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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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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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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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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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Episode 62: D&D: (Branche Management and Balazaar Boogie)

Hello and Welcome to Engage!: A Family Gaming Podcast! This is episode 62. This week we are talking about boardgames. Specifically, tabletop roleplaying games and our game of Dungeons and Dragons that we started with our two sons. Today we are joined by my wife Jenna, and my brother Mike (The infinite co-host who was k.o.’d last episode, but don’t worry… He’s back!

My name is Stephen Duetzmann: Editor and Chief of EFG Gaming. You can reach out to us via our community page at www.EFGgaming.com/community. You can also reach out us viar Twitter: @EFGgaming, and our new email address: EFGpodcast@engagedfamilygaming.com. I am a co-host of the Gaming with Mom’s Podcast and a contributing writer to Pixelkin.

Show notes:

Overview topics/questions:

What is tabletop gaming?

What do kids need to know to play tabletop games?

What are some games that can get kids started on table top games like Dungeons and Dragons?

  • Adventure Maximus
  • Hero Kids
  • Mice and Mystics

What were the initial challenges of inviting the kids to play D&D?

Interview!: J-man and E-man share their stories of Branche and Balazaar (And Leaf)

Getting into the weeds:

How do you balance the role of parent/adult and player/GM?

What kind of things do we recommend when you are playing a mixed ages game of Dungeons and Dragons with your kids?

Our final thoughts on Dungeons and Dragons, and what we would do in the future.

Thanks for listening! You can find any of the games that we talk about here on Amazon.com. Please use our affiliate links so that your purchases support our staff!

Finally, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and support us on Patreon. As always: Thanks for listening to Engage!: A Family Gaming Podcast.

And Remember: Get Your Family Game On!

Below are all of our website and social links. If the links appear broken, then go to the social media site and search for Engaged Family Gaming. You’ll find us! Thank you!

Website

Facebook Page

Facebook Community

Twitter

Instagram

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