases like cosmetics and experience boosts, but they can be downloaded and played from front to back without spending money. These are a great option if you want to dive in, but don’t have the money to throw down for a new video game right now.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars is, obviously, a very big deal right now. The Old Republic is an MMO that has been around for a while (it released in 2011), but it still receives updates and has an active community (nearly 200,000 users a day). The story takes place long before the movies and explores one of the cooler parts of the Star Wars timeline. If you or your kids are big into Star Wars, then this is going to be a good choice.

Star Trek: Online

Star Trek Online has about 100,000 monthly active players and has been around since 2010. This MMO gives you the chance to become your own Star Fleet captain with your own ship to command. There are quests that explore all of the major Star Trek storylines from the shows and the movies and lots of original content, too. Trekkies shouldn’t sleep on this one.

Guild Wars 2

GW2 has a very active user base with almost 350,000 daily users. It has a very immersive story that responds to player choice. It is a fun, high fantasy game with cool interesting races to choose from. You play as a member of a guild of adventurers who are gathering to hold off a group of ancient dragons from destroying the world.

Old School RuneScape

“Old School Runescape” was released in 2013 and has been receiving continuous support since it launched. It started as just being a relaunch of the 2007 version of the game, but its wild success has led to graphics overhauls, and new quality of life improvements. This version of Runescape is even bigger than the original with more than 2 million daily users.

Free (For Now)

Dungeons and Dragons Online

Dungeons and Dragons Online is exactly what the title says it is: an MMO build using the Dungeons and Dragons races, classes, and themes. This is a free to start game that is supported with DLC content packs that includes raids, challenges and dungeons. The developer has announced that, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, they are making the game and its content completely free for a limited period of time. The details are listed below:

  • All dungeons and raids, including those in expansion packs, are open to everyone through April 30.
  • The Buddy Bonus 5% XP will be active from March 20 through March 29. This will be in addition to the weekend events.
  • Mimic event will be active starting March 26 through April 6.
  • The anniversary event will be active starting March 26 through April 30.

Lord of the Rings Online

Lord of the Rings Online is an MMO that was originally released in 2007. It is a very lore heavy dive into the world of Lord of the Rings and is a great story to play through if you are a fan of the movies OR the books. It is a free to start game that is supported by DLC packs that include raids, quests, and “skirmishes.” The developer has announced that, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, they are making the game and its content completely free for a limited period of time. The details are listed below:

  • All quests, instances, and skirmishes, including those in expansion packs, are open to everyone through April 30.
  • The Curator will be returning starting March 26 through April 30.
  • There will be a 10% virtue XP boost starting on March 26 through April 6.
  • The Baggins’ Birthday event will be available March 26 through April 6.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are a few options out there that are worth mentioning in spite of the fact that they aren’t free.

World of Warcraft

How can I make a list of MMOs without mentioning World of Warcraft? It’s true that WoW has a monthly subscription, but it does have a fun demo. You can play up to level 20 as just about any race and class. This is a great option if you or someone in your family just needs a game to play for a short period of time and has no real intention of continuing the game beyond that.

Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV has become massively popular and is available on PC and PS4. The full version of FFXIV does require a purchase and a monthly subscription, but there is a free trial. The limitations on the trial are:

  • Free Trial Players can create only eight (8) playable characters, restricted to one (1) playable character per world.
  • Free Trial account characters have their level capped at level thirty five (35).
  • Free Trial account characters can obtain only a capped amount of in game currency (GIL).

What do you think? Are you or your kids going to play any of these games? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Wizards of the Coast has announced that they are, once again, crossing the streams and releasing a Magic: The Gathering themed sourcebook for Dungeons and Dragons.

The Mythic Odysseys of Theros is a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition supplement that will be available on June 2, 2020.

Theros is a world in the MtG universe that is heavily influenced by Greek Mythology. It is a world where the gods literally walk among mortals and their stories become intertwined. It’s a perfect place for heroes to find adventure!

“Legends walk the lands of Theros, a realm shaped by deities and the deeds of heroes. From the temples of omen-speaking oracles to the five realms of the Underworld, the champions of the gods vie for immortal favor and a place among the world’s living myths.

Choose a supernatural gift that sets you on the path of destiny, align yourself with one of Theros’s fifteen gods, then carve a tale of odysseys and ordeals across the domains of mortals, gods, and the dead.”

Wizards of the Coast

Sourcebooks are a great source for new character-building options and Theros doesn’t look like it will disappoint. It will include:

  • Supernatural gifts are mechanically similar to character races. They give your character a set of unique traits. (It seems like these will also be
  • They will add new playable races like the Leonin and Satyr.
  • New subclasses include the Bard’s College of Eloquence and the Paladin’s Oath of Heroism.
  • The Theros campaign setting will feature mythic monsters like Palukranos the hydra that will provide a challenge for even the most brave adventurers.
  • Wizards will also introduce “God Weapons” that will have awesome powers. I can’t imagine that these weapons will be easy to balance, but they will make for great stories!

It wasn’t detailed in the press release, but these sourcebooks (The Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica for example) also typically include detailed information about the lands, nations, and history of the world. Many of them even include an adventure set in the new world to help get players and dungeon masters alike interested and invested in the new setting.

I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. What about you? Are you going to pick this one up to play with your family?

Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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It’s that time of year again. Finding great gifts for people can be tough. Here are some of our Nintendo recommendations for the kids in your life!

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield

The 8th generation of Pokemon is upon us! Pokemon Sword and Shield will be the perfect gifts for the Pokemon fans in your family. These games can easily provide a hundred or more hours of entertainment, and these newer games will likely include even more! Sword and Shield are the first Pokemon games released on a home Nintendo console so they look great, but, as always, they are right at home on the go.

Super Mario Maker 2

Super Mario Maker 2 is one of the best creative tools for young and adult gamers alike. This game lets you create Super Mario Levels from across the history of Nintendo, with a well made tutorial that offers plenty of new ideas. Players can browse player made content by individual creator or in an endless mode that select levels based on difficulty. Super Mario Maker 2 is easily the best level creation experience for the Nintendo Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a shot for shot remake of a game (by the same name) that was released on the Game Boy Color in 1993. This version released in September with an adorable new art style and an orchestral soundtrack. This is a perfect gift for Zelda fans that are too young to have played the original AND for those of us looking for a chance to relive our glory days. 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

If your child spent hours arranging all of their Imaginext toys in massive battles, then Fire Emblem is worth a look. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a strategy game set in a sword and sorcery themed academy for heroes. (It’s not exactly Hogwarts for Dungeons and Dragons characters, but it’s pretty close.) Battles play out on massive fields where you move your different characters around strategically to take advantage of enemy weaknesses. This is a challenging game, and the characters are teenagers (so they come with the appropriate thematic baggage), but it ends up as a T-rated game. 

Steamworld Quest: The Hand of Gilgamech

All of the Steamworld games are amazing, but this is easily one of my favorites. Steamworld Quest is a friendly RPG where you control a team of robots during a fantasy/steampunk era.  The combat is card-based. You build a 24 card deck using a card pool determined by which robots are in your party. Every fight turns into a puzzle that is very satisfying to solve. The story is also relatively short so this will be a great game for Holiday break!

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

It’s tough to find a kid that doesn’t love Marvel super heroes and Ultimate Alliance 3 has a TON of them. Ultimate Alliance 3 is a celebration of recent Marvel history that has a character just about every kid will enjoy. MUA3 is a paint by numbers action RPG for up to four players. It doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but it doesn’t really need to in order to be a great gift. 

Yoshi’s Crafted World

Every year I get asked about video game gifts for younger gamers. Yoshi’s Crafted World is this year’s answer to that question. It’s adorable. It’s simple to control. And it’s engaging. This will be a great game to share with the younger siblings/cousins who might not be ready for bigger challenges just yet. 

Ring Fit Adventure

Nintendo has made fitness games before. Wii Fit (and the Wii Fit Balance board) where huge hits back when they came out. Ring Fit Adventure is their latest attempt to break into that scene on the Nintendo Switch. Ring Fit Adventure is an RPG adventure where you move around the world by running in place, and attack monsters by completing exercises using a specially designed pilates band. The story isn’t anything to write home about, but its good enough to help motivate players to complete a short workout every day. 

Untitled Goose Game

(Honk)… A PC game that charmed the Internet with its simplicity, Untitled Goose Game is best described (without spoilers) as an environmental puzzle game. You are a goose, with the mind of mischief and the talents of a… goose. You have a list of things to do, and no idea how to do them. Our advice is to pick it up on Steam as a gift for the holidays and enjoy the mayhem. 


Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled is a painstakingly crafted remaster of several Crash Team Racing games that were released on PS1 and PS2. This is a challenging cart racer that will be a big hit with fans of Mario Kart 8 that are looking for more challenge. This a feature rich remaster with 31 tracks, numerous cosmetic items, and a full-fledged story mode. It’s definitely worth looking into for your family. 

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Luigi doesn’t get the spotlight very often. That honor is normally reserved for his brother Mario. The Luigi’s Mansion series is the exception. These spooky adventures feature Luigi while he tries to rescue his lost brother from King Boo. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is out now for the Switch and includes a lot more variety in the environments because it takes place in a massive haunted hotel. This will be a great game for kids who love to explore and solve puzzles. (Note: This game is definitely more silly than it is spooky so don’t be super concerned about kids getting scared.)


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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This week Stephen and Amanda come together to chat about all sorts of board games!

Magic: the Gathering War of the Spark

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition – Curse of Strahd

Vast: The Crystal Caverns

Beyond Nexus

This podcast was produced in partnership with SuperParent.com!


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The Electronic Entertainment Expo is just around the corner and EFG is going to be there. The entire team has been hard at work preparing for a full week of INSANE coverage. We’re going to grab every little bit of family gaming news from that show floor and share it with the world!

Here is how it is all going to play out.

  1. The convention press conferences take place starting on Saturday and run until Tuesday morning. We’ll be publishing news updates for every family-friendly game announced during the conferences.
  2. The show takes place from June 12-14. We will have a team at the show taking pictures, video, recording audio, and posting their impressions of the games we are playing.
  3. Every morning From Monday through Friday you will be able to wake up to a Special edition of Engage! A Family Gaming Podcast with updates from the previous days show.
  4. We’ll be launching our YouTube channel this week as well so be sure to keep your eyes there for trailers, game impressions, and other cool videos from the show.

Let’s introduce the team, shall we?

The Away Team

EFG is going to have five people scouring the show floor to help find all of the great families games that E3 2017 has the offer.

Stephen Duetzmann – Editor in Chief

Stephen has been running Engaged Family Gaming for five years now and he is very excited to be leading the troops into the wilds of E3. He is a father of three (ages 12,9,5) and a lifelong gamer. He is ready to head to E3 for the second time and go bananas finding great games to tell you about!

Jesse Hennessey – Associate Editor

Jesse started his gaming career at the ripe old age of 8, with the Dungeons and Dragons red box set. Over thirty years and hundreds (thousands?) of table top, play-by-mail, console, live-action, computer, mobile and online games later his wife still tells him every day, ‘You know its 1am right?’.

With a love for RPG’s of all types he started participating in LARP’s in high school, and has owned and run one for over a decade. He started his family at a LARP in Y2K, when he ran down his future wife in the woods, and she killed him…with necromancy.

Jesse spends a large portion of his gaming time teaching his daughter to play games both old and new, table top, console, online and live-action. As a family they deal with the difficulty of overcoming both ADHD and ODD to make sure she learns to play fairly and safely in each unique gaming environment.

 

 

John Wrobel – Resident Project Manager

I believe that I am currently the prototypical representation of the casual gamer. I don’t have as much time as I would like play all the games that I want having two elementary schoolers, so being able to get the most value out of what I play is very important to me.  This applies to the video games we buy as a family as well as the multitude of board games that we have in the house.  I think that is what makes what is done here on this site so important to me.  Having a reliable resource to go to in order to make decisions around what we spend our time with is very important as it saves us a tremendous amount of time, money and headaches.

Getting the opportunity to cover E3 with our Editor in Chief was an opportunity that I could not pass up for three reasons.

  1. Someone has to be there to keep our Editor in Chief out of trouble

  2. We don’t have In-N-Out Burger in CT

  3. See #1. (Editor’s note: This is factually correct)

Drew Habersang – Associate Editor

Drew Habersang is a novelist and blogger from Manchester, Conn. He’s a lifelong gamer and unrepentant nerd with a nigh uncomfortable passion for all things “Destiny” (1v1 me bro!). He can best be described as a something very cool and manly with the soul of Mario and the heart of something even cooler like a dragon or whatever I dunno just make it sound awesome, Steve! Habersang has a BA in Political Science from UConn, and has been a guest lecturer at both UConn and the University of Hartford on narrative and storytelling an was a featured storyteller at The Mark Twain House. Drew enjoys console and table top gaming, discussing politics, and “Tea, Earl Grey, hot.”

James Pisano – Producer

At his day job, James Pisano is a partner and Creative Director at Blue Moon Studios, a commercial ad agency. Since James has been a passionate gamer his whole life, he jumped at the chance to become a contributing producer at Engaged Family Gaming. In 2017, James attended E3 for the first time with EFG, and saw the unfortunate lack of information tailored to parents trying to guide their children through the labyrinth of what is “new and cool” in games and geek culture, while making sure they aren’t being exposed to inappropriate content. This ignited James’ passion to bring informative and insightful information to EFG’s audience. Using video, research, and the written word, James is looking forward to helping families the world over come together over the games we all love, with an informed mindset. See you all at E3 2018 and beyond!!!

Home Base

The members of the home base team will be helping with logistical support, production assistance and all sorts of other jobs that we won’t think of until it is way too late.

Jonathan Tomlinson – The Man behind the Curtain

Jonathan started as an intern in high school at WPLR then went on to Connecticut school of Broadcasting. After his training he went on to WEBE108 and AM600WICC. After being replaced by his computer overlords he started his own podcast network and it’s selftitled flagship “Six Pack Nerds” and produces “Engage! : A Family Gaming Podcast” as The Man behind the curtain as well as other tasks. He owns all the systems and is a software hobbyist.

 

 

Linda Wrobel – Contributing Editor

Video games and gaming as a whole was not a large part of my childhood experience. I was given my first exposure to what some would consider traditional gaming in high school with an attempt playing D&D ( which overwhelmed me).  Little did I know that eight years later I would be bitten by the gaming bug by participating in a LARP campaign, which then led back to D&D with friends, and board games.  Now that I have two young boys, becoming more informed to what video and board games are age appropriate and worth our time has become more of a priority. Being an elementary school teacher shapes my perspective of games geared to children and families.  My interest has evolved into a drive to delve deeper into the family gaming world and share my experiences and thoughts with others.

 

Jenna Duetzmann – Contributing Editor

I am a 40-something year old Mom to three wonderful children ranging from ages 4 to 11. All 3 of my children love to play games- board games, video games, tabletop games, and card games! If it has rules and you can play it, they will gravitate towards it.

I grew up playing classic board games with my family and friends and enjoyed many an evening learning card games from my parents and their friends. Even though video games were reaching peak popularity when I was a child, my exposure was very limited. I got to play Frogger on a friend’s Atari and I watched my cousins play Zelda, Super Mario, and about a million different sports games on their various systems. I tried to play the games, but unfortunately I was terrible at them. Old school video games were hard!  And, since I didn’t have a system of my own to play on, I never got to practice. But, never fear, eventually my husband (our wonderful Editor in Chief) gave me my first video game system. It was a Nintendo 64. I played what was soon to become my favorite game EVER on that system- The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. That purchase sparked my interest in so many more games!

My background is in the field of Education and we use my knowledge as a way to incorporate learning experiences in a fun way in every game we play. I love how every game has the potential to inspire learning. They can teach everything from literacy and math skills to teamwork, cooperation, sharing, hand eye coordination, social behavior, etc. The list of things our children can learn through games is endless, and it is my goal to use Engaged Family Gaming to share that learning potential with all of our readers, listeners, and viewers.

 

Michael Duetzmann – Contributing Editor, the Infinite Co-host

Mike has been Stephen’s player 2 as soon as he was old enough to pick up a controller. A stay at home dad, he has turned his interest in game design and writing towards researching family friendly games while still being a devoted father and husband. He is no stranger to the gaming table and has experience with tabletop games, collectible card game, and video games.

 

Sound off in the comments and cheer us on!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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D&D Beyond at first glance is a collection of online gaming tools for Dungeons and Dragons 5.0, but the ease of use and friendly interface makes it more than the sum of its parts. D&D Beyond is an evolution of previous tools released by Wizards of the Coast for D&D 4.0 and improves on its subscription model, and improved stability by running everything in the browser instead of separate programs. All D&D Beyond’s best services are free with the creation of an account connected to Twitch.tv. Paid services include expansion of storage in the character creator and Dungeon Master related tools.

Why is it Awesome?

This is hands down the friendliest and most flexible set of tools for Dungeons and Dragons I have ever used.

The biggest features of D&D Beyond is its searchable databases and character creator. The D&D Beyond Website features not only an all-purpose search bar but a set of icons that lets you narrow your search through specific content, including content made by yourself.

It is important to note how much D&D Beyond supports user made, or “homebrew”, content. Every listing to search for a spell, magic item, or race, also give you the option to create or change an existing one in the same menu. While storage of homebrew content can get cramped with only the free subscription, the ability to play around with the tools was a creative opportunity all on its own.

Before I talk about the character creator, I wanted to point out the “Compendium”: Online access to purchase digital copies of every rulebook and adventure module for D&D 5.0. The Compendium, besides to the news updates posted to D&D Beyond, further supports a one-stop location for all things Dungeons and Dragons.

The character creator on D&D Beyond is not only the best character creator for Dungeons and Dragons by far, it is accessible tool for all levels of family gamers, from child to young adult to parent. The character creator has a “Show Help Text” option that starts turned on, so younger or less experienced gamers get additional information, while those with experience building characters can turn it off for a less cluttered experience. With the help text guiding you through the character creator, you will get detailed descriptions of every part of a character in Dungeons and Dragons as you make your choices.

Selecting the option for race, for example, starts with a simple list, but each selection expands into a full section with scroll-able text and full detailed description of your possible choice. Everything in the creator has collapsible text, which can help deal with the flood of information that can often come with character creation.

When you complete the character creator, which includes detailed sections for race, class, ability scores, background, and equipment, you have the option to either view and store the character sheet on your internet browser or download the sheet onto your computer.

Should you use this?

As a free service, D&D Beyond is the best set of Dungeon and Dragons online tools I have ever used. The Hero and Master subscriptions expand D&D Beyond with family-friendly services.

Hero subscriptions, which averages about three dollars a month, allow for unlimited character storage. This is useful for easy access and updating of a family’s worth of character sheets, as well an ad-free experience. Easy access to published homebrew content from other players is part of the subscription.

Master Subscriptions, which average about six dollars a month, while more expensive, allow you to share any purchased digital product with other players in the same campaign. This option would be best for many families of gamers to share access to one collection of digital books.

D&D Beyond is definitely worth every family gamer’s time to explore and use if they are fans of Dungeons and Dragons.

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The Electronic Entertainment Expo is just around the corner and EFG is going to be there. The entire team has been hard at work preparing for a full week of INSANE coverage. We’re going to grab every little bit of family gaming news from that show floor and share it with the world!

Here is how it is all going to play out.

  1. The convention press conferences take place starting on Saturday and run until Tuesday morning. We’ll be publishing news updates for every family friendly game announced during the conferences.
  2. The show takes place from June 13-15. We will have a team at the show taking pictures, video, recording audio, and posting their impressions of the games they are playing.
  3. Every morning From Monday through Friday you will be able to wake up to a Special edition of Engage! A Family Gaming Podcast with updates from the previous days show.
  4. We’ll be launching our YouTube channel this week as well so be sure to keep your eyes there for trailers, game impressions, and other cool video from the show.

Let’s introduce the team shall we?

 

The Away Team

EFG is going to have five people scouring the show floor to help find all of the great families games that E3 2017 has the offer.

Stephen Duetzmann – Editor in Chief

Stephen has been running Engaged Family Gaming for four years now and he is very excited to be leading the troops into the wilds of E3. He is a father of three (ages 11,8,4) and a lifelong gamer. A trip to E3 has been on his bucket list since before the kids were born and he can’t wait to make them proud!

Jesse Hennessey – Associate Editor

Jesse started his gaming career at the ripe old age of 8, with the Dungeons and Dragons red box set. Over thirty years and hundreds (thousands?) of table top, play-by-mail, console, live-action, computer, mobile and online games later his wife still tells him every day, ‘You know its 1am right?’.

With a love for RPG’s of all types he started participating in LARP’s in high school, and has owned and run one for over a decade. He started his family at a LARP in Y2K, when he ran down his future wife in the woods, and she killed him…with necromancy.

Jesse spends a large portion of his gaming time teaching his daughter to play games both old and new, table top, console, online and live-action. As a family they deal with the difficulty of overcoming both ADHD and ODD to make sure she learns to play fairly and safely in each unique gaming environment.

 

Dr. Regina McMenomy – Contributor, Founder GeekEmbassy

Studying and writing about geeks and geek culture is Regina’s favorite thing to do when she’s not reading student papers, dancing an excessive amount of calories away, or chasing after her daughter. Inclined towards social and mobile gaming, Regina also loves a good round of 7 Wonders, Qwirkle, Small World, or Lords of Waterdeep. Video games play such a significant role in her life she’s integrated games into every part of her personal and professional life. From writing a game studies based dissertation about identity and digital RPGs, to a memoir about motherhood as a gamer, Regina takes games seriously.

 

John Wrobel – Resident Project Manager

I believe that I am currently the prototypical representation of the casual gamer. I don’t have as much time as I would like play all the games that I want having two elementary schoolers, so being able to get the most value out of what I play is very important to me.  This applies to the video games we buy as a family as well as the multitude of board games that we have in the house.  I think that is what makes what is done here on this site so important to me.  Having a reliable resource to go to in order to make decisions around what we spend our time with is very important as it saves us a tremendous amount of time, money and headaches.

Getting the opportunity to cover E3 with our Editor in Chief was an opportunity that I could not pass up for three reasons.

  1. Someone has to be there to keep our Editor in Chief out of trouble

  2. We don’t have In-N-Out Burger in CT

  3. See #1

Home Base

The members of the home base team will be helping with logistical support, production assistance and all sorts of other jobs that we won’t think of until it is way too late.

Jonathan Tomlinson – The Man behind the Curtain

Jonathan started as an intern in high school at WPLR then went on to Connecticut school of Broadcasting. After his training he went on to WEBE108 and AM600WICC. After being replaced by his computer overlords he started his own podcast network and it’s selftitled flagship “Six Pack Nerds” and produces our “Engaged: A Family Gaming Podcast” as The Man behind the curtain as well as other tasks. He owns all the systems and is a software hobbyist.

 

 

Linda Wrobel – Contributing Editor

Video games and gaming as a whole was not a large part of my childhood experience. I was given my first exposure to what some would consider traditional gaming in high school with an attempt playing D&D ( which overwhelmed me).  Little did I know that eight years later I would be bitten by the gaming bug by participating in a LARP campaign, which then led back to D&D with friends, and board games.  Now that I have two young boys, becoming more informed to what video and board games are age appropriate and worth our time has become more of a priority. Being an elementary school teacher shapes my perspective of games geared to children and families.  My interest has evolved into a drive to delve deeper into the family gaming world and share my experiences and thoughts with others.

 

Jenna Duetzmann – Contributing Editor

I am a 40-something year old Mom to three wonderful children ranging from ages 4 to 11. All 3 of my children love to play games- board games, video games, tabletop games, and card games! If it has rules and you can play it, they will gravitate towards it.

I grew up playing classic board games with my family and friends and enjoyed many an evening learning card games from my parents and their friends. Even though video games were reaching peak popularity when I was a child, my exposure was very limited. I got to play Frogger on a friend’s Atari and I watched my cousins play Zelda, Super Mario, and about a million different sports games on their various systems. I tried to play the games, but unfortunately I was terrible at them. Old school video games were hard!  And, since I didn’t have a system of my own to play on, I never got to practice. But, never fear, eventually my husband (our wonderful Editor in Chief) gave me my first video game system. It was a Nintendo 64. I played what was soon to become my favorite game EVER on that system- The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. That purchase sparked my interest in so many more games!

My background is in the field of Education and we use my knowledge as a way to incorporate learning experiences in a fun way in every game we play. I love how every game has the potential to inspire learning. They can teach everything from literacy and math skills to teamwork, cooperation, sharing, hand eye coordination, social behavior, etc. The list of things our children can learn through games is endless, and it is my goal to use Engaged Family Gaming to share that learning potential with all of our readers, listeners, and viewers.

 

Michael Duetzmann – Contributing Editor, the Infinite Co-host

Mike has been Stephen’s player 2 as soon as he was old enough to pick up a controller. A stay at home dad, he has turned his interest in game design and writing towards researching family friendly games while still being a devoted father and husband. He is no stranger to the gaming table and has experience with tabletop games, collectible card game, and video games.

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